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The Most Popular SEM Booty Posts of 2012

popular-sem-posts

It’s always interesting to look back at what content appeals most to your audience. You can use this information to create more deep content around popular topics and re-apply the SEO approach and promotion you did to help drive traffic.

Inspired by this, and WordPress’ most excellent review of 2012 blog data, here’s a roundup of the most popular SEM Booty posts of 2012.

1. Tips for Writing your Annual Search Marketing Plan

Get the low-down on what to include in your search marketing plan. This post covers the basic structure of your plan, how to map out and present timelines, what to cover in your budget allocation, and the key metrics you should be thinking about.

2. KPIs that Matter – A Three-Tier Model for Web Marketing

What KPIs do executives really care about? This post from May 2012 answers that question and proposes a model that can be applied to cater for both executive needs as well as supporting measures that help keep day-to-day operations on track.

3. How to get more PPC Funding Using Gap Analysis

If like me, you feel like you could do so much more if only you had a bigger PPC budget, then this post is for you. Learn about gap analysis and how you can use it to secure additional funding for your program. This post covers a high-level gap analysis approach for executive funding, as well as a segment-level gap analysis for other potential internal group sponsors.

4.  Are your Custom PPC Pages a Waste of Time?

It’s a common PPC dilemma  — use an existing page on your web site or create a custom PPC landing page? The answer is not always black and white. This post covers the key things you should consider before making  a decision, including the current scale of your PPC program as well as your company objectives (short-term conversion vs. user experience).

5. Five Killer Learnings from the aimClear Facebook Intensive Workshop

Last June, I was lucky enough to attend the aimClear Facebook Intensive workshop. Read about the key takeaways from this eye-opening workshop including the real purpose of Facebook for marketers, how to grow your like base, the importance of content aggregators, and why social media marketing (when done right) will require a lot more love and effort than you initially think.

Looking Back on the Key Lessons of 2012

2012-search-marketing-lessons

2012 is coming to a close. Thankfully, the world didn’t end and SEO didn’t die. But that’s not to say that this year wasn’t a challenging one. Beyond all of the Panda/Penguin algorithm updates, unnatural link slapping and knowledge graph expansions, these are the key lessons I learned in 2012.

1. OK is simply not good enough

Standing still, or settling for something that is just OK should never be an option. If that ever becomes the case, then it’s time to pack up and move on.

As search marketers we always need to be innovating, adapting and pushing for more and better; be it relevant and effective content development, optimized page mark-up, or the integration of search and social techniques. This is the rule, not the exception, if we are to stay ahead in this ever-changing landscape.

2. Don’t let reputation cloud your judgement

In this industry, there are many well-known and talented agencies and personalities. But don’t let the reputation of an agency or person make you believe that you’ve found the instant, perfect client-agency partnership. Sometimes there may be a mismatch of cultures, other times there may be a mismatch of size and scale; you may find you are too big for a small agency to serve effectively, or you may find that you are too small for a big agency to really care about.

Make sure you test the waters first, before jumping straight in. If all goes well, then scale it up. If things don’t work out, then don’t just hang about hoping that things will get better. Sometimes it’s best for both parties to go their separate ways.

3. Trust your instincts

As search marketers, we are lucky to work in a very data-driven environment. Decisions are always clearer when you have supporting facts and data. However, some situations call for decisions to be made where data is lacking, fuzzy or even non-existent. Curiously, I’ve found this to be the case more-so this past year. In such cases, it is important to trust your experience and instincts, and never sell yourself – or your program – short.

Here’s to a happy and successful new year to you all!

A Matter of Scale: 3 Important Factors to Achieve Scale Successfully

There’s nothing better than testing something that ends up being the best thing since sliced bread — be it a successful retargeting outing, a mind-blowing link building campaign, a surprising social media demand generation result, or even an aspect of company service in general.

However, a test has little value unless it can repeated on a larger scale and on an ongoing basis. Making this leap from business test to business model is where the challenge really begins. Here are three common factors that are critical to achieving scale.

