:: Travis Bliffen, SEO Proz ::
Once upon a time in a Web before Google Panda, Penguin and Knowledge Graph SEO, companies only had to worry about choosing the right keywords and getting them to rank well, but not anymore. These changes have led the SEO experts of the Web to scream, “Inbound marketing is the new SEO,” but the fact is, SEO is a form of inbound marketing. Those same experts have been using inbound marketing all along, they just didn’t know it.
What exactly is inbound marketing?
The definition of inbound marketing is a tricky subject in itself as the answer is often dependent on the person answering and the context of the word use. Generally, in-bound marketing can be described as marketing designed to lead customers or readers in. It’s an intentional effort to create traffic and keep it. The primary focus of inbound marketing is bringing in people and making them happy, so they, in turn, bring in more people. SEO, being the optimization of content via keywords to rank well for search terms on Google, is just one form of inbound marketing. If you really think about it, SEO is just a predecessor to inbound marketing in terms of popularity. It was the first popular form of the technique. To say that inbound marketing is the “new” SEO is only figuratively true in that the whole kit-and-caboodle now encompasses the SEO industry that online advertising created for search engines which was previously limited to just SEO, but on a literal level, SEO always was inbound marketing.
How you can embrace inbound marketing:
The continued trend in search engine algorithm changes is for user enjoyment. It’s about quality interesting content that makes for longer dwell times, lower bounce rates, and higher click-through rates that encourage users to create backlinks and social media signals which in turn raise search engine ranking. So those who want to evolve beyond simple keyword SEO and embrace inbound marketing need to also progress towards a marketing scheme that is about people and not search engines.
This means making changes that don’t necessarily do anything at all for a pages search engine rank—at least not directly. It means making small changes that make people happy that fall under the blanket term inbound marketing.
Social media marketing:
If you’ve ever seen content go viral with millions of Facebook “likes” and “shares” you understand the importance of social media marketing. Social media marketing cuts out the search-engine middle man feeding your content directly to your target audience. The trick is locating that target audience and then reaching them. The best way to do that is to pay attention first to those who like your content and second, what those within that niche are sharing and liking.
Content marketing such as blogs, podcasts, newsfeeds, and Web copy:
Next, SEO has always just been within content, but previously the focus was more on compiling keywords in a readable manner at the right density, in today’s search engine world content does matter. Take the information gleaned from your social media research and create quality content that appeals to your audience. In addition, create it regularly—remember the goal is to not only bring people in, but keep them.
Natural backlink campaigning:
Aim to create backlinks that real people will find useful. In the old Google world backlinks may have simple served to create a link for Google to crawl, today Google wants to see people visit that link and stick around. Besides, if people click your link and enjoy, they may just create more backlinks for you.
Page quality improvements for users:
Optimizing your page load speed, offering an easily navigable website, providing superior customer service, and an overall voice that you care about your customers are all wonderful ways to keep people coming back as well as get them to recommend your company to others. Those recommendations will in-turn raise your search ranking.
It’s unquestionable that online search engine ranking matters to businesses, so businesses looking to continue to cash in on online marketing have to learn the rest of inbound marketing and rise above SEO if they want to rank well on search engines, but in bound marketing certain isn’t new—even if nobody realizes that’s what SEO has always been a part of.
Travis Bliffen is the founder of The SEO Proz, a search marketing company located near Marion, IL. After working in the industry under the guidance of other search-marketing professionals, he launched The SEO Proz in early 2012. Since then he has worked with numerous local, national and international clients to improve their search rankings.