What is Inbound Marketing?

May 14, 2012

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How is Inbound Marketing Any Different Than SEO?

Point of View

In all of our years in search engine optimization, the overall point of view we have seen throughout the SEO industry is this: “We need to do all we can to secure #1 rankings for this website as soon as possible.” That’s great and all, but there should be more to it than that. Inbound marketing embraces that “more to it” point of view.

The very core of inbound marketing is the search engine user. There is this weird mentality that a lot of SEO’s have where they tend to forget or completely neglect the importance of building a relationship with the user. They’ll go to the moon in order to obtain those high rankings faster than anyone else.

The Jelly Belly Theory

You know those Jelly Belly candies? Well, almost all jelly beans look good on the outside. Most of them taste good on the inside as well. Then you have your puke, booger, and dirt flavored jelly beans. Why in the heck do those even exist? For anyone not aware of what they’re about to bite into, their next 20 seconds with that ear wax flavored jelly bean will not be very pleasant.

Compare Inbound Marketing to Like Jelly Belly Candies

Compare this to inbound marketing. Maybe today you want to search Google for “Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?” You’re expecting a search result on the top of page 1 that directly answers your question. Sure enough, you’ll see a page called “Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?” Sounds good.

When you click on that search result and read its content, you gather more answers than you could have hoped for. It’s great! You’re satisfied. Google has done an excellent job at providing you with exactly what you were looking for. You searched for that peach flavored Jelly Belly, and that’s exactly what you got.

Then there are some rotten search results that Google has yet to find and throw into the abyss. They look good on the outside but offer nothing but spammy spam on the inside. You think you’re getting caramel corn when it ends up being moldy cheese. No one likes moldy cheese.

To put it plainly, some web pages with high rankings may seem relevant and useful on the outside, but one click will show the ugly truth. Inbound marketing works to outrank those web pages that aggravate all of us by using the most user-friendly techniques.


There are dozens and dozens of inbound marketing techniques, so we won’t go deep into each individual one. We just want to summarize the main points.

  • Content: Learn how to write. Being a good writer is critical when trying to make an impression on the Internet. Pick a fresh topic that people can relate to, research that topic, and write about that topic with language that your target audience will soak up and enjoy. This technique has actually almost replaced traditional link building methods. Google is fed up with people trying to manipulate the rankings. Now they want to see people linking to you because you earned it.
  • Keywords: If you’re just starting out, don’t aim for keywords that your competitors already rank #1 for. Go after a few less broad, longer keywords. If you’re a sports shop in Denver, you wouldn’t want to start off going after “sports shop Denver.” Instead, target a few unique products you sell.
  • Blogging: Make sure your website has blogging capabilities. You want to keep your site fresh and active. Write a few blog posts every week or every month, but make them worth reading. Make them informative, fun, smart, witty, or even controversial if that’s what you’re into. You should also have some off-site blog accounts. Websites like Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress, and Weebly rank very well in search engines. Post some cool content that people can find and link to, and your chances of gaining a solid online reputation just shot up.
  • Social Networks: We’ve seen a lot of small businesses trying to take advantage of the “genuine conversation” aspect of social media and social bookmarking. They post comments about popular current events. They put up polls for their followers to interact with. Some even come up with contests to attract more people. As long as they don’t become over-the-top and annoying, these and many other social techniques are great. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Digg, Flickr, and countless other social networks can help you gain a great repuation.

Inbound Marketing is Really Reputation Marketing

You can write, blog, and post stuff all day long, but you won’t get anywhere with it if people just don’t care what you’re serving them. Inbound marketing is all about being at the right place at the right time with the right toolbox. Surviving in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing is more about gaining a killer reputation than being #1 the fastest. All of those article spinners, link farms, and other black hat SEO techniques may work for the time being, but those who use such techniques are already starting to feel Google’s wrath.

Be smart. Be quick. Be innovative. Most of all, be human and put yourself in the search engine user’s shoes. Don’t be the Baby Wipes Jelly Belly of your online market.

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