Inbound Marketing? SEO? WTF is it?

Don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was at first either.

This is a question that gets thrown at me all the time.

Especially at parties and hangouts. I feel every one around me becomes so curious to know all about SEO.

That does not come as a surprise, the term does sound fancy to ones with no knowledge about it.

Friend: “What do you do? You write blogs? You put out ads? Does your work include designing websites? You said you work on websites”

Me: “I’m in inbound marketing. I work as an SEO Exec.”

Friend: “What’s that? Is that a fancy title for a blogger? Why dont you simply say you are website handler or something like that

Me: “Blogs are a part of it, but it’s much more than that. And no, it does not include website designing. Though it is my job to check if the website is designed properly, as in, make sure its user friendly and is liked by you and search engines”

Friend: “But what is it? What is this SEO thing? What about users and search engines?”

I know I must have answered this a hundred times and yet every time I find myself totally sucking at explaining this.

A Recent Conversation has forced me to rethink whether the fact that I am way better at explaining things in written form than verbally is a weakness of mine or is it a boon. Well that’s an interesting story for other time. Getting to the point, as I said I can explain things pretty well on paper. Sometimes I think my mind moves too fast for my words to keep up. I think I always happen to have the answers only that it hardly ever comes out right.

So, here I am. Doing what I do the best, trying to present a purposeful unmitigated answer for the overly asked question:

“What is SEO? How does it work?”

More than for those who keep asking me about my work and wondering what SEO is, this is for me to get some sort of cohesive idea of this entire thing that I could confidentially rattle off to my friends and everyone else. I would like to answer the question as less of a fragment but a whole that makes sense.

So, lets stage this scenario where I meet a friend at a Weekend Party. A very obvious that is going to be slapped hard at my face is going to be “What do you do?” which would be immediately followed by “What is SEO?” and this time I’m going to kill it. Or I should say that’s what I am hoping to do.

So, It’s a weekend evening. There are many familiar faces, some who know what my work, or atleast somewhat know what my work is. A friend walks up to me whom I haven’t seen in a while.

However, in today’s age, its unimaginable to be completely out of touch. So, he has seen my facebook posts and linkedin updates.

He happens to know that I have a job. From my obvious show of enchantment for my work, he knows I love it. He knows that I love cats and am Stephen King fanatic. He knows I went to visit this newly opened exquisite diner two days back and that I had scrambled egg for breakfast this morning. Facebook lets you slip into anyone’s life so easily, doesn’t it? You post about almost everything from what you hate and  what you love to where you are heading to and what you are eating. Everything. Our lives have become so translucent. He even read that cool piece I wrote on Unplug the machine. Switch on your body and thought it was hilarious.

He comes to me, we chat for a while, exchanging greetings, laughing over how our lives has changed. And comes the heavy question that always leaves me stumped:

Him: “So Tanu what exactly do you do now?”

There it is. The predictable small talk-turned-big talk question. Generally to answer this question, my mind would lurch towards the complicated melody of the Search Engine Working, Blog Posts, Keywords, Marketing Articles, Adwords, Keyword Rankings, Social Media, Backlinks and SERP results. I’d try to explain all of this, en masse. And, as it happens most of the time fail miserably.

But not this time!

This time that aint happening. I would have the answer that would serve the purpose and I would not have to feel miserable at the end of the day for furnishing fragmented elucidation about Inbound Marketing.  Instead my response is going to be:

Me: “I’m an Inbound Marketer. I work for an agency that specializes in digital marketing.”

I know what is going to be the immediate follow up question.

Him: “What’s inbound marketing?”

This time, instead of the canned answer where I end up spouting the usual lingo and explaining keywords, SEO, SMO, Rankings and Search Engines, I will talk simple as ABC.

Me: “Well Outbound and Inbound are two types of marketing. Outbound marketing is basically the traditional marketing . The phone calls you get about new credit card schemes, tv commercials where handsome hunks promote fugitive deodorant, junk mails about new product launch – Its all a part of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when a company promotes itself with the purpose of gaining leads using in-your-face and pushy promotional methods including television commercials, unsolicited e-mail blasts, cold calls and print advertisements. Its indubitable that these promotions are not very personalized and can be perceived as pushy to customers. With time and date people have turned numb to this kind of marketing.

Inbound marketing is the total opposite. 

No cold calls, No blatant Advertising on huge Billboards. Inbound Marketing is all about gaining customer trust and loyalty through helpful and authentic ways. I believe this is the most important lesson that I learnt from my mentor at my first workplace. Well, he was the one who introduced me to inbound marketing. One thing that he said which is going to stay with me forever is that, inbound marketing is not selling the product or the service to customers, it is gaining customer loyalty and trust. If that means you have to go beyond the reach of the niche of your company, do that. Be the “Go To Guy” for people out their. SEO is making it easier for potential customers to find your product or service on the web. This includes easy accessibility to your website through search engines, social media, and elsewhere. By creating quality content including helpful blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, videos and opt-in email lists, building a community, developing organic SEO and properly nurturing leads, inbound marketers create customers with a foundation of trust and a knack for delighted promotion.”

Him: “How do you do that?”

I’m gonna rock it. I will explain this in a way that he would totally have a fix on it. I’m going to inbound market my inbound marketing explanation with a beautiful illustration. I’m going to tie it up in a big red bow.

Me: “Well think about the last thing you searched for on Google. Maybe you needed help with something. Maybe your portable charger crapped up on you and you wanted a new awesome low cost portable charger— so you googled ‘best portable battery charger ’ — then a page of results came back and you most likely clicked on what? The first result, maybe the second or third. Then you probably poked around on the site. Glanced at images, checked out some reviews. Read some articles and maybe watched a video or two about the charger. Right?”

Him: “That sounds about right!”

Okay. So things are falling in place, Going good until now(thumbs up for this!)

Me: “Maybe you even checked it out on social media.”

Him: “Always.”

Me: “Exactly. So my job is to get my clients website found — and to create all of that really cool and helpful content that you read and watched. To grab your interest and keep it. To educate you on the product. And eventually, to turn you in to a happy customer for my client.”

Him: “That’s cool.”

That is true indeed. It is the reason why I am so much in love with my work. It is fun. It is helpful for others. It requires me to reach out to people but in creative intriguing ways. No way anyone can not like that.

Me: “I know right? And other than creating and distributing these eye-catching and helpful content around the web to help you out with your purchase, my job is also to get my clients website, for when you search for ‘best portable battery charger’, to the first page of Google.. because do you ever really click to the second or third page?”

I know you don’t. Nobody does.

Him: “Usually I dont — I look at a few on the first and move on. Though I can spend a while on a cool site when checking out a product to make sure I really want to buy it.”

Me: “Exactly. So this is Inbound Marketing. This is what I do. Making a cool website with awesome valuable content that could be found easily on search engines and doing this in a way that’s genuine and real is what SEO is all about.

Him: “That’s awesome! ”

Me: Yes it is. 

Whew! I guess that went pretty well.

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