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Alok's Posts / Startup

Try my SEO SUSHI please…



Let me present a case here so that we can all present a clear case of what we believe in (Seo believers Vs Seo Non believers) : 


PS – (I used it in the argument that is ensuing on SEO is bunk – if you are visiting this article first time, do glance thru this link).





Let’s assume i have a restaurant that sells Sushi.

I make sure that the board bearing the sign ‘AL’ OK’s SUSHI is correctly placed and visible for those to know WHERE TO ENTER. In my view these are seo ‘meta tags’ and the one time hygiene that all SEO comes with (webcrawler friendly tools etc). This is a one time effort. Maybe the board needs new design once every 2-3 years.But no need to touch that often.

Now, My PHILOSOPHY is to make the BEST SUSHI in town. This is CONTENT. As the years roll by, and I do indeed make the best content, people TALK (viral), share (license) and even rob my recipes (pirate) my food. I dont spend time trying to talk about what i dont do (read between the lines in SEO context)

IT’S THE FOOD (content) that brings people back to my restaurant all the time – NOT the number of reviews (SEO mentions) that I may bribe journos to write and make people visit me by CURIOSITY (accidental traffic). Sure the write ups will help BUT not really in the long run if I have GREAT food. With great food, people will come to me on their own. (Think of the famous restaurants in your city and how often are they promoted or even mentioned in any media that you may read).

What pisses me off is to be TOLD by SEO consultants – hey, people are searching for Paneer Tikka and Butter Chicken in your city (search results on google, etc etc), so why not mention THOSE items on your menu (you may not even make them) so that some people may VISIT you while searching for them on online media and then discovering those items on your restaurants online menu. If I do take their advise, then when these MISLED customers come to my restaurant, they will crowd out the real customers and never come back themselves.


As I flourish, it’s my call to either expand into chains  (take VC funding and grow) or even license my brand (McDonald’s style), or just stay as is. So, growth happens as the entrepreneur wants it. PS – if I get funded first and then try and start a Sushi restaurant then all the wrong things happen!!!


So, all ye SEO consultants and Gurus- tell me what your SEO thinking is on this case?


What is SEO and where does it fit in AS AN ONGOING INVESTMENT (beyond me running my restaurant and paying regular costs of operations etc etc)???





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  1. What pisses me off is to be TOLD by SEO consultants – hey, people are searching for Paneer Tikka and Butter Chicken in your city (search results on google etc etc), so why not mention THOSE items on your menu (you may not even make them)

    These are not SEO consultants. They are the snake oil merchants that give SEO such a bad name.

    1. If you are a Sushi destination then you should talk about sushi, live and breathe sushi, and even etc sushi. Period. Your content is Sushi. Not paneer #$#%#$#$ tikka masala
    2. If there is no search traffic for sushi then you don’t have a case for SEO, case closed, pursue other methods of marketing
    3. If you have 30 million people searching for sushi every month and you are not getting even a fraction of that traffic then you have a case for SEO and calling SEO bunk because said snake oil merchant said why dont you make paneer tikka masala sushi to get your traffic is just plain misinformed.

    And I have exactly 1 mins left for today on rodinhood! Stayfocusd! 🙂

  2. Run the Sushi company.

    Focus on making your food taste good. Then
    – SEO + advertising + social integration + payment integration + Facebook integration all makes sense.

    If your Sushi tastes like chicken salted in the sea, no amount of SEO + facebook fan pages + paid campaigns + word of mouth will help.

    There’s SECompliance (hygiene), and there should be SEO once after, offered on a SAAS-model.

  3. I am not an SEO consultant but I think that if your Sushi restaurant is in a crowded space (most likely possible) and you need customers to find out about you first, than apart from ads, one thing you can do to make sure that you catch their eye first is good SEO.

    Not all customers come from referrals. Most still come through when they decide to eat Sushi and than finalise on a restaurant by searching on the streets.

    SEO is def. needed, how its done and it should be done I can not comment on. This is analogous to Social media; it is needed but how are agencies doing it and how should you do it is for you to find out.

