August 13 2013


3 Things SEOs Can Learn from Jiro Dreams of Sushi

When a new SEO joins TopSpot and begins training, we always ask the same question.

“Have you seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi?”

Most haven’t. In fact, I don’t think any SEOs have heard of it prior to us mentioning it to them. So we get past the blank looks of “how does this have anything to do with SEO or training?” and questions like “Wait, should I be taking notes right now?”

And then we give a summary of the documentary and explain that there’s something really inspiring about the story of Jiro Ono. He’s an 85-year-old sushi master and owner of a Michelin three-star restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. He serves customers out of a 10 seat restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. He works with his apprentices for at least 10 years where they learn not only how to make beautiful tasting sushi, but the precision, discipline, and dedication to do so. These things alone make this documentary worth watching.

Eating at Shiro's (Former Apprentice of Jiro Ono) in Seattle after SMX.

One of my favorite meals ever. Eating at Shiro’s (Former Apprentice of Jiro Ono) in Seattle after SMX.

We don’t ask our SEOs to literally dream of search engine optimization, but there are a few takeaways from the movie that we can apply to our work.

1) “Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work.”

This is the opening line from Jiro. While SEO may not be your occupation forever or the only one you ever have, to be great, you must immerse yourself in Search. You must understand the relationship SEO has with Paid Search, Development and even UX / Design. And you must keep up with what’s going on in the SEO world where algorithm updates can keep us on our toes. You must read, test and learn to stay ahead.

We don’t only dive into Search at TopSpot, we immerse ourselves in our client’s websites, their products, and services. We take deep looks at content to make it stronger and more relevant. We analyze user data and trends to drive our strategy for accounts. We take all of these things we’ve learned, found and experienced to create a cohesive marketing strategy for our clients.

To be great at SEO, you have to do all of these things.

2) Take pride in your work to deliver quality

Jiro is extremely particular about every detail when it comes to sushi.He buys fish only from trusted vendors he knows will deliver quality. He expects his apprentices to keep practicing and trying until each element of the sushi they create is perfect. He tests the quality of fish over and over during preparation to determine when it’s marinated enough and ready to serve. Jiro has high standards and takes deep pride in the product he gives to his customers. SEOs should have this same pride in their work, especially if they are going to work at TopSpot since it’s one of our core values.

3) Look ahead and always strive to get better

Jiro at 80-something is still his biggest critic. Even the food critic in the documentary admits it! Jiro is always trying to find ways to make his sushi better and improve his skills. SEOs should be the exact same way. It’s great to look at your work and be proud to say your traffic is increasing, users are converting more or rankings are up….but it doesn’t end there. Just because you’ve met one goal doesn’t mean your work is done. There’s always room to improve and take your client to the next level. And of course, once you have one skill down personally, it’s time to improve and take yourself to the next level.

You can watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix.