SEO may not be dead yet, but it does seem to be wearing thin in the wake of a more popular new buzz word, inbound marketing.  This phrase has been around awhile, but is slowly taking the place of SEO as the next website marketing mainstay.

To prove this point, two well known SEO companies have recently removed the term SEO from their business and website names.  Both Slingshot SEO and SEOMoz have taken the leap by ditching SEO from their brand identities. Slingshot SEO is currently in the midst of rebranding themselves as Digital Relevance, while SEOMoz has adopted Moz as their new online persona.  These changes in branding might be in response to a new wave of Google updates code name: Caffeine, Panda and Penguin.

A Changing of the Guard in Search Engine Marketing

Speaking recently in the HubSpot publication: Transforming Into An Inbound Marketing Agency: Stories & Advice From 6 Execs, Cofounder of Slingshot SEO, Aaron Aders stated.

…Those three updates changed SEO forever because they overcame the search engines major shortcomings.  We realized we couldnt create relevant brands for our clients without expanding our definition of SEO to include strategic content creation and distribution through blogging, social media, email and media relations.  Inbound marketing is the new SEO, among other things.

Did he just say SEO is the new Inbound marketing?  Yes he did.

Theres a lot of negative connotations around SEO, said Andrew Dumont, the director of business development at Moz.  People who are not in the Search Engine Optimization and marketing industry see SEO as snake oil and voodoo magic, Dumont said.

SEOMoz launched in 2004 as a search engine software provider currently with over 25,000 pro-level subscribers and is one of the most respected online communities for up-to-date, relevant SEO related information.  Dropping SEO from their powerful brand is something that should not be considered insignificant.  Imagine McDonalds decides the Big Mac no longer has a place on their menu.  SEOMoz is to SEO as the Big Mac is to quick, cheap burgers.  Its a big deal.

SEO has come to be associated with spam and manipulation, Rand Fishkin wrote in this announcement, and Moz does not want to be associated with that.

So, SEO is now the new dirty word within the marketing industry.  Negative perceptions of SEO as a process are killing its future as a standalone service.  In reality, recent updates within the Google search formula have caused the process of SEO to become ineffective and dangerous to the visibility of websites that have played the game a little too hard. 

Examples like Moz and Digital Relevance will surely cause an avalanche of likewise rebranding across the interwebs. Internet marketing companies of lesser status should realize the landscape is changing and nobody wants to be that guy trying to sell the internet marketing equivalent of the Yugo.  (For those of you born after 1992, the latter is in reference to a failed Yugoslavian auto maker, may they rest in peace.)

The cry SEO is dead has been around for years. And though recent updates within the Google algorithm have and will continue to impact search results, the desire to be atop Googles search results will not fade into the annals of web marketing lore anytime soon.  Whatever the process is called, as long as people use search engines to find what they seek, businesses with websites will always strive to be at the top of the list.  

Long live SEO (strike through) Inbound marketing!