Both inbound marketing and SEO are disciplines without clear boundaries. Where do you draw the line on each of them?
Is paid search an inbound marketing technique? I’d say no but others have argued it is. Is copywriting for web pages part of SEO? How about analytics? Or maybe conversion tracking?
So when marketing agencies offer inbound marketing as either a product – maybe based around a dashboard – or a service, what’s actually included? As usual, it depends upon your definition, of both inbound marketing and of SEO as a key part of the inbound marketing mix.
There are so called “software” solutions, which would have you believe that if you subscribe to their services, “you don’t need to hire that SEO expert”, and as if by magic, some keywords and link tracking will bring you all the targeted visitors you’ll ever need. As if a single report can tell you everything that you need to do to get better and better at attracting and converting visitors. It just isn’t that easy!
Now I don’t want to put down these systems; they are excellent as tools in the right hands. The only thing is, if you want the right hands, you’ll need to spend some serious amounts of cash on training how to use the tools, how to interpret the results and, most importantly, how to best implement the recommendations and measure the results, leading to incremental adjustments ad infinitum.
So here are five reasons why you need to hire expert SEO skills if you want to get the best from your SEO, despite the output and guidance from software tools:
1. You need to understand what works and what doesn’t. “Include the phrase red widgets 5 times in your copy with 450 words on the page” isn’t effective SEO advice. That’s just keyword density implementation and it doesn’t work for SEO.
2. You need to understand about the psychology of buying, the ideas of persuasion and how people work. Only then can you write convincing copy, articles and blogs that result in effective calls to action and lead visitors through the buying process, whether it’s their first or forty-first visit to your site.
3. Effective link building isn’t about getting a list of sites that you want to link to you and asking them to put links in place. Link building IS about producing great content that relevant sites want to link to – it’s about building link magnets, but not only because they attract links, but because the content is valuable to your visitors, uses processes of building interest, creating desire and leads to a desired action by your visitors. Can a software package do all this?
4. Do you know about canonical pages? Anchor text? Penguins and Pandas? Robots.txt? If you want to do a good job with SEO, you’d better know all about these and many more.
5. Do you have the required resource? It seems that a common misconception is that when you buy one of these packages, you are buying a complete solution. But you’re not – you’re buying a toolkit, and you need to have someone who knows how to use that toolkit, plus they need to have the time to do the required job with the chosen tools (assuming you’ve bought the right tool!). If you wanted to put an illuminated pond in your garden, would you just buy a screwdriver, a light bulb and a spade, and say “What a great pond”? No, because you wouldn’t have a pond – just the tools you bought. You’d need someone prepared to dig and someone with the skills to get electrical lighting in water.
One of the biggest causes of failure with inbound marketing solutions is not the solutions themselves – the tools are extremely useful. The main cause of failure is failing to recognise and budget for the amount of time and money needed to implement, train and perform all the required tasks on an ongoing (read “forever”) basis.
Of course, you could just get some help from someone with a proven track record in SEO…
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