How "Hybrid" is Inbound Marketing? Something Amiss from #SearchLove 2013

under Digital Strategy.

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The SEO industry has a problem.

Actually, it's easy to find fault with all kinds of facets of this industry, but here I'd like to heckle just one. It begins with one tweet that I saw today from SearchLove. It involves two people that I've actually been fortunate enough to see speak, and even recommend that our staff watch their videos of as a part of their orientation.

Repeat after me: latency is hardly a user side problem.

Here, two of this industry's most prominent search marketing speakers have their name stamped beside a technical statement that couldn't be more wrong, in front of a large audience that propagates misinformation about how search engines work like it's their job. Latency measures the communication time between two points. And a web host can do a lot more with this:

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Than somebody at home could do with this:

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By choosing a competent network administrator, the right hardware, upstream providers, and peering; then making them all play nicely together. And you can reach outside of a central data center with geographically dispersed nodes, using an anycast DNS service and a content delivery network.

All of these things improve latency.

None of them are controlled by the user.

Who Cares?

But who cares about all this nerd jargon, am I right?

Actually, Will and Annie are both very smart people, and I'm sure that they can grasp why latency isn't ever a one-sided issue pretty quickly. I have a lot of respect for each of them. But what about the rest of the Internet? All SEO wisdom seems to flow down from conferences like SearchLove. And it reminds me of a single truth that I've witnessed for 10 years, spoken very eloquently today as well by Jon Cooper:

This stuff gets repeated, and I guarantee, it's going to look much more ridiculous by the time this insight meanders into some place like Point Blank SEO's comments section.

It goes beyond hosting, code, and who can make the fanciest spreadsheets. To me, inbound marketing is about a positive overall Internet experience, and this runs counter to what I've been seeing. It runs counter to this mantra that's been at the forefront of this inbound marketing movement that says that you can do great inbound marketing work without fully understanding code:

This mentality is utterly wrong.

We all cringe when we see almost any traditional PR firm man a blog or a Twitter, and embarrasses the brand that they're representing through not fully understanding CSS or how people use/share/syndicate blogs and social sites. Last I counted, about half of on-page SEO ranking factors are technical: those factors are usually the ones that clients are least likely to have right at the start. And all of CRO requires strong technical ability to really do things well.

Yes, I'm aware that you can drag/drop widgets with Visual Website Optimizer for A/B testing, but it's nothing when compare to what you can do with a strong understanding of well-optimized code and supporting technology.

The Lesson

With all of the noise surrounding the inbound marketing marketing movement, I see the technical side being left out by inbound marketing folks that recognize only that the technical is necessary. Very little is shown on how to be amazing with it. To borrow from Paul Roetzer, a good hybrid agency is shown in the marriage of the technical and the creative, and it's the technical side that our dinosaur traditional marketing counterparts are missing.

Let's put in the effort to give the technical the love that it deserves guys.