The SEM Olympics

In honor of the 2012 games in London, I thought it would be fun to compare the various Olympic sports to relevant search marketing themes. #ykyasgw

Archery – for Olympic archers, the slightest gust of wind can be the difference between a bullseye and bullsh*t arrow. In SEM, seasonality can also have a huge impact on your results, and some products will fare better than others.

Athletics – this category includes track races like the 100 meters as well as field events like the shot put. The latter reminds me of managing paid search keyword bids manually. All I can think is, why on earth are you trying to throw that boulder when we have machines that can do that?!



Badminton – players throwing matches to earn better position in tournament play is the equivalent of purposely getting links from negative sites to improve your SEO position.

Basketball – the U.S. team nearly losing to Lithuania is a reminder to never underestimate your competition. That goes for SEM too.

Beach Volleyball – searching for ways to help your female colleague “crush everybody” in SEM? I know someone who may train-her.

Boxing – the paid search equivalent of the rope-a-dope is pulling back budgets a few hours a day to make competitors think you’ve capped out and then coming back with a fury after they’ve lowered their bids.

Canoe Slalom – mashing up kayaking and skiing is like optimizing your website for both humans and spiders. It’s very hard to do both.

Canoe Sprint – for rowers and searchers with short attention spans, sometimes you just want to search one and done.

Cycling – BMX – watching the motocross version of biking reminds me of perusing Baidu search results pages. You’re never quite sure where to look.

Cycling - Mountain Bike – managing a marketing program can feel like climbing a mountain. Don’t mistake plateaus for the end of the trail.

Cycling – Road – outside of cycling insiders, who knew there were so many different types of matches? Outside of search insiders, who knew there were so many different match types?

Cycling – Track – the advent of the indoor track as a way to charge spectators an entrance fee is reminiscent of Google’s recent move to charge merchants for placement in Google product search.

Diving – a diving best practice is to have no splash. An SEM best practice is to have no splash page.

Equestrian – having fun yet? Shall we keep horsing around?

Fencing – the target in fencing is usually the torso; however, search marketers often go after the long tail.

Football – using one’s hands in football is like keyword stuffing on a website: a flagrant foul.

Gymnastics – Artistic – vaulting to the top of the search results takes much precision, and even one slip can cost you the top spot.

Gymnastics – Rhythmic – gymnasts must keep the apparatus in motion throughout their routines in much the same way paid search marketers must constantly adjust bids to ensure proper position.

Handball – the object of handball is to score goals. The object of search marketing is to hit goals. So there.

Hockey – the summer version of this sport is played on a pitch, and stamina is key. In SEM, stamina is also key for agencies in an RFP pitch.

Judo – in judo,sometimes the best offense is a good defense. In paid search, setting up negative keywords can help ensure your brand does not appear for undesirable queries.

Modern Pentathlon – in the pentathlon and SEM, there’s always room for a little freestyle.

Rowing – any good row team must rely on its cox -- and any good SEM team must think outside the box. 

Sailing – there’s no such thing as auto-pilot, whether you’re sailing a dinghy in RSX or dinging a sale in SEM. 

Shooting – in shooting and SEM, you must keep your target in sight at all times. And the best paid-search portfolio algorithms will be calibrated to avoid recoil when extreme seasonality causes spikes.

Swimming – whether you’re talking swimming or SEM, it’salways best to let your results speak for themselves. Jeah!

Synchronized Swimming – if you’re using a paid search technology platform, it’s critical to make sure the work you do in the tool remains in sync with the search engines.

Table Tennis – I don’t know any table tennis pros -- but I bet they, like many of the search marketing pros I know, grew up on pong.

Taekwondo – in taekwondo,you must avoid attacking opponents’ faces. In SEO, you must avoid facing opponents’ attacks.

Tennis – executing SEM programs after getting buy-in from all internal stakeholders is the equivalent of playing the Olympic Tennis final in front of your home crowd.

Trampoline – in SEM, trampoline, and life, you gotta get used to the ups and downs!

Triathlon – winning this race requires excellence in swimming, biking, and running. Winning in SEM requires excellence in social, local, and mobile.

Volleyball - in volleyball and PPC, it’s all about the fundamentals. Bump. Set. Spike. Keyword. Ad. Landing Page.

Water Polo – you’ll want to avoid touching the bottom in water polo and SEO alike.

Weightlifting – in the Clean and Jerk, theset-up to lift the weight up to your chest is crucial. In paid search, the set-up of your campaigns and ad groups is crucial.

Wrestling – in wrestling,officials award points for various actions before crowning a winner. In SEM, marketers must reward all the various touchpoints that led to a conversion before crowning a certain keyword.

OK, that’s a new Olympic Record for list length in one my columns… 36! Shattering the old record of 26. Time to start training for Rio!

2 comments about "The SEM Olympics".
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  1. Kevin Bullard from ILFUSION Creative, August 8, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.

    Wow! Someone with a topical sense of humor! Good work and refreshing...
    Problem Solver

  2. Ruth Barrett from, August 8, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.

    In sailing there is a saying the one who wins has made the least mistakes which I was reminded of as I read through this fun list. Thanks, Aaron.

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