I consider my father to be a great marketer. He’s had a lot of experience with start ups and small businesses, and anytime I need creative advice, he is the man I go to. The other day, I was feeling a bit stuck on a project I was working on. I asked him “Before the days of the internet, what would you do to market a company?” I expected him to tell me about call centers, fliers, direct mail, phone books, etc. That’s not what he said at all. His reply was “There’s never been any secret to marketing. All you’ve got to do is get your service or product in front of the right people at the exact time that they’re looking for you. If you’re not there when they’re looking, then they’ll find your competitor instead.”
It’s funny, because in that case all that I needed was a reminder to look at the situation from a 30,000 ft view to get past my mental block. I should have just taken a step back a few days earlier and saved myself some time. What my father explained is what we do every day here at Stryde: Inbound marketing. As a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist, I don’t usually think of what I do as inbound marketing. Truth is, that’s exactly what SEO is.
Online marketing is an ecosystem of channels
Going back to what my dad said to me, marketing is really just the act of getting your product or service in front of the people who are looking for you at the right time. This is obviously much easier said than done. Finding the people who are looking for you can be tough all on its own. That’s why there are so many different channels we can use to market companies. Anything that gets your product or service in front of another person is considered a channel, whether it be fliers, billboards, PPC, word of mouth, trade show booths, inside sales associates, email marketing, etc. There are many different channels you can use to market your website online. Some of the most common are banner/display ads, video ads, SEO and PPC.
What is SEO? What is Inbound?
SEO is the process of creating better visibility for a website in its organic listings. Search engines rank websites using an algorithm that determines which pages are the most relevant for the key term searched by the user. In the past, these factors were easily influenced and search engines could easily be ‘gamed.’ Today, search engines have evolved their algorithms to rank websites based on over 200 different factors, including social indicators, click through rates, site speed, and engagement/usability metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, and pages per visit. These factors are much more difficult to manipulate than the ranking factors of 10 years ago.
I like to think of inbound marketing less as a collection of channels, and more as a philosophy. Rather than putting your company out in front of thousands of people, hoping that they fall into your demographic, why not let them find you? People are searching for your product or service, many of them are online. You want to be in front of them when they are looking. Also, inbound covers more than just getting qualified traffic to your site. It is also about learning to convert traffic into leads, leads into sales, sales into happy customers, and customers into raving fans and promoters. This process includes channels like SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, video marketing, etc.
Founder of SEO.com & other influential SEOs now moving into Inbound
Our very own, Dave Bascom, is helping to champion our company to become the best inbound marketing company we can be. Considering that Dave was the founder of SEO.com, I think it says a lot that one of the pioneers in the SEO industry is moving to inbound. And Dave isn’t the only one. Many other thought leaders in the SEO space are moving toward inbound marketing. Rand Fishkin recently re-branded his entire company from ‘SEOmoz’ to simply ‘Moz‘ for this reason: “Moz’s current vision is to power the shift from interruption to inbound marketing by giving every marketer affordable software to measure and improve their efforts.”
SEO is Part of Inbound, and Inbound Covers Pieces SEO Does Not
However you want to slice it, SEO isn’t just SEO anymore. As search engines have evolved, so must SEO. Since the factors that affect search rankings are evolving into more than technical details, those who give SEO services must also be knowledgeable in other areas. Don’t get me wrong. There is no problem with SEO. It’s something your company should be putting resources into, and can yield incredible results as a long term strategy. SEO is what I do best, and it’s why I was hired here at Fit. SEO is only a piece in the puzzle. As I said earlier, inbound is a more of a philosophy than just a collection of channels, though it is comprised of many different marketing channels.
SEO/Organic is a great channel, but if that’s all you focus on you’re missing out on a lot of traffic opportunity. Each channel has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but in order to maximize your site’s traffic potential you have to use everything available to you. PPC has lots of advantages over organic. So do Referral, Display, Email, and Social. But in turn Organic has advantages over all of them. By using the advantages of each you’ll get a lot more out of your online marketing efforts. -Dan Patterson, CityPASS
Just like Dan said, SEO is a great channel, but all of that really only deals with getting traffic to your website. Inbound deals with converting traffic into leads, leads into customers, and customers into raving fans. Whether you run a one-person operation from your garage or a billion dollar company, you need to care about your customers and what they think.
There’s an overlooked fact that search engine optimization won’t correct problems that come from your bad business practices. If you’re optimizing your site to get people into your shop, where your service is slow, or your barista is incredibly rude then you’re not going to be able to get the benefit from your SEO efforts. –Jeremy Rivera