1. Process

A standard, repeatable process is central to achieving scale. Although it may not be the most exciting undertaking, it is hugely important to understand, define and document the process in order to reproduce comparable quality in an efficient way.

Whilst written documentation is important, process flow charts can help aid understanding and be used as a useful communication/training tool. Once this core process is in place, ongoing adjustments and improvements can be made over time to refine the process further.

2. People

People are needed to support the process on a wide scale. But it’s not just about body count, it’s about having the right people who have been properly trained and can execute both effectively and consistently. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean that your employees or peers can do the same.

I’m a huge fan of Portland foodcarts. I love that the foodcart owner lovingly recreates my food consistently on every visit; it’s consistency that keeps me going back. The trouble comes when the owner decides to expand her business out and the people manning the new carts either haven’t been properly trained or simply don’t quite care as much about the food they are putting out. That one bad experience will put me (and others) off from going back, ever again.

I guess the point is that you can have the right process, but it won’t get you far unless you also have the right individuals in place.

3. Infrastructure

Finally, you need the right infrastructure in order to:

  • Support the processes you have
  • Help your people work smarter and more efficiently
  • Be flexible enough to accommodate future growth

In addition, the development of standardized templates can help to make processes more efficient and help save time for people. It is important to remember that systems and tools should exist to make life easier, not to add unnecessary complexity.

3 ways Facebook wins over Google

facebook vs google

There’s no doubt that Google is one of the best ways to get quality visitors to your website. However, I have been appreciating the merits of Facebook recently, particularly ways in which Facebook compensates in areas where Google search can sometimes lack. Using these channels to complement each other is when you can get the best of both worlds. To do this, it’s important to understand where Facebook wins over Google.

1. Psychographic Targeting

Google targeting is largely keyword-based. The trouble is, you know very little about the searcher, as a person, or how best to tailor the messaging and call-to-action to them. Luckily, Facebook users like to provide a bunch of information about themselves, including:

  • Their age and gender
  • The schools/universities they went to and the subjects they studied
  • The employers they work for and the positions they hold
  • What companies, products and services they like
  • What music, films and TV shows they watch
  • What magazines and publications they like to read
  • Their political beliefs

Information like this makes for very powerful targeting.

2. Niche / Vertical Targeting

When it comes to targeting niche markets, Google search can be limiting. You can easily use too broad keywords and send a lot of low quality visitors to your site. Or you can end up targeting too narrow keywords and end up with not enough visitors to your site to make the effort worthwhile.

Again, Facebook allows you to easily utilize user information to get to these niche markets. It can range from a a very simple selection (such as company targeting to reach key accounts, or occupation targeting to reach particular users), to a more complex selection that utilizes a combination of factors (such as females, who have recently graduated, who like IEEE, and live in the UK).

3. Install Base Targeting

It is useful to know whether a person is already your customer, particularly when it comes to install base marketing and customer retention. With Google search, sometimes you can infer this information, based upon the search that is conducted or through remarketing tags, but very often you do not know for sure.

Facebook’s custom audience targeting is a very easy way to precisely target specific ads to your existing customer base, including:

  • Cross sell or upsell opportunities
  • Product upgrades
  • Service offers or extended warranties
  • Company or product ratings and reviews

Summary

Google is great. However, Facebook provides a level of targeting that goes beyond just keywords. Where Facebook excels is in the depth of personal targeting that is possible, particularly when it comes to psychographic, niche and install base marketing.

3 Common Social Media Myths Dispelled

Social Media Myths

Social media is not new. Yet, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding around its business purpose. This time last year I, myself, was unsure of the real business value of social media and struggled to see how I could justify spending time and money on it, when there were so many other proven marketing channels that had good return. Afterall, where was conversation going to get me if I couldn’t link it to sales?

However, my opinion has changed a lot over the past few months, with many of the business myths around social media getting dispelled, thanks to a combination of great mentors and by putting social media to the business test.

Myth 1: Anyone can do social media

…even the inexperienced intern. Big mistake. The truth is, managing social media that provides return for a company requires a lot of business savvy and high marketing acumen.

