SEO vs Inbound Marketing vs Content Marketing – A Reality Check

I am a big believer in reality over fiction in marketing when it comes to data.

Creative writing is one thing, fudging the numbers is quite something else.

According to TFM & A Insights
Update: They have been very proactive in fixing the content with something more suitable so I have removed the nofollow

“The below Google Trends graph on Content Marketing search vs. SEO Marketing search speaks for itself”

Lets even add in our friend “Inbound Marketing”

Unfortunately this is selection bias..

Selection bias

Selection bias is a statistical bias in which there is an error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in a scientific study. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect.

Heh – I can attribute Google for that quote rather than Wikipedia

[Tweet “Sometimes it is more useful to actually be honest in marketing”]

Note: I don’t think there was any intent to be dishonest. Sometimes we unconciously fool ourselves when we read data

The Benefit of Being Honest

  1. It gives you a better idea of the total addressable market
  2. If less people are doing something then you have a competitive advantage
  3. It normally takes less time
  4. It is easier to defend
  5. It is more… honest! (Yep some of us marketers still try to be)

Content Marketing vs SEO Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

Content Marketing vs SEO Marketing vs Inbound Marketing decimated by SEO searches

It seems choosing a convenient search term hides the truth… a lot.

I have nothing against high quality content marketing or inbound marketing as parts of the whole online marketing mix, but please base your discussions on reasonable points of data. not something contrived to make your argument look better.

[Tweet “As marketers, can we please try to be honest?”]

p.s. I included 3 images using noscript and I am interested how modern day RSS readers handle those now.

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more. Follow


    • says

      Google seem to have some real bugs with Google Trends – it is almost a liability to use their embeds because they seem to eat into the quota they allow you to search over time on Trends, just like they do on search.

      But the limit is really low…

      So whenever I try to see what changes they have made with the charts all I see is blank space… which isn’t the point of using the embeds in the first place.

      I actually have another alternative for them which I have emailed, not sure if they will make the change. It actually has a much less favorable anchor suggestion if they choose to use it as well (just a via for the embed) as that is “reward” enough, not that I was looking for any.

  1. says

    I don’t think dishonesty has much to do with this… it’s about trying to find sift the mass of data to find a meaningful correlation.
    If you apply your own thinking to putting ‘Content’ (not just ‘content marketing’) into Google Trends, that comes out higher still. By your own rationale are you guilty of statistical bias?

    • says

      Hi Luke

      It is quite possible I am guilty of statistical bias – I am human.

      I saw a tweet with the graph shown on the original post and my immediate reaction was “the vast majority of people searching for something relating to SEO don’t search like that”

      It was a convenient “long tail” query that doesn’t even come up in Google suggest.

      There is also the “SEO is Dead” conversation from last week on Copyblogger, with an infographic using over optimized anchor text for Content Marketing (one of 4 links if you include the graphic) which quite possibly is the next thing that Google will focus on.

      My understanding of the article was that the intent of the graph was to show how “content marketing” is taking over from SEO & Search Engine Optimization.

      I also looked at the query space for “SEO” and noted that some of the queries can be for something other than Search engine optimization (especially in Asia). When I added the full term into trends however I saw significant correlation between the 2 curves.

      “Content” on its own has many dictionary definitions

      With all those different uses it would certainly not be an equivalent search for comparison.

      Of significant note the idea of “content marketing” and “inbound marketing” have absolutely knocked it out of the park compared to awkward terms such as “SEO copywriting” which never really had any search visibility.

      p.s. I added a link to your comment as my audience deserves the opportunity to discover your relationship with the site/article in question

  2. says

    Never seen anyone use the term “SEO marketing” until now…

    Anyway, we’ll have this churn around nomenclature with (organic) search marketing until we can effectively exclude scamsters and those from certain 3rd world countries from calling themselves experts, and tragedizing the commons.

    Who cares what we’re called? I do marketing, and am pretty geeky with it. Mostly, that’s labelled SEO, but that’s irrelevant. I do marketing, because it makes my clients money.

    Let’s focus on that.

  3. says

    Thanks for the analysis.
    Looking at the statistics although ‘”Content Marketing” seems to be on a lead but still that is a part of SEO.
    SEO will always be required to guide a content marketing strategy.

  4. says

    Hi Andy, Everyone want easy, reliable & time saving method to use for their business marketing .As Google result shows since last 2-3 years the content marketing is increasing and reach on new height. This is great and useful analyses by Google. Thank to your share this information with us.

  5. says

    Hi Andy, this is an interesting study. However, I believe, a lot of these terms shift over time. Let’s say, we search for health care. Before the ACA the term “affordable care” was not really existent. Now it is big time news. Should we then plot affordable care against health care and conclude the two are two distinct entities, one overtaking the other? Of course they are both intimately related fields and terms. So it might be (my suspicion) that content marketing is being talked about a lot, but it really is an outcrop of SEO marketing: the more content there is, pertaining to certain keywords, esp. LSI as well, the more search engine results one appears in. That’s SEO marketing to me – still.

  6. says

    Hey Andy,
    Great post. I think as the SEO and marketing industries move forward, these are important conversations to have to make sure that the relationship with the client doesn’t become manipulated. Ultimately all the stat padding in the world wont change the bottom line, but will make the person doing it look untrustworthy. I thought this would be a nice post to share with our readers, so I included it in my roundup of the March’s best SEO, content marketing, and social media articles. Thanks again.