  4. Yatin – your reply has a conflict!

    The place where sushi hungry people ask for directions is no longer google – its FACEBOOK!

    coz people ask friends where to eat – not strangers!!

    hence, making a facebook app would be a mush better bet for me that investing in other marketing right?

  5. The problem Alok is going to have (and i think that is what he pointed out in the first post) is

    – Between the 10 results that Google places give (though bringing your name high on Google places is SEO too
    ) and the burrp and the asklaila which are default results on most google searches there is only limited space left. The cost of coming up in those 10 is so high that it makes no sense to do SEO and I am better off running google ads paying Rs 5 click.

    – Are people searching for Sushi bar on Google anymore? Are they rather going to Burrp and looking up sushi restaurant reviews?

    – How often have you seen fb status message of people asking for ‘where do i go to eat Sushi in Mumbai”? I see it quiet often (though not for Sushi just yet)

    For a sushi bar SEO is going to turn out too expensive. I am going to ask the client to not bother with SEO for now….do SEM….let me run it for him….I would ensure I run ads for all terms including butter chicken and tikka masala. Copy like “What butter chicken again? Surprise your wife take her to et Sushi” might just work. If it does not I will change the ad. Easy to experiment.

    A lot of categories today suffer from this. With sites like burrp being the default choice for people to look up restaurants (not google), tripadvisor for travel and so on SEO is losing its “criticality” for a whole bunch of businesses.

  6. Phew….Anuj, thanks… seems like its finally hitting home!

  7. Alok,Perfectly said today people ask for directions on FACEBOOK !
    I think recommendation is going to be the big thing in Facebook.

    Now also there is no perfect site on which you can depend on.
    So there is a huge opportunity in Facebook and i think some application is needed through which i can ask or my friends can recommend me the best sushi restaurant and people will go to that sushi restaurant which his friends have recommended.

    Even if you see from the traditional offline marketing what sells is “Word of Mouth” Marketing.
    Today all the “Word of Mouth” marketing happens through Socail Media.

    So i think SOCIAL MEDIA will replace SEO.

  8. If ‘AL’ OK’s SUSHI pursue its PHILOSOPHY as mission I will suggest let people talk! A web presence with necessary information, social plugins, blog, basic level of SEO(unpaid, there are so many Gyan shared by Google’s Matt); if budget permits few dollars on targeted search engine marketing, and social media marketing.

    Anyone in the industry who is the best visitors know them, write about them(UGC), talk about them e.g. FB, Zynga, TED …

  9. – Between the 10 results that Google places give (though bringing your name high on Google places is SEO too ) and the burrp and the asklaila which are default results on most google searches there is only limited space left. The cost of coming up in those 10 is so high that it makes no sense to do SEO and I am better off running google ads paying Rs 5 click.

    Oh man I hate religious wars. This is turning into one drunken wild west town where every one is sherrif and villain at the same time. And all are firing peashooters loaded with live ammo. There is such a deep seated misunderstanding of how search engines work but more importantly the cognitive space that users inhabit in the search space that I think I’ll be better off going into a corner and quietly and steadily get drunk. Crying is not an option.

    SEO (Yatin’s definition is brilliant: semantic engagement optimization) is not about brand. SEO is about entering into the user’s intent. In this space the brand does not exist. Sushi is a bad example for this. Games is a good example for this. Globally 1.5 million or thereabouts search for the term ‘free online games’. They are not interested in games2win, yahoo games, zygna. A #1 rank in this space will get 30% of the traffic or thereabouts. Intent has already been established. They want free online games. When they land on your page you need to make sure that you engage them. Approximately 50% will bounce off. You are left with 50% of 30% of 1.5 mil. Per your metrics Alok each user is giving you about 6 page impressions at an average cpm of $5…so….thats about 1350 CPM = $6750 per month. The only question is how much you are willing to spend to gain and maintain a $6k/month revenue stream. Note that these are all likelihood all new uniques every month. A certain percentage of that will develop brand loyalty which will in turn fuel a lift in your brand traffic. Other benefits – optimizing for #1 on free online games will create rankings on the long tail which will bring in more traffic which you didnt even think about but more importantly dont need to think about. With every other form of traffic acquisition you do not have this spill over effect. When you stop your natak in the channel, your traffic disappears. With search you can sleep for a while (or as long as the competition will let you) and the traffic will still keep coming in.