Social media managers need to be familiar with your business and most importantly intimately understand who your customers are, where they are from, what magazines they read, what they do in their spare time, what they like, what they hate, and what they had for breakfast that morning. This way you can effectively market to them through different targeting profiles, adcopy and images, and call to actions.

Myth 2: Social media is free

Just like PR and SEO, social media is free, right? We wish. Social media for business, when done right, is highly resource intensive. If you don’t have experienced, dedicated in-house resources to manage it, then you will need to call in a reputable agency to work with you.

Additionally, getting the most return out of social media requires a mix of paid and organic tactics and the ability to integrate these with other channels, such as PPC. Not to mention any tools you will need to efficiently manage and track the performance of your campaigns. All this requires cash.

Myth 3: Social media is all about awareness

Possibly the biggest myth of all. Up until a few months ago, I fell for this too. Luckily, a wise man taught me that social media is nothing more than a subscription list. You can use this list (just as you would an email list), to do the most kick-arse, highly targeted demand generation.

Along with this myth, most people will tell you that:

  • B2B doesn’t work in Facebook as people aren’t thinking about work. Wrong. People never stop thinking about work, even when they are on Facebook.
  • Facebook is all about likes. However, likes is just the means to an end; a list of names. It is never the final goal.
  • When using Facebook, you have to stay within Facebook as people will not click on anything that will take them off to a corporate site. Again, wrong.

To put these myths to the test, we ran paid Facebook ads for a high-tech B2B company. Targeting profiles were carefully built, multiple ad assets were put together, and a white paper download (with a history of high conversion) was presented as a call-to-action.

Over the space of three weeks, and a pretty small media spend, it pulled in 100+ leads, including several product quote requests. It also achieved more efficient CPCs and CPAs, compared to a long-running, highly optimized PPC program. Not at all bad for products that can cost five figures or more.

Don’t just take my word for it…

If you haven’t already, go read these articles from the experts. They will change the way you think about social media forever! Most importantly, go test (but only once you’ve read these).

Are your Custom PPC Landing Pages a Waste of Time?

When launching a PPC program, do you build out custom landing pages for your paid search campaigns? It seems to make sense, right? Just build a landing page and stick a response form on it, just as you would for any of your Email or demand generation campaigns. Piece of cake.

Here’s the problem: With demand generation campaigns, such as Email, there is a clear call-to-action – whether it is to download a whitepaper, sign up for a webinar, or register for a conference. When someone reads that Email and clicks on a link, they already know what they’re signing up for. With search, it isn’t always as clean-cut.

So before you start investing time and money into those landing pages, here are a few things to consider, including why you may find more success by sending searchers to existing pages on your website.

1. Scale of Program

It is easy enough to build custom PPC landing pages for small-scale paid search campaigns. In an ideal world, you might have a custom landing page for every possible search query. Unfortunately, PPC campaigns don’t stay small-scale for long. Many of us cover tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands of keywords, spanning countless adgroups.

If you are in the lucky position to have a significant number of dedicated web developers (or a big budget to pay an agency who has a significant number of web developers), then you might be ok. However, it’s more common than not to only have a handful of developers who also happen to support several other departments within an organization.

Program scale and resources are an important consideration when deciding whether, or how many, custom pages you build out or not.

2. State of Website

A website should help all visitors accomplish what they need to, regardless of how they got there or their intent. Of course, this ideal state is extremely difficult to achieve and often companies will find their websites in varying degrees between bad and perfect.

When choosing a  PPC approach, it is important to consider the depth of your website and how built out the user experience is. If you have a small site with a handful of generic pages, then it probably makes sense to build out some focused landing pages for your PPC campaign, whilst you continue to make improvements to your site.

However, a well-built out site should be designed to cater for all types of visitors regardless of how they got there — including visitors coming in from search engines. If you are smart, you will understand the common paths people take through your site, and be continuously testing the performance of your pages, including those conversion-focused pages that help visitors along the path to purchase. In cases like this, you may find better success in sending paid search traffic to existing pages on your site, as long as you are appropriately matching your keywords to the right pages.

