The concept of “inbound marketing” has been going around a lot. It seems to be the current big thing for online marketing strategists. But what is inbound marketing and how does it relate to your current marketing strategies, such as SEO?
One of the important characteristics of inbound strategy is how it differs from what’s known as “disruptive” marketing. In simple terms, disruptive marketing is named that because it generally relies on methods that force your brand in front of web users who aren’t necessarily expecting it.
This means paid ads and advertising materials that are pushed in front of audiences indiscriminately. Inbound marketing on the other hand, relies on promoting brand visibility by appealing to people who are already actively looking for what you offer. Instead of pushing your brand to your audience, you let them come to you.
So What is Inbound Marketing in SEO?
Inbound marketing refers to strategies that target “right-fit customers.” These are people that already have an interest in the things you and your company are providing. It can mean that they’ve previously purchased from your site already, have followed you on social media, or searched for similar products/services to what you offer. It could mean that they’re already actively looking for services or products in your niche.
Inbound marketing strategies try to target these customers by engaging with them. You’re trying to draw your ideal customers to your site by offering things they’re already interested in. This is where inbound marketing and SEO align. Both rely on attracting customers good content. In fact SEO is a form of inbound marketing.
What about SEO, what is it?
SEO or “search engine optimization” focuses on specifically improving organic traffic from web search engine results (namely dominate search engines like Google or Bing). Search engine algorithms are designed to read the code and content on a site and determine their rankings based on relevancy. But SEO isn’t just about traffic, after all the ultimate goal is still turning visitors into customers.
Just like with inbound marketing.
To use a fishing term, inbound marketing is more about using the right kind of bait, rather than using the widest net. While it’s true that a more personalized approach like this might reach fewer total people, those you are engaging with are much more likely to make a purchase or use your services. Many classic SEO strategies work on this sort of approach – meta data, keywords in content, and link growth are all ways to signal to search engines what your site has to offer.
Some of the most common SEO inbound marketing strategies include:
User Guidance Like Non-Intrusive Chatbots
Having a non-intrusive chatbot on your site is a great way to get short-term, immediate feedback. It allows you to get a customer’s thoughts while they’re still on your site. You can then use the information you get from the chatbot to tailor all your other strategies down the line.
Methods like chatbots help guide your sites visitors along the shopping funnel. They can also help to elevate the perceived authority of your site. Interacting with visitors this way can help improve the effectiveness of your other strategies such as content and conversion rate optimizations.
Maintaining a presence on social media is one of the most popular marketing strategies in modern business, and for good reason. It allows direct communication with current and potential customers on a platform they’re already using in their daily lives. Talking to someone via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram significantly increases the chances that that person will end up on your site.
As a form of inbound marketing, social media also has the benefit of potentially improving SEO. A good social media presence built on good sharable content means your site is more likely to gain valuable backlinks and is more likely to improve inbound SEO.
Backlinks are important to ranking as they make up the core of Google’s PageRank algorithmic system. Not only does social media improve traffic directly to your site, but it also demonstrates the link between inbound marketing and SEO.
Social media can help improve brand visibility in your industry and increase name association for your products or service. Think about how social media can bolster your inbound SEO as well.
Though social media interactions are not a direct ranking factor on Google, they can have a secondary benefit by improving your brands visibility and, as mentioned, may help with growing backlinks. For Microsoft’s Bing, social media sharing is an algorithmic ranking factor.
Though Bing shares only a relatively small segment of total web search traffic, it may benefit inbound SEO marketers to know that social media activity can give them a ranking boost in this area.
Content marketing and SEO strategy are not really that separate at all! These two common marketing strategies are closely tied together, and they are both fundamental to the broader concept of inbound marketing.
A big part of content marketing includes blog posts, instructional guides, videos, and more that encourage user interaction with your brand. Blogs in particular are big part of inbound marketing since they aim to focus on subjects that interest your target audience and can indirectly increase awareness of your brand or service. They also help a lot with SEO.
The key with these strategies is to ensure that content is built on subject matter that actually interests your audience. Focus on the ultimate goal of your audience and construct a content marketing strategy that strikes at the core of their goal. Don’t just focus on content for its own sake, ask your yourself if your content is actually helpful. If it is, then traffic will come on its own.
For an inbound strategy that drives better SEO, focus on writing EAT content – or content with Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. When Google released their “Medic update” in 2018, it emphasized to marketers the growing importance of legitimate and trustworthy content. Sites with EAT characteristics means content that is not only useful, but is built on your brand’s expertise, authority, and trusted reputation in your specific niche.