    Like with a prime mover the initial effort to get search oriented is going to be high (yes you can use facebook and twitter too and also engage in the content creation and engagement dance) like the initial energy required to start an engine however once it gets going the effects will multiply itself and you will fall into maintenance mode till you see some competitor coming up in the rearview which is when you need to add some steam and fuel and get a bit more ahead of him. SEO is a resources game the one who has the most resources wins, walks home laughing to the bank.

  10. Abey – This is exactly the problem I have trying to describe:

    1.5 MILLION folks search for ‘Free Online Games’ (per day/month?)

    BUT , and BIG BUT


    So, why even bother chasing 1.5 million of 600 million?? (2.5% and then scrape some % of them)

    Aka – why try and eat breadcrumbs of breadcrumbs, when there is piece of bread visible?

  11. Just don’t make and stuff it with “the greatest keyword on earth” …. just to get traffic ….

    If your site is useful and interesting to the end user, optimize and make it SE friendly and leave it to google.

    Then focus on retaining and syndicating.

  12. And the medal of honour for making it all sound so simple and elegant goes to adiitya singh!!!


    How? Whatever traffic acquisition you use – brand building/social media/seo – demographic spread varies and therefore the targeting issues are the same: this is not one homogeneous mass of 600 million people all 19.8 year olds playing Doom from dawn to dusk.

    The only way to target them is one segment at a time. Demographic slicing and targeting is one way. Social media targeting is another route. Both depend on the diffuse idea of building enthusiasm around the brand.

    SEO works on the principle of building enthusiasm around intent. Intent is why you have a 30% CTR on search vs the sub 0.1% CTR on Facebook ads. Facebook marketers will have orgasms if you cross 0.1% CTR and then die and go to heaven if you nudge the 0.25% barrier and award themselves Oscars, rebrand themselves as gurus and drive around like the cat go the whiskers.

    There is only one way to reach your 600 million users: 1 user at a time. And search and therefore SEO gives you a clump of those individuals with total clarity of intent. Everyother medium is reading the tea leaves and hiring starlets to build interest. On search the AI in AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is already done for you. Its your job then from the moment you first appear in the search results till they exit having given you the outcome you want to invoke Desire and propel their Action.

    In every other medium you needs to bust your nut to generating Attention and Interest and by the time you do that you more likely than not will have screwed over a major portion of your budget.

  14. Just don’t make and stuff it with “the greatest keyword on earth” …. just to get traffic ….
    If your site is useful and interesting to the end user, optimize and make it SE friendly and leave it to google.

    Then focus on retaining and syndicating.

    A good strategy if you can find a time machine…..when the web was a simpler and less stuffed with competition. The entry level to ‘useful’ and ‘interesting’ is very high these days and will climb higher. Probably will still work in the non-english langugages though….

  15. The best, best,best single line comment on this subject!!



    please do visit it!! It takes a second or two to understand SEO

  16. The same rebuttal as above.  The entry level barrier to creating so called ‘great content’ is high and will climb higher.   In SEO circles ‘great content’ is known as link bait and is one of the tactics in the arsenal. Link bait depends on the skill of the writer, the knowledge of the market, and an understanding of the pulse of the audience.  This hermit like ‘sit in the cave and produce great content’ and then Moses-like step out onto the ledge and announce it and attract adulating fans is the exception than the rule.  Two hermits who fit this class are you Alok and Seth Godin.  


    Not every entrepreneur is as articulate and will need to hire writers which is where the whole link bait strategy starts to unravel.  The writer has no clue about the market and unless the employer is willing to mucho grande dinero he/she is unlikely to dive in and understand the pulse/need of the market and come up with sufficiently attractive link bait.  And if you are in a competitive space where established link baiters already exist then you also need to work the networking side and build an army of contacts who will engage with you and at least acknowledge your link bait.  