3. Company Objectives

Company objectives will also play an important role in your approach. Ultimately, all companies are here to make money. But some companies are all about the short-term sale or conversion, whilst other companies better understand the importance of a longer-term approach to customer lifetime value.

Short-term Conversion Focus

There is nothing wrong with going after the short-term conversion. The trouble starts when marketers try to force an action upon a visitor when there is a mismatch between the intent of the search query and the landing page you take them to.

As an example, when someone searches for a generic word such as “camera”, they could be looking for any number of things. Perhaps they are looking for lessons on how to use a camera; or to find out about different camera brands; or compare different camera models; or maybe they are just looking for an image of a camera to use for a school project. The point is, there isn’t an easy way to tell what a person’s intent is from a generic query like this.

Therefore, taking these people to a landing page with a response form to download a guide about shutter speed will not meet the needs of the majority of searchers. Expect expensive clicks, high bounce rates, low conversions and a bunch of pissed off visitors who would rather watch the Bieber movie than click on one of your listings again.

User Experience Focus

Last week, there was a tweet from a SES San Francisco session that said, “Instead of landing pages think about really great experiences”.

I do believe that if you get the user experience right, then everything else will follow. In the case of PPC, it’s easy to test. Do head-to-head comparisons of custom landing pages and existing web pages. I’ve seen existing web pages consistently outperform custom pages (with one call-to-action) by more than 4X for generic search queries. Continuous testing can help you further refine your pages and make them perform even better.

Summary: Custom Pages or Existing Website?

Often you will find that it isn’t a simple black and white choice between using your existing web pages or building custom pages. Most likely, you will see best results by using a hybrid of both methods. Some key things to keep in mind are:

  • Build your website to provide a good experience, regardless of referring source
  • Continuously test and refine your web pages to achieve the best results
  • Utilize these pages on your website for your PPC campaigns, particularly for the more generic queries
  • Build custom PPC landing pages where searcher intent is very specific, or when there are gaps in your website that don’t specifically address a search query

What Search Marketing Is Not

What Search Marketing Is Not

I often get asked what search marketing is and what a search marketer does. Curiously, when I answer this question I typically start with what search marketing is not in order to get to what it is.

If you are looking for a definition of search marketing, I think this one offers up quite a nice explanation. However, this particular post is not so much about the definition of search, but more about behaviors that separate the bad search marketing practices from the good. A lot of these examples are based on both good and bad approaches I have seen. Let’s get started.

Search marketing is not about treating PPC and SEO in isolation. Rather, search marketing is about using SEO and PPC to complement each other, as well as other marketing channels. A few months ago, Google  released a study on the impact of organic ranking on ad click incrementality. Yes, there may be some bias here but based on other third-party studies as well as data I have seen first hand, there is definite uplift (as opposed to cannibalization) to be gained by dominating the SERP. Some larger companies often have completely separate SEO and PPC departments which can negatively contribute towards siloed SEO/PPC behavior. However, setting common goals and KPIs can be one way to better encourage the two sides to work together, instead of in competition against each other.

PPC is not about landing all of your PPC keywords on the same page. Worse still, search marketing is not about landing all of your PPC keywords on the same web response form. It is not about forcing visitors to do that one specific action you want them to take and thinking that they will do it because you don’t give them any other options. The fact of the matter is that visitors do have an option. They can simply click off your page and go somewhere else. And if you piss them off enough, they can also choose never to click on another one of your search results again. PPC is about delivering relevancy and helping guide your visitors to the most appropriate page on your site. It is also about utilizing assist keywords to appropriately match your keywords to intent.

Search marketing is not just about focusing on people who have an immediate buying need. Don’t get me wrong; the ultimate goal is always to sell. But focusing just on searchers who have an immediate need is a short-sighted approach that will end up excluding a lot of searchers who are not yet at that stage. Search marketing is about helping people throughout the entire marketing funnel. Helping “early funnel” searchers will help strongly position you in their mindset for when they are ready to buy. Supporting existing customers with their post-purchase needs will help to increase their lifetime value and reduce acquisition costs later down the road.

