The term inbound marketing was first used by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah in their seminal 2009 book, but the concept has been around much longer. As far back as 1999, Seth Godin referred to the same concept under a different name in his blog: “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

Over the past few years, many marketers who focus on organic channels like search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and content marketing have started using the phrase inbound marketing to describe the combination of these channels in their roles and responsibilities.

So why are marketers now turning to inbound marketing? Reasons abound, but two in particular are both timely and relevant. First, Google—the world leader in search, with more than 90 percent of the global market share—has evolved its algorithmic considerations massively in the past five years. Google has rolled out new types of search results, cracked down on spam, upgraded its ability to detect and remove low-quality content, become faster and fresher, dramatically dampened many historic SEO factors, and renewed its focus on promoting great brands that produce superlative web content.

Second, practitioners of SEO have evolved. We realize that SEO is a tactic, not a strategy. We realize SEO needs to be used as part of a broader set of marketing tools. In order ...

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