    Lifedev is another hermit and he is definitely doing on page SEO and probably a fair amount of off page networking as well.  Maybe great content there too.  But saying “SEO is only about great content” great advice it is not.  The web is too competitive for that and the level of noise is so high that separating yourself out as signal is not just a matter of great content.


    Yes agonizing over keyword density is a waste of time but you can’t ignore keyword inclusion in your content.

  17. You hit the nail on the head – if you cannot create great content, you need to focus on improving it, not trying to get people to your lousy content.  


    Put Mahesh Khambadkone in a cricket stadium and ensure SEO is perfect, nobody is going to stay. If I’ve dived so much into SEO I’m going to think  my SEO sucks, not hone my skills.


    The internet allows you to put up some content, let users sample it, CHANGE that content, and keep improving.  


    Don’t do SEO unless you have great content.   


    And when you DO have Sachin Tendulkar in the stadium, you’d still do well to run an SEO campaign to get even more “viewers”.

  18. SEO is a part of promotion 

    Having great content is a part of product

    Marketing is about getting the product right then promoting it, some people invest more on promotion so people don’t … Some products are remarkable and it spreads .. some are usual (may be usual) but may not spread that easily, you may need promotion for it.


    Also users trust “peer reviews & feedbacks (Google’s +1), FB likes etc .. aorund 75%” , also people trust the top ranking websites …


    As I mentioned it is not about SEO vs good product … it is about good product + SEO + Other ads etc … Also the success is in matching the requirements and understanding the companies own strengths and weaknesses … The web world keeps changing and depending on different parameters you need to decide your strategies ..

    Aji Issac

  19. Ho Alok, John,

    Marketers need to take a more Holistic view in today’s Digital world. It is infinitely hard to identify and attribute success to one Marketing Channel or the other. How we measure data today is fundamentally flawed Globally – in that we attribute success / ROI on a LAST VIEW / CLICK  basis (based on pure ad server data). 

    At a very basic level, for Example, within Omniture or Web Trends you can set up a report based on Last Touch Channel or a First Touch Channel. Below is an example of how the data will show in each Instance:

    Last Touch Channel – In the above example, 1.5MM searches at a CTR of 30% would be 45k Visits to Games2win. However note that this is purely based on the last touched Marketing channe – Meaning this was the last Channel a user visited before he converted, in this case SEO.

    However in the same example, off the 1.5MM users, who SAW the Games2Win link on SEO, assume the remaining 70% did not click on the Search result. Instead they continued to browse and saw a Display Ad followed by a Newspaper Ad. Then they went on to their browser and typed “Games2win directly on their Address bar. Since the address bar (Site) was the last channel they visited before they converted, Omniture would attribute the visits / clicks / conversion directly to the  Site (Direct to Games2Win). SEO would not get the Credit.  

    Now Flip the Switch and view the same data in a First Touch channel report within the same Omniture setting. Although the site was the Last channel they touched before they converted, SEO was the First channel they touched in that Conversion funnel. So SEO, 70% users in this instance, will get the credit.

    This is just an example, but 30 – 70% is a huge difference and a determinable factor on how we spend our dollars to optimize media.

    In other words, 1.5MM searches may have more value than we estimate it to have. There are companies these days who can due a true attribution analysis, such as Adometry that I am working with now.

    Apologies for the delayed response on this topics – but my 2 cents!

  20. Hey Aneja,

    The point I was making was about the relative value of focusing on SEO as a discrete practice rather than as an incidental afterthought.  

    Visibility of channel attribution in the conversion funnel is of course important though I suspect in g2w’s case this may not be critical since the audience are in the instant gratification segment and there is no great decision/persuasion cycle that is needed to play a game.  Nevertheless attribution should prove insightful especially now that the google beast is moving towards fuzzy social and co-citation signaling to establish authority and relevance.  

    Search is about ‘have an itch, need to scratch’.  g2w fits that category like a T and hence there will be a positive correlation between investing in SEO and ROI irrespective of the final channel that drives the game engagement.

    Great 2 cents! 🙂

  21. Jayesh, 

    So i think SOCIAL MEDIA will replace SEO.

    Good tea leaves reading/crystal ball gazing.  🙂 Slight modification though: “Social Media will DRIVE SEO”

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