SEO is not all about SEO rank. SEO is about delivering high quality visitors to your web site who will buy and repeat buy from you (either in the immediate-term or long-term). Rank is one factor that can help you get there, but should never be considered the end goal.

Link building is not about getting as many links into your site as possible. A common misconception I’ve often seen with people just starting out in the SEO space is that link building starts by getting as many links into your site as possible. The reality is that link building starts with good content but even then, good content alone is often not enough. As any seasoned SEO knows, successful link building is much more complex than that! You need to get the content right, the outreach right, be connected, and very often call in the real experts who are focused in this very important and specialist area.

Search marketing is not a “one-off” campaign. A strong search marketing program is not about doing a one-time push with the remains of some additional budget that you forgot to use. Nor is it something that you can focus your attention on one month and then forget about the next. Successful search marketing programs are ongoing and testing is an integral part of it to ensure that improvements are continuously being made, built upon, and then scaled across the program.

This is intended as a working list that I will continue to update. Feel free to add your examples in the comments too.

5 Killer Learnings from the aimClear Facebook Intensive Workshop

Whilst I was sad to miss out on SMX Advanced this year, I was very lucky to attend one of the all day workshops that followed. And this wasn’t just any workshop. This was the Facebook Intensive Workshop hosted by the awesomesauce aimClear crew (Marty, Merry and Lauren) and the lovely Will Scott from Search Influence.

Now I admit, that I ‘ve never been the biggest Facebook fan. On a personal level, Facebook bores the hell out of me with all of those “my life is better than yours” status updates, not to mention the over sharing of dramatic personal crap that should only be seen on an episode of Jerry Springer. On a business level, I’ve always struggled to justify spending limited time and money on a platform that I simply don’t know how to show immediate return on.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve been doing it all wrong. This workshop really helped to shed light on a lot of these business questions. The experience and brain power in this room alone made my head explode countless times throughout the day. If you — like me — have been wondering how to be thinking about Facebook for business, today is your lucky day.

Here are just five of the many key takeaways I learned at the Facebook Intensive Workshop.

1. Facebook is a subscription list

What exactly is Facebook’s role for business? Despite reading countless articles and sitting through various talks, the answer to this question has always eluded me. It’s kind of embarrassing how simple the answer is.

Marty kindly explained that Facebook is a subscription list of contacts (and networks of contacts) which you can use to market to. Once you have built out this list you can find some pretty creative ways of using it, including:

  • Making lists of your Facebook friends and your friends’ friends
  • Checking out their LinkedIn (and other social media) profiles to learn more about them… muhahaha
  • Using this information to better target your content and messages through Facebook, or other media

2. “Likes” mean nothing if you don’t have a plan for using them

With Facebook, you should always have a goal in mind. In order to get to that goal, building up an initial Facebook “Like” base is an important first step because otherwise you have no audience to work with. Will explained that when building up a Like base, you’re not there to sell or message to people. You’re there to show affinity with them and make friends first (in order to then make the money).

There are various ways to build out your Like base. You can grow your base organically through sharing good, interesting content. Lauren advised using the 80/20 rule where 80% of what your business shares is not about yourself. You can also use paid techniques to supplement your Like base, including targeted promoted ads or sponsored stories.

Unlike promoted posts, sponsored stories target the friends of your friends by amplifying their activity with the brand. Sponsored stories get a much higher click-thru rate than promoted posts because it comes with endorsement. Unfortunately, the recent opt-out regulations announced last week could quickly reduce this pool of people.

Sponsored stories talk aside, the mistake that people often make is stopping at Like counts. The number of Facebook Likes your business gets should never be your ultimate goal because there is no value in Likes alone; it’s what you do with those Likes that matters. This is because once people Like you on Facebook, they’re more likely to do what you ask — including going to your website to complete a desired action. In fact, Will found that people who Like you on Facebook will spend twice as long on your site.

