Do You Need an Inbound Marketing Agency AND an SEO Specialist?

Inbound marketing and SEO are not rival methodologies - they should work hand in hand to drive organic traffic to your website. Here's how…

Picture of Paul Marshall Paul Marshall

Published: 13 Jan 2015

5 minutes read

Do You Need an Inbound Marketing Agency AND an SEO Specialist?

If you read a lot of blogs from B2B inbound marketing agency folk and digital marketing specialists, you could get the impression that 'SEO' is dead and creating quality content is sufficient to achieve top search rankings. But is this because inbound agencies don't really do SEO and want you to pay them to create content rather than spend money on an SEO specialist?

While it's true that quality content is the foundation of Google love, content marketing without the marketing is just content. And if you're writing about subjects that just don't have the required search volumes, it's unlikely you'll generate any organic traffic.

Industry related news and thought leadership are really important because it's crucial that you continually nurture current subscribers with your content, as this gives you greater authority with them and the search engines. However, it makes the most sense to cover both camps: write about what you know and about what people are actually looking to read about.

The keyword isn't dead. As clever as Google is, it is still just an algorithm - a program designed to take a list of factors into consideration when determining the intent of a search and the pages in the results. It's vital to make that intent clear in what historically are the most obvious places. The rationale is that if you're doing the right thing and creating content for the user, your keywords will appear in the right places for both them and the search bots.

Your inbound marketing agency should discuss content topics with you and carry out analysis to draw out the most relevant and popular keywords associated with those topics. Conversely, they should be able to bring keywords that are generating interest to your attention and discuss the potential to create valuable content around those terms as well. The use of long-tail keywords works well in blogs, but keep blog titles to 70 characters or fewer. Remember that when users get search results back the most prominent text is in the title, so it's imperative that your targeted keyword appears there and that the full title can be read. Secondary to that is the meta description. Bizarrely, this remains a slightly contentious subject.

Meta descriptions and H1 tags

Yes, meta keywords were so badly abused that Google elected to ignore those around the same time the dinosaurs died out, but common sense dictates that because Google sees fit to display the meta description beneath the title in search results, it counts what's there as an additional marker of the intent of the page. When the text that appears here is actually Google snapshotting some of the text on the page, it means that either the meta description is missing, which is bad, or the meta description does not match the content of the page and so Google has chosen to ignore it. Either way, it's a missed opportunity to really sell the page to the searcher, so make sure those 150 characters are used well.

Your pages should be intersected with headlines and wrapped in header tags, the main and leading one being a H1, with H2s used sparingly and a little more freedom on H3s and H4s. Again this differentiation will be reflected in the styling of the text to draw users' attention to it, but it also does the same for the search engines. Once your inbound marketing agency has done the research around the target keyword and the latent semantic index (LSI) keywords associated with it, you have the opportunity to include them in the 'sub' header tags. LSI keywords should be considered with every piece of content you produce. Google uses them as a yardstick to test how genuine the content is in relation to the target keyword, so it's absolutely imperative.

Natural link building

Link building is a key part of any SEO strategy, but the Penguin, Panda and Pigeon updates to Google's algorithm made people nervous about the negative effects of generating links back to their sites for page rank value. Google says it makes 400,000 manual adjustments to its algorithm a month, so it is actively penalising unnatural link building, but if you're doing it right this shouldn't concern you.

Actively seek out pages that are relevant to your own page content that will allow you to link in the comments back to your site. Even if they're no follows, you still stand a chance of people reading the article and electing your link as the next thing they choose to click on. If you help to create a relevant journey for the user by linking a relevant comment to more relevant content, it's highly unlikely Google will frown upon that.

Just remember not to keyword-stuff the text you use in the link. There was a time it was imperative to include your keyword in the link tag, but Google sees that as unnatural now. Simply include your company name and let the fact that the page you've linked from and the page you're linking to is relevant to the keyword to make the association happen naturally for Google. This year, it's all about link earning, which brings us back to the importance of producing good content. If you write an informative and genuinely useful blog, it's much more likely that someone will reference it in their own blogs. There's not a black, grey or white hat SEO technique that can match that.

Your inbound agency is your SEO specialist

So building a healthy stream of organic traffic to your site is all about balance. Old, spammy SEO techniques no longer work, but that doesn't mean your inbound marketing agency can afford to ignore any of the ranking factors we've discussed when they produce your content. We believe the best approach is to find a partner that offers both content generation and search engine optimisation, not only because two different agencies may struggle to work harmoniously to get the desired result, but because the two practices are really two sides of the same coin and can no longer be separated.

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