Though EAT isn’t itself a discrete ranking system, it compels marketers to consider certain signals on their site that can improve SEO. Things like keyword usage, internal linking, subject clarity, and more.
Our systems aren’t looking for EAT. Our raters are using that to see if our systems are working well to show good information. There are many different signals that, if we get it right, align with what a good human EAT assessment would be. See also: https://t.co/1fs2oJ9Gtl pic.twitter.com/GBbnYEjJUV
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 19, 2020
Google’s guide on EAT content works as a guide for inbound marketers using SEO and content strategies. It specifies that a “high quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well.” Specifically, they say that on-page content should have:
- High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- A satisfying amount of high-quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
- Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.”
The core algorithm updates that brought marketers the idea of EAT also brought changes that seemed to focus on “YMYL” sites (or “your money or your life”). This meant that sites that focused on purchases for wellness, health, security, and safety were more likely to be affected. If your site’s content fits this description then EAT content will be key to good inbound SEO marketing.
In addition to EAT content, Google’s algorithm has also boosted the importance of content that’s fresh. In 2011 they released an update that emphasized content “freshness” and encouraged marketers to think about inbound SEO marketing that provided searchers with the most up-to-date, relevant information.
If you begin to see older pages perform worse and worse and lose traffic, ask your self if their content is still relevant and accurate. If not, re-publishing them with up-to-date information could help. If refreshing old content isn’t an option, and it still has inbound value, then consider redirect the page to a matching page or linking your visitors to a more relevant are of your site.
These are two examples for how a good content marketing strategy is also intimately tied to SEO.
SEO for Inbound Marketing
Employing a well-implemented SEO strategy will ensure that the customers you’ve targeted elsewhere will find exactly what they’re looking for once they’re on your site. Inbound marketing in SEO means targeting keywords customers are already searching for and optimizing the pages on your site with these terms. In this way, inbound marketing and SEO are inseparable.
The chances are that you’re already doing some or all these strategies. So, congratulations, you’ve already gotten started!
The real trick to a successful inbound marketing campaign though, lies in content creation. Continually generating new content produced with the thoughtful purpose of attracting your target audience will drive customers to your site. EAT qualities and good keyword focus are keys to improving your inbound SEO performance. These strategies can get you customers that are already interested in what you are selling, or in the industry that your brand exists in.
Remember, you don’t just want as much traffic as possible funneling into your site, you want quality customers. Ideally, the kind that will buy, review, tell their friends about you, and then buy again. Inbound marketing and SEO are two (connected) ways to engage with these types of customers.
Let’s unpack that a little. You’re engaging your customers outside of your site and you’re creating new, targeted pages on your site. So hopefully your inbound marketing and SEO campaigns working together towards the same goals. By keeping basic SEO principles in mind when creating new pages, you’re already taking the necessary steps to ensure that the content features the terms your customers are looking for, using the exact keywords they’re already typing into search engines.
The meta title-tags for your site’s pages are important here. Your site’s meta tags are how you advertise your site to searchers from Google or Bing.
Optimize your meta title tags to include your focus keyword while also addressing the intent behind those search terms. Think about what your audience wants and make sure your page-titles accurately describe what they can expect when visiting that page.
For better inbound SEO you should write meta descriptions that accurately reflect what your pages are about, and what they offer. Don’t mislead or over promise.
Inbound marketing in SEO means determining the needs/problems of your potential customers and creating content to engage with users on these topics. The key to successful inbound SEO is engaging with your customer in a human way using the terms they’ve already searched for.
This can be done by using inbound SEO practices to optimize your existing product and/or service pages, but what about new pages? One of the easiest ways to continually add new content to your site is by starting a blog. A blog is a great way to target new keywords your customers are typing into Google and other search engines.
Blog content should be fresh, relevant, and unique. Ensure that you are not over inflating your site with too many closely related pages that spread your keyword rankings thinly across multiple URLs.
You don’t just want to jam a bunch of keywords onto your product pages and blog posts, then call it a day. The readability of the content for each page is just as important as the keywords themselves. Remember, you’re trying to engage with your customer. Keeping in mind how EAT-friendly your content is will be crucial to a successful inbound SEO strategy. In part, because a page’s content quality is one of the ranking factors that Google uses to evaluate a page. Just as important though, a high EAT page is also more likely to engage a user than a less targeted page might.
Hopefully this offers some insight into inbound marketing and SEO. For more info, contact Radd for recommendations on how you can use inbound SEO to improve your site’s performance.