3. Make use of content aggregators 

Very few people have the time to seek out all the great content on the web to share, in order to attract Likes. This is where content aggregators come in handy. These aggregators are a great way to quickly find share-worthy content that other people would Like and want to pass onto others.

Aggregators will often categorize out content by popularity, category and vertical. Some examples of good content aggregators shared by Lauren, include:

4. Social media marketing is not a part-time job

If you work in-house, don’t have a full-time community manager or social media manager and think that you can run a proper Facebook marketing campaign, you’re a fool.

Using Facebook for business isn’t just about posting a picture or a link back to your site every so often. To do this stuff properly takes a lot of time and (most importantly) skill to do right. As Merry impressively demonstrated in the workshop, successful Facebook marketing is a multi-step process which includes a lot of research, robust segment creation, creative development, strong campaign organization, continuous testing, optimization, integration with search efforts… the list goes on.

This is by no means a short-term project. The half-arsed approach that many companies take is the reason why social media gets such a bad rap when it comes to discussions about return on investment. If you really want to use Facebook to drive actual business return, either hire a full-time social media manager who knows what they are doing (ie: not a college intern) or call in the real experts.

5. Facebook is not an island

As big as Facebook is, it’s important to remember to use other social media channels to get to conversations and other information you need, including:

  • Twitter Advanced Search to monitor topical keywords and mine for conversations
  • Twitter Lists to identify networks of similar people
  • LinkedIn Profiles to find out employment information and peer connections

Whilst it was sad to hear that this would be the last Facebook Intensive Workshop of its kind, the good news is that the workshop will be evolving to incorporate a more holistic approach of how all social media platforms can work together to improve your social media marketing efforts.

If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend signing up for one of these. The priceless insights and detailed best practices will improve your understanding and the performance of your social media efforts beyond anything else. Thanks to Marty and the team for a top day.

KPIs that Matter: A Three-Tier KPI Model for Web Marketing

Over the years, I’ve sat through various talks about what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) “top executives” care about. Sometimes I’ve been impressed, other times shocked about the KPI examples that are thrown out there (trust me, CEOs do not care about click-though rate).

At the same time, if you are working in a central role within an organization, you may find yourself pulled in all sorts of different directions when it comes to KPIs. Different groups often have different goals and measures in terms of what’s important to them. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a list of KPIs longer than the Royal Mile.

So what do execs really care about?

Ultimately, execs care about money – “How much money did you make the company this month?”. There may be softer, short-term initiatives that come down every once in a while that elevate other measures but long-term, execs need to show what is being returned to the company’s bottom line; they need to show value to the company. So the further removed your measures are to this, the less important they are to execs.

At the same time, you need to track indicators that feed into this money measure. These indicators provide you with important insight as to why (or why not) you are delivering on the mullah, and if not which areas you need to be paying attention to.

A Three-Tier Web KPI Model

Three-Tier KPI Model and Examples of Each (Click to Enlarge)

Tier 1: Top-Level KPIs

Top Level KPIs are leading measures that are most closely linked to company revenue goals (ie: what execs care about). They will show your execs what you are returning to the company’s bottom line. These KPIs should be money-related.

Examples of Top-Level KPIs:

  • Web Order Contribution – how much in offline orders did the web (as a whole) contribute towards sales?
  • Search Marketing Contribution – how much of these web orders were contributed by search marketing?
  • E-Commerce Sales – how much was sold online through e-commerce?

Tier 2: Supporting KPIs

In addition to hard currency, it’s also important to focus on additional KPIs that further show the value of your area – particularly measures that your group have more direct control over.

Supporting measures often help ensure top-level KPI success, but rather than being money-related these KPIs tend to be count-related. Supporting KPIs are also important for companies who cannot attribute their web or search marketing activity directly to sales orders or revenue.

Examples of Supporting KPIs:

  • Web Leads – how many leads were generated from the web?
  • Key Conversions from Search –how many conversions were driven by search?
  • Web Satisfaction Score – how did your web visitors rate their online experience?

