[WAMA] Rand Fishkin - cofounder of Moz.com - Mon 12th May 4pm PST/PDT

by 42 replies

Hey Warriors,

I'm really excited to be on Warrior Forum!

Here is a little about me:

* Education: Attended Univ. of Washington, Seattle 1997-2001 | Dropped out to start Moz
* Interests: Travel, Science, NFL Football, Food, Beer, Scotch, the Internet, Adventure Time
* My travels have taken me from Beijing to Stockholm, Toronto to Milan, New York, London, Lima, Sofia, Cape Town, Sydney & many more.
* From 2007-2013, I was Moz's CEO, but have moved into a new position as an individual contributor, while our longtime COO, Sarah Bird, takes the CEO reigns
* When I'm not working I'm off exploring new parts of the world, spending time with Geraldine (whom I proposed to in Feb. 2007 and married in Sept. 2008) or watching the NFL.

Moz started up in 2004, and we’ve been on an epic ride ever since. From our beginnings as an SEO consulting company to launching the first Pro app in 2007, we’ve tried to stay true to our core beliefs—TAGFEE (Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, Exceptional)—and to deliver an exceptional experience for our community and subscribers. We owe a huge thanks to our community for joining us on this awesome journey.

Here is the timeline of the Moz journey:
About Moz: What We Do and How We Got Here. - Moz

I will be holding this Warrior Ask Me Anything - WAMA live on Warrior Forum on Mon 12th May 4pm PST/PDT Time Converter
#warrior ask me anything (wama) #12th #4pm #cofounder #fishkin #mon #mozcom #pst or pdt #rand #wama
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    Watch the Rand Fishkin WAMA Replay Here


    Transcript of the Rand Fishkin WAMA Event:

    Hi everybody, Rand Fishkin here. Thanks for joining. I am on the chat here and I am also checking questions from the Warrior Forum. I look forward to kicking off with you guys, thanks for having me, I appreciate it very much.

    So let’s see, I am going to ignore all the bio stuff, I am sure you can check that out if and when you want.

    [00:34]

    Let’s see, so I’ll start with the first question that comes from Escalade Internet. So they are asking, “Over the years I have seen several blogs on the MOZ blog about acquiring new clients but I don’t remember any of them mentioning cold calling. Cold calling seems to be a pretty big thing at Warrior Forum in the offline section and we have had great success with it as well. Is there a reason that this doesn’t tend to get recommended very much at Moz? Besides referrals and speaking at events would you say that cold calling is the best way to acquire new offline clients or do you prefer a different method?”

    And so the real answer here is I have a personal bias against it. So I don’t like to be cold called, I find it interruptive marketing and I find it just kind of distasteful. It is something I dislike receiving and dislike to do personally. And so I think that is something that kind of is reflected in the style of Moz right which is really focused on inbound marketing, kind of earning attention and awareness by doing interesting things. And then if people want to subscribe, want to follow us on social channels, want to reach out to us, want to connect with us through email, saw me speaking at an event and liked what they heard, those types of things then they can reach out. And those forms of inbound marketing have been obviously very powerful for us and that is a movement that I am personally passionate about and I think that is why you see the knowledge and content at Moz reflective of that as opposed to on the cold calling side,

    I actually, the thing you mentioned that is very interesting is I have not seen a lot of people having success with cold calling especially in the last decade or so. I think the average response rates to that form of marketing have been falling at least from most of the industry data that I have seen, a lot of which a company on Boston hub post collects and publishes. And so yeah I think it is fascinating you guys are finding success with that and my hat is off to you for bucking that trend. I think that is great.

    [02:40]

    Let’s see, how do I get to the WAMA?

    Alright so Sean F. wants to know, “Going forward do you think site owners should continue to do SEO or do you see a better approach for longevity? Also what are your thoughts on SEO’s who advocate building your own networks for ranking purposes?”

    Sure, so I will tackle the first question first. Well it depends, with many site owners it kind of depends on their skills and focus and what they are doing with their professional day. If marketing and the technical side of SEO and the creative side of content creation and amplification and fixing site issues and all of these kinds of things that might go in the SEO bucket are up their alley and if those are things that they a) find enjoyable, and b) are good at, can excel at, want to learn, those types of things, then I think it is great if the site owners want to tackle those problems themselves. But a lot of site owners and business owners have many many challenges and so I find that it can be very helpful to specialize and to recognize when you personally aren’t the best at something and maybe you want to bring someone else in to assist with those types of activities. Which is why many professional SEO consultants and in-house SEO’s all have working jobs as they do today.

    In terms of doing SEO versus a better approach for longevity, if you are asking do I think there will still be many many billions of searches performed on Google every month, every day, the answer is yes. I think actually I foresee that trend continuing to grow and I think that SEO will remain a large powerful viable channel for at least the next five to ten years. And after that it is hard to say because the internet is advancing so fast. I would not say that turning away from SEO or turning away from taking advantage of search as a channel is going to be something that I recommend any time in the near future.

