SEO is Dead – The Evolution of Inbound Marketing and How to Adapt
Experts, laymen and everybody in between have been predicting the death of SEO in one form or another for as long as the industry has existed.
Each and every time we’ve laid down a funeral wreath for Search Engine Optimization it has defied death and arisen, phoenix-like, back into the hearts and minds of online marketers.
Why should this time be any different from the others?
The answer is that SEO has become so far removed from what we began with that we are now dealing with an entirely different animal. What killed SEO, what has taken its place, and what do we need to do in order to adapt and survive?
We’ve Come a Long Way Baby
Although today it might be hard to comprehend, there was a time less than two decades ago when link-building wasn’t important to Search Engine Optimization. In the years before Google arrived on the scene and changed everything the big name search engines were Alta Vista, Infoseek and Yahoo and climbing to the top of the rankings was based purely upon on-page optimization. Then Google shook up the industry with an advanced link-based ranking algorithm, and ever since then SEO practitioners have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the search engine giant, dodging bullets with funny names in the form of algorithm revisions such as Panda and Penguin.
Why SEO Isn’t SEO Anymore
Every time that Google releases an update, their objective is clear; to rid the web of low-quality, spammy content and to encourage web-based businesses to provide users with the best possible experience. Over the years these updates have forced online marketers to adapt, and it is this process that has caused SEO to change beyond recognition; absorbed by the broader skillset of inbound marketing. In some ways the death of SEO as a kingdom unto itself is a blessing in disguise; the stigma associated with the term caused by black-hat deception and SEO spam is impossible to completely wash away. The reality is that in recent years any SEO practitioner worth their salt has been performing an ever-wider range of tasks that include social media communications, analytics, content creation and marketing.
Inbound Marketing has Replaced Pure SEO
To survive in this new online marketing environment we need to ditch the tired SEO acronym and move with the times. Changing the name, however, is only the beginning. Inbound marketing is about earning attention and attracting customers through the creation of relevant, high-quality content – not tricking algorithms into ranking your site higher than your competitors. The tools of the trade are numerous, so to adapt to the new paradigm you’ll need to have a solid understanding of how each of the following elements work together.
Push vs. Pull
The key difference between inbound-marketing and traditional ‘push’ marketing is that the strategy is built around quality content. By using a combination of blogs, white papers, videos, podcasts, infographics and social media communications alongside classic SEO techniques (keywords, on-page optimization, etc.), a business can build its brand and establish a genuine rapport with its customer base. Seth Godin referred to it as ‘permission marketing’, and not only does it do a much better job of communicating your brand’s core character, it is also less expensive than outbound marketing. Pure SEO can only get you so far in terms of visibility to your target audience because it relies on a single channel (search engines), whereas inbound marketing offers the potential to be exposed to your audience on a huge variety of platforms, from social networks through to industry publications and content aggregators.
Wrapping it All Up
When a successful inbound-marketing campaign is planted, nurtured and grown the benefits are twofold. Not only are you attracting a qualified, relevant audience to your web property; you’re also providing them with genuine value that encourages them to share your brand within their social networks organically. The evolution is complete; SEO is dead and inbound marketing is the new king.
What do you think about the evolution of SEO over the past years? Do you agree that SEO has been replaced by inbound marketing, or do you think that they both accomplish completely different things? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section; we’d love to hear your opinion!
About the author:
Jacob E. Dawson works with take away food platform Delivery Hero and is an entrepreneur and inbound marketing consultant with a passion for creating value!