Rand Fishkin

Founder of Moz and inbound.org, blogger, author, tiny Techstars investor, & feminist

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 09, 2015


Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
Howdy gang, I'm Rand Fishkin, cofounder of Moz and Inbound.org. I blog, film Whiteboard Friday videos, travel and speak at dozens of events each year, and am married to pretty much the most amazing woman ever. I'm an addict of all things search, social, and content on the web, and love to help companies to get marketing and SEO right.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey! What are some of your favourite books?
Dan Price@hellodanprice · Social Media
Hey Rand! If you were starting Moz TODAY. What would you be doing to grow it? Snapchat? Daily vlogs?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@hellodanprice I think visual content is huge and growing, so I'd seriously consider creating a visually-focused blog (simple graphics that illustrate important trends, stats, tactics, practices, etc) promoted via visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, etc. as well as the traditional means.
Brian Sparker@brainsparker · Product Manager
@randfish Hey Rand! I love inbound.org. What's the most important aspect of running a successful online community?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@brainsparker I think finding the intersection of these 3 things is absolutely essential: 1) Your personal passion (I don't think people build great things unless they have real, driving, personal passion in the field) 2) An area where you can deliver unique value (above and beyond what anyone else is doing in the field) 3) A platform/channel/community your customers/audience will actually use (e.g. if we'd done an Instagram community or a Slack channel, it probably wouldn't have worked as well for our web marketing-focused audience).
Jeremy O'Briant@jobriant · San Francisco, CA
@randfish What are the biggest trends in SEO/SEM to keep an eye on in 2016?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@jobriant I'm going to do a predictions post about this in January (as I always do), but as a teaser, here's a couple: 1) I think we'll need to watch app indexing very carefully. If Google promotes app content like they did Google+ content in the early days, it may make sense to make web apps even if you have no other good reason to do so (which will get some abuse unfortunately). 2) Google's use of deep learning and their application of user/usage metrics are going to keep hurting sites that can earn the traditional ranking signals of old (links, keywords, content, etc) but can't delight users.
Arpit Gupta@arpitgupta · Product Manager
@randfish How do you "optimize" your life and what metrics are you trying to hit?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@arpitgupta I've been liking my Fitbit for tracking activity and sleep. More broadly, my big metrics for life success are: -- Helping as many people as I can with the skills/talents I've got (which tends to be marketing knowledge about all sorts of weird stuff on the web, but hopefully that's enough) -- Being a great husband to Geraldine -- Being a voice and champion for disadvantaged and underrepresented folks, particularly women, people of color, and the financially under-privileged. I hope, over time, to be more than just a voice. -- Building a successful company, meaning we get to a meaningful liquidity event (an IPO or sale) that has a positive impact on our employees, community, investors, and customers.
lily smith@lilysmith88 · Accountant, Blogger at SageNext Infotech
@randfish what you really think about friendship. Did this one plays an role in success of your life.
David Sottimano@dsottimano · CMO, Huballin & Strategist, Define MG
Hey @randfish, if you had to give one piece of advice to a new startup, what would you tell them?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@dsottimano Totally depends on the startup! If I didn't know anything about them and had to be totally broad, I'd say - consider what you want the company to become and what will make you feel that you've had success. Talk to entrepreneurs who've built venture-backed businesses, businesses that failed, ones that were acquired, ones that they just kept running as a "lifestyle business" (that term is used as a pejorative by Silicon Valley, but it's actually an amazing thing that the 8/10 startups who raise funding but die are jealous of), etc. Don't go into the startup world thinking there's only one path you must pursue.
Eetu Karppanen@kyyjonssoni · eCommerce Manager @ Kekäle
Hello @randfish - thanks for doing this! I've noticed that the movement with Google is that they're trying to answer as much as they can in search results page. What's your opinion about search in the future? Will SEO be anymore cost-efficient way to achieve visitors like two-three years forward?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@kyyjonssoni For questions that can be answered in a few lines of text on a search result page, I think we're going to see Google disintermediate websites as much as they can. That's going to mostly hurt the single-visit type searches and sites that provide little ongoing value or connection and usually monetized through affiliate or ad revenue. But, on the flipside, I don't think Google will ever be able to offer answers to queries like "best marketing automation software" or "training courses for auto mechanics." There's still an immense and growing number of queries where websites have huge opportunity in SEO, and that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.
