I’m a practical guy. I’ll do whatever works. And what works has changed dramatically. Let me explain how I’ve changed my approach to online marketing.

I have been in the SEO industry for a long time. It is really just in the last year that I’ve come to understand the value of a real inbound marketing strategy

I want to write a quick blog post articulating what I’ve learned over the 12 months. Hopefully, it will help some of our peeps stuck in the dark ages with tradition SEO.

Rankings Aren’t the End Goal

For most SEO companies, rankings are the only metric that really matters. It is what they report to their clients and the focus of 95{e108bb21be762fc6fa6f79a68ef8277ec5dd508afc1fd385a5d42c82a88a4204} of their efforts.

As you probably know, ranking for a term that has zero search volume is going to add no value to the client. Even though this is the case, most SEO companies would count ranking for one of these terms as a major success.

What I have learned: We as marketers need to focus on traffic and conversion. Sure, some of this can come through organic rankings. However, that doesn’t need to be our main focus.

Our true goal is to help our clients get the kind of online exposure that is going to drive new business. This could come through a myriad of different channels including social, paid, PR, or organic. It is extremely important that we dedicate our resources to efforts that are going to drive a real return on our clients’ investment.

A true inbound marketing strategy works to create content that props your business up as the industry leader. You need to have the mindset of “If you build it, they will come.” I know this isn’t rocket science, but changing your thinking about what’s important is essential to having a different marketing style.

Long-Term Growth Over Short Term Results

The bottom link with tradition SEO is that it isn’t a sustainable way to improve your online visibility.

Sure, it is still very easy to build a new website and get it to rank using low quality link building. The site will rank for 3 or 4 month until the next big Penguin Update. After that rolls out, the site will have an organic penalty and lose all rankings. At that point, you will have to try to get all of the junk links removed and beg Google to reconsider how the are placing your site.

What I have learned:  There are other options besides spammy, low quality SEO. Inbound marketing is really the way you can have long-term growth.

As marketers, we really need to change how we look at the online dilemma. We need to get away from the idea of trying to trick Google. Instead, we need to have a long-term mindset.

Design, Design, Design

Having a website that establishes trust is really the foundation for being successful online. Most SEO companies will take any client with any kind of website. It doesn’t matter if it was designed using some HotBot template in 1995.

This is one of the biggest differences between SEO companies and high quality inbound marketing companies. Usually, companies that have an inbound marketing product want to make sure their clients are a good fit. They see a horrible website as a massive roadblock to them being able to produce for their client. SEO companies are the exact opposite. They will take on any client that can pay their minimum spend. Depending on the company, that can be anywhere from $50/month to $500/month.

What I have learned: There are really two different ways to establish trust with your website. These are the actual design of the website and the messaging that goes along with it.

Messaging

Having high quality messaging is extremely important for several reasons. This is the way you are going to show users your business as the industry expert. It is also going to improve the performance of your website.

Writing amazing content is a lot of work and takes a ton of practice. I want to encourage you to visit copyblogger.com. This is a fantastic resource for learning how you can improve the messaging on your website and blog posts.

It can be very difficult to write the right kind of content on your website. Below are a series of questions I answer before ever getting started writing an actual page. I highly recommend going through this process before you even get started with your writing.

1. Qualification Question:
Under what circumstance does the typical prospect start to think about buying what you sell?

2. Customer Values Question:
What things are important to your typical prospect when buying what you sell? Consider both the product/service itself and the buying process… then think in terms of what prospects want AND what prospects want to avoid.

3. Need To Know Question:
What are the relevant and important issues that a prospect needs to be aware of when making a decision?

4. Case Building Question:
What do YOU do to give the customer what he wants?

5. Evidence Question:
What would the typical prospect need to see or hear to feel like they had enough information… and be in control of making the best decision possible?

Design

Users are getting much more savvy with how they evaluate websites. It is extremely important that your website has a professional, modern look.

There are a lot of things in the evolution of websites that has changed over the past few years. Below are a few of the top items that come to mind.

Moving Away from Stock Photography – You used to see stock photography all over most websites. Marketing teams are really moving away from this practice. We really have the feeling that as the Internet evolves, people will continue being more picky about the websites they frequent.

Optimization for Mobile Devices – Marketers are really starting to take notice of mobile browsing. Did you know that mobile is projected to out number desktop queries in 2016. That presents a massive opportunity for companies to take advantage of that search volume. The thought of optimizing a website for mobile phones or tablets was completely off the table 5 or 6 years ago.

The True Purpose of a Blog

People in the SEO industry have always talked about the importance of having an active blog. The big difference here is how SEO practitioners view content. The purpose of a blog in the SEO world was simply to have a place where you can add fresh content. It was always meant to be just another tool for tricking Google into giving a website rankings.

What I have learned: A blog is really the hub for all content marketing efforts. It is the tool that drives your social media efforts. It is also a resource where your community can refer to for up-to-date information in your industry. Below are a few things I’ve learned about getting started with a successful blog.

Consistency Maters- Having a consistent publishing schedule is one of the most important elements for a successful blog. Before people are going to be willing to follow your blog or become a regular visitor, they are going to want to see you are in it for the long haul. You really need to look at the resources you have available and determine your ability for publishing great content. If it is only once a month, get started with that. If it is once a week, give that a try. The important thing is to stay consistent

Design You Can be Proud Of- Again, the design of your website matters. Having a blog that looks great and makes it easy to consume and share content is essential. If your blog isn’t up to snuff, we highly recommend getting it redesigned. Depending on the platform you are running, this can actually be pretty affordable.

Make Things Easy- In this day and age, people expect things to be easy. It is your responsibility to make sure your content is organized and easy to access. You are also going to want to make it easy for users to contribute comments, follow your RSS feed, and like your social media profile.

There is no question; inbound marketing is the next generation of SEO. We believe Google will reward companies that go out of their way to add value to the Internet.

The old-school days of trying to trick the search engines are over. The new era of actively contributing to your community, making real relationships, and adding value is here to stay.

We would love to hear your opinion about the future of online marketing. We would love to hear about what you have learned or changed with your marketing tactics over the last few years.