An Interview with Rand Fishkin

How can we help our clients & move forward as an industry? Whilst presenting at SMX Sydney last month, Dan had the opportunity to speak with Rand Fishkin and ask him just that. Rand also gave us a brief overview on SEOmoz’s new(ish) tool, Fresh Web Explorer.

You can watch the video, or read some the highlights from their conversation, below.

What do you think about what Rand has to say? Join the discussion on Google Plus
Highlights from the video, paraphrased for ease of reading:

Changing to a Broader Inbound Marketing Approach

Q: Our industry is going through a big change; moving from old SEO tactics to a broader strategic approach. Many clients are still coming to us and asking for links and rankings. If you were starting an agency now, how would you approach the conversation with clients.
A: Part of the problem is that clients have a perception that SEO is about links, keywords, higher rankings and subsequent traffic. SEO is something that businesses know they should care about, and these metrics are something managers can move the needle on.
We need to take a step back and look at what clients are really trying to achieve. For most, this means more customers. The reality is that ranking in search isn’t going to drive immediate and measurable conversions. Studies have shown that the conversion process takes place over multiple channels, with branded searches often being the last touch in the process. For clients the question is, in light of this, do they have the sophistication to measure the full effect of SEO on the bottom line. Currently they can measure traditional metrics, show traffic increasing, but as it’s difficult to measure the full impact using last touch attribution, conversion rates will appear low.

Metrics for SEO

Q: Clients are looking for measurable things. Are you saying we should come up with a new set of metrics for reporting.
A: This is where we have the opportunity to open a discussion about what they’re really trying to achieve and talk about mechanisms for properly measuring the effect of all inbound marketing channels (search, social, mail subscriptions, webinar participation, direct to content, etc…). Whilst moving the needle on these metrics and measuring the impact on the bottom line, taking into account paid marketing efforts, we can determine the ROI from inbound marketing. Using multi-touch attribution we can determine the value of each of the channels and help assign resources accordingly.
Having this conversation changes the focus of the client, show’s them you really know what you’re talking about and is a real source of competitive advantage.

SEO as a Brand

Q: Many of us in the industry have defined our brand with the term SEO, something which has a distinctive meaning. Should & how do we go about changing focus?
A: I did the same with SEOmoz. Having SEO in your brand isn’t a killer to engaging in a broader inbound marketing strategy. Often, people who are looking for SEO need that broader suite of marketing, and SEO provides the opportunity to have a discussion with those people. SEOmoz’s software has a range of uses outside of SEO including PR, branding, outreach… SEO can be great conversation starter and then you can expand upwards into other marketing areas.

Fresh Web

Q: You mentioned Fresh Web Explorer, tell us who it was in SEOmoz that came up with the idea?
A: The idea stemmed from a project years ago, where we bought what was basically a college students project called Blog Scape. This crawled RSS feeds and allowed you to search the feeds and showed you some data in a graph. For various reasons, over time the project got mothballed. Last year we decided to revisit this idea and got a couple of new developers onto the project.
Fresh Web Explorer looks for mentions of your brand and industry on sites with an RSS feed. You can compare against competitors or different topics and find opportunities for outreach and PR. This is great for finding media outlets talking about a subject in which you might be an expert and getting exposure that way. The data is updated every 4 hours with new feed, providing the necessary immediacy for these kind of opportunities. SEOmoz pro members can get access through tools, or you can get a free 30 day trial with signup. We even have an open 48 hours coming up; so anyone can use the tools without even having to signup.

Moz Starting a Search Engine?

Q: Were you ever tempted to start a search engine, because you’re almost there?
A: The question would be “Why”? It’s not something I really think we can do better than others who are out there. We really want to focus on helping marketers do a better job.

What do you think about the future of SEO?

It’s been a big challenge for many SEO’s engaging in this new conversation with clients about what they should be focusing on. How are you approaching this, and how do you measure the ROI for your work? What do you think about Rand’s suggestions? Join the discussion on Google Plus.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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5 thoughts on “An Interview with Rand Fishkin”

  1. Nice interview, I was the one who asked the question about “SEO” as a term =)

  2. All my clients & partners I’ve worked so far and have been working with are – concerned about Keyword Rankings of their websites only. Sometimes they say: ‘I’m not getting sufficient results’, despite their site ranking Top on Google for selected keywords, ie: even after we give them what they are concerned about(KW ranking). We knew its their site’s usability that was not bringing what the client actually want..but, they have no time & money to invest on site’s architecture!
    in my experience, only half of the people I’ve worked with(clients/partners) followed & applied to the suggestions we recommended them…there were even instances, prospects never turn-up when I tried to explain & make them realize the importance of co-operating with us when required, esp..when we want access to their websites’ admin & analytics to do On-page & monitor site metrics!…this is again due to several factors, but the one main reason is: they are concerned about Keyword Rankings of their websites only nothing else!…
    Be in past or in future, I would suggest: Even after explaining how SEO actually works, if your prospects or clients are not willing to work with you but are just coming to buy positions on search engines, honestly let them know that they are not going to Get the Results they want from you!

  3. Flynn says:

    So exciting to see a Queensland company speaking to Rand the guru. Great discussion on the evolution of SEO/online marketing and the client perceptions.

  4. David says:

    Ahh the interview with the Matt Cutts figure of Gray-White Hat SEO! Mazal tov! Axiom SEO will try to book him next đŸ˜‰

  5. christykunjumon says:

    Very interesting, recently I also did interview of Rand Fishkin in which he mention many names which he suggested for Moz and many more things.