Adam Owen@adamowenit · Search Engine Marketing Consultant
Hey Rand, great to see you on PH! With Google gradually increasing the number of PPC Ads (taking up more and more above-the-fold space), as well as pulling information directly into SERPs using 'cards' - meaning the user doesn't even have to click through to a website, do you think marketing will shift more to paid channels over the next few years?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@adamowenit I think some marketers will invest more heavily in PPC as a result, but IMO, they're not the smart ones :-) Google is adding more paid ads in some places, but overall, ad CTR in search has remained stable or even dropped (source: http://www.rimmkaufman.com/resou...). The problem is that Google has to make ads more and more prominent, and less obviously ads, in order to keep CTR stable. Otherwise, everyone just wants to click on the organic results (which are generally better and better perceived for obvious reasons). Thus, IMO, smart marketers are going to watch where the opportunity shifts and go there. Right now, organic search is as good a bet as its ever been, and doesn't seem likely to shrink soon (granted, it's more complex, challenging, and competitive than ever, too).
Douglas Lee Miller@videoin · Sr. Media Strategist
Hey there - as marketers we tend to treat human attention as though it is this vast inexhaustible resource, but clearly it isn't. Should we at any point take a stand and start to develop a language and standards for treating human attention sustainably, as other resources have demanded?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@videoin Ooph. That might be out of my paygrade and even out of my realm of expertise. I would say that the nice thing about human attention is that we evolve, we filter, and we learn to ignore stuff that doesn't resonate pretty well over time. It may not come to the need for regulation.
Douglas Lee Miller@videoin · Sr. Media Strategist
@randfish THX for the POV. Not exactly a softball, I know. You sit in a unique seat RE: understanding human attention IMO, so don't undervalue that.
Tom Critchlow@tomcritchlow · Co-founder Fiercely Curious
@videoin some folks I worked with at Google were involved with this: http://timewellspent.io/ which I think might speak to what you're looking for. I think there's only a tiny number of people seriously thinking about this in the marketing world right now but I think that will change.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's the biggest thing you changed your mind about in the last year?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@jacqvon I answered a question above like this one, but it was on a professional topic, so I'll try to make this one personal... I've changed how I feel about being accepting of different opinions. I used to think that being open-minded and a good person meant being able to see and empathize with wide varieties of opinions on big, important issues (gun control, abortion, drug legalization, religion, immigration, etc) was a fundamentally right way to be. But, nowadays, I've changed my view, and I think become more jaded. I've come around to the idea that there are opinions that are not worthy of respect, and although I may be able to empathize with the place or experiences that formed them, I don't need to give them airtime in my head or the freedom to express themselves in my world. That's led to a lot more blocking of folks on Twitter, Disqus, etc, and, perhaps not surprisingly, a better online experience, too :-)
Douglas Lee Miller@videoin · Sr. Media Strategist
@randfish @jacqvon an evolution of filters in practice.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Hi @randfish! You are a legend when it comes to marketing growth and optimization, and the Moz blog and tool suite is hands down one of the best set of resources around for marketers. For the entrepreneur (whether solo or looking to build a big, high-growth company) who is JUST starting out with a brand or product launch (let's assume the idea/blog/product is REALLY good and people will follow or buy if they can find it), what are the most important 3-5 specific, tactical things that person should do to hit the ground running and gain early traction?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@melissajoykong Hi Melissa - thanks for the very kind words! For your question, I'd say check out this presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/randfi.... It's got a basic framework I really like (I called it "Minimum Viable Marketing") for setting up a product for success, alongside a bunch of tactics (keyword research, audience identification, content targeting, conversion rate optimization, etc) that can get your product off the ground.
Picatic@picaticto · Alex, Growth at PicaticTO
@randfish How do you think event marketing fits into SEO? What's the best way to promote events?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@picaticto I love events for marketing - I think the connections you build in person are often far more powerful and more serendipitously possible than those purely in the digital world. That said, events are a tough business. The margins are low, the revenue you generate is only a fraction of the costs people have attending, and the quality of events varies wildly. Getting speakers who perform to your audience's expectations, is IMO, one of the absolute hardest parts. In terms of event marketing itself, my strategy has been to build an online community first, then a great event, and let the word of mouth drive most of the event growth and ticket sales. However, I've talked to other event organizers who've been very successful with outdoor advertising (amazingly, it still works!), with traditional brand ads, with affiliate programs, and with corporate sponsorship. It's not my area of greatest expertise, but I'm trying to learn more about it and will share as I gather info - possibly a good blog post for me next year :-)
Picatic@picaticto · Alex, Growth at PicaticTO
@randfish Thanks, we'll look forward to that blogpost! I do agree, events are a tough business. It's interesting to see how eventtech is bridging the gap with traditional advertising to help make awesome events happen. Community is key.
Avi Lambert@avi_lambert · Lambert Strategy Group Ltd.
