Posts Tagged ‘2010 SEO strategy’
A recently released report by Marketing Charts titled “State of Inbound Marketing Report” from HubSpot, reveals a growing trend of brands focusing their energy and funding on “inbound” marketing versus “outbound.” Outbound techniques have long been employed and still constitute the majority of marketing techniques, but that is beginning to change. Last year’s numbers indicated brands were beginning to rely more on inbound marketing techniques to generate leads; this year the outbound marketing budgets contracted further, closing the gap between the two opposing approaches.
What’s the Difference between Inbound and Outbound?
So what exactly constitutes an inbound approach versus an outbound approach? And what techniques are brands turning to? Essentially, an outbound approach is that where a marketer pushes his message out to the masses whereas an inbound approach is designed to pull in people who are already looking for your product or service. HubSpot classified these techniques based on how important they were perceived by the company, and also allowed for multiple responses in order to account for brands that place value in more than one technique. From their data, we see that popular and time-tested outbound techniques, such as direct mail and telemarketing, contracted 1% and 6% respectively, only generating 10% of leads each. Trade shows remained flat at 10% importance among respondents, meaning outbound techniques are preferred by less than 1/3 of brands.
Meanwhile, inbound techniques have become increasingly important to brands. Paid search and AdWords were the only inbound methods that fell in importance, now at 22%. However, social media, company blogs, and SEO methods have all increased in importance to brands, with social media and SEO methods important to 60% and 59% of companies, respectively. Company blogs were claimed to be important to 49% of the survey’s respondents.
Follow the Money, Inbound Marketing Budgets on the Rise
But let’s get down to the bottom-line: company budgets. When asked whether budgets for inbound marketing strategies increased or decreased for the year 2010, 51% of respondents claimed their budget had increased, with an additional 37% claiming it had remained constant. This means that 88% of American companies have maintained a healthy budget for inbound techniques, such as social media and SEO marketing strategies. Furthermore, of the companies that claimed to have a lower budget for inbound marketing campaigns, 92% claimed that the economy, not performance, was the reason for the decrease.
Specifically, social media campaigns returned high confidence numbers from brands, with four in 10 companies overall acquiring customers from major social networks. Businesses are increasingly placing their confidence in inbound marketing strategies, believing social media and SEO to be the two most important channels in gaining leads and bolstering their brand image.
As most of us know, Google has formally launched “personalized search” in an effort to continually improve each individual’s search experience in their engine. The goal is to track user’s search behavior in order to continaully improve and “personalze” the relevance of results. When these discussions first began, many SEO’s and Internet marketing companies feared that this would mean the end of Search Engine Optimization as we know it. We are still waiting to see what affect this will have over the coming months but from the information disseminated thus far, it seems that most of the fundamental best practices will still apply.
So How Does this Impact SEO for Our Clients?
The truth is, some of the important areas of focus that these changes bring to light, have really always been important. The end goal of SEO is to grow a business through relevant natural search traffic that leads to conversions (whatever those conversion goals might be). You can chase rankings all day long but if the result is not good quality traffic and conversions that lead to growth, there is something missing. The key things that still matter are:
- Focus on traffic and conversions more than rankings: Of course, we are still always going to look at rankings but now more than ever, we really need to combine the focus on rankings and the resulting traffic. If a site sees an increase in rankings but stagnant levels (or decreasing levels) of traffic, personalized search may be posing a negative effect and the strategy shoulf be adjusted. On the other hand, if rankings see a slight dip but traffic is improving, the site might be experiencing better results from the shift to personalized search.
- This has of course been important for a long time but there is a renewed focus on “brand” quality: The quality, interactivity, value, and user experience of a website will always impact traffic, bounce rates, repeat visitors, and link popularity. Google is now placing more emphasis on this with personalized search. This can create challenges for new businesses that may not yet be a “trusted brand” yet. However, it certainly does encourage any business to develop great content and have a good user experience.
- Other sources of traffic might have a positive impact on natural search results: It seems that all traffic sources will now be taken into account with Google’s personalized metrics. This could mean that paid search traffic and other key drivers to a website might positively (but indirectly) impact natural results within the personalized search spectrum. It will be interesting to see the results of this in the coming months.
How Should We Be Adjusting Our Strategy and Campaigns?
Best practices still apply. As mentioned above, we must conitue to improve user experience, brand loyalty, content, and traffic (from all sources). Continue to follow best pratices for basic SEO coding and making all pages accessible to the search engines, use a keyword strategy relavent to your business goals and that is aligned with your user’s search behavior, continually develop good content, and earn great inbound links by being proactive in your industry.