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Trying on the Inbound Marketing Hat

2013 April 30
by Kathy Alice
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inbound marketing hat

Hmm, not sure it fits ..

Like a lot of SEOs I get the SEOMoz Top 10 email newsletter, which shares ten links from around the web that would be of interest to those of us in the SEO industry. Among discussions of Google+ and rel=canonical was two references to inbound marketing which really jumped out at me. SEO has always had a relationship with marketing. The truth is, some aspects of SEO ARE marketing and have always been. But when you are mired deep in technical SEO issues, such as figuring out the right way to do pagination, inbound marketing might seem like a strange hat to wear. But with the new Penguin fueled emphasis on content marketing as the “new way to do SEO” and the shunning of the old spammy linkbuilding ways, it is a hat that us SEOs must get comfortable wearing. As they say “innovate or die” (a quote attributed to both Charles Darwin and Bill Gates).

So what is Inbound Marketing?

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in marketing that started with blogs and really took off with social media. In the mass media age, marketers crafted clever catchy messages that were broadcast to the masses via radio and magazines and later on television. This is known as outbound marketing and still dominates marketing today. But this type of marketing is quickly becoming less and less effective.

    Consider that:

  • 86% skip TV ads
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened
  • 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC “Do Not Call” list
  • The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing

Source: mashable.com/2011/10/30/inbound-outbound-marketing/

Inbound marketing cultivates trust and interest through various forms of content marketing which include blogs, white papers, and even podcasts. The key here is the opportunity for the user to engage and respond to the content, whether that is via commenting on a blog post or sharing it via twitter. Good content gets shared and often linked to, which is the holy grail for an SEO.

Linkbuilding is dead

Google been preaching the “focus on excellent content and not linkbuilding” mantra for a while. In the below Google Webmaster Help video on the top 3-5 SEO mistakes webmasters make, Matt Cutts urges us to think about “not linkbuilding but rather compelling content and marketing”.

If you are already thinking about creating content, for example to answer common customer questions or to provide more information to help them along the decision making process, you are already wearing the inbound marketing hat. Think of your blog or site as the “hub” of useful information and figure out ways to get the word out about what you offer. The problem is really that there is so many choices on how to do this that it can be overwhelming. But it’s like everything, you just got to start somewhere, then measure and refine. And rinse and repeat.

Image courtesy of BenSpark – Flickr Creative Commons license

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Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a technologist, author, blogger and SEO consultant with a background in web operations and engineering.In her spare time she loves to get outside.
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