As one of the most important aspect of search engine optimization, inbound marketing has always been a top priority of successful webmasters. However, inbound marketing has undergone many large changes over the past few years.  The major search engines, in an effort to provide more relevant results to their constituents, have drastically changed the nature of inbound marketing online. As the kingmakers online when it comes to pure visibility, the major search engines must be catered to when it comes to all aspects of search engine optimization, which includes inbound marketing.  In order to determine how inbound marketing has changed over the past two years, we must first go over the basics of inbound marketing and the traditional methods that have begun to lose influence in the online business landscape.

What is inbound marketing supposed to do in the first place?

Inbound marketing is supposed to create an attractive place online that customers will naturally gravitate towards. This is usually done through a combination of search engine optimization efforts, social media efforts and blogging efforts. Through all of these efforts in tandem, a webmaster will hope to create a hub of websites that will “capture” the attention of consumers who are already interested in the industry that a particular company is in.

Inbound marketing is slowly taking the place of outbound marketing, which is beginning to be seen as intrusive and spammy by a great majority of online consumers. With inbound marketing, consumers are already interested in finding solutions within a particular industry. This means that they will likely be searching for a product or service that the company performs on a search engine or within a social media hub.

What are some traditional methods of inbound marketing?

When inbound marketing first became a viable form of online marketing, many gray hat users began to exploit loopholes in the system to drive traffic to their websites. For instance, some websites were able to spam keywords across dead blogs and message boards to create links with relevant anchor text. These links would cause the linked landing page to rise in the rankings of the major search engines, giving it much more visibility than it would normally have.

Because of suspect techniques like these, the major search engines have implemented many new regulations that attempt to crack down on these types of Internet marketers. The result is a much more stringent online environment of inbound marketing, with many innocent small businesses being caught in the crossfire.

Some of the most important changes in inbound marketing

Most of the major upheavals in inbound marketing have been caused by Google. As the largest search engine on the Internet, all of the other major search engines follow the lead of Google when it comes to creating their own algorithms. Also, Google gives a website the most opportunity for wide visibility – over 80% of all Internet searches are conducted on Google.

The first major upheaval in inbound marketing came when Google implemented its Panda update. The Panda update was geared towards lowering the visibility of websites with a great deal of advertising. However, the major change that Panda Incorporated was the implementation of a truly humanized artificial intelligence algorithm. Major search engines would now respond more to human behavior than ever before.

Because the artificial intelligence of the Google search engine algorithm now more closely resembled the search process of a human, gray hat and black hat search engine optimization professionals found it much harder to spam keywords and anchor text across the Internet and expect better search engine results. The Google Panda updates saw many social media websites and news websites rise in search engine rankings. Many websites that based their content on advertising found themselves left out of the new change.

The second major update to Google search engine algorithm’s that affected inbound marketing was the Google Penguin update. Google Penguin aim to lower the effect of mass inbound marketing techniques.

The Panda update did not necessarily target websites with questionable inbound marketing practices. However, the Panda update works so well to identify this type of website that the Penguin update was actually geared towards hunting them down. Because websites with questionable inbound marketing techniques were now being targeted, they were taken down with greater efficiency than ever before.

The changes in rankings on search engines were so immediate and severe that many companies demanded that Google provide some sort of stop loss against the onslaught of Penguin. Google then created the Caffeine and Disavow webmaster tools. The Caffeine update changed the nature of the search engine to a much more real-time results process. The Disavow tool allowed webmasters to tell Google to ignore low quality links that were now hurting the ranking of a website.

What do all these changes mean?

With Google in the lead, the major search engines now respond best to websites with dynamic content and a good human response. This means that websites with original, non-syndicated content that is updated on a regular basis do much better in today’s search engine environment.

The major search engines also watch for red flags such as large jumps in link creation or anchor text that is pointing to the same website across dead blogs and low-quality sites. The overall result is that inbound marketing for successful websites is now much more largely based on quality than it is on quantity.

A successful inbound marketing campaign is now directed more at human visitors than it is at search engine algorithms. Content is kept up-to-date, and there is always as much original content as possible on the website. Websites have a sophisticated yet organized internal link structure. Outbound links to other sites are high quality in nature.

In successful campaigns, the anchor text for keywords does not necessarily match all of the time. Many synonyms are used. Each page on a website is optimized to a different keyword, and each page has its own inbound marketing campaign of related pages.