You just have no idea.
That company blog you’ve been managing? Those tweets, status updates, videos, boards, and website content you’ve been creating and scheduling? The public relations team placing your content and name all on other publications? Yep, they are all major players in your brand’s search engine optimization efforts. Surprise, you’ve turned into an online marketer!
A recent article confirms that it’s time to admit that you are already spending money for SEO efforts whether you know it or not. The next step is figuring out how to integrate a holistic SEO strategy into your already existing inbound marketing plan. With the current state of search in rapid evolution, you’ll be thankful to know that you unknowingly set yourself up for success in online inbound marketing, even if you aren’t executing a full-blown SEO strategy yet.
Take this year for example: Significant changes in the search landscape, including new Google algorithm updates, the growing popularity of passive search platforms, and the unification of social search has caused a fundamental shift in SEO tactics, rendering most traditional SEO strategies ineffective and outdated.
Let’s back it up. Forget what you knew (or didn’t know) about the world of search engine optimization, and we’ll start over.
As a recap, in the past, nearly all SEO strategies were built around three key onsite components: on-page content, link building, and site URL structure. Sufficient amounts of keyword-rich content, back links, and a crawlable site were really the most important factors in moving your site to the top of the search results page. These tactics were never really included under the umbrella of general or inbound marketing.
With search engine algorithms becoming smarter, their criteria for determining rankings have become more rigorous, looking at factors beyond traditional elements. SEO has outgrown this onsite exclusive optimization structure, and moved into off-site territory because search is no longer just happening on search engines. These new ranking factors have blurred the lines between online and inbound marketing, causing a need for a shift how both strategies are managed.
Blending a holistic SEO strategy into your existing inbound marketing plan will boost your brand’s relevance and authority, while allowing you to better engage and monitor potential customers. Overall, you will see an increase in brand awareness, site traffic, and even conversions because the right people will have a much easier time finding you.
It’s definitely a case of “If you build it, they will come.”
Here are some ways to realize the online optimization potential your current strategies hold:
PR and Social Media
No doubt your off-site PR and Social Media strategies are focused on gaining exposure, authority, and credibility in your space. In today’s search world, off-site authority is established when a company/brand is recognized as a topic expert that provides searchers and search engines with reliable, relevant, and valuable information.
Just like face to face interaction, online expertise is recognized through authentic relationships with well-known brands, companies, individuals or organizations through common interests, mentions or valuable connections. Using social media platforms to interact and build relationships with household industry names, will gain the trust and respect of your customers and increase visibility within your space.
In traditional SEO practices, the only off-site optimization was link building. This is still very crucial, even in today’s changing search landscape. Be very sure that your social media distribution includes frequent links to credible sources, as well as your own site and social profiles. When providing guest content on an outside publication, insist on as many links back to your own properties.
PR and Social Media will drive traffic to your site, but post-click actions are what matter most. A users’ behavior on your site send signals to the search engines – and other users – about whether a user’s initial search intent was satisfied by the website. Search engines have placed increased emphasis on post-click metrics such as social sharing, authority paths, amount of time spent on page before the searcher returns to the search engine results page.
It may be as easy as including prominently placed social buttons on key pages to ensure that users can easily tell social networks – and search engines – that they find your site trustworthy, relevant, and valuable. Or it make take more thought as to how to actually keep users on the page with compelling content, clear call to actions, and multimedia.
Not to be a broken record, but having great content will do wonders for any online marketing strategy. However, it’s not just about producing high quality content; it also needs to be relevant. Online consumers are savvy, demanding, and they know what they want. It’s up to your site to give them exactly what they want when they want it. Otherwise, you might as well make another notch on your bounce-rate bed post.
Understanding how users find your site is important when considering how to satisfy their intent. Performing a little keyword research to find out what your site is ranking for, will help you to develop content around those topics. Conversely, if you aren’t ranking for keywords you would like to be, creating and posting content around those terms to gain some momentum on the search results page.
Leverage your onsite content and blog to gain visibility to the right users at the right time, and you’ll see an increase in both volume and value of organic traffic.
Analytics – Metrics that Matter
Much of inbound marketing can be considered brand awareness, which isn’t always trustworthy when it comes down to hard numbers. Traditionally, the number of site visits (clicks) has been the primary metric to gauge SEO success, but the cross-over into inbound marketing territory has allowed for an opportunity for a more robust set of data points to measure and analyze optimization efforts. It’s now possible for inbound marketers to gather data and analyze factors like reach, frequency, social sharing, site speed, citations, traffic volume, and even the holy grail of data: conversion metrics. Win-Win!
If you didn’t already understand search engine optimization, it can seem intimidating to think about incorporating it into your marketing plan. However, when you break it down and realize you’ve been optimizing for search all along, it’s pretty easy to give your strategy the boost it needs to be more competitive online. When any two elements come together, they become stronger, and this union is no different. Both your SEO and Inbound Marketing strategies will be better if they work together.