You hear a lot of buzzwords in digital marketing like inbound marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), SEO services, and local SEO. But what does it all mean, and what is most relevant to your business?
For most companies, there will be a division between inbound marketing and SEO, but maybe that division shouldn’t exist, because it harms the overall goal of a digital marketing strategy.
Let’s first define both inbound marketing and SEO, and then take a look at how these two marketing concepts can and should work together.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing refers to an overall marketing strategy with the goal of generating leads, engaging a target audience, drawing more traffic to a website, and turning leads into paying customers.
The term ‘inbound’ refers to the fact that you are doing things to create interest in your business so that your target audience can find you. This is different from outbound marketing, which is the traditional model of marketing that makes use of radio and TV ads, mass mailers, trade shows, and other modes of communication that spread the word about a product or service.
When you hire an inbound marketing agency, you will typically find that it specializes in several areas, including:
Creating and distributing content is one of the major aspects of inbound marketing, because in order to attract customers, you have to deliver the type of information they find important and relevant. Content creation can take many forms, including blog pieces, instructional videos, live video streaming, podcasts, eBooks, white papers, and webinars. The key to creating content is making sure you understand the problem your product or service solves for your audience, and how to communicate that in entertaining ways. Inbound marketers will typically create customer personas to identify the target audience that would most be interested in your product or service.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is rapidly becoming the most powerful and persuasive platform for businesses to engage with and persuade target audiences that they have what that audience craves. Most inbound marketing agencies will invest heavily in social media marketing, because those are platforms where many of their customers and prospects gather. The key with social media marketing, however, is that one size doesn’t fit all. For example, a company whose target audience is young Millennials will want to create content for platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, which are visually-driven, and appeal much more to that demographic. On the other hand, a legal firm may want to focus more on business-driven platforms like LinkedIn, where their target audience is more likely to congregate.
Another key aspect of inbound marketing is website analysis and website review. Your website can be a powerful marketing tool to attract and retain visitors, and to convert them into long-term customers. But a lot of websites are plagued with design issues, poor landing page headlines, confusing call-to-action (CTA) buttons, and long form fields that drive visitors away. Inbound marketers can perform a thorough analysis of your website to ensure that it is the best expression of your company’s values.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a word that used to dominate the digital marketing landscape.
Back in the day when Google prized relevant keywords above everything else, SEO was the obsessive focus of many digital marketers.
SEO refers to optimizing a company’s website so that it will rank higher on search engines like Google.
There are many factors that can affect your company’s search engine ranking, but Google’s ever-changing algorithms have made keyword-stuffing relics of the past.
Now, it’s all about using long-tail keywords, which are four or five-word phrases that are more specific in their intent, and can yield a higher-quality lead.
When you hire an SEO agency, you can expect it to provide you with services that include:
While SEO agencies don’t create content, they do review that content to make sure that it is optimized to create the best search ranking within an industry. This is far less about sprinkling keywords throughout a piece of content, and more about making sure that the content contains relevant keywords that are related to a main keyword.
PPC refers to a paid search ad campaign that can generate more traffic to your site. SEO agencies often use PPC as the centerpiece of their campaigns, but sometimes an increase in traffic to a website doesn’t mean an increase in quality traffic to a website.
Keywords are still important when it comes to search engines, it’s just that the type of keywords that used to help a business rank high has changed. As mentioned before, long-tail keywords are more specific to the exact intent of a user. For example, the query ‘1950s-era comic books that are worth $1,000 or more,’ is a long-tail keyword that expresses a very specific intent. SEO agencies can help identify long-tail keywords that are relevant to your industry, and those keywords are valuable, because users who use long-tail keywords are more likely to make a purchase when they land on a website.
How Inbound Marketing and SEO Should Work Together
The truth is that SEO is a piece of the large, inbound marketing pie, and that’s why it’s a mistake to consider these two strategies separate from each other.
An SEO specialist should work hand-in-hand with those who create content to maximize the possibilities of obtaining higher search rankings through keyword placement, creating links to quality websites, and using high-quality images to increase visitor confidence.
Focusing solely on SEO is a mistake, because marketing has grown beyond the obsessive focus on search rankings, but SEO is still important, so you should incorporate it as a vital part of your marketing strategy.
Maximize Your Company’s Possibilities
Digital marketing is always changing, so you have to constantly adapt to the fluid nature of customer acquisition, as well as algorithm changes that affect how your business ranks in search results. If you want to learn more about tools and resources to help boost your inbound marketing efforts, contact us today at (877) 898-3403 for a consultation.
Diona is a managing partner at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.