    Sean, regarding your second question, “What are your thoughts on SEO’s who advocate building your own networks for ranking purposes?”

    My guess is you are speaking here about sort of building up networks of unique domains and websites in order to kind of artificially inflate one’s link signals or to have micro sites that are individually targeting pieces of content, I really don’t like that strategy. And the reason I don’t like that strategy and haven’t liked it for quite a long time is I see Google going in such a strong brand bias direction right. They love domain authority, they have for a long time which is something we can all observe from an SEO perspective, but you can also see them really biasing towards signals around companies and websites that build up brand and reputation. Those include things like brand mentions, obviously links and citations but also things like search volume around branding.

    In fact I think we may be able to directly observe Google biasing to rank pages and sites higher whose search volume is closely connected to the topics and keywords and phrases that they are going after. I think Google is and has been for a while looking and user and usage data which of course suggests that you have a single website that is aggregating all of that user and usage data; you are going to perform much better.

    It is also much much easier to build a single brand meaning a single website and direct all of the traffic you possibly can to that.

    So I am not a fan of the networked approach. I am also not a fan of it from a link building perspective. I think if you are an extremely sophisticated sort of in the top 1%, 0.5% of most sophisticated kind of grey-blackout operators out there, you might be able to build a network that is relatively impregnable to Google’s web spam team for the short term but that is not a world that I know tremendously well. I have a few friends in it obviously but I think that is pretty high risk and Google has been increasing their sophistication around detection and penalizing of those networks. That is the kind of thing where overnight you can go from thousands in revenue in a month to absolutely no revenue at all. I think that is a very risky business model. It wouldn’t be something that I would invest in.

    [07:14]

    Molehol asks, and Mole I apologize if I am mispronouncing your name there. “Do you believe that SEO has changed forever because Moz has removed SEO from their own brand name?”

    Actually the answer is really no, a strong no there. SEO is changing at about the same rate it has been changing at for the last fifteen, twenty years and I think Moz removing SEO from our name is really a variety of a few things. 1) It is an indication that we wanted to do things outside of pure SEO. Followerwonk is a really good example of this, Moz Local is a good example of this, other products that we are trying to help people with. And it is also an indication that you know we were able to get the Moz domain name which is three letters, it is a great brand, it is more pronounceable; all of those kinds of things. We have the dot com, that kind of thing.

    [08:12]

    Mike B asks, “What were the key business decisions that led you to set up the pro Ap as opposed to being consultants?”

    Yeah that is an interesting one especially because Mike we were just on the cusp of turning that consulting business into a successful business before we launched our software. And I think that was really more of a…it is funny because it was less of a business decision and more of a values driven decision. So one of the things was that you know I am a big believer and just love to be able to openly and transparently share how things are going, which is why you see all sorts of crazy blog posts from me about here is our revenue numbers and here is our venture capital funding process and here is things that are going right and wrong at the company. And back in 2007 we had a number of tools that we had built to help us do consulting for our clients and I really wanted to show them to everybody. You know any time I went to a conference or an event all I did was, “Oh check out this latest tool we built” and “We built this tool; look at what it does” and da da da da da.

    And so when we opened that up and let people subscribe to the tools that came from our personal place of passion. And then it started to take off right, it became almost 50% of our revenue by the end of the year and that is when we took our first round of venture capital. And it was only really then as we were talking to these investors, mostly Michelle Goldberg from Ignition Partners over in Bellview that I really realized the power of having a self service SAS software and service recurring subscription revenue model, how much investors like that, how much [09:51 acquirers/ enquirers] like that, how much Wall street likes that in public offerings, those kinds of things. So yeah it was an accidentally very good business decision.

    [10:03]

    Juo asks, “How do you see SEO and CRO going together practically speaking?”

    To me they are like meat and potatoes or bacon and eggs, they have to go together right. SEO is a fantastic channel for driving a large amount of high intent visitors to a website and conversion rate optimization is the practice of moving that funnel from the first visit down to the conversion. And so I think these are marketing practices that are made for each other. The beautiful thing today is that Google has gotten broader and broader in the data signals they are considering. It is really amazing and wonderful to have SEO benefit from better conversion rate optimization right, the more compelling you make your site’s content, the longer people are staying on pages, the more they are engaging with you, the more people who buy and subscribe to your product, chances are that you are going to receive amplification and user and usage data signals and social signals and all these things that directly and or indirectly are benefiting you in the rankings.

    So it kind of builds this wonderful machine that, almost a fly wheel effect that you are getting from these practices working together.

    [11:35]

    Let’s see, Ido asks, “What is the best website ranking strategy for 2015?”

    The absolute best? Gosh, that is such a broad question. I think I would have to say that the one that seem to be doing extremely well right now for a lot of the companies that I interact with, which oftentimes are start ups, oftentimes are in the technology world, although many of them are tackling what I would call sort of old world businesses, is content marketing. The practice of producing unique informative highly engaging content that then gets amplified through social, that then gets referenced by links and citations and helps those websites to rank higher.

