SEO brings traffic in the front door, while inbound marketing invites it to stay for dinner – a perfect pairing for dominating search results.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on earning potential customers’ attention and trust through relevant, educational, and entertaining content that speaks directly to their needs and interests.
Instead of outbound advertising and promotions which interrupt audiences, inbound tactics meet audiences where they are and guide them to your brand by adding value at each stage.
Core inbound marketing techniques include:
- content creation (blogs, videos, etc)
- search engine optimization
- email marketing
- social media engagement
All of these channels are centered around providing useful information tailored to attract and nurture potential customers over time, rather than hard-selling to them immediately. The goal is to make your brand and offerings more discoverable and desirable organically to buyers already looking for solutions.
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) refers to the process of improving a website’s visibility and rankings in organic search engine results pages. SEO seeks to optimize a website’s content, technical architecture, and authority signals in order to help search engines understand and rank the relevance of that site to specific keyword searches.
The goal of SEO is to improve a site’s organic search traffic, rankings, and visibility in search engines’ results pages based on merit rather than purchased ads.
Effective SEO requires an understanding of how search algorithms, spiders, and users interact with websites.
How do SEO and Inbound Marketing Work Together?
SEO and inbound marketing are complementary digital marketing strategies that work extremely well together.
- SEO focuses specifically on improving rankings in organic search results through technical optimizations and building authority and relevance.
- Inbound marketing refers to creating valuable content and experiences tailored to attract an audience already looking for your solutions.
While SEO helps surface your content and make it discoverable to searchers, inbound marketing aims to use that content to convert visitors into leads and customers.
Simply getting traffic from SEO alone doesn’t ensure engagement or sales. Inbound techniques like content creation, email nurturing, and social media, however, serve to build relationships over time that eventually encourage website visitors to contact your organization.
In essence, SEO powers the discovery, while inbound persuades visitors to take action. Using both strategies in harmony results in a high volume of organic traffic that converts exceptionally well.
The key is aligning SEO and inbound efforts – creating content optimized for both search visibility and audience needs, promoting that content through multiple inbound and SEO channels, and continuously optimizing based on engagement analytics.
Together, SEO and inbound marketing produce remarkable synergies and ROI by adding value to every stage of your marketing funnel.
The Basics of The Marketing Funnel
The Top of Funnel
This is the discovery or awareness phase of your funnel. You’re attempting to build awareness around your brand within your potential customers.
At this point, we don’t care about getting the sale but digging into the subconscious of the individual. You want to hit that pain point hard here.
A good top of the funnel strategy will get people saying “huh, I didn’t even realize I had that problem until now.” Or “I didn’t realize there was a solution to that problem until now.”
Here’s where inbound marketing begins to work its magic. Instead of talking about yourself, you talk about your potential customer and their problems.
You figure out what they want to learn and figure out how to connect those back to your product or service. You then educate them and raise their competency level in your niche so they feel like experts after reading your content.
Once they feel like experts in your niche and your product, they’ll be more likely to see a need for your product or service in their lives.
Content you should use in the top of the funnel:
- Blog content
- eBooks, games, and big content in general
- Email marketing
The Middle Funnel
Once the person associates you with the solution to their problem, you’ve got them in the next stage of the funnel.
They may not trust you yet, but they are thinking about you. Think of the top of the funnel like a first date and the middle funnel like a second date. In between, the person is wondering if there’s more there, but they aren’t ready to commit yet.
Maybe you’ll solve their loneliness problem, but they’re kind of afraid you’ll add more problems than you’ll solve. But they’re curious, so they consent to a second date.
Your job during this stage is to convince them you’re safe and you won’t cause problems in the long run. You’re still not going to get “salesy” on them.
And according to a Hubspot Research survey, 61% of respondents don’t want you to be salesy anyway. You can relax and keep the salesman hidden until it’s time to close the sale.
Content you should use in the middle of the funnel:
- Case studies
- How-to articles involving your products or services
- Video demos
- Datasheets and product descriptions
The Bottom of The Funnel
You’ve courted your love. They now want to move to the next stage. What do you do? You ask for a commitment.
They’re still hesitant. But you’re confident they’ll say yes (you went to Jared’s, after all).
This is the point at which you pull out all the stops. You should show them everything you’ve got to offer.
This means pulling out testimonials (they gotta meet the parents sometime) and reviews (do they know your friends?). Lastly, you need to make it easy for them. Not too many hoops to jump through before they hit that buy button.
How Does SEO Fit into Your Inbound Marketing Funnel?
Content is the present and the future of the internet. SEO and inbound marketing are no longer just about the numbers game (although the numbers game is incredibly important still).
You need to impress Google, and your leads, with incredibly useful, linkable, and well-written content. If you can pair such content with a stellar funnel system and an intelligent link strategy, you’ll be kind of the inbound marketing world (at least in your niche).
How do you fit SEO into your marketing funnel? You need to ask yourself a few questions for each level.
- What keywords fit into this level?
- What kind of content will leads expect at this level?
- What are searcher’s intents at this level?
- How will my content strategy move people deeper into my funnel?
- How can I promote my content so more leads drop into my funnel?
Ask yourself these questions while creating a content plan for each level of your funnel.
From Awareness to Trust
Just like any good relationship, the goal is to go from awareness (top of the funnel) to trust (bottom of the funnel). And content, especially content that ranks well on the search engines, will push people along at each level.
And while it’s difficult to link build from your marketing funnel alone, using inbound marketing outside your funnel will help. Don’t forget about domain authority.
Create high ranking pieces of content elsewhere on your site. Optimize your website structure to funnel the link juice out to your landing pages. You’ll see the rankings of your landing pages rise.
SEO and Inbound Marketing: Implement it.
Now that you’ve applied the principles of SEO and inbound marketing to your funnel, you should see fewer leads drop out.
Be patient, however. SEO and inbound marketing take a bit longer than outbound marketing techniques like PPC. But you’ll see results within a few months if you deploy with a proper SEO budget.
If you’re ready to optimize your own marketing funnel, give us a shot.