Inbound marketing is an important strategy for attracting and engaging customers, and SEO is an essential part of that.
This article covers an in-depth overview of how to effectively execute the SEO portion of an inbound marketing strategy. Using an example from start to finish, we’ll cover what you can do to help your business gain more visibility in the search engines to attract the right audience to your website.
Lance Beaudry is the owner of Avalanche Creative, a website growth marketing agency in Grand Rapids, Mich. He has been featured on OptinMonster for launching a customer campaign that grew an email list from 0 to 10,000 in 60 days. His team specializes in scaling local service-based businesses online through the use of their website.
Learn how SEO can be part of a successful inbound marketing strategy.
What Is SEO and Inbound Marketing?
If you’re new to SEO and inbound marketing, you’ll need to understand first how they are similar, but different, and how they work together.
Inbound marketing is a method of marketing that is built on a methodology of attracting, engaging, and delighting your ideal customers by providing them with value before you have sold something to them. This builds trust and asserts your level of expertise on a particular subject matter.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method of marketing focused on growing your business’s visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. There are many aspects to SEO, both technical and creative in nature.
How SEO and Inbound Marketing Work Together
SEO is an activity of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing activities can include:
- Content marketing (blog posts, videos, infographics)
- PPC (pay-per-click) marketing
- Social media marketing
- Link building (generating links back to your website)
- Email marketing
Inbound marketing pulls all of these activities together for a single goal of attracting the right audience to create opportunities for your business.
Know What Your Audience Is Searching For
You’ll need to figure out what your audience is searching for and make sure you understand the possible intent behind their search to pull off an effective inbound marketing strategy through SEO.
It’s important to understand that good, white hat SEO doesn't involve as much focus on satisfying search engines as it does satisfying the searcher. That's what the search engines are trying to do, so that's what you need to do as well.
For the rest of this article, we’re going to reference and use examples from one of our customers, a hydroseeding company.
Performing Keyword Research
Conducting proper keyword research allows you to uncover opportunities that can guide your entire inbound strategy. When you aren’t sure what content to create for your inbound strategy, look to what people are actually searching for.
Using a tool such as SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool, type in a keyword for a service or subject matter that your business is an expert on. The example in the screenshot below is for hydroseeding (a method of seeding a lawn).
In the red highlighted box, you’ll see the keywords “diy hydroseeding” and “do it yourself hydroseeding” as well as an average search volume for each of those keywords. That volume is based on a national monthly average throughout the previous 12 months.
The Keyword Magic Tool will give you ideas and related keywords or phrases that actual people search for in the search engines. We use this tool to:
- Get content ideas
- Identify keywords with a good amount of volume
- Find opportunities to outperform the top-ranking pages for these keywords
When we first began keyword research for our customer, we took notice of these two keywords. We looked at the SERPs (search engine results pages) and drew the following conclusions of those two keywords:
- Most people are researching and are not ready to commit to DIY hydroseeding, which means some of the content on the first page of Google isn’t helpful or relevant.
- Based on the top results, we decided we could create better, more helpful content for those who want to know everything that goes into DIY hydroseeding.
We know that a good percentage of those searching these keywords are not going to do it themselves after they find out what’s involved, and it’s at that moment that we want them on our customer’s website.
Developing Your Content
You should determine what needs to be included in your article once you decide what keyword(s) to focus on. You’ll need to develop a sense of empathy for the searcher and focus on helping them answer any question that could stem from your focus keyword.
With “DIY hydroseeding,” there are plenty of other questions the searcher could actually be looking to answer:
- What are the costs associated with it?
- What equipment will I need to do it?
- How much time will it take?
- How many times will I have to do it for a beautiful lawn?
- What steps do I need to take to prepare?
You get the idea. Start writing down every question that your searcher could actually be looking to answer. Borrow from what’s already out there. Your keyword research tool can help along with a tool such as LSIGraph. This tool generates a list of keywords that are related to the keyword you are focusing on.
Once you’ve put together that list, start thinking about what form your content can take. It should certainly be an in-depth article on your website, but what other forms can it take?
- A calculator or quiz
- Interactive web application
The image below shows a screenshot of a video we placed within another article on hydroseeding.
Placing a YouTube video in your content helps add more context and relevancy to your article.
Invest a good amount of time in developing the content once you’ve decided what forms it will take. Don’t just treat it as a task. Create this content like your business depends on it because if you execute correctly, your business will depend on inbound leads from this content.
Create Your Offer
You should be ready to determine what your offer or “lead magnet” is after spending time developing your content and gaining some empathy for the searcher.
For our hydroseeding customer, we understood that there was a lot more time and money that went into DIY hydroseeding than we had originally thought before working on our content. This led us to wonder, “Is DIY really going to save me money?” We then created an offer to help the searcher answer that question.
On the page of your website where your content exists, figure out what else you could offer your customer that continues to help them solve their problem. It should be something that the content of your article doesn't help them solve on their own.
For our example, we provided a contact form and a phone number they could text to get a quick quote from a real human to determine if it would be cheaper to have the company provide hydroseeding services rather than DIY hydroseeding.
Your offer should at the very least collect a name and email so you can start the process of lead nurturing, a vital process to inbound marketing.
Leverage Your Fear of Opportunity
The SEO portion of inbound marketing works well when you are willing to share your knowledge. Don’t be afraid of helping your customer so much that you fear they might not even need to buy from you. In our experience, if you feel that fear, you’re on to some great content and a powerful SEO strategy.
The reality is we know that some readers of our DIY hydroseeding content will end up doing it themselves. We’re okay with that. Plenty of opportunities still exist. In the future, that DIYer may refer a friend or may come back for another service.
I chose to write this article for the very same reasons. I’m always willing to give away the “secrets” and the knowledge I have because if I don’t, my potential customers will never truly trust me and know how I can help them.
Today’s online buyers are doing more of their own independent research before they buy. How can you help them? What information can you give them that you or your competitors may be scared to give away? For a great opportunity for inbound leads via SEO, start there.