Aaron Aders, Jeremy Dearringer and Kevin Bailey were high school buddies in the late 1990s who used to design websites for lunch money. After going their separate ways for a few years, they reconnected professionally to form Slingshot SEO, an SEO-focused agency in Indianapolis.
They originally focused their efforts on traditional SEO services—90% of their work consist of technical website optimization. But then came the Google updates. Between Google 2009’s Caffeine, 2011 Panda and 2012 Penguin updates, the search engine giant had fixed many of the problems Slingshot SEO was trying to solve for clients. Aaron Aders, Co-founder and Market Research Director, explains, “Those three updates changed SEO forever because they overcame the search engine’s major shortcomings. We realized we couldn’t create relevant brands for our clients without expanding our definition of SEO”. With their business model quickly becoming obsolete, Aders and his team had to rethink their strategy.
Enter inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is an umbrella term that describes the online marketing methodology of attracting visitors to your website, converting them to qualified leads, closing leads to customers and delighting them so they become promoters. SEO is a part of what drives inbound marketing, but it doesn’t include other important elements such as content creation, social media, landing pages, calls-to-action, email marketing and buyer personas.
Aders and his team decided to expand their niche to include content creation and distribution through blogging, social media, email and media relations. Today, only 10% of their work consists of technical website optimization. The results? Well, just look at the headline. Not only did the agency grow its revenue by 3,597% in just three years by offering inbound marketing services to their clients, but they also used this methodology to market themselves by creating quality content and promoting it on social media. Aders explains, “we generate nearly all of our new business as a result of our own inbound marketing efforts”. These efforts have lead the agency to receive the ranking of Fastest Growing Private Company in Central Indiana (with 85 employees) and have a recurring column with Inc magazine. Not bad results for changing an entire offerings strategy!
“Inbound Marketing is the New SEO”
Aders explains that these results convinced him that, “Inbound marketing is the new SEO”. He believes this so strongly that the company is rebranding itself from Slingshot SEO to digitalrelevance to reflect their broader service offerings. He’s not the only one. Famous SEO software company SEOMoz.com is hinting at expanding their software to encompass all of inbound marketing under the broader positioning of Moz.com. Between the changing Google updates and the rise of “not provided” keywords from encrypted searches, SEO agencies face a grim fate. But they don’t have to.
Marketing agencies that embrace inbound marketing can see phenomenal success like digitalrelevance. Even traditional marketing firms, PR agencies and design houses have seen headline-worthy success embracing these principles. See how executives from digitalrelevance and five different agencies transformed their business with inbound marketing with this free ebook.
How have you (or your agency) changed direction? Do you now include services like content creation, social media, and landing pages in your offerings? Where have you seen success?
About The Author
Lindsey Kirchoff (@LindseyKirchoff) is an inbound marketing writer for HubSpot, a marketing software company. Learn more about HubSpot at HubSpot.com and inbound marketing on blog.HubSpot.com , or just follow @HubSpot on Twitter.