The Perfect Mix: Inbound and SEO Come Together To Make Something Greater
The ever-changing digital marketing world is leaving businesses with a maelstrom of questions, many of which pertain to inbound marketing. How and why, does inbound affect your business? When does it affect your business? What do we need to know or do to keep up with the digital marketing world?
However, the one thing that is not discussed in as great of depth is, how important search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it ties into inbound marketing planning.
Typically, when you discuss inbound marketing, you look at your persona development, content mapping, your cadence for publishing content, and of course your channel mix. But SEO is a key variant in inbound marketing and should not be overlooked.
Let’s start with lead generation. Lead generation is the combination of various efforts coming together to increase consumer awareness and create “leads” or “traffic” to help a business meet sales goals. If we are to be realistic, there isn’t one specific “formula” or “holy grail” that drives leads. Never the less, businesses, like yours, still need to “stand out” amongst their competitors. You need to be found, get clicked on, and then of course, form a connection that allows the consumer or in this instance “lead” to convert into a loyal client.
Businesses can very quickly lose time and money in hastened, unplanned, lead generation efforts. Trouble can quickly arise if you neglect the crucial pre-mapping phase. For instance, it can become very arduous to determine what marketing strategies are actually contributing or not to your success.
So, where are you getting your leads? A major percent of leads start online when a consumer begins a search query. Today’s search engine platforms are increasing in number, with search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and Ask all stepping up to compete with Google.
As more and more search engines up-their-game to attract or steal searchers, Google has had to change up their “playbook” in order to keep their searchers where they are. These changes, whether with google or search engine platforms, are why the understanding and continual growth of knowledge of SEO is so invaluable for inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is about the conversion process (traffic to leads). The traffic itself comes from various sources including online search engines. Hence, focusing on SEO to increase your company’s visibility to the highest rank possible on search engines is so important.
A SHIFT IN THINKING
There is an interesting thing happening with search engines right now. To keep up with the ever-shortening attention span of searchers, search engines, like Google, are shifting gears. Now, sometimes Google will provide quick answers without the user even being directed to a website at all. How often have we typed in the weather or a sports score just to be served the answer without ever having to visit a web site?
This means digital marketers need to shift their thinking of how business rank online and come up with and ways to optimize their client’s SEO. Are you optimizing for clicks or optimizing to solve the user’s query? There is a tipping of the scales from encouraging the click right away, to giving the answer to rank higher so there is more visibility, which should lead to a higher quality click. AND if we can drive higher quality clicks through SEO then your inbound marketing can take over and become more effective.
So, how well do you answer the questions for the person searching vs. click-bait copy in your meta tag descriptions and snippets? Why not shift our thinking to align more with Google and help answer the questions if we can?
THE SHIFT IS UNCOMFORTABLE
Change isn’t always easy. This shift in thinking is probably going to feel a little uncomfortable. We have this thought, that has been almost ingrained into our marketing brains, that if we can just get people to our site, drive leads, that all our problems will be solved! But this train of thought, though it may work in certain instances, isn’t always realistic. As a person strongly rooted in marketing, I believe in quality over quantity. I would gladly sacrifice high volume for high-quality traffic. Simply put, if I give the searcher what they need then the chances that Google will serve my site grows and so does the leads it produces from Inbound. AND the higher the quality, the better the data it produces.
With high-quality traffic coming in, you can get a better, more accurate understanding of what your true target is (based on your analytics) versus shoving traffic in for the sake of traffic. Chances are your analytics have a lot of unwanted visits that gunk-up reporting and skew results. The goal of any inbound campaign is to make sure you deliver relevant information to your target. The same can be said for SEO. We must change with the demands of the users. Inbound Marketing and SEO, are in a sense, symbiotic and should always work together and have a solid road map that coordinates all efforts.
I recently read a blog on how to build killer content that truly explained understanding the “big picture” of coordination. I really appreciated how it covered all the various aspects of what we do. But more importantly, how you can join them together to effect greater results. Now that you have a better understanding of how SEO and Inbound work together, take a look at your site. Are there problems that you might be having with your site or your content. If so, finding the solutions for fixing these problems can be extremely daunting.
Is it your site speed? Could it be your technical SEO? Perhaps it’s the content that you are serving? Is it your user experience? With so many moving parts and pieces that need to be aligned the task at hand might seem overwhelming. But relax. Breathe. It’s fixable! In order to have a good inbound plan, you need your SEO to attract and then convert or you will end up relying heavily on paid advertising.
STOP GUESSING AND START ANSWERING
If you want to convert more, then stop trying to guess intent and start answering questions! You do not want to guess wrong when it comes to sending or paying for traffic. This is often times expensive and ineffective. There is no guessing Google’s intent. For them, it is all about the user experience. Solving the user’s problem. Google is constantly changing up its algorithm to improve the searcher’s experience. Google doesn’t just rely on automated machine learning, they have a contract with over 10,000 search quality graders whose main purpose is to rank the quality of the pages that appear at the top of the search results. There are over 200 pages of detail that can be found here on what these contracted rankers were looking for in 2018.
Here are just a few things:
- The pages lacked purpose
- No to little content
- Deceptive page purpose
- Queries with multiple meanings
- Blocked content and landing pages
- Does the site meet the needs and freshness
- Misspelled and mistyped queries and results
Though it may take some patience and time to go through, the guidelines are very interesting to go over and can offer a lot of insight into the mind of Google. Search engine optimization is such an integral part of what we do as digital marketers. The opportunity to look at these guidelines can really help direct and guide strategy for Inbound and start converting your traffic into customers. Inbound marketing without SEO makes your content hard to find. Content is valuable. But content that is too hard is wasted and then becomes a waste of time to create in the first place. In essence, the hope of thought leadership and shared content disappears or is only served to the few. We prefer to serve it to the many which is why SEO and Inbound are essential together.
Looking for a place to start? Download our Free SEO Guidebook.
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