August 28, 2015

What is the Difference Between SEO and Inbound Marketing?

SEO and inbound marketing are crucial for growing enterprises. While you may have heard of them, and may even know that they’re necessary for online growth and innovation, it can be easy to get caught up in the jargon of online marketing and lose their meaning.

So what’s the difference between the two? Simply put, SEO is a tactic used for inbound marketing strategies. While SEO is not the only tactic, it’s one that helps you get found online through search engines.

Let’s dig in.

The Definition of Inbound Marketing

The term inbound marketing refers to a variety of strategies for promoting companies online, and these strategies include reaching audiences, engaging followers, and optimizing conversions, as well as SEO.

Inbound marketing includes tactics such as SEO, but also includes social media, content marketing, email, and much more. Inbound marketing is all about bringing customers to you rather than reaching out to your customers.

The Definition of SEO

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization, and this term relates to positioning your website so that it ranks well when people search for words or phrases that are relevant to your business using a search engine (e.g. Google or Bing).

Ranking well ensures that your website gets traffic from visitors who are looking for the products or services that your company offers.

SEO Tactics

There are many moving parts inside of search engine optimization. A few of the most important parts of SEO include:

The Importance of Ranking

The field of SEO tends to be focused on ranking, and this focus can sometimes come at the expense of traffic. Inbound marketing focuses instead on building sustainable traffic. That traffic is based on content that will continue to bring traffic in regardless of algorithm changes.

Content Creation

SEO involves optimizing your content for search engines and for users. With every piece of content that goes out, SEO should be considered so your users can find it online. This includes evaluating the quality and uniqueness of everything published online.

Link Building

SEO includes building links from websites that are relevant and authoritative. Those links are among the factors that Google and other search engines use to determine authority. However, links alone are not enough; search engines value the quality of the content as well, which is one of inbound marketing’s priorities.

I would also submit that it is quality content that produces quality backlinks. People don’t want to link to your homepage because your website is cool. People would, however, link to a great piece of helpful content that would serve that customer well.

Visual Content

While SEO’s emphasis is usually on the mechanics of optimization, inbound marketing uses visual content to grab and hold visitors’ attention. The enormous amount of copy on the web means that visual content is a necessary element to encourage audience engagement and continued sharing.

Social Media

Social media is more important than ever for high ranking in search engine result pages, but social media management has not traditionally been associated with SEO. However, social media management is an integral part of inbound marketing to drive increase traffic, awareness, authority, and SEO opportunities.

The Best Plan

On the surface, SEO and inbound marketing may appear to have several differences; however, both have one thing in common: the customer.

SEO involves more than just your ranking; it is about getting more visitors to your website. Inbound marketing is about getting more visitors and giving those visitors what they need. SEO is great, but it is only a piece of a much larger online puzzle. So, when SEO is integrated into the more comprehensive marketing power of inbound marketing, these two resources create a complete and effective marketing strategy.

Brandon West

Brandon West founded PHOS Creative at the age of 26 out of his home office. A strategy-first digital marketing agency headquartered in Florida, PHOS’ growth and culture have been highlighted in the Inc. 5000, Gator100, Florida Trend Magazine, and the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.

Author of It Is Not Your Business to Succeed, Brandon has shared his insights on over seventy stages, addressing topics such as purpose-driven leadership, people-first culture, business as a ministry, authentic branding, and inbound marketing.

Away from his desk, Brandon enjoys dating his wife, mostly losing to his sons at board games, playing guitar and piano, exploring underwater caverns, and pastoring leaders at Salt Church and in the marketplace.