12 Things I learned about SEO from Chefs Table

Updated: May 10

Chefs Table is currently my favorite show on Netflix. After 6 seasons, 29 episodes and over 30 hours of watching I started to get inspired. But not to become a chef.


I became inspired because I realized the personality traits, experiences and challenges of many chefs are the same for SEOs! How can this be? Food and search engine optimization are two totally different industries, aren’t they? Yes and no. Here are 12 things I learned about SEO from watching Chefs Table


1. Sometimes the world is not ready for you

2. There is no substitute for a great mentor

3. Losing the battle doesn't mean losing the war

4. Do it yourself

5. Work together

6. Success takes time

7. Imposter syndrome is real

8. Balance your work and life

9. Blend of art and science

10. Copying competitors might make you good but not great

11. Find your “aha” moment

12. The result is only as good as what goes into it




1. Sometimes the world is not ready for you

Through each episode, I saw time and time again, that the world was not ready for the chef's style, personality or food. But this did not stop them. The same is true for SEOs. Many times, there are conflicting interests and stakeholders (designers, developers, clients etc) are not ready for the SEO recommendations. This is OK, stick with it, build your case and the world will come around!


2. There is no substitute for a great mentor

The story of nearly every single great chef started with a great mentor. This is a topic I've been talking about for some time in the SEO industry. To be a great SEO, you must get a mentor! I am not saying you must explicitly ask someone to be your mentor, and you don't even necessarily need to work together or see each other in person or even communicate (but that does work best). Just identify someone you look up to, someone who is experienced, driven and pushes the limit in SEO, follow them, observe them, read their content and ask them questions. This will launch you onto a path of success


3. Losing the battle doesn't mean losing the war

There are ups and downs in every industry, but for chefs and SEOs this is amplified. You can’t win them all. In one episode of Chefs Table, a young chef went to the right cooking school, got the right experience, got hired at an excellent restaurant. Opening day, they booked 275 reservations, and after ONLY 50 they had to close down for the night. Food was going on burned and unsatisfactory. But each failure is a learning opportunity, Seize them. You might create the best piece of content, post is on a strong site, but sometimes it just doesn't work. Try again


4. Do it yourself

In one episode a chef wanted rare and diverse beans and gains for his restaurant, and he couldn't find a supplier. So what did he do? He bought a plot of land and grew them himself. As SEOs never be afraid to take control of the situation, dive in and get your hands dirty. Some things can be outsourced, and for some things, it is best to do it yourself so you can deliver top results.


5. Work together

Despite what I said above, not everything should be done by yourself. Great results come from a great team. Just as a chef can’t run a kitchen on their own, SEOs must have a strong team that works together to achieve their goals.


6. Success takes time

No one becomes a great SEO overnight, and no great SEO results come overnight. SEOs, like chefs, must develop their craft and this takes time.


7. Imposter syndrome is real

Imposter syndrome, or doubting your abilities, is a real thing that affects real people. Be confident in your skills and your knowledge, you are better than you think! (and surround yourself with people that recognize your greatness)


8. Balance your work and life

SEOs notoriously don't know when to stop, because the work never ends. It's not like the internet takes a break at 6 pm and starts back up at 8 am. Chefs are also known to become obsessive and spend too much time in the kitchen. Take a step back, enjoy your personal life. Your professional life will get better if you do this.


9. Blend of art and science

There is a debate if SEO is an art or a science. Food is the same way. But what do great SEOs and great chefs have in common? They utilize both the arts and sciences to produce amazing results. Data, analytics, and the right metrics should be combined with creativity and trying new things based on wild ideas.


10. Copying competitors might make you good but not great

A chef never became great because they copied someone else. Maybe they had to start with someone else's style or menu to get inspired, but to be great you have to step into new realms where no one else has stepped before. In SEO we are often tempted to look at competitors and do what they do, but this will NOT make you great! Try new things, test ideas yourself and you will succeed!


11. Find your “aha” moment

Whether your “aha” moment is discovering what type of SEO you should practice, what industry you do best in, or who you coordinate best with, try new things until you find it. When you do it will become obvious and then run with it!


12. The result is only as good as what goes into it

In nearly every episode the chefs stressed that their food is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. Bad ingredients = bad final dish. SEOs know this is true. You can’t successfully do SEO with poor content, poor links or a poor site structure. If you want to see the best SEO results make sure that EVERY aspect of what goes into your work is the best!


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