If you read my up-to-date guide on external linking for SEO the other day (if not, check it out), one of the major themes you probably took away from it is the importance of creating great content. As both people and search engines like Google become increasingly wary of cheap ploys to lure clicks, it becomes increasingly critical for companies to develop a solid inbound marketing strategy to drive traffic, create conversions and build a brand.
By creating great content and finding smart ways to distribute that content to your target audience, you’ll naturally create organic external links that help grow your business. And beyond attracting customers and improving your SEO, you’ll also engage with your community in a more meaningful way, establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and strengthen your brand. To help you reach these goals, let’s take a closer look at why inbound marketing is the new external linking strategy for SEO.
What is Inbound Marketing?
For those new to the topic or in need of a refresher, inbound marketing is about creating and sharing quality content that naturally draws your target audience in to your product or company and helps convert them into customers. Compared to the old outbound methods of simply creating ads or marketing materials and hoping they catches peoples’ attention, inbound marketing is a much more targeted and engaging approach.
With more of a focus on earning a person’s attention, rather than buying it, inbound marketing utilizes engaging content that adds value and connects positively with the consumer. Informative and interesting blogs, white papers, podcasts, eBooks and infographics are some great examples of inbound marketing methods that are designed to educate and, in many cases, entertain the target audience. When this great content is combined with a smart social media strategy, a company has can have an exponentially bigger reach as people share their content with others. Inbound marketing helps to create a steady stream of referral traffic, buzz about the company or product, and ultimately sales and more leads.
All of this, in turn, helps to improve search engine rankings through organic traffic and social signals, which helps to improve the results further.
How does Inbound Marketing improve SEO?
Until recently, the relationship between inbound marketing and search engine optimization was largely focused on keywords and links. By utilizing the right keywords placed correctly throughout your content, along with utilizing other SEO elements, you could help to boost your search rankings for particular queries. And by building external links aimed at your content, you sent signals to search engines that your content was relevant and authoritative, and therefore should rank higher.
While keywords and links are still important, search engines have evolved dramatically over recent years, as have the ways that people search, which means that your SEO approach needs to evolve as well. And that’s where having a smart inbound marketing strategy comes into play. Recent updates to Google, including Panda and Penguin, and other search engines, were aimed at addressing SEO tactics designed to game the system through keyword stuffing, link planting and more. While obviously not all link building and keyword strategies were using these approaches, search engines like Google now want to find better ways to determine a searcher’s intent, based on factors like context, location, search history and social cues.
While optimization will continue to play a role in all of this, inbound marketing now needs to focus on excellent content that is targeted towards the specific and relevant topics that people are searching for, as well as where they are searching (on mobile devices or locally), and useful information that they will be more inclined to share socially. Tackling these more nuanced goals will be no easy feat and requires a more involved and engaged role for inbound marketers, but if done well, this new approach to inbound marketing and SEO will yield great results not only with search engines, but also with customers.
How to make Inbound Marketing your new external linking strategy for SEO
So, how exactly how do you approach inbound marketing in this new era of SEO? Well, as you might guess, there’s no quick and easy solution, but rather a collection of comprehensive approaches, including great content creation and distribution, that collectively can improve your SEO and drive more customers to your business. To give you an idea, here are some examples of effective inbound marketing:
- Blogs – Creating thoughtful, informative and entertaining blogs is considered one of the best ways to organically attract new visitors to your website. The key is creating engaging, original content that helps the reader in some way or offers the answer to question or search query. Well-written, unique blogs are tremendously useful to readers, and are in turn shared throughout social circles, helping to direct more people to your content.
- Whitepapers – Whitepapers are well-researched, in-depth and authoritative reports that offer readers an exploration of a specific topic, while also providing a potential solution. Different than a product pitch, white papers serve as a great way to inform your potential customers about an issue relevant to your industry, establish yourself as a credible authority, and build your brand. They’re a great way to draw in your audience organically and can be shared easily.
- Infographics – Infographics are an incredibly popular marketing tool these days as they can offer your audience an eye-catching, informative and immensely shareable piece of content. Beyond just being visually appealing, it’s critical that infographics offer something new and useful in order to draw people in, keep them there and encourage them to share the content.
- Videos and Podcasts – Videos and podcasts can be a great way to attract customers and improve your SEO as they offer concise and engaging content that can directly address specific interests. The type of videos or podcasts that you utilize will vary depending on your industry and business, but they offer tremendous flexibility for engaging with your customers, attracting visitors and offering sharable content.
- Social Media – Social media serves as a vital component to your inbound marketing strategy, offering numerous opportunities to engage with your audience, add value to the community and help encourage distribution of your great content. Definitely not a set it and forget it option, a solid social media strategy requires continual engagement and will evolves as the popularity and design of platforms shift, but the return can be well worth the investment.
Now that you have a better sense of how inbound marketing can function as your external linking strategy for SEO, how do you plan to implement the theory into practice? What have your experiences been with inbound marketing and what else have you wanted to learn about it? Let us know in the comment section below!
- “The relationship between SEO and Inbound Marketing” (Search Engine Journal)
- “The future of SEO and what it means for Inbound Marketing” (HubSpot Blogs)
- “The brand of SEO and the trend of Inbound Marketing” (The Moz Blog)
- “The changing definition of Inbound Marketing: Why SEOs and SEMs should care” (Marketing Land)