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Why SEO is the first step in digital marketing?

It's not strictly accurate to say that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the "first step" in digital marketing for every business or situation. However, SEO is often considered a foundational element for many digital marketing strategies for several reasons:

1. Visibility and Searchability: Most online experiences begin with a search engine. If your website or content isn't optimized for search engines, you're missing out on a huge potential audience. The primary purpose of SEO is to improve a website's visibility in search engines, thereby increasing organic traffic.

2. Credibility and Trust: Being on the first page of search results can lend your business increased credibility. Users often trust search engines to deliver relevant and trustworthy results. Hence, if your business ranks high for relevant keywords, users are more likely to trust you as an authoritative source.

3. User Experience: SEO isn't just about pleasing search engines. Proper SEO strategies, like improving site speed, enhancing mobile-friendliness, and organizing content, all contribute to a better user experience.

4. Cost-Effectiveness: Unlike paid advertising, organic SEO is "free" (though it often requires time, resources, and sometimes money to get right). Once you rank well, you don't pay for every click to your website. This makes SEO a cost-effective long-term strategy.

5. Foundation for Other Digital Marketing Strategies: A well-optimized website can support and boost other digital marketing efforts. For example, if you're launching a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, having an optimized landing page can improve your Quality Score in Google Ads, potentially reducing your cost per click.

6. Insights into Customer Behavior: SEO tools and analytics can give you insights into what your potential customers are searching for, how they interact with your website, and what content resonates with them.

7. Changing Algorithms: Search engines frequently update their algorithms. By making SEO a foundational and ongoing part of your digital marketing strategy, you're better prepared to adapt to these changes and ensure sustained visibility.

8. Compounding Returns: SEO is a long-term strategy. The efforts you put into SEO today can yield results for years to come, and those results can compound over time as your content continues to rank and attract visitors.

That said, depending on a company's goals, target audience, and resources, the "first step" in digital marketing might differ. For some businesses, social media marketing, email marketing, or even influencer marketing might take precedence over SEO. However, in most cases, SEO is an essential component of a holistic digital marketing approach.