I’ve spoken with many clients and marketers alike, and its common to hear them express that they really don’t know how organic search strategies fit into their inbound marketing services. People understand that SEO is critical to any business, because the ability to being found online is the egress to growth. But being able to contemplate how SEO fits into a grander marketing strategy can be difficult to wrap your mind around.
SEO is the most common marketing strategy businesses invest in, yet most organic search efforts are disjointed from the overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, most service providers perform SEO and inbound marketing as two separate functions, and internal departments don’t collaborate.
If businesses partner with the best growth marketing agencies specializing in SEO and inbound, the ability to see how organic search and inbound fits into the bigger picture. Although SEO and inbound marketing aren’t interchangeable, organic search is a vital player to any inbound marketing strategy. After all, both work together to attract, engage and convert leads into customers.
Before we delve into how SEO and inbound work together to generate business growth, let’s first look at the two separate strategies.
Inbound marketing has a single goal oriented strategy that combines multiple components of digital marketing. It harmonizes these various aspects into a single agile strategy that places high value on the creation and sharing of specific content designed to target buyer audiences. From email marketing to managing the customer journey, inbound marketing draws upon these various tactics and orchestrates them into alignment with unified goals as each channel does its individual job as part of a larger, unified effort.
How does Inbound Marketing Work?
Remember in the first ‘Star Wars’ film when Luke Skywalker and his crew were pulled into the Death Star like a magnet where they began their epic journey? Inbound marketing works the same way by pulling people towards a website and nurturing them through a buyer’s journey with amazing content. Here, the entire customer journey is encapsulated through the top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel.
From the very beginning when people find a brand’s content via a Google search, to converting a lead into a delighted customer, inbound marketing is a buyer-focused chain of marketing tactics that help businesses hit their growth goals.
SEO is the most direct way to reach your customers. It’s purpose is to help your website get found by people searching for your products and services in the search engines through organic ranking. Most SEO agencies measure success by noting rankings and traffic generated to websites. Exceptional SEO service providers take the strategy a step further by adding conversion optimization to its strategic makeup.
In the past, businesses employed SEO services that focused on tricking search engines with tactics deemed spammy by today’s standards, and some even used black hat tactics. Before Google was able to improve its algorithm to make such processes virtually impossible to get away with, a lot of skepticism and bad juju revolved around SEO. But with year-over-year consistency of Google updating its algorithm 500-600 times a year with searcher-focused objectives, the bar has been raised making SEO the most difficult digital marketing strategy to execute at a high level capable of generating revenue.
How Inbound Marketing and SEO Align
Without SEO, inbound marketing would not be very successful. If executed by a true specialist, SEO will be your main channel for generating traffic. And in order for inbound to offer prosperous results, new leads must continue to enter top of funnel (that’s what SEO does).
But when working as an aid for inbound marketing, good SEO doesn’t just rank top of funnel landing pages; it attracts precise buyer groups at various stages in the buyer’s journey and feeds them strategic content that was designed to both rank well, but also educate the reader hitting on intimate buyer pains while encouraging them to complete the next desired action in the sales funnel.
Content is Rocket Fuel for SEO and Inbound Marketing
The relationships that run between content, SEO and inbound marketing is an interesting one. SEO can’t work without content, and content is the core of all inbound marketing campaigns. SEO can perform without inbound, but inbound marketing can’t succeed without SEO.
SEO and content marketing share the same organs that circulate the same blood and oxygen. You may have been able to separate these many years ago, but not today. With the addition of Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013, followed by RankBrain in 2016, it is crystal clear that Google prioritizes the user and strives to rank the best solutions based on the emotional needs within each search query.
Most SEOs aren’t content experts nor do they have the chops to create consistent and engaging content that ranks well and delights readers. This is why inbound marketing is a great wingman for SEO.
The inbound marketing methodology thrives from consistent, high-quality content that speaks to specific buyers at an intimate level. Content comes in many formats that include blogs, web pages, ebooks, white papers, case studies, videos, and reviews.
How SEO Works in the Inbound Methodology
In order for inbound marketing to work, traffic must be generated that leads people to the website, and this is SEO’s forte. But when looking at all four phases of the inbound process (attract, engage, convert, delight) SEO can work with each (although its biggest role resides in the attraction phase). Once you understand how growth marketing stacks work, it will become abundantly clear that SEO and inbound must amalgamate to work towards achieving the same goal though attraction and nurturing.
Without visitors finding the website, a top-of-funnel blog, or some other landing page, users don’t have the chance of entering the sales funnel and receive educational information that nurtures them until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Each optimized inbound path that is conversion-focused begins with attracting users, and this is where SEO shines.
How to Start Using SEO with Inbound Marketing
If you are new to utilizing digital marketing services, or if you have been using one of these services but not both, getting started can be daunting. It is highly likely that if you have been performing SEO or inbound, you probably haven’t been doing it at a high-level according to today’s modern expectations to achieve measurable growth. SEO in of itself is the most challenging of all digital marketing services; there is tons to understand, you have to engage in thorough research to ensure your strategy is goal-aligned, know what your organic competitors are doing, and write in a way that both Google’s algorithm and human readers will love.
Inbound marketing is getting more tech-focused, as CRMs with multiple optimization tools require an education just to know how to align them with other tools and strategies. Unless you have a highly-skilled team of internal SEO and inbound experts, it is highly recommended you partner with a growth marketing agency that can help you hit your revenue targets while making constant optimizations to ensure year-over-year growth.
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