I've had enough with off-site SEO (link building, etc.) It's not because it doesn't work anymore; it's more like a high maintenance internet marketing activities. By high maintenance, I mean that if you want to see results, you need to spend time and money on regular basis.
The keyword here is "regular basis."
You see, the number one mistake website owners do in SEO-ing their websites is this: They think that hiring someone to SEO your website is a one-off gig. No, it's not. SEO is like any other marketing activities - you need to do it on regular basis, or else it's pretty much useless.
Of course, you can DIY your on-site SEO: Giving proper attention to your page titles, keyword density and so on. Hiring someone to SEO your on-site SEO could work, but educating yourself the proper way to do on-site SEO can save you money in the long run, in my opinion...
Now, let's go back to off-site SEO. Like what I mentioned above, SEO still works; it's not dead like many so-called experts consider it. It's just that you need to be able to closely follow guidelines - or else, you end up getting slapped by search engine algorithm updates like Google Panda, Penguin, EMD update and their 'colleagues' in the past and future.
While I am exploring new ways to rank better on search engines, as well as getting incoming traffic to my websites, I am interested in the concept of inbound marketing.
I first heard about 'inbound marketing' from HubSpot. I joined their newsletter and I must say theirs is probably the best newsletter I have joined so far. The HubSpot team is doing a great job in building a resource worth reading and sharing.
And I realized, HubSpot practices what it preached: The company does inbound marketing. Doing so, HubSpot gets much attention from bloggers and the media (I wrote one about one of the resources I receive via HubSpot newsletter - and I'm sure many other shares the resources with their network ,too!)
So, what's inbound marketing, anyway?
"Inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value" - source: Wikipedia
There's a long explanation to that, but you get the idea just from that single sentence; inbound marketing is beyond SEO; you don't build links by buying links or begging for someone to link to your website. Links are earned; if you are successfully grabbing your prospects' attention, you win.
It's like what Google has been preaching for so long: You should "bait links" by creating outstanding, authoritative content that helps people to find what they are looking for. If the content readers like what you are writing, they might want to link to your content.
Of course, there is a catch; it's not easy to create outstanding content. But investing in your content will yield much more than depleting your resources on following the latest trends in SEO to get ranked better.
According to the same Wikipedia source, blogs are some of the most effective inbound marketing medium; reports, whitepapers, and such are also powerful. It's reported that companies running blogs are getting 50% more incoming traffic. What's more, inbound marketing costs 60 percent less than traditional marketing campaigns.
Stats aside, let's think about it: Google Panda/Penguin/EMD and whatnot are updated on regular basis; data refresh will happen occasionally, and algo update will happen regularly. What works today might not work again in the future.
A few years ago, the SEO advice goes like this: "Acquire links from other websites with your main keyword as your anchor text." Now, doing so will most probably get you slapped by Google Penguin update. your main keyword as domain name was a surefire way to get you ranked high in search engine result pages; now you will be penalized by Google EMD update.
It's tiring - and resource-intensive - to follow the trends. Whilst some have access to the resources to outsource the SEO workload, most don't. For the rest of us, the best bet is to adopt inbound marketing strategies.
So, what do you think? Will you focus on inbound marketing in 2013? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this post.
Image by StockMonkeys.com / Flickr