When we launched our product five years ago, we wanted it to rely almost exclusively on inbound marketing- mostly because we didn’t have a truck load of VC money to burn. What we learned in those early years really helped us later on.
But six years later, our product and strategy have both matured a lot. We are still committed to the inbound model, but we’ve adapted our approach considerably. In fact, we would consider our current approach an order of magnitude ahead of what we did originally.
So what’s our new, highly evolved strategy? SEO.
SEO is Still the Best Way to Go Inbound
Don’t be disappointed. In spite of all the changes in marketing in the last ten years, SEO continues to be the best, and most undervalued strategy for the inbound model. Just because it’s older doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.
We’ve tried many other legitimate new digital marketing strategies in the last several years, but none have even come close to the impact that SEO has given. SEO is low-hanging, ground-dragging fruit that any inbound model can’t ignore.
SEO has become ‘unsexy’ as it has matured and isn’t the favorite project of many digital agencies now. Hence, there is a mild effort to make it seem like the poor country cousin of other exciting new strategies. But in reality, no other effort is better in terms of ROI and results.
SEO gives great ROI
Paid marketing is linear spending. When you exhaust your budget for the month, you start right back at zero. While your strategies and spend can greatly improve, you can’t find exponential value from paid marketing.
With SEO, work that you put in today can continue to pay off for years to come. We get most of our product signups from certain webpages that we wrote many years ago.
With SEO, it still takes a considerable amount of effort to maintain and improve your pages, but the efforts are completely worth it.
SEO gives the best results
SEO continues to deliver quick, high-quality leads for us.
Some companies avoid SEO as a strategy because they believe the myth that it will take six months to a year to see any results. While there may have been some truth to this earlier, Google actively indexes websites very quickly now—we can expect to see the results of SEO efforts in a month or less. Getting to a number one ranking may still take time, but getting in the top five results for most keywords is very doable in a quick amount of time.
As we analyze the quality of the signups that we get for KiSSFLOW, SEO invariably delivers the most leads that are a likely purchase. As customers self-select KiSSFLOW, those who come to us through organic results are most likely to make a spend.
But SEO in 2018 isn’t like SEO in 2012
As I mentioned at the start, while we are still committed to SEO, many of our practices have significantly changed.
Most B2B software companies have blogs that host all of their content, and they organize it under a /blog URL structure. However, only a tiny fraction of companies have blogs that anyone would treat like a media site where they sit and read four or more articles (ours included!). They ask people to subscribe to a blog that contains mostly transactional content on different topics.
We took a new approach last year to how we organized our content. Rather than treating it like a media site, we divided our content based several major keyword clusters we wanted to target. So, instead of putting content in /blog, we put it in /workflow, or /BPM (business process management).
These microsites allowed us to be more clear in how our content was organized and was an extremely strong signal to Google about what topics we were the authority on. Pages are interlinked within the same site and we consciously put outbound links to trustworthy third-party sites.
Google has tried many different metrics to find the right proxy for true engagement. Initially it started with time on site or session time. While this is still important, there are many other signals that can show how engaging your content is.
One large change we made was a switch from text-only blogs to visual blogs that function more like animated, interactive infographics. By dramatically increasing the visual appeal and adding elements like tabs and animations, visitors not only spend more time on our page, but they also send many other signals to Google that our content is what they were looking for.
One strong signal for Google is how often content is shared. But gone are the days when you can just put a “Share this” button at the top or bottom of an article. Now it is important to enable easy sharing within your content to quickly share a quote or a key point you make in your content.
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Do SEO (Right)
If you are looking to grow your inbound marketing, don’t simply go chasing the latest untested fads and believe the myths that old methods don’t work anymore. SEO is a tried-and-tested model that continues to deliver the best results for companies like ours that are committed to an inbound model.
However, how we do SEO today is much different than when we started. Successful SEO includes smart content organization, highly engaging content, and updated sharing tools to make sure visitors see the best you’ve got.
If you are looking for the next big thing when it comes to inbound marketing, it may have been right in front of you the whole time.