Good SEOs Have Always Been Marketers

Ian Lurie

futurenow SEO
Grokdotcom posted an article yesterday titled “Are Some SEO’s Becoming (*gasp*) Marketers?”.


Good SEOs have always been marketers.

Granted, good SEOs are, and always have been, in short supply. And it may be that these days, bad SEOs are learning to parrot things some of us have said for 7+ years like:

“SEO is about quality content.”

“Don’t sacrifice usability for SEO.”

“Measure SEO results in terms of conversions, not rankings.”

But implying that search engine optimization experts are just now becoming marketers sets my teeth on edge.

Maybe if these other SEOs spent more time learning the basics of marketing, and less time trying to outfox search algorithms, the idea that SEO is marketing wouldn’t be such a mind-blowing epiphany.

(Ian walks offstage, grumbling)

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. I can’t agree with you more. The problem is one of perception. SEOs haven’t yet entered the mainstream marketing consciousness. It’s still a fringe service. I think we’ll see more SEOs come from traditional marketing (agency and client) backgrounds. It helps with strategic development and integration with other channels. In large companies, SEOs with marketing backgrounds are better able to communicate the benefits of SEO in terms the marketing department will need to understand, thus generating buy-in and creating more momentum. This has been my career progression, and although some days I wish I started studying SEO years before, I wouldn’t trade it for all of the real-life marketing experiences.

  2. Actually, I’d say that the majority of SEOs never have been marketers, and most probably never will be.
    I wrote the Marketing 101 thread at Cre8asite specifically to address massive gaps in basic marketing knowledge among SEOs I had been seeing for ten yeras without much change.
    Most SEOs work _in_ marketing, but are not _marketers_ in the true sense… they are Promoters. Promotions is only a fraction of marketing, and ask even many of the top SEOs to create a 3 year marketing plan and most will fail totally.
    Ask them to provide consultancy about Product marketing, Pricing strategy, or how to make the most effective use of the global market online to Place the business anywhere in the world and they are blank.
    Marketing is not Promotions, even though Promotions are marketing. 🙂

  3. Yup, that’s why I said GOOD SEOs have always been marketers.
    SEO is not a short-term thing. It must function as part of a long-term plan. Anyone trying to do otherwise is foolish.

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