Many marketers seem to believe that building content, together with accompanying landing pages and calls to action is all they need to do for a solid inbound marketing funnel. Sure, creating a funnel with different journeys based on your buyer persona is definitely the foundational structure of every campaign, but there is often a vital part missing. And without that vital part, chances are nobody will end up going through those carefully constructed funnels of yours.
In case the blog’s title did not give away the secret already, we are talking about the combo of SEO and PPC. Read below to learn how the combined efforts of these two practices serve to strengthen the top of the funnel, and how you can apply it in practice.
Long gone are the days when simply adding a keyword to the title, and in the body a few times, would suffice. For proper indexing, search engines demand much more, including:
- Onsite SEO (Both content-related, and non-content related)
- Offsite SEO (link building, content distribution, social discussions, influencers)
Onsite SEO, a practice that revolves around optimizing elements within a page or a blog post, can be divided between content-related practices, and non-content-related ones. Content-related ones include making sure the content tackles a specific topic and that it has the keywords and the alt text to show for it. So make sure your content includes keywords (preferably long-tail ones) in the title and the first paragraph, as well as in the blog’s meta description. Keywords need to reflect a certain user intent. Make sure that every piece of content has at least one relevant image, which will also contain the keyword in the alt text. And most importantly, make sure the piece is authoritative, trustworthy, and unique. Duplicated content will not bode well with search engines.
Non-content related SEO means making sure the site works properly from a technical perspective. Is it optimized for mobile? Make sure it is, because Google loves it. Does it load fast? Again, make sure it does, because users loathe slow-loading sites. Make sure the piece has outgoing links (links pointing to other sites, for credibility purposes), that has a proper URL structure, as well as the Schema.org structured data.
All these things combined will ensure that your masterfully crafted content gets the search engine ranking it deserves.
Once you are done optimizing your pages for search engines (both technically and from a content perspective), there are things you can do outside the site with the same goal in mind. Marketers usually think offsite SEO and backlinking are synonymous, which is not exactly true. Backlinking, albeit an important part of offsite SEO, is, at the end of the day, just part of the effort. By having content on other sites and blogs linking back to your content, it is your content that will gain more visibility, credibility and an increased perception of quality. All of these are essential at building trust among your target audience and creating an image of an opinion-maker and a thought leader.
However, do not stop there. Another important part of offsite SEO is content distribution through social media, which also means engaging in meaningful conversations on various platforms such as Quora, LinkedIn or Reddit. Adding guest blogging to the mix is also valuable, and depending on the industry and the niche you are in – you can also consider employing the powers of influencers.
At the end of the day, offsite SEO revolves around improved perception of your content’s quality, both among search engines and your target audience. That is done through links and mentions among other content creators, as well as links and mentions on social media and among influencers.
While SEO requires investing in resources to rank high in SERPs under specific keywords and inbound efforts focused on converting them into leads and full-blown clients, it is no secret that organic efforts take time, and lots of it. Until search engines index your content for specific keywords or when competing for rankings on super competitive organic terms, PPC can come in very handy.
PPC advertising can be designed to complement the related SEO efforts as well. Paid search allows you to achieve prominence among SERPs, as well as to conduct small experiments in order to find which keywords generate relevant traffic to your content. Exploring which terms make the user reach your content in the fastest possible manner provides inbound marketers and SEO professionals with valuable information about these visitors. They come with sufficient enough insight to tailor their strategies (SEO) and content (inbound) to the audience. All the data on clicks, impressions and conversion rates for specific keywords that are gathered in the process offer wealth of information that can help make smarter strategic SEO and inbound marketing decisions.
Pro tip: Don’t fall for the usual trap of utilizing PPC and SEO just to promote the top of the funnel. Don’t forget – different buyers are at a different stage in the buyer’s journey, so promoting just one stage, or one part of the funnel might not be the ideal thing to do. Smartly utilize your efforts to strengthen the entire funnel.
If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one to hear it, that is one really sad tree. A masterfully crafted inbound campaign, comprising of valuable blog posts, beautiful landing pages and clear calls to action, will be a really sad one – if there is no one consuming it and signing up for walled content. To make sure your buyer personas actually hear your falling tree, you need to drive them to the forest, and that is best done through the combined use of SEO and PPC. By optimizing your content for search engines algorithms and adding solid display ads to the mix, you will see your target audience reaching the top of your funnel – in droves.