The brain as the original SEO instrument
I’ve always thought of the Eric Clapton/George Harrison guitar duel tale as an important parable that transcends both love and music.
As the story goes, Clapton had fallen in love with Harrison’s wife (who ultimately became the muse for the song “Layla”). Harrison challenged Clapton to a guitar duel with her love as the stakes. Despite being drunk and using an inferior guitar, Clapton won both the duel and the woman. Clapton’s exceptional ability as a guitar virtuoso transcended any temporal challenges facing him.
The guitar duel story came quickly to mind as I was faced with the challenge of writing this guest post for Raven Tools. (Editor’s Note: We did not challenge Todd to a duel, only because we did not think of it.)
Tools only take you so far
Raven Tools offers Internet marketing software. From what I can tell, it’s an amazing product that is well-regarded in the search marketing industry (since I don’t do SEO anymore, I can’t speak from personal experience).
Raven’s crew is top notch, and Jon was a wonderful host when I visited Nashville several weeks ago (which apparently everyone who attended Mozcon now knows about):
However, it’s important to note that Raven’s software is no better than the person using it. An excellent search marketer with no specialized software will generate better website results than a mediocre search marketer with all the best tools.
The top search marketers are intangibly perceptive people – a trait clearly possessed well before the commencement of their career.
When entering search marketing, these folks were placed in an environment with very few solid rules and lots of conflicting information. To succeed and grow in the profession, their brains had to make cause-and-effect links between tactics and outcomes and then apply their learnings to related yet ambiguous situations. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, many of the factors that contributed to outcomes of the previous lessons learned continually change.
Hard work takes take tools further
With the myriad features available in the Raven software suite, I’m pretty sure that many Raven clients are only using a small fraction of its available power. Why is that? Because they don’t know what they don’t know as to how Raven can best be utilized. They lack the experience and perception to fully actualize its potential.
So, if you’re reading this and you use Raven, let me offer you the following challenge: Run the software to the max. Use all its features. Even better, try to break it. Try to do something with the software that you haven’t done before…something you’re not “supposed” to do. Put the square peg in the round hole. Then, when the software doesn’t work properly, contact Raven and complain about it (in a nice way, of course).
As you work through this construction/deconstruction/reconstruction process, you will see the utility of the software in a new light. When you look at some of the features differently, you should be able to see new applications and uses. Even better, you might be able to look beyond the software and reexamine some of your basic work processes. The end result of this exercise could make you better at your chosen craft.
Clapton won his guitar duel despite his handicaps due to his technical proficiency earned by playing many solos for many hours on many different instruments over a long period of time.
Advancing your search marketing skills requires a similar diversity of technical challenges and situations. If all you’re doing is hiding behind your software, you’re a technician, not an artist.
Todd Mintz is a senior account manager at PPC Associates, a digital marketing firm based in the Bay Area and downtown Chicago. Todd is a proud resident of Portland, OR, and one of the founding members of SEMpdx. He has worked in SEM since 2000.