I realise that things often need to be labelled to be marketed effectively, but there is nothing more anathema to me than the labeling of people or groups of people.
This guy is an SEO.
This guy is a growth hacker.
This guy is a marketer.
This guy is a terrorist.
This guy is a christian.
This guy is a liberal.
This guy is a facist.
This guy is an idiot.
This guy is a genius.
Almost every label is applied with a supporting agenda, whether it is to paint someone (or some group) in a positive light or a negative light, or to set them apart. Sometimes negative labels are 'reclaimed' by those they impact. None of it tells us anything.
If all you know about me is that I am an SEO then, frankly, you know nothing about me. If all I know about you is that you call yourself a growth hacker then, truthfully, I know nothing about you. If i hear that Joe Bloggs from Company X has rebranded himself as an inbound marketer do I really have a clearer insight into his work?
As with so many other things, communication is at the root of this discussion. We use these labels to try to communicate with others, but if they're not getting the message we intend is it really their fault? I don't think so. The onus is on us to represent ourselves in a way that those we seek to do business with can understand. It is not their responsibility to interpret our labels. As a result my feelings are that it doesn't matter whether SEO's are or are not growth hackers, particularly since "SEO's" encompasses such a wide variety of people, businesses, working practices and philosophies.
Having said that, I like John's blog and I think the whole piece is much more than the title alone might suggest. I don't think he's making any claim on the growth hacker label and is primarily sharing his observations. Ultimately I think his conclusion hits the nail square on the head.
Smart guy applying his brain to an issue he has encountered? It'll never catch on.
Iain, I just have to say I *love* this sumamry. "This guy is a terrorist. This guy is an SEO".Skip ahead 5 years, I'd love to see if we've changed perceptions by then. But who know's? SEO might be dead by then ;)
I've always like the term 'brand propaganda specialist' myself.
I was talking to someone purporting to be a 'Growth Hacker' at a tech meetup a few weeks ago, and clearly didn't have the first clue about SEO. Glad you're calling it out here, and hopefully startups (early stage, or not...) will start getting the message that hiring someone to 'growth hack' their company requires knowing how search engines work...
You've seen HN's take on the whole article? The title says it all => http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4837745
Apparently it's hit twice in one day now - both with Not and without it. Wondering if we'll get some discussion. I wanted to raise the point, though my point is that SEOs can drive growth and are the original growth hackers. We're not often the most technical ones, but we can help tweak products to grow.
Well, here's something to think about then: given the repulsion that most communities (like HN) feel about SEO/Inbound, what can we do to engage them?
Is there some way we can open up peaceful, diplomatic relations? Send over emissaries? Agree to recognize each other's right to exist? :)
Do more #RCS by showcasing how SEO isn't a bad word and is both creative as well as technical.
Inbound.org imho should be more focused on deeper SEO/online marketing (tactics/strategy) where as HN could be anything from a JS plugin to an article on launching a book ... or rant about Growth hacking ;)
I wasn't surprised that a post like like:http://www.seomoz.org/blog/building-chrome-apps-and-extensions didn't make it on HN, but this is basic tech stuff and yet something ALL SEOs should be thinking/doing but most can't.
If we want more inbound.org + HN stuff - focus on how you built something cool and do a writeup/deep dive. It must contain some technical dev stuff in terms of meat/content but SEO should always have that.
It would be useful to see someone who has SEO or provide interviews/case studies as part of their efforts to hack growth for a startup.
My general feeling is that most growth hackers haven't dabbled enough in 'SEO' because of the negativity/pessimism that surrounds the industry. Their loss.
To me, growth hacking is all about finding new stuff that works and scaling the hell out of it. 20% of the time can be spent on trying out new campaigns. A lot of times, this 'stuff' might not involve pure SEO. It might involve integration with Facebook's Open Graph. Or it might be business development/strategic partnerships. Or it might be affiliate program management. Or it might be doing media buys.
SEO is super important to growth hacking (and marketing in general) and when people are asking to bring on 'growth hackers', they're asking for all-around marketers. And while some really good SEOs can be considered great overall marketers (John I think you fit the bill), a lot of people still see them as spammers or doer's of black magic. I think that image is slowly changing, but that's what it is now.
Just my 2c.
Loved this post from John and I'd love to see more work from SEOs/Inbounders focused on growth hacking with early-stage startups. In particular, I'm curious about how someone with Inbound skills can best help a startup figure out product/market fit.
So: how do you think Inbounders can best play a role in startups?
I'd say helping pro-bono on the low hanging fruit with startups you have a personal connection/interest in and you want them to succeed. I do this seldom with startups who are wickedly smart, have demonstrated hustle and have their hearts in the right place.
Not sure how I missed this one, loved it. GOOD seo's are growth hacekers some SEO's are just linkbuilders.
Great! Head over to login and use your credentials there