8 Nuggets of Inbound Marketing Gold from HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah

Friday Dec 14, 2012 by Dennis Keohane - Contributor, VentureFizz

Last Thursday night, HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah achieved a distinction that speaks volumes about his standing among members of the Boston tech/innovation community. Teaching a class entitled “Inbound Marketing for Startups,” Shah set (at the time) the Intelligent.ly record for largest number attendees at one of the school’s Boston thought leader events (he unseated BzzAgent’s Dave Balter, who had previously held the attendance record.  Jeff Bussgang surprassed Shah's numbers just four nights later teaching a class on Monday...obviously things are rocking at Intelligent.ly).

Those at the session were treated to some great wisdom from the inbound marketing guru. Here are eight pieces of advice: 

1. Make lists.
Hence the organization of this piece. Dharmesh was quick to point out the widespread, often annoying use of lists for SEO purposes; however, he had to concede, that for some reason, there is a benefit to list-formatted content for SEO purposes. So, although you may be getting sick of seeing posts such as “13 Places to Get a Chicken Parm Sub in Boston”, list based blogs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

2. Solve Someone’s Problem

The idea of inbound marketing is flipping the old method of marketing on its head and increasing the odds that the customers/companies that are looking for you... will actually find you. There is someone on the planet who is searching for/trying to solve problem that you can help them solve.

3. Creativity Trumps Cash

The best thing about inbound marketing for startups is that it is not a function of your budget. Inbound marketing success is a function of your creativity, not the money set aside for marketing.

4. Authority is Transitive

Shah explains authority as how much a search engine algorithm, such as Google’s, trusts a webpage. For SEO purposes, certain web pages, such as The New York Times site, have more authority than others that they can pass to you (if you are featured in an article, especially if you are the only company/site mentioned). SEO can be improved by getting a “follow link” on the sites of the high-ranking search engine “authorities.”

5. Google+ Matters

Social media does not play a “major” role in SEO; that is, unless you are using Google+. As Shah pointed out, the major reason you can’t ignore Google+ is “the characters before the ‘+’.” How you maintain a Google+ profile is more important than you may know. Specifically, the profile picture you use for Google+ is the de facto picture when your content appears in search results. Pictures, used in the correct manner, build trust and earn more clicks to a webpage.

6. Blogging, Blogging, Blogging.

Blogging works for improving SEO ranking. For one, individuals can build authority by writing content for a site and even by guest blogging. Individuals are important; brands get clicked on less than people. Good content is the best marketing tool. If you can’t write, hire somebody who can; it is a better use of money than trying to buy visitors to a site.

7. Every Now and Then, Try Something Crazy

The average piece of content goes nowhere. You have to do something wild and remarkable every now and then, even if it is uncomfortable. Try stuff: different media, different infographics, different podcasts, etc. Take a stand; every now and then, you are going to upset people, but you will probably get more positive attention than negative feedback.

8. The Most Important Piece of SEO Advice, Ever.

Don’t worry about the search engines.  Worry about the humans.  Shah put it simply: create useful content, clean designs, and fast websites. You want users to spend time on your site, which leads higher rankings and more traffic.

Inbound Marketing for Startups from Dharmesh Shah

Dennis Keohane is a teacher, journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.

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