Tier 3: Operational Indicators

Operational indicators are tertiary measures that provide performance or efficiency indicators.  These indicators tend to lean more on the tactical side and whilst they are often too much information for the likes of the higher-up execs, they do help to inform the day-to-day management of work.

Examples of Operational Indicators:

  • Web Visits from Search – how many visits to your website came from search?
  • SEO Rank – how many of your SEO keywords are ranking above the fold?
  • PPC Cost Per Lead – how much did it cost to get a conversion from PPC?

Hopefully, this three-tier model will help you as you prioritize your KPIs and other supporting measures. Whilst the specifics of which KPIs you choose for each tier may vary (depending upon the measuring capabilities of your organization), it is important to start as close as possible with money-related measures, and have everything else flow down from there.

Lessons in Search from a Grand Sushi Master

Search and Sushi

Last week I watched an inspiring documentary about Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi chef who owns a sushi restaurant in Tokyo subway station. His restaurant seats 10 people and if you need the bathroom, you have to go outside to use the subway facilities.

If you haven’t heard of Jiro you may be surprised to hear some pretty amazing facts:

  • His restaurant has earned three Michelin stars
  • There is over a one month waiting list to eat there
  • One meal in his restaurant will set you back at least 30,000 yen (roughly $375)
  • The average sitting time is around 15 minutes

Behind these facts is something very special about Jiro and his outlook on work. It isn’t by chance that he has become the best in the world at what he does. Although not specific to search marketing, there are some interesting parallels that can be learned from the grand sushi master himself.

1. Love what you do and put your all into it

Jiro never complained about his job, never took vacation, and never once thought of retiring. He couldn’t think of anything worse. Jiro literally dedicated his life to the art of sushi making because it made him happy.

Sounds simple to love what you do, and immerse yourself in it in order to get better. The difficult part is finding what it is that you love to do to begin with. Search marketing is easy to love because it’s intriguing and constantly changing. What I quickly found out is that in this space, you can’t learn all that you need to know between the hours of nine to five. You really have to live, breathe (and dream) search if you want to be anywhere close to good.

2. Always strive to reach higher levels of performance

Perfection is the mark of an excellent chef, but according to Jiro, “Even at my age, in my work… I haven’t reached perfection.” – this coming from someone who has been making sushi for over 70 years.

I guess to be the best at what you do (be it sushi or search) you must deliver consistently, continuously seek knowledge, pay attention to the details, and accept no compromise.

3. It is good for leaders to want things their way

A leading Japanese food critic said that the job of a leader is to set clear expectations for others to achieve, not to be a collaborator or team member. This was Jiro’s approach and was the reason why he got excellent results.

This is an interesting take on leadership. Whilst this view may not work in all circumstances, what I do think is important is to challenge the norm and stand by your beliefs. This is particularly true in search marketing because if you want to stay ahead of the game, you have to find ways to go beyond the standard optimizations that everyone else is following.

4. To make delicious food, you must eat delicious food

Jiro believed that to excel at what you do, you must experience it for yourself.

These are wise words for sure. Unfortunately, in the area of search marketing, there are many people who think that just because they “eat delicious food”, they can make delicious food. Worse still are the people who eat crap food, think it’s delicious, and consequently think they can make delicious food. Still with me?

Frustrating, yes. But just like web design and social media marketing, it’s one of those things that you learn to deal with in the search marketing field.

5. There is no home

When Jiro was nine, he was told not to come home. From that moment, he was out on his own and failure was not an option. Jiro believed that more people today need to have a “There is no home” mentality. Anything else just encourages failure.

When going after search results, you have to go all out. You’re not just looking at position in the SERP, but also how that position is contributing towards actual business results – be it traffic, leads, orders, or otherwise.

I doubt that Jiro knows, nor cares much, about search engines or search marketing. He’s too busy making the best damn sushi to blow people’s minds. But his story is truly an inspiring one, with many parallels that can be drawn not just within search, but in many aspects of work and life.

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