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Best Marketing Sessions at Inbound 2021: Hosted with Love by Hubspot

Top 4 Learnings from INBOUND 2021 on All Things Marketing: SEO

October 15, 2021

By Hannah Shain

Another year, another INBOUND. And yet again I’m feeling jazzed and pumped, and then sad to leave all at the same time. I swear INBOUND has the same effect as leaving summer camp. 

Luckily I have lots of colleagues to share ideas with and reminisce on all the great sessions. For the second year in a row, SmartBug got passes for our entire company to attend. We stayed busy feverishly capturing notes and ideas to take back and implement across our clients' inbound marketing strategies. 

Over the next week or so, we'll be publishing a series of INBOUND 2021 Recap blogs will cover our top highlights from:

NOTE: Powerhouse Pass Attendees will have access to the INBOUND 2021 virtual event platform for 1 year from today to rewatch any session on-demand. 

Top 4 Marketing SEO, Video and Google Ad Learnings from INBOUND 2021


SESSION 1. Killer SEO Strategies Through Product Design Methodology

Click here to watch the on-demand recording of the session; note that you must have an INBOUND 2021 Powerhouse Pass to view.

Tony Verre VP, eCommerce at The Integer Group
Session highlight by SmartBugs Heather Hiltzik & Amber Wilcox

Keyword research is fading. Needs and pain points are at the forefront of SEO. Having a fast and Intuitive website is important in addition to writing for personas.

FREE Tools to use to identify Search Need State:

  • Answer the Public
  • Google Trends
  • Google
  • Google Ads
  • Amazon 

Use a Product Design Methodology for SEO. Keep your approach human-centric so that it integrates the needs of people, technological possibilities, and business requirements. Define the user problem, develop a solution for problems, validate the solution.

What’s most important in SEO today: Answering the users questions, rather than focusing solely on keywords, focus on answering their specific questions. Focus on what the USER cares about, not what the CLIENT cares about (for example, the client may think the user cares about their ROI, when really the user cares about saving time). 

The key is focusing on the upper right-hand quadrant (the autopilot mode). Connect the golden behaviors to your products/services.



The 5 Why’s: Asking the question 5 times can get to the root of the problem.

The 5 Whys (example): Problem: multiple customers have left 2-star review for a hair color product.

  • Why: Hair was ruined and had to be fixed professionally.
  • Why: The product directions were confusing.
  • Why: Text-only directions, no imagery.
  • Why: Not on the product detail page.
  • Why: Imagery was not created. The ultimate why is the 5th one: imagery was not created, so if we create it we can ultimately solve the primary pain point 

SESSION 2. Creativity Thrives in Constraint: How Successful Brands Create Video Content

Carly Potock & Charlene Tassinari, Canvas + Co, Co-Founder & CEO

Click here to watch the on-demand recording of the session; note that you must have an INBOUND 2021 Powerhouse Pass to view.

Session highlight by SmartBug Ale Melara

There are three key trends shaping the future of video:

  1. Streaming + CTV are on the rise

  2. E-commerce is accelerating fueled by digital video

  3. Short-form content is here to stay

When it comes to video there are two factors that are usually key drivers: messaging and targeting. Many brands have been focusing on the latter and it has been outshining messaging because of the technology that we have access to today.

Truth is messaging should be at the forefront of our video strategies and not just any type of messaging but creative and engaging stories that capture our viewers attention right off the bat. 

With the many different platforms adding more and more video features, we need to be nimble and precise while using the platforms in the best way for their specific audiences and specific technological features.

Marketers need to understand today’s creative canvas:

Stories can’t be told with the traditional story arc with videos because people have the ability to swipe, skip or pause, therefore we have to start with the action to grab attention.

We’ll first discuss the five universal best practices (that should work for every platform) and then we’ll dive into the specific best practices per platform. 

The five universal best practices to create successful and engaging videos are:

  1. Capture attention fast (it takes 1-3 sec for the audience to care)

  2. Keep up the pace (quick fast pacing, audio with voice over)

  3. Design under the assumption that video will be viewed on a mobile phone (tight shots, bright colors, big text to highlight key messages)

  4. Use text to highlight key messages (understand and remain interested)

  5. End with a CTA


1. Video will become more present

2. Feed and TV are now merged on what is called Instagram video

3. Moving from reels (brands will get discovered by new audiences) reels are the TikTok of Instagram. Reels are working as a discovery method for brands

4. Stories help to bring your audience to your everyday moments

5. The “explore” feature in addition to reels can help find new brands (you’ll see more and more video on discovery)

6. Instagram has been adding new tools to make it easier to upload videos (streaming tools for example)

7. The bread and butter for every marketer is going to be on the in-feed and in-stories ads.

In stories ads plan for sound off but enhanced with sound, what can you do?

