marty-fish-2Usually in this blog we discuss search marketing topics ranging from blog powered online media rooms to social media marketing, analytics, and pay per click. However, as my family often reminds me, search engine optimization is not everything (no, no it can’t be true it IS everything!) Ok not really…

With aimClear’s rapid growth and that of our strategic partners, we’ve been working a lot of hours. There have been many times while brainstorming and executing SEM tactics where I’ve thought about the analogy of SEO and fishing. Other industry pros even use terms like “cast a wide net” or “trolling for leads.” As with fishing, the quality of equipment, choice of bait, casting techniques, knowledge of the terrain, experience of your guide, and portfolio of adaptive tactics can mean the difference between eating fish or freeze dried beef stroganoff.

Duluth Minnesota, Gateway to the BWCA
By way of background, one of the reasons our company lives in Minnesota is our proximity from Duluth to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) along the Minnesota border with Canada. Situated near the North Shore of Lake Superior the BWCA is a vast, world class, and pristine wilderness gateway. Interconnected waterways and portages (yup that’s where you carry your canoe and packs from lake to lake) provide opportunities for thousands of miles of routing without ever seeing another human. The Boundary Waters north of Duluth are considered among the finest wilderness canoe trekking areas in the world. Oh yes, did I mention that the fishing is legendary.

3 Days Off
Anyway, my almost 12 year old daughter Sylvie and I grabbed a couple of days earlier this week and made a quick escape to the wilderness. Our usual starting point is Seagull Outfitters where our friend Debbie Mark set us up with a tow boat ride across Lake Saganaga which means our canoe was strapped to the top of a shuttle launch.

We were ferried miles into the border country and dropped off, along with our gear, at the edge of the wilderness where no motorboats are allowed. GPS in hand and with a keen eye on the difficult wind, we paddled into the mist. Because I love my job so much and things are so intense right now, it was hard to shut off. However, as the hours and miles added up, it became more obvious than ever that the art of making wilderness waters navigable is a perfect analogy for search marketing. It’s the same combination of primitive and pragmatic skills that portend success in both theaters.

In Fishing and SEO, Get and Experienced Guide.

There is no room for complacency in the BWCA. One minute the placid shoreline can be a happy vacation land and the next a dangerous swirl of difficult water conditions, weather, rocks, and potential disaster. That said the rewards can be incredible. At the risk of being melodramatic, folks who are not equipped or unlucky die in the Boundary Waters every year. Still there are a lot of huge fish to be caught and serenity gained. I’m proud to say that I’ve been guiding BWCA trips to the Gunflint region for over 25 years. I’m proud to say that we’ve been guiding Minnesota search engine optimization clients for over a decade.

SEO is Like Fishing
Many variables of fishing, like SEO, are known and predictable while others are a “black box” and should be navigated according to best practice for the situation. The landscape is constantly changing as is the weather, both in the moment and gradually over decades. It’s not enough to throw random bait. Rather, a well-studied understanding of the variables at hand is required for conquest. Intuition in tandem with time tested tactics rule the day. Respect for the possibility of failure or even danger is crucial. Success means a full stomach. It’s not always about catching 1 giant home run fish, though possible. Usually it’s more reliable to depend on a stringer full of fish that are nicely sized and big enough.

Test, Test, and Test More
In SEO and fishing, setbacks are inevitable so even the most experienced fisherman rely on patterns of testing prior to catching their limit. Fishing a rocky shoreline and hunting for structure below the surface is a lot like orchestrating landing page rotation to find the sweet spot where traffic yields performance. Informed creativity in choice of baits and execution of the cast and retrieve separates professional who eat and amateurs who stop at McDonalds on their way back down the trail after the trip.

OK, Back to Work
Well it’s back to work today. There are major projects on our plate and there’s no more time to fish until next month-hopefully. I’m grateful to live in Minnesota and to be writing this Duluth blog post. I always come back renewed in spirit and body after BWCA trips and at least I’m amused by the analogy of SEO and fishing.

  • Erik Anderson

    Fun analogies.

  • Ivan | SEO

    Hi Marty,

    Nice catch! Good article!

    This morning I wrote a post titled: Search Engine Optimization is like Fishing. I also got a picture from last summer with a fish that I caught, and decided to do something funny and publish a picture with a fish on my blog. I use my blog professionally, – meaning clients see it and call me to do SEO for them. So the images published before have been far more – ‘corporate’. An hour ago, I decide to check if the blog post is indexed in Google, and to check how does it rank for its title. And cool it is first in our local but I also notice in the SERP the article published on some other post already!

    And I think, how those aggregators get those blog posts so quickly, and get them published and indexed and listed in Google as quick as I got the original listed. But guess what? I click on the link,… and the photo is different!!! Now,… an aggregator cannot do that so someone stole my article and even put his image!…

    Then looking further, even the article is not the same… Actually it is not the same at all!!!

    Hold on…

    This is not my article. Actually, this article is 2 years old!

    The only similarity is that is has the same title (and that is ne crazy title…) And actually, it has the image of a fish just caught!

    So how many SEO’s are fisherman as well, and write crazy articles comparing the two?

    Ivan,… The wanabe fishermen.