Inbound Vs SEO Whats The Difference?

Nov 01, 2016


If you own a business, be it big or small, you will also know that you need a website for it. Next, you also must have an idea that you require search engine optimization (SEO) for it to soar high in search results. You must have heard the term ‘SEO’ a lot and heard about inbound marketing as well. These two terms are used together so often that people start mixing them up or take them as one and the same thing. Let’s clear this out first:

Search engine optimization is the process in which you position your website in a way that it ranks well on the search engines.

When people search for something related to your niche, they should be able to find your business in at least the first page of a search engine (Google, Bing, etc). Ranking well ensures that you are noticed, which brings in traffic to your website and makes your business look credible.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a set of strategies devised for promoting a business online. They include reaching audiences, engaging followers, optimizing the conversions as well as the SEO. It means that the set of greater strategies meant to market and promote a company may have SEO as one of them too.

To answer the question ‘What Is Inbound marketing and how this is different from SEO ’, let’s look at some reasons below:

Creating content

Search engine optimization is to optimize content that does well on search engines, it doesn’t necessarily include content creation. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, places a lot of emphasis on creating quality content that becomes a need for the target audience.

The ranking factor

The field of SEO relies heavily on ranking. This focus mostly comes at the expense of online traffic. Inbound marketing is based on building traffic that is sustainable. By sustainable it is meant that the content production is designed in a way that keeps bringing in traffic from time to time, regardless of any algorithm changes in search engines.

Link Building
SEO means building links from sites that have authority and are relevant. These links show Google and other sites how much credible your website is. But links alone are not enough. One needs to have a site which is based on quality content that resonates with a user. It means that SEO ends at link building, but inbound marketing takes it forward by paying attention to content which people get help from, and share it to raise awareness.

SEO gets your website a high ranking and fluent traffic via organic searches. Inbound marketing makes use of Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns at times to bring in traffic.

Social Media
Social media management isn’t always associated with SEO but Inbound marketing has a lot to do with social media management because it makes people aware, gets real interactions and some loyal customers who can bring in traffic via word of mouth.

Visual appeal
SEO is to work around the technical bits and improve the site’s ranking, while inbound marketing creates some visually appealing content that grabs the attention of people. The enormous amount of copy/paste on the internet means that it is important to keep creating great visual content to lure an audience.

In a wider perspective, inbound marketers know how all fields collaborate in promoting a product. SEO is solely dedicated to polishing rankings and boosting website traffic. Search engine optimization experts will know everything in the field that helps in improving ranks, but inbound marketers know SEO as well as every other element that goes into the mix.

SEO contributes to Inbound

It doesn’t have to be a great debate about the importance of either practices. In the words of someone on Twitter, ”Remember when SEO used to sound cutting-edge?”

SEO tries to get organic traffic to the site and Inbound watches over it. Rand Fishkin of Moz is of the opinion that even though the term ‘inbound marketing’ sounds new, it is a world in itself and it’s practices stretch to:

  • Combining the practices of content creation and conversion optimization to earn visitors’ trust and their business.
  • Jointly leveraging the channels of search, social, blogs, PR, referring links, email and word-of-mouth to promote this content.
  • Using sophisticated analytics practices like first-touch and multi-touch attribution to better understand the true value of your content and your visitor sources.

Some people hesitate to invest in SEO or marketing because of some common myths. It is all the very important for you to do deeper research before giving in to any myths. The internet has it’s good and bad sides, so an investor must watch out before investing in any kind of SEO or marketing services.

Here are some common misconceptions about SEO and inbound marketing:

Myth#1: SEO and Inbound Marketing don’t mix:

In general, both SEO and inbound marketing work together to help the customer. SEO brings the traffic to the site and inbound marketing gives the customer a positive experience by providing great content. Inbound marketing turns strangers online into potential customers who would like to do business with you. For that, it makes use of tactics mentioned above. In this regard, SEO can help you so much with your website by bringing in people who realize that you have what they need. Inbound surely is a wide platform, and SEO makes it tick.

Myth#2: SEO is dead

This is the biggest joke for people working in the tech industry. For business owners this may make some sense, and that’s the lot who needs some clearing out of misconceptions. SEO is NOT dead, and not looking like it is going to drop dead all of a sudden any time soon. Search engines are an essential part of people’s lives, and that makes SEO an integral part of a business strategy.

Myth#3: Inbound Marketing is about writing every week

Writing blogposts is an important part of the inbound marketing strategy. It attracts ideal customers to your site and makes them a loyal visitor. But then again, you can attract customers via social media and SEO too.

So it is not just about writing mindless blog pieces. Blog content is key to getting the attention of a person. Millenials specially like to read thoroughly about a topic before they dive in to the market to buy a product. It makes blog writing a need, by which a user’s question is answered on every step of the journey. Topics that follow an inbound strategy always help the user and nurture the user into a customer. The ‘awareness stage’ of the buying process is taken care of by relevant, timely and relatable blog pieces. It only means that blogs play a fundamental role in the inbound marketing process, but they are not the only representative of the entire picture of the inbound marketing game plan.

Myth#4: Inbound takes years to earn results

This is a very common myth. It is true that inbound can take some time before the results show up, but when you think about it – it is not outbound marketing that works with billboards and a mass market. Inbound is like a special focus on your relevant customers and a relevant audience who would like to see what you are selling. For most companies, it will take about six months to have the effect of inbound marketing show.

Myth#5: Inbound is expensive

Since all businesses nowadays get suggestions about trying inbound marketing as a long-term solution, they think it must be very expensive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you look at outbound marketing techniques and the money they cave in, you will love your inbound marketing plan that basically nurtures a lead all the way through.

TV ads are directed at a mass audience. It is not confirmed that everyone who watched the ad will buy the product. Inbound marketing has a lower cost and is targeted at a segment of population which will. In most cases, these customers end up buying a product. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional advertising.

Small business are specially preferring inbound marketing because it gives them a competitive edge over big businesses who can dish out a lot of money for adverts.

Myth#6: Inbound doesn’t work

In HubSpot’s state of inbound 2015, almost 4000 people took part in a survey about inbound which garnered these results:

  • 75% prioritized inbound methodology in their marketing.
  • Companies with less than 25 staff were 6x more likely to use inbound.
  • Inbound works for B2B, B2C and nonprofit companies.
  • Inbound marketing generates 3x more leadsthan traditional advertising.
  • Leading marketing companies reported receiving 300% higher ROI with inbound.

From the above stats we can get an idea that inbound does work and it also gets results. Companies are finding success in inbound. What raises myths is the common fact that inbound may not be the marketing strategy for a certain business because every business needs a different strategy.


Myth#7: SEO is untrustworthy

People who are involved in business or have recently established startups may have a lot of bad things to say about SEO. Their general idea is that SEO rotates around a bunch of wrong tactics used to get traffic. People think that spam is synonymous with SEO, which is wrong. There is a dark world in SEO, where the wrong ways of link building and SEO happen.

Our View

SEO and Inbound share a common trait which is helping people to find what they want when they want it, this can be in many forms however business owners need to understand who the customer is (buyer persona) and how they buy products and services to make Inbound work for your business.

Gone are the days of taking a blog post or a page on your website and throwing keywords at it, the customer searches on multiple devices for the services you offer in a format they need it and at the right time, it is the job of SEO and the inbound marketers out there like us to deliver the message in a timely and concise format and take the customer on a journey that places them into a buying cycle.

Not sure if inbound is for you give Tom a shout and change your outlook on digital marketing today.

Credit to setalks

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