How does SEO fit into any inbound marketing strategy? And why should this be the right strategy for my business? Well, let’s look at where inbound marketing came from, why this new kid on the block is suddenly getting all the headlines, and where it differs from what came before.
Inbound marketing is a term coined by Brian Halligan, co-founder (with Dharmesh Shah) of Hubspot, a marketing software company. Brian was amongst the first to recognize (credit also to Dharmesh Shah, Seth Godin and David Meerman-Scott) that, with increased commercialization and competition, the volume (both amount and loudness) of marketing messages being pushed at people was becoming overwhelming. Everywhere you look (or listen), there’s a marketing slogan or message coming at you.
He also recognized that new technologies were enabling the very people at whom these marketing messages were being targeted, to block out these messages. For example, more people record TV programs and skip past the ads. People use caller id on phones to ignore cold calls. Spam filters cut out email that we didn’t subscribe to and popup blockers save us all from unwanted web ads. All these “outbound marketing” techniques were getting less and less effective.
So rather than targeting all the people who don’t want your product, will never want your product, and will get rather annoyed at you bothering them again, why not just make it easy for people who really are interested in what you have to say and to sell, to find you? Make it easy for them to trust you, easy to buy from you?
Does that sound familiar? If you’re an SEO practitioner, it should. That’s pretty much the aim of SEO. Inbound marketing simply expands on that, and makes it even easier for people to find you, even easier to build trust amongst your opted-in audience.
In order to integrate SEO with a full inbound marketing plan, it’s important to realize that all parts of this plan need to work in harmony. Inbound marketing involves prolific production of quality content – web pages, blogs, articles, white papers and so on. These need to be properly optimized and the SEO workload will obviously increase here. Social media will need to be integrated, in that those producing the social media content will need to understand where to link to, which keywords to use, how to build reputation, how to produce engaging social content and who to share this content with.
Websites will likely need to be restructured and expanded to accommodate new lead generation and lead management processes. All content here will require appropriate SEO skills.
If your SEO works well, there’s really no reason to change – keep on doing what you’re doing, so long as it’s long term and ethical, and expand on it as your changing processes require. Get an understanding of the new areas where you can effectively apply SEO skills – video, blogs, social media, ebooks, and more.
That’s where great SEO and effective inbound marketing marry well – they are both long-term solutions, and we need to educate our audience and clients that it is so, by setting realistic and achievable expectations, whilst stressing the long-term benefits. Is inbound marketing taking over from SEO? Far from it – as you can see, inbound marketing means that great SEO skills will be even more in demand as inbound marketing implementations grow.
Image: Integration by Shutterstock