SEO, inbound and outbound content marketing for small business blogs

business blog marketing

Blog marketing is changing in favour of savvy small businesses

When you start blogging for your business, you might concentrate on SEO – search engine optimisation. And that probably means you’re going to work hard on figuring out what keywords you should use to increase the results from inbound marketing. Whatever that is. But you’ve also heard that outbound content marketing is the strategy to produce real results. What’s the truth?

Here, you’ll learn about SEO, inbound and outbound content marketing, and keywords. You’ll also learn how they mesh together, and a few outbound marketing tactics you can use to increase ROI.

First, what is search engine optimization, really?

At its most basic, SEO deals with two different elements of ranking well in search engines: the technical side of websites (coding, architecture, crawlability) and the on-page factors (keywords and content).

That first part, the technical elements, are a clue as to why SEO remains so important even in the age where content marketing is the golden goose.

A huge part of an SEO’s job is to ensure that your site is built in a way such that Google can access and crawl your content quickly and completely. The mechanics of making that happen are well defined – links (quality not quantity), sitemaps, indexing, URLs, site speed and security, mobile optimisation, etc.

But all this work is irrelevant without content. It needs to be created to be appealing. It needs to be placed on your website where it will be found. It needs to be linked to other relevant content on your website. It needs to be written to target search queries, user intent, and converted using engaging language – with blog post styles to keep small business customers coming back for more.

So, if I get my SEO right, I’ll attract millions of visitors?

Yes, and no. Your website is like a star in the universe. It’s competing with billions of other very similar stars for attention. The biggest and brightest stars are seen first. SEO will help you become brighter, but the competition is so fierce that SEO alone can’t grab the audience you desire. You need something more, and this is where content marketing plays its part.

You need good SEO just to get into the universe. You need to market your content for your star to be noticed. The link between both is great content: it’s the fuel that drives SEO and marketing results.

What is content marketing?

For many years, people believed that content marketing was simply a great way to build links, and that this improved SEO and increased your Google ranking. Not the case any longer.

Content marketing is a strategy designed to increase awareness of you, your services and products. It’s designed to get people to share your news, views, opinions, and advice.

The links that today’s savvy businesses build are not to other authority sites, but direct to target audiences, leads, prospects, customers, and clients.

But don’t you need to be the brightest star to be the most successful?

One of the most successful companies I ever worked for was a company called Cargill. Never heard of them? I’m not surprised, most people haven’t. Yet most people use their products every day of the week.

Cargill is a private company. If it were public, it would be among the 20 largest of all companies worldwide. It supplies most of the underlying products in frontline products such as McDonald’s and Kellogg’s Cornflakes. It supplies around a quarter of all meat consumed in the United States, and a quarter of the country’s grain exports. It’s huge in sugar and salt. But its operations aren’t limited to agriculture and foodstuffs. When I worked for them, they were the largest futures and options trader in the London market.

How did Cargill get so big, without being a household name? It marketed direct. Built up loyal customers, who spread the word. Prospects began to approach Cargill. The company’s salesmen kept in touch with customers and prospects. Business followed. The perfect example of word-of-mouth – the modern equivalent of which is online networking supported by content marketing.

The key for Cargill was having something to say to their growing audience all the time. Effectively, great content to market. With this strategy, over time Cargill became the brightest star in its target market. Marketing to others is time-consuming, money-wasting, and irrelevant.

How do you get people to read your content?

Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty. We’re coming back to SEO. And SEO for content means keywording, doesn’t it? Well, no, it doesn’t. Not anymore. At least, not in the way that it used to.

Google has changed the way it ranks content. It used to search content for specific phrases. The more that phrase appeared in content, the higher the page was likely to rank. Bloggers started to keyword stuff. This is now a bust strategy. Keyword stuffing will destroy you. Google (and other) search engines have become intelligent. They search for meaning, and solutions to problems, not specific keywords.

So, keywording is bankrupt as a strategy?

Here’s where the confusion grows. While pandering to specific keywords will crucify you, you must still use keywords. They are still important to getting your content noticed. But you must be careful how you use them, and where you use them in your content. The key to keywording today is semantic keywords, and quality content:

  • Search engines explore your content for meaning and relevance
  • It must provide answers to questions
  • It must be well written, devoid of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
  • It must be attractively presented, and easy to read
  • So, if keywording can’t guarantee increased visitor numbers to your website, what can?

Inbound content marketing – your route to success?

Here’s how HubSpot define inbound marketing:

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people towards your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”

But it relies on outdated SEO tactics, and getting your website to page one in the Google rankings. No SEO company can guarantee this.  No content can guarantee this. You need to go outbound with your content marketing.

Outbound marketing is evolving

Before the internet and social media, outbound marketing was what we grew up with. TV commercials. Newspaper ads. Direct mail. Billboards. Expensive and yet cheap at the same time.

Today, just as SEO is coming of age, so, too, is outbound marketing. We’re entering an age when electronic billboard adverts will target specific customer desires as they walk past. I’ve written content for a company that specialises in sending SMS messages to customers while they are in shops browsing. These messages are targeted based on the customer’s online profile, and point them to potential goods to buy.

Outbound content market is intelligent marketing

When you outbound market your content today, it’s not like the blanket marketing of TV or newspaper ads. Just like those SMS messages, outbound content marketing targets potential clients. Less work for a greater return. That’s working smart.

How to outbound market your content

There isn’t one single strategy that works for all outbound content marketers. It depends on product or services, target audience, geography, and so on. However, here are a few ways in which you might reach out to your specific target audience:

  • Create social media posts from your blog posts.
  • Email your sources, suppliers, customers, and employees every time you publish a new piece of content. Encourage them all to share with their networks.
  • Create a Facebook page, and post all your content to it.
  • Use LinkedIn to post blogs as articles.
  • Email your contact list, promoting your new content.
  • Contact others who have shared or linked to similar content.
  • Create videos from your content to reach a new audience.
  • Turn your content into eBooks (encouraging email sign-up).
  • Make sure you link to your other content.
  • Submit your content to interested communities.
  • Get involved in relevant forums.

The takeaway

Inbound marketing is getting harder. The evolution of SEO guarantees this. Today, for your content to pull in your audience, you need to reach out more intelligently, to where you will find that audience. The new inbound marketing is outbound content marketing. Reaching your target audience with content that encourages them to act, engage, and share.

The real key is your content. When you find your audience, unless you provide quality content, you won’t grow and convert these prospects.

To help boost your business blogging, email me today for your free copy of my eBook How to write engaging blog posts and grow your online audience”. I’ll reply personally and attach my eBook for you.

Because quality content matters,

Michael

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