The search engine has transformed the way we seek information. This must be acknowledged before anything can be said about inbound marketing. We have gone from looking in libraries, encyclopedias, and phone books to simply typing a question into Google. Now, almost any page in the entire public internet could appear as a result. Ask a search engine for something obscure, and you may see the only five sites available that feature your subject. Search for something common and you will have dozens of pages of possible results, with Google’s “Best Matches” at the top for your selection. Thus, the world changed.
It started with just a few business sites and research databases and grew exponentially from there. Forward-thinking local and national companies built their own websites, and why? Because they could now be easily found through search engines rather than just visited by people who already knew the links.
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The Rise of Inbound Marketing
From the moment the first business built a website because of the reach of search engines. Inbound marketing is the concept of attracting new customers simply by making desirable content available. Consider the first website that provided a plumbing tips guide and the number of powerful early 90s clicks it must have gotten. Soon, local businesses began to see the light, and an opportunity to get their phone number out there to new local customers.
In many ways, we can thank inbound marketing for the simple rise of business websites. Why does every business today need a website? So people can find them through organic searches. Search engines will always be at the core of inbound marketing because the internet allows people to ask for whatever they want and connect them with content from all over the world.
Inbound vs Outbound
The core value of inbound marketing is letting the customer come to you.
Outbound marketing is all about pushing the product into new hands. The television commercial and billboard are classic examples of outbound marketing, getting the product into view of anyone and everyone.
Inbound marketing is more like having a storefront. Customers who want what you’re displaying will come and shop. The search engine then takes the digital place of real-world foot traffic. People who want to buy a lamp will find an easy route to all the local lamp stores and online catalogs they could hope for. People who need a hotel in a distant city can find an enjoyable stay in their price range without anyone having to shout from a street corner or watch a commercial.
What the Customer Wants
The best thing about inbound marketing is that it’s all about what the customer wants. Customers are happiest to buy and best served when they can find what they want quickly and easily. Search engines are upgraded to provide more accurate and helpful results and businesses strive to make themselves easy to find through search engine methods.
At the same time, businesses agreed that they did not need attention from people who would not or could not become customers. The billboard is seen by thousands who won’t be persuaded for every new customer it wins. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, assumes that most of the viewers will have found your content through a keyword search. An article about baking will most likely only be read by people who are already interested in baking. This kind of smooth, automatic targeting drastically increases the chance that each individual reader is likely to convert into a customer.
The Two Types of SEO
Now that we’ve covered what Inbound Marketing is as a concept, let’s talk about how to actually do it. Inbound marketing means using your content to attract search engine users, which means your primary goal is page rank. You want the search engine to see your website as the most relevant to common industry keywords and specific product keywords. You want to be at the top of the page so that as many potentially interested customers as possible see your website as a result. This is achieved through a process known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
In it’s purest sense, SEO can include any trick in the book to raise your page rank. However, in practice, it has developed to separately (and sometimes confusingly) used applications.
The original form of SEO was all about keyword optimization. Search engine crawlers would compare how many times your website and content pages mentioned the same keywords typed into the box. The page with the most keyword matches was likely to have the highest page rank. Because the main concern was text content, SEO Copywriting becomes the new name of the game. Then simply called ‘SEO’.
The goal was to cram as many industry and service keywords into your content as possible, ideally still forming useful paragraphs. This became known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and SEO Copywriting evolved to more sophisticated content creation based on whatever search engines demanded at the time. Any time you need a web page or blog article written for marketing purposes, it will need to be written with content SEO in mind.
The other half of SEO is tactics, something that doesn’t have to relate to text-based content. As search engines evolved (and boy did they evolve), so too did the methods for winning page rank inbound-marketed customers. Factors like the depth of your site, daily traffic, linking, and content quality start to play a part. As each new criteria is added, new tactics were developed to achieve the highest page ranking.
The search engines want to provide users with links they will find immediately useful. BusinessesWebsites seeking page rank take their cues from the algorithm on how to build their websites. If links are rewarded with result prominence, then websites begin linking to each other. If content length is valued, then blog articles and service pages get longer and more detailed. These are SEO tactics, which often have very little to do with SEO copywriting; though ‘SEO’ is used to refer to either interchangeably.
So, What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the art of attracting customers exactly when they want your product. When a customer needs what you have to offer, they will ask a search engine. The way you build your website will guide interested seekers into your content, introduce them to your services, and offer them assistance. From there, these new visitors are free to explore your website, read deeply into your blog, and convert into customers whenever they’re ready.
This is the best way to provide timely conscientious service in the digital world. For more information about inbound marketing and how to do it right for your local business, contact us today!