Web Strategy

The Role of SEO In An Inbound Marketing Strategy

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Brandee Johnson
Brandee Johnson
Brandee Johnson
Brandee Johnson


As a marketer you know the importance of a great company website. You may know how important SEO is earning search engine ranking and making it easy for prospects and customers to find you online. What you may not know, is how SEO fits into a broader inbound marketing strategy. Let's look at this.

There are multiple components to an inbound marketing strategy - content, website optimization, social media and SEO just to name a few. SEO and inbound marketing are not one in the same, but they are often so intertwined that it's no wonder there is confusion.

A company can be doing SEO without inbound marketing, but the opposite can not be true. All inbound marketing programs will include SEO.

When working together in harmony, SEO and inbound marketing create a holistic strategy that encompasses the complete customer journey from attracting, engaging, converting and delighting customers.

Let's look at SEO and inbound individually and then focus on how they unite.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is doing things that make your website more appealing to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, with Google being the dominant authority. By becoming more appealing to search engines, your website, videos, social media channels and other content will rank higher. When you rank higher, you get more traffic to your website.

SEO encompasses both the creative and technical elements necessary to attract site traffic and increase rankings. This includes everything from keywords on your website pages, to the code structure and the way your website is listed in the thousands of online directories.

When you think about the customer journey or the sales funnel (depending on which methodology you prefer), SEO is solely focused on the start of the journey or the top of the funnel. It has a single and very important job to attract website traffic. That's where it ends. SEO is not focused on the rest of the journey or the middle or bottom of the funnel. That's where other marketing strategies step in.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a holistic approach that pulls all of the fragmented marketing tactics into a single goal-fulfilling strategy. Inbound marketing uses engaging and relevant content to organically attract people who are online looking for solutions your company provides.

This Huffington Post blog, describes inbound marketing in this way. "Rather than using marketing efforts to fight for customer attention, this approach focuses on bring customers to your business, primarily by creating and sharing content specifically targeted at your ideal customers."

Inbound marketing combines multiple marketing tactics with shared goals and with each channel doing it’s job as part of a larger effort. At LimeLight, we have three inbound marketing programs available. Check them out here

How SEO and Inbound Marketing Work Together

Inbound marketing is a broader concept that focuses on more stages of the customer journey. Inbound uses SEO, along with multiple other disciplines, to attract, engage, convert and delight customers. Within that 4 step process, SEO focuses solely on the attract phase, while the other parts of inbound marketing step up to convert that visitor to a customer. When the two are done well, they create an effective goal-fulfilling strategy.

Effective inbound marketing uses SEO in many ways, from citation building, back-linking, content creation, social media and more. This feeds those search engine spiders with lot of rich SEO as they crawl your website pages.

SEO? Inbound Marketing? Or Both?

So which is better for creating more growing companies? Both. Without SEO you'll struggle to build website traffic - especially the right kind of traffic. You'll be forced to rely solely on paid advertising and word of mouth. But without inbound marketing, your SEO won't pay off nearly as well. The inbound strategy will take the SEO wins and convert that site traffic into paying customers. To succeed in today's business climate that is so reliant upon finding relevant information online, you must have a customer-centric approach, which means using SEO to make it easy for prospects and customers to find you, and inbound marketing to make their experience positive and memorable. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, and in the mean time check out our FREE Checklist: How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign below. 



Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson is an avid marketing expert with a passion for helping businesses achieve growth through data-driven marketing programs. She believes in building marketing systems and starting with strategy before tactics.