What SEO really means in an Inbound Marketing World?

seo is evolving into inbound marketing

I have been an SEO consultant, engineer, ninja, guru, specialist, or whatever else you want to call it for several years now.  Over these years I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say “SEO is dead”.  I’ve heard it  since the day I started. Obviously SEO isn’t dead and I don’t think it’s dying either.  It is, however, changing and adapting all the time.

SEO is just like every other industry or business.  You have got to adapt over the years, change your tactics, adjust your strategies or you simply will not keep up.  I believe “adapt or die” is what they say. Do you remember when IBM made computers? It has been a long time. But IBM isn’t dead…it evolved.

One aspect of SEO that is constantly changing, and it is probably the most frustrating to SEO’s, is the Google Algorithm.  You spend months and years adjusting your strategy and as soon as you think you have it figured out Google comes along and changes everything.  If you have been ethical and hardworking you might not have even noticed a change, but check out any SEO forum and you’ll quickly be reminded that they happen all the time.

In some ways, however, this makes us better marketers. One of the things that I dislike the most about SEO,  is that everyone chasing a magic bullet, because there is no magic bullet.  Your tactics and strategy will change and adapt but there will never be an easy way.  My average work day has significantly changed over the last 18 months and that shift has been away from “old-school” SEO tactics and toward inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing makes SEOs better online marketers.

What SEO really means in an Inbound Marketing World?

I don’t want to dive into all the differences between SEO and inbound marketing, or even what inbound is.  If you are looking for explanations about inbound you can find that here, and here. You can even download our smart business guide to inbound marketing.

What I will talk about though is the role that SEO still plays in the inbound marketing world.

Keyword Research

Whether you call it SEO or inbound marketing, the most important thing is still keyword research. All of your online marketing success depends on the research you do up-front, and that decides the direction of your campaign.

Keyword research permeates into every aspect of your campaign and without it you have no foundation.  You can write great blog posts all day long but if no one is looking for those topics it will be a waste of time and effort.

Blogging, Content & Copy

I put this one next because it directly ties in with keyword research.  After your keyword research is complete you have to target words & phrases in your content.  Your blog posts need to be SEO optimized & written to rank in the search engines and get shared on social media.

Blog posts are also important for several other reasons.  One great thing about publishing often is that your website gets indexed more, and crawled more often.  While all this is happening on the back end, you are also setting yourself up as an authority in your niche.  Not only are customers more likely to do business with businesses that blog often, they are more likely to give that business to the industry leaders.  Over time your blog posts have been answering their questions, supplying key information, keeping them informed, and most importantly keeping your business on their radar.  All of that pays off when they bring their business to you. One simple blog post could have brought a customer to your website when they first started their online search for goods and services.  While they may not have become a customer right away, they found you, followed your online presence and now they are a customer.  Nothing makes me happier than when someone finds our website through a blog post and eventually becomes a customer.  It makes it all worth it!

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization lays the foundation of SEO & inbound marketing campaigns on your website.  Not only does your content need be about topics people are searching and written in a way that the search engines will rank it – it also needs to be organized in ways that make it easily accessible to both search engine spiders and human readers.

On-page optimization is where content creation and information architecture meet. This is one of the reasons we love the WordPress CMS. The architecture is mostly taken care of for you so you only really need to worry about content optimization.


Analytics plays a major role in both SEO and inbound marketing.  I mention it here because it is an aspect of an SEO’s job that often gets overlooked, and yet it is a critical aspect of performance. Any good SEO will tell you that rankings aren’t enough, and that data needs to be analyzed in order for SEO to improve.

What pages get the most visits and why?  What pages are people constantly leaving your site from, and should they be changed or deleted?  Are your calls to action being clicked on, are your forms being filled out?  What is your shopping cart abandonment rate?

All online marketing should be data driven. To be successful at SEO, you need to be good at reading the data. The data can tell you a whole more about your website visitors so the job of SEO has changed. It has been slowing evolving into inbound marketing.


In the past “being an SEO” meant getting a website to the top of the search engine rankings. But what’s the point of being ranked #1 if  the traffic is not qualified and never converts? An SEO today needs to expand his focus beyond rankings and to revenue. His work needs to bring value.

What I love about inbound marketing is that it takes the focus off of rankings, and lays it on more important metrics like lead conversions, sales and revenue. (Trust me, I am still obsessed with rankings though).

With inbound you need to analyze your target audience, create great content, come up with unique ways to interact with your audience, and use your website as a tool.  It transforms your website from an online brochure into a real marketing machine.  Inbound marketing, much like SEO, will drive traffic to your site, but it goes the next step by converting that traffic into leads and customers.

Essentially SEO used to be an individual tactic that lived in a silo and now it is a part of a much bigger picture.  SEO is one tool that attracts website vistors inside of a grander plan to turn those visitors into customers.

I couldn’t be happier with the evolution we are witnessing and I hope all SEOs are as happy as I am.  There is tremendous opportunity to learn & grow inside this exciting field that helps businesses succeed.




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