The majority of our clients find us by looking for an SEO company. Inbound marketing does seem to be an exclusive term that only the marketing community (but not necessarily the business community) uses on a regular basis.
As the Google algorithms have changed, so has internet marketing. As the digital world has evolved, so has internet marketing. As user behavior has morphed over time, so has internet marketing.
As a result, old-hat SEO has become outdated, and inbound marketing has set up shop in its place.
And yet, business owners/ CEO’s, and marketing managers still often look for an SEO company.
This is an understandable remnant of an old trend, however – usually what they’re really looking for is an inbound marketing company that knows how to work within the cultural and digital changes that have taken cyberspace by storm (Don’t worry, this includes SEO).
Understanding An Old SEO Company
Many of the old SEO habits that internet marketers used to incorporate have now been labelled ‘black hat.’ This is the internet marketers way of saying that the methods being used and considered acceptable back in ‘the day’ are now viewed by Google as attempts to manipulate the system and push one’s way to the top of rankings by force.
Here’s the thing: Google wants good websites to rank the highest. When it comes down to it, that is the sole purpose behind all of their algorithm updates. Google wants the searchers to find what they need easily and be satisfied with their search results.
So when Google began initiating algorithm updates that penalized common SEO practices – such as duplicate content, hidden content, stuffed noscripts and meta descriptions and link farming, it was with the intent to protect searchers from finding crappy content.
Let’s talk briefly about some of these so that you understand the picture:
Before Google had algorithms to catch duplicate content, SEO companies would stuff a website with keyword dense copy. Google would read this text, see the keywords and rank the website.
There were a variety of ways to hide content. This could be done using comment tags, noscripts, html tags and so forth. The principle was to stuff these areas full of keywords in an effort to make Google rank the site higher.
Meta – stuffing:
The meta-keywords and meta descriptions used to be manipulated in just the same manner as above—packed full of spammy keywords. The result would be the same as well—higher rankings.
These were essentially fake pages stuffed with keywords to fluff up the website. They were never designed for actual readers or users, but, yet again, were plumped up with keywords.
The idea behind this strategy is built upon the fact that back-links help rank websites. While for a time this produced the desired results, Google hopped on this practice quickly.
Unfortunately, these days bad backlinks give your site a bad reputation. Consider it like turning a resume with your listed references as all wanted criminals. We’re not kidding—it really is that serious to Google.
Progressively Google jumped on these various nefarious practices and began penalizing websites and marketers that used them.
The practices themselves, and those that used them or used modifications of them that could help them slip past Google algorithms, (and there are plenty more examples than these few we’ve given you) began being viewed as ‘black-hatters’.
Now, let us be clear on one point—at the time, these SEO methods were quite effective and (most of them) were considered acceptable.
So, marketers leapt on board without delay and began using the same strategies. We are not pointing fingers – a lot of internet marketing companies would use one or more of these tactics back in the day.
But those days are over and it’s now time to focus entirely upon inbound marketing, the child of good white-hat internet marketing practices. And for any of you that aren’t aware, what you need to be searching for is no longer SEO, but instead, the new and improved version of SEO and marketing as a whole —inbound marketing. To find out more about it, keep reading below.
The New Kid: Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a specific form of internet marketing that adheres to “white hat” practices for gaining traffic, generating leads, and attaining conversions (sales).
Notice that we’re not just talking about traffic – which is what most people are thinking about when the go looking for an SEO company.
What help is a bunch of traffic if none of the visitors choose to buy from you?
This is one of the reasons why you actually want to market using an inbound marketing methodology.
Comprehensive Strategy: Not Just about Traffic
There are three components to a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy.
First, of course, you do need traffic to your website, so that’s where we start.
Second, though, it’s important for that traffic to turn into leads for your business – into people that would be interested in buying from your business but just need a little convincing.
Finally, we need to convince them by motivating them to buy, which includes (possibly) modifying the website design, implementing calls-to-action, and nurturing the contacts that you’ve received.
Driving Traffic, Generating Leads, and Gaining Conversions
Google’s search algorithm updates have endeavored to make Google think like a user and less like a computer.
The search engine wants to make sure that it is ranking pages that are the most pertinent and helpful to the user’s search terms.
It does this by basing its algorithm factors on what the users also care about. This includes new, updated, popular, and relevant content that matches the user’s search terms.
So, content and user experience is key. Developing helpful content that users will love is the first step in an inbound marketing campaign.
Next, we move onto leads.
Leads occur when your viewer gives you the ability to contact them via a phone number or email address. You can get this information through contact forms, subscription forms, or eBook download forms.
Conversions occur when someone requests a free consultation, orders from your website, or schedules an appointment.
Ultimately, these are the types of actions we have in mind for all of the traffic that is driven to your website – we want everyone to do these things, and so our goal is to set up a system that will “funnel” them in that direction.