@randfish how long do you think it will take for mobile and augmented reality to really change SEO, ie @blippar #IoT
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@avilambert Mobile's already changed a lot of SEO - it's shifted search demand, changed how we build for the web, made us think about Web Apps vs. Mobile Websites (more on that here: https://moz.com/blog/mobile-web-...), and almost doubled the amount of web searches done each day! Augmented reality has been slower... I think the hardware, the social awkwardness of it, and the applications all have a number of years before they become mainstream.
Margot Mazur@margotcodes · Partnership Co-ordinator, Wistia
Hey Rand! Thanks for doing this awesome AMA. Would love to hear your thoughts on the future of video & video marketing! Where do you see video marketing in the next year?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@margotcodes Video's already huge, and I think it will keep growing. Youtube is the #2 search engine, and Facebook is having massive success with video on their platform (although there's controversy about how real their numbers are:
). For marketers, the challenges are: A) Choosing where and how to host video B) Choosing how to market video and where to use it in their conversion funnels C) Figuring out how to make video their audience will actually want and watch I don't think 2016 will see big shifts from an underlying principles perspective, though we may see micro-video become bigger. But, these same challenges are going to keep plaguing us for the foreseeable future, and the folks who figure it out will have a lot of success (but they'll be in the minority).
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@randfish Thanks so much for joining us today! During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Flip side - what's the worst?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@ems_hodge Best piece of advice.... I think in the professional world, it might be my advice to Yelp from many years ago (~2005), when I was still doing consulting, to create badges that restaurants could put on their websites. It worked so well they extended it to stickers that the restaurants (and now businesses of all kinds) put on their doors and windows too. I actually thought that Yelp had the physical stickers first, but an early marketer from their team told me it was actually the other way around! That one seemed to go well :-) As for the worst advice I've given... Probably my strategic approach to product at Moz in 2012-2013. I thought we should build an all-in-one-toolkit for marketers who focused on any organic channel - search, social, content, community, press, etc. Turns out, those folks don't need to share a single tool. They need the best-in-class solutions and are happy to pay more and use lots of different software to get the edge. Doh! Bad mistake on my part, and it really hurt Moz's growth and potential. Nowadays, we're getting back to that approach, but it cost a lot of heartache :(
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@randfish @ems_hodge Doh! I just realized you asked about advice I'd BEEN given, not advice I HAVE given. Sorry about that! I'll try to answer that one, too in a bit.
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@ems_hodge OK - so, on to the best advice I've RECEIVED :-) I think it probably came from Dharmesh Shah at Hubspot, who told me to focus on being the best in the world we could be at one thing, and not try to be everything to everyone. If I'd listened, Moz would be in a much better place today I think. Worst advice: A lot of venture capitalist I pitched back in 2009/2010/2011 tried to get me to move the company to Silicon Valley. I think that would have been a horrible mistake. Very glad we stayed in Seattle given all the madness of costs down there, the horrifying employee retention figures, the transactional culture, and the focus on growth over sustainability.
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@randfish What's a hidden talent you'd like to share with the world?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Hey @randfish! Hope it’s alright to be greedy and ask a couple of questions: 1) What’s one thing that you’ve changed your mind or opinion on in 2015? 2) If you could redesign the google homepage and leave a note for everyone searching that day, what might you say/draw?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@jonnym1ller Great questions :-) 1) Charging month-to-month for software subscriptions. I'm coming around to believing that annual subscriptions are the way to go. The mental model changes when you commit to software for longer, and on the provider side, the value equation and ability to support/improve goes way up, too. 2) I'd probably make @everywhereist (my wife, Geraldine) write it. She's so much more clever than I am.
Arpit Gupta@arpitgupta · Product Manager
@randfish What are some of the best events/conferences you have attended recently?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@arpitgupta Hi Arpit - I continue to be a huge fan of Searchlove, Distilled's conferences in Boston, London, and San Diego. They're smaller shows, but the intimate feel and the quality of info presented is incredible. It's the conference where I actually learn from listening to the speakers, which means the content is crazy-advanced and really actionable. Highly recommended.
CJ Wilson@cjwilson1388 · Talent Acquisition at Boostability
Hi @randfish - I love the culture you and your team were able to build at Moz. How far into the process of building Moz did you start focusing on that? And if you were to start a new company today what would you do differently to build culture (if anything)?
Rand Fishkin@randfish · Wizard of Moz
@cjwilson1388 Thanks! Although I often feel the frustration of not being good enough, it certainly feels like Moz has built something special for our team. We started focus on that pretty early - in 2007, when there were only 7 of us. We did some formal things around culture and values in 2008 and I published more about that here: https://moz.com/blog/what-we-bel.... In terms of my next company - yeah, lots of things I'd do differently. Every day I learn more about how teams and culture and people work, and I'd love to someday apply all of that to my next venture. Probably still a few years away though, and sadly, don't have time to share all the learnings here, though https://moz.com/rand/24-things-i... has some of that.