  • Use closed captions and pair the text with a focal point of the video
  • Close up shots of faces
  • Motion combined with text
  • Ads should be no longer than 15 seconds
  • Front load the key messages as much as possible (first 3 seconds)
  • Think of it as your elevator pitch, you also want to be branding in the first 3 seconds and then brand 2-3 more times in the next 15 seconds

8. Use text as part of the creative execution

9. Test and learn. For example: change the text on the first three seconds


Youtube ads come in multiple lengths, orientations and sizes. Make sure you have different orientations.

Video Action Campaigns:

  1. YouTube has the ability to connect to search: you’re able to build your own audience using google search keywords

  2. In-stream action ads: capture attention in the first 2 seconds (hook someone to keep watching your ad) you should introduce your brand as a solution, once you get to 5 seconds how do you keep them watching?: add 1 to 3 value props, and finally close with a strong cta or deal. Use text to reinforce key features

  3. All types of styles can work on YouTube (you don’t need high res videos)


  1. TikTok is not just for high schoolers, there’s a bunch of communities

  2. It’s a very different way and unique videos, there’s a specific style, causal, authentic

  3. Use your team, viewers love to see the behind the scenes and the authenticity

For in-feed ads: 

  • Key visual ads and key text should not block clickable features

  • Captions should be kept short

  • Having a clear call to action

Both universal and per platform, how do you actually make all of these videos?

  • Be intentional with video creation,
  • Understand expectations of the platforms
  • Take a step back (ask yourself, can I repurpose across multiple channels or only create for the platform?)
  • Video doesn’t have to be expensive to be successful (use free tools like Vimeo)
  • Every platform has their own free video creation tools, make use of them

SESSION 3. Google Ad Hacks | Tips & Tricks to High Performing Google Ads Campaigns for eCommerce and Lead Generation

Currently Not Available On-Demand

Kasim Aslam, CEO/Founder, Solutions 8
Session highlight by SmartBug Amber Wilcox

Fast Tips

  1. Track Conversions Properly
  2. Always use a separate thank you page
  3. Capture UTMs

Campaign Creation Best Practices:

  • Geo Targeting
  • Keyword Sculpting - Eliminating the keywords that are irrelevant, optimizing those that are
  • Using Sitelink Extensions
  • Ensuring copy is optimized
  • Split test your ads

Landing Page Best Practices:

  • Using a “squeeze” landing page can hurt your conversions - long term it will work better to include lots of options for prospects on pages.
  • Site Speed is an important factor to ensure is working properly
  • Maintain continuity
  • Focus on your call to actions
  • Use long form pages
  • Maintain social proof

Chats: Using a chatbot on page will help with conversions - even if the chat isn’t used itself.

Tracking Conversions: Only track conversions that are relevant to your business. Ie. Send contacts with budgets not applicable to your business to other landing pages. Let google know they’re not relevant.

SESSION 4. Debate: Where to Start? Content Creation for SEO or for Sales?

Click here to watch the on-demand recording of the session; note that you must have an INBOUND 2021 Powerhouse Pass to view.

George B. Thomas, Impulse Creative, Inbound Evangelist
Franco Valentino, Narrative SEO, Founder & CEO
Sessions highlights by SmartBug Heather Hiltzik

SEO Side of the Debate:

1. You cannot rank without taking into account the technical structure of the website

  • Always account for the human element, but the technical side of SEO comes first and is the most important. If you link, title tags, meta descriptions, etc. aren’t optimized, you won’t rank for your content. 

2. YMYL - Your Money Your Life - Google Core Updates this year had a lot to do with the trust in this 

  • For example, if you’re creating content for medical advice, you NEED to have an optimized bio on the thought leader (i.e. where they went to school, key publications, what they specialize in) featured in the blog structure so that search engines can deem your site as a trustworthy source
3. It’s about the holistic view - but it all starts with the technical set up 

4. Your keywords need to be very clear to the machine reading the content

5. Carefully look at what keywords are included within your content to ensure you can rank for the keywords you want to

Pro tip: Be sure you're reading through the Google Raters Guidelines frequently (at least annually)

Sales Content Side of the Debate:

  • If you create content for the sales team that they can deliver to inboxes immediately, you will see leads grow quicker. 

  • Sales are thought leaders - they just need to build content around the questions the customers are asking so that the consumer will know immediately that their solution is the right fit. 

  • Important tip: Sales and Marketing need to be aligned so that they create the right content for the audience

  • Sales content directly impacts revenue

  • Humanize your brand and create content that builds community

7-Step Process:

  1. Person: focus on who they are, what makes them tick

  2. Problem: what’s the hurdle, what’s in their way

  3. Process: how can we write about the process of getting them past the hurdle

  4. Polish: polish with the SEO, the images, social, etc.

  5. Publish: publish all the content

  6. Revise: it’s never over - always go through and clean up the technical SEO mess 

  7. Profit: profit from all of the above

Tune in for more INBOUND 2021 Recaps on the SmartBug Blog; and visit our dedicated page for SmartBug at INBOUND 2021 resources and support. 


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