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SEO vs. Marketing

March 03, 2014 in Internet Marketing, Local Search

A hand writing marketing strategy diagram

Internet marketing is always changing, and as marketers it’s our responsibility to develop new strategies to stay ahead of the game. While doing so, our marketing team discovered a transition taking place: Internet marketing has already begun to align with and resemble more traditional marketing.

As a result of this paradigm shift, the biggest question we now face on a daily basis is, “What’s the difference between SEO and Marketing?”

SEO has long been considered synonymous with Internet marketing, when in fact it is only one component of a slice of the overall marketing pie. Five years ago there wasn’t a need for anything else. Optimizing a page properly and targeting the right keywords was all that mattered. Marketers were able to get away with simply focusing on SEO mechanics to achieve business objectives, but that is no longer the case.

Google has already changed the way they look at sites when considering rankings. Stuffing page titles with a dozen cities or mentioning your business next to the same keyword twelve times on a page actually doesn’t help – it hurts you. Content needs to read naturally and have a purpose. Users need to find value and be convinced to go out of their way to influence others to share your content.

The differences between SEO and marketing should already be coming into focus.

The SEO Approach

SEO focuses on keyword research and on-page optimization of existing content. In other words, SEO is all about what the search engines want. The hope is that your tweaks outperform the same tweaks someone else is able to make. That’s really crucial to understand: when done right, SEO is the same for everyone. All SEO can truly do is improve visibility, but just because someone can find a website doesn’t give them a reason to visit.

Once optimized, the next step is to go out and find linking opportunities. Links are still an incredibly important part of Google’s ranking process. SEOers need to find other websites to link to their content. While this does help, and rankings will hopefully improve over time, it doesn’t always align with accomplishing business objectives, and it’s incredibly risky if one day Google randomly decides to penalize you for your tactics.

SEO Summary – What Search Engines Want

  • Keyword research

  • On-page optimization

  • Open-link opportunities to build direct links

  • Relies on Google algorithms and can be penalized by changes

  • Metrics: rankings

The Marketing Approach

Marketing is a broader, more holistic approach all about understanding and controlling how the various factors influencing visitors, search engines, and content are interconnected. Marketing begins by identifying who the target is and what channels those people use to discover new products and services. Marketing is about people.

As marketers, we seek to understand who and what influences the target market. We then create content that will appeal to that audience and their influencers. The goal of properly marketing a site and its content is to get visitors to automatically build links for you by taking what they find and feeling a natural compulsion to share with others via social media, email, and their own sites.

Marketing is, by nature, designed to accomplish business objectives. When looking at how we market a particular service, we look first at how we are going to measure a return on investment for that client. We ask ourselves questions like, “What does success look like?” We then design the content around that goal.

Marketing Summary – What People Want

  • Broad/holistic view

  • Identify the target market, their influencers, and how they find and share information

  • Create content that will appeal to the target

  • Improve brand awareness, positioning

  • Focus on return on investment

  • Change minds

SEO Marketing
Content Focus Keywords Purpose
Relies on Google
Target Search Engines Real People
Builds Brand Awareness
Link Building Active Passive
Business Goals Rankings Return on Investments

Which Approach is Right for You?

When deciding which approach is best for you, your business, and your website, consider the future. SEO is a short-term strategy, whereas marketing is inherently about projecting out the long term. Do you want to rank first in Google? That’s an admirable goal, but what if you could improve the bottom line, improve brand awareness, change the minds of your consumers, and as a result of making fantastic content you get rewarded with the rankings you desire?

Knowing the skill sets and talents of your marketing team are important. SEO is procedural and can be done by individuals. The costs of SEO are very low. Marketing takes a team of members with diverse talents and the resources necessary to obtain your objective.

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