Digital Marketing: what is it?

Sometimes we meet prospective clients with a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to their new website or application. At this point, we usually have a chat about digital marketing and why it’s key to the success of a new site, because unless people know about it, often time they don’t come.

So what is digital marketing? To make things easy, digital marketing can essentially be distilled down to 2 elements: Paid Media and Natural Search. That’s it.

Getting Paid Media and Natural Search to integrate and play well together is the tricky part. It involves techies, creatives and strategists collaborating seamlessly in a digital landscape that changes almost weekly.

Paid Media

Paid Media is easy to define. It’s any form of internet advertising where you’re paying to appear in a search page or to be front of screen. Google AdWords is the most obvious form of paid media.

It can also include banner advertising, YouTube’s pre-roll ads and Facebook advertising.

Natural Search

Natural Search covers a broader range of activity. A natural search is one where search results are returned based on natural indexing of your website or content, as opposed to those that are returned based on paid advertising (Paid Media). Natural Search is also called organic search or unpaid search.

Natural Search covers all content related to your brand, from your website, to Facebook fanpage and other social media, and mentions in the blog-sphere. Anywhere that your content or references to your brand and website are searchable and ranked by search engines.


The entry ticket to Natural Search is to ensure your website is technically optimised (SEO) and as friendly as possible to search engine spiders.

The Google search algorithm is constantly evolving and is to some degree secret. We know that it places a high search value on sites that are mobile friendly. And on the quality (authority) and number of back links to your website. We also know that Google places an increasingly high value on social media references to rank content.


Which is brings us to the outreach and content marketing strands of Natural Search. Outreach relates to managing what you and other people are saying about your brand on-line. This could include a Facebook fanpage you’ve created to promote your website or app. Or content that bloggers have written about your brand — either voluntarily or prompted by you.

This is a vital ingredient in the mix because we know Google places high importance in ranking your site on backlinks to your website: evaluating both the volume and authority of the links. For example, the BBC website is a high profile and acknowledged leading global news website. Therefore external links from the BBC website have significant authority in the context of Google search ranking.

Creating genuinely engaging content, that references and links back to your brand’s digital estate, is therefore vital to ensure search engine ranking & presence.

Identifying brand influencers in the blog-sphere and social media to sway target audiences to your content, by creating authoritative back links, is also therefore essential for amplifying SEO value and digital voice. The influencers’ websites and content will be widely referenced online and will therefore enjoy greater search authority.

Social Media

Leading us neatly to social media. Understanding how Facebook can manage retail client services for global brands like Virgin, or drive retail footfall for M&S Bank, or how Twitter is used for fresh topical PR related brand communications, are also key ingredients of the Natural Search mix. Social gives you both an inherently powerful digital channel and increasing SEO value.


And finally, integration. Putting it altogether and delivering synergy 24/7 — the right message at the right time for the right audience. That’s the subject of another post. Put simply, is your Paid Media schedule synced with your TVC schedule to optimize your clients’ cross channel media spend in multi-screen households? And if not, why not?

The big picture

MAQE’s specialism is building digital stuff. But we also understand how digital marketing drives online success. And how to collaborate with marketeers to reach and engage with online audiences. We always look to see the big picture and to ask the right questions to ensure our clients’ digital success.