A Straightforward Introduction to Inbound Marketing and SEO
While blogging is not the only necessary activity of a successful inbound marketing strategy, it IS the core activity around which all other activities occur. Without the “central core” of a regularly updated website, the other activities don’t make sense.
But, people who “just” blog and don’t do the rest experience poor results.
This article will introduce the value of blogging and then move on to the secondary elements of inbound marketing which are just as necessary for a successful online presence.
Let’s get into it.
The Importance of Pagerank
When Google first appeared on the scene, it only took about a year for them to become the dominate search engine. Why? Because their search engine produced results most of us felt were “better.” They did this through the implementation of a patented algorithm named PageRank.
PageRank is a “voting” system where every hyperlink on the internet and every website has an assigned value.
The value of the hyperlinks is derived from the value of the page they originate on. The value of the pages is derived from the value of the links that point to it.
PageRank is, essentially, a system of voting
PageRank is a popularity contest. When you link to a website, you are giving it PageRank authority. When people link to a page on your website, they are giving PageRank authority to the page on your website.
How much PageRank a webpage has influences its ranking in search engine result pages.
Every incoming link (you may have read or heard of back links?) adds PageRank authority to your site. Additionally, the higher the PageRank values of the websites, the greater the benefit.
Today PageRank is not the only search signal (as it was on day 1), but it’s still a critically important one.
It’s Never Been “Who You Know”
The importance of PageRank illustrates the importance of the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Except what really matters is not who you know, but who knows you (and that’s always been true).
A link to a page on your website is an example of your website being known.
In real life (as compared to cyberspace) it helps that a lot of people know you, but there are also some key influential people who can make your career or business because they’re so influential.
For instance, the lucrative career enjoyed by Dr. Phil was catapulted by Oprah. She respected him, had her on his show a few times, and the rest is history. Would Charlie Sheen be a rich and famous actor if his father had not been Martin Sheen? Perhaps, but being known by someone highly respected helps you come to the attention of others.
And Some Websites are more Influential Than Others
The same is true of back links. While a back link from acme.com or PaloAltoOnline.com is of value, a back link from Whitehouse.gov or Time.com is of much greater value because those websites have a greater PageRank value. In terms of website rankings, they’re more influential.
Social Media Chatter Matters
Social media marketing provides an indirect benefit. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc are all places where you can participate in discussions while subtly (and occasionally overtly) making known that you can help with X or Y because you’re in the business of Z, all the while directing people to pages on your website.
While these social media updates do not provide direct benefits to your search ranking, they expose your website to more eyeballs. When some of those people like your stuff enough to link to it and/or comment upon it, you realize a direct benefit.
Because of this aspect of search, it’s desirable to steer as much of this chatter as possible to your website, where it provides the greatest SEO benefit. I recommend that rather than directly answering a question on a social media site, answer the question in a blog post, and on the social media site provide a very brief summary and a link to the blog post. If you’re lucky, the discussion will continue there.
Networking for LinkBuilding
How do you obtain back links for your website?
First you publish some really good stuff. Stuff you’re proud to share.
Then you share it.
In what we call “The Real World”, we call this networking.
Networking in the “Real” World:
When you’re promoting your brick and mortar business you meet other business owners and see if there are ways you can help each other. You may join the local Chamber of Commerce, and attend local networking events. You may help a local charity and receive some PR benefit from that. You and other business owners may exchange leads.
In the online world, it’s no different than the “real world” except the meetings often occur a bit differently. You meet people in online forums, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, etc.
When you’ve published something you’re proud of, share it and ask them to share it. Some will. In the language of blogging, sharing means “link to”, and “comment upon”, as described above.
The more your posts are linked to and commented upon, the higher they rank.
The SEO Value of Google+
When you remember that Google owns both the biggest search site in the world and its own social media platform, you’ll understand why Google+ is the most influential social media platform (in terms of SEO). Google can make Google+ relevant by indexing Google+ updates and presenting them in search results, which they do.
The way they do this is really clever. As that in and of itself is a rather lengthy explanation, feel free to check out The Useful Way Google+ Boosts Your Search Ranking and Results after you’ve wrapped up this article.
Write for Other Sites
Once you’ve created and published a significant body of posts on your site, approach other sites and ask if you can guest post for them.
Isn’t Guest Posting Dead? I know Matt Cutts said guest posting for links is dead, it’s not. Spam guest posting is dead (as it should be).
Guest posting became a spam tactic when a lot of people hired companies to obtain back links for them and these companies did it in very low quality ways. When something is done specifically to artificially inflate your website ranking (remember link farms?) it is targeted as spam by Google, as it should be.
Done Right, Guest Posting is Not Dead
On the other hand, writing quality posts for reputable online publications, be it PaloAltoOnline.com or HuffingtonPost.com (or the Wishpond Blog) is no more spam than when they publish articles by their regular columnists. Publishing quality posts on quality sites is not spam. These sites have a reputation for quality. If they’ve vetted you and publish your articles, it’s not spam.
Combining Online and Offline
Additionally, the separation we often make in our minds between “online activity” and “the real world” is arbitrary - I’m tempted to say false. What you do online and what you do in the physical world affect each other. They are tightly connected.
When what you are trying to sell online lends itself to some form of education where people bring their laptops, consider conducting free workshops where during the workshop you ask people to mention you, your workshop, and your website on their blog. To make it easy for them, create a page on a specific topic on your website for them to link to.
For those without blogs, ask them to mention you on Google+. For those without either, getting a few mentions on Twitter is fine.
The Virtuous Cycle
As an added benefit, interacting with and writing for others helps you (at least it helps me) clarify your thoughts and improves the quality of your writing. When you know your writing is intended to be shared (rather than “just” found), you write better. This creates a virtuous cycle where good stuff gets shared (linked to), which encourages more and better stuff, which gets shared, ad infinitum.
While the starting point for any form of link building outreach is having quality stuff on your site to share with others, the link building outreach is critical to initially start your search results.
Once your site is known for quality content, people will start arriving. Link building is a viable means of initially getting known, which in terms of SEO principally means linked to.
Remember it’s never been who you know, it’s who knows you. With the advent of the Internet it’s also who knows your website.
About the Author:
Kevin Carney is an expert in Inbound Marketing, who teaches and writes on the topics of Inbound Marketing, SEO, and WordPress.
Kevin founded and runs Inbound Marketing University, the online school and community where people learn how to attract their desired audience to their website and convert website visitors into prospects.