Search Email Optimization: The New SEO To Start Building Your Brand

Last updated: 
January 26, 2021

The World Wide Web is 26 years old, and the Internet is 46 years old. Today, Google will host over 3.5 billion searches and over 100 billion emails will be sent and received. Search and email, the two oldest, and still most successful and dynamic digital marketing tricks in the book.

To the average consumer, these are just two separate tools used organically on a daily, probably hourly, basis. But, to the average marketer, these can and should be treated as completely complementary, if not as one and the same, when thinking about increasing ROI and driving traffic to a website.

From subject lines to social links, your cool and creative email retention campaigns must be crafted using the same SEO rules you’ve been intently following for years, or you could be missing some key search and site-ranking opportunities — not to mention some potentially perfect new customers.

The key links between email and search (pun intended). After all these years, SEO and email represent the two most cost-efficient and powerful digital marketing techniques to both promote a brand and to engage, obtain and retain any type of customers. So, it’s only natural that they would each evolve to represent and need the same types of content to reach their ultimate potentials.  

The Basics Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques assist a website’s non-paid (commonly referred to as “organic”) ranking in a search engine’s results pages. Loads of factors contribute to a website’s ranking, including the engine’s ability to “crawl” (search for their ranking criteria) a page and index it into its massive databases. Several of the most effective and basic tactics of SEO will serve you just as well when applied to your email campaigns.

Email and SEO are completely complementary in nature; treat your email, particularly your content and blog-focused messages, with the same SEO rules and they will boost each other’s success. Mirroring your SEO and email procedures also gives you the added bonus of having already SEO’d your email content, so when it’s archived on your site, your search ranking will be in even better shape (more on that later).

For now, start with the simplest to implement and easiest to track: Ensure your subject line, header, and subheader are packed with the right keywords. When optimizing your site, you’ve used keywords in your URLs, your meta description, and product pages, so why wouldn’t you use the same ones to draw in your email audiences?

Use smart, relevant, accurate keywords. Just like you’ve done in your site, use the right keywords in the right places to lure users into opening and engaging with that email. For example, keep the most important ones to the left of your subject line, just as you would with meta titles and such.

Be strategic with the links you include. If linking externally, choose a site that might give you some love back. When linking internally, give the links themselves search value and give your emails SEO value by using calls to action (CTAs) and keywords that are specific and easily findable. “Click Here” won’t cut it and will be lost in a sea of generic CTAs. Use the same keywords for your link that you chose for your meta-titles or for your subject lines, and instantly boost your search success.

Always add alt text for your images. Same as your site, if your images are backed up by smart text, your SEO climbs seeing there’s new, rich and original content to be crawled. If you really want to start schooling yourself in SEO, check out Moz’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO.

The Content

As most marketing tasks do, any email campaign starts with knowing your audience and building your content from there. Seemingly an overly simple concept, many still mistakenly forget to put their users first when considering website content, opting to implement keyword stuffing instead of offering original, relevant information to try and trick both searchers and those coveted search engine crawlers to stop at their site. It’s misleading and only a tactic for marketers that can’t see the long game. It’s also unsuccessful.  

But, that’s not going to be you. Both your site and email content are going to be thoughtful, thorough and cater to your exact audience. Your customer was awesome enough to click to your site or give you their email address, so don’t abuse the opportunity, and make them happy they found you and your content.  Take it one step further and create a landing page for the information, services or product you’ve just pinged your patrons about. Just don’t forget to load that new page with choice keywords and original content for those crawlers to sniff out. Someone worked hard on that Valentine’s Day email, and the world should see it.

You’ve probably designed some beautiful email blasts in the past and you may have even mastered the art of the promotional email, bringing in some stellar open and click-through rates. That’s great! But, those promotional campaigns have expiration dates and customers probably aren’t going to reopen them once they’ve shopped through the offers. So, let’s make sure that other carefully curated blog and newsletter-worthy content lives beyond the time it spent in your customer’s inbox — and that it raises your SEO, too.  

Get ’em hooked

They’ve opened it, they’ve read it, they may even have clicked through and browsed around more. Then, they moved on to the next new email. We can be sure you’ve done a superb job maintaining that customer’s interest: you segmented them into the right email marketing group and customized the perfect content to clinch the sale, maybe more than once. But, they don’t really interact with your brand unless you remind them with that targeted message. So, now it’s time to turn that occasional fan into a frequently engaged brand ambassador whose activity raises your SEO and may even generate a few new leads for your company — and it all starts with that email.

Try a couple new ways to engage in your next blast and see where it gets your SEO:


Just like no press is bad press, no social chatter is bad chatter. In fact, it’s nothing but good for your SEO, so make sure you’re not just including, but also directly promoting your most active social channels in all your email blasts. Here’s where your customer research comes in, too. Can you tell which of your email recipients are social butterflies? Offer prominent Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even RSS feed links in every email that goes out, particularly to that group, and you could have a new mini PR firm that’s chatting away about and driving new traffic to their new favorite brand — you.


Not everyone in your email database is ready to literally buy what you’re selling. Some may be new to the brand and are just window-shopping, but they signed up for your list because they want to read what you have to write. Although it’s tempting, try not to send them slews of promotional offers in the beginning in an attempt to get that new (and probably one-time) buyer. Start by emailing them some genuinely interesting content, like a link to that witty blog on Facebook ads or the Oscars that you know your audience would be keen to talk about. A blog can be more than just the musings of your talented staff. It’s a very powerful tool to keep new and old customers engaged and sharing about common topics. Encourage commenting in your email blasts, and you will not only be driving up your monthly site traffic, but also adding a variety of IPs that are directing back to your site (something that does not go unnoticed by our SEO-monitors, the crawlers).

Archived, but not forgotten

You really raised your content-driven email game and are now sending out messages that fully support and drive SEO, and even generate new leads. Your fans are engaged and love reading your emails and often comment on the blogs you linked in, but does the conversation then fizzle after you send out the next email blast? Don’t stop reaping the benefits of that buzz-worthy blog by the following Monday — turn those brilliant articles into a monthly newsletter, then, be just as thoughtful and diligent when creating your online archives for each blog and newsletter you’ve sent.

Yes, same SEO rules apply. Make sure your titles are unique and utilize the right keywords that attract those finicky search engine crawlers to your newly added original, searchable material. If you hadn’t originally included them, sprinkle in a link or two, maybe an alt text image, and resave. It may just be a few tips and tricks, and we know there’s plenty more to learn about SEO, but it will be your consistent and conscious efforts that make your company and your email campaigns stand out in an inbox full of sale offers and social media alerts.

You work hard to come up with that unique content for your subscribers, so make sure they see it. And not just in their inboxes the day you sent it, but weeks later on their Twitter feed and again when they read a blog posted by one of your industry’s leaders. Search and email, your brand’s optimization can start with just a few well-placed keywords or one well-written newsletter. Well, go ahead, get started.

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