    Obviously good examples of this are people like Rap Genius [transcriber note: now “Genius”] who have really done a great job with community being their content signal, and I recognize they have done some shadier things as well. Another great example, one of my favorites actually in the travel sector is oyster.com who had just a phenomenal amount of really great content that they put together and invested heavily in that, and then they were bought by I think the travel channel just recently.

    [12:58]

    Dawn T. asks, “What kind of content balance should you have in your articles? By this I mean written, videos, images etcetera?

    Yeah so Dawn I think this is an area where I look not necessarily for some perfect ratio but I really seek out the strengths of the individual content produces and the desires of the audience. So I ask myself, what is going to resonate with my audience? What am I really good at producing? And then where I find the intersect of those two things right, if you imagine that the center of that Venn diagram that is what I seek to produce and I don’t worry too much about a ratio in terms of this much text to that much visuals or images. I rarely ever try anymore to produce pure text content because my experience has been that pure text content with no visual performs more poorly in social media and for me social networks are really how I get the amplification and the initial kind of push. I think of social as being the catalyst that lights the fire that helps content to rank and helps it to earn links and those kinds of things. And so I really need that initial push. Hence visuals are very, very helpful. Visuals also are more likely to get embedded by other people and linked to and those sorts of things. So from my perspective I don’t produce stuff anymore, rarely ever produce stuff anymore that is pure text content.

    Video actually is a funny one. I like video because it is very high engagement once someone does engage with it, but you should be aware a lot of the stats I have seen are that a lot more people will consume non video content like they will just click it, then click back, click it, check it out, re-tweet it etcetera. Video content has a tougher time getting those things but it often is much more engaging and memorable which is why it is so powerful.

    [14:58]

    Scott S asks, “How are the increasing use of mobile devices and Aps changing analytic capabilities?”

    Yeah this is actually a big frustrating one for a lot of people I think in the web and technology worlds particularly around mobile Aps right. So you have got your mobile device and the vast majority of web usage is trackable just as it is through your desktop or your laptop. But what is very untrackable, very, very challenging to track are two things, 1) the world of Aps and 2) the increasing use of multi device right. So I visit your device on my phone and then I visit it on my desktop computer and then I visit it on my laptop or my tablet and you can’t connect up those visits right. Unless I am logging in and explicitly giving you that information or using Facebook connect or something like that, it is very very hard for you to connect up those visits. And even Google Analytics this new universal analytics doesn’t let you do that kind of things that happen before a log in connection. So I think that is a tremendous challenge.

    And in the Ap world of course there is a few exceptions, there are folks like mobiledevhq and hasoffers who are trying to do better with mobile analytics, but tracking the Ap world, Ap searches, tracking what is successful in those. Apple and Google who control the vast, vast majority of mobile Ap interactions, it is just incredibly hard to track. And so a lot of folks who are trying to do that mobile Ap tracking even in the big companies are essentially just looking at signals that they can that happen before a download occurs and how those signals impact total downloads and revenue and those kinds of things. But you are doing a lot of correlation at that point, it is not a lot of direct measurement so both of those things are very challenging.

    [17:03]

    Stuart S. asks, “How do you run an effective team, be the boss and keep things productive? Lots of planning, task management, where do you get ideas for taking things to the next level?”

    There are a few things there. That is a big hefty question Stuart. So how about I will just start with a couple of tips on running effective teams.

    So I think great teams obviously start with great people but I think that there are very different definitions for what comprises a great person on the right kind of team. And I have seen plenty of people who you know have struggled at Moz and gone on to be amazing elsewhere. And I have seen plenty of people who have come here who have performed tremendously well and told me that this is the most high performing place they have ever been at and that they didn’t feel like they were expressing their potential or living up to their potential at other jobs.

    So I think a lot of that is about finding the unique potential or living up to their potential at other jobs. So I think a lot of that is about finding the unique element s of how your workplace or work environment culture and process and progress work and then finding the people who match those. And that can be a very challenging thing to do. I think experience is one of the only guides that you have got there but sharp interviewing skills, getting people on board through engagement as opposed to kind of leaving them alone to float on their own, those things can help.

    In terms of productivity, you know we could go on and on and on about that. One thing I will say from the planning perspective, I actually am not a huge lover of planning three to five years out, maybe even a year out, and there are people at Moz who are very passionate about those things and who really like to do that kind of stuff but I really like thinking about the next three to six months and planning out for the short term and then being able to be nimble and being able to change direction and say, “Hey this didn’t work, that didn’t work.”

    I think we’ve actually at Moz experienced a lot of pain from planning a very, very large launch that happened at the end of last year and I think tremendously slowed us down. And now this year we are moving into a more agile environment.

    Task management; so we have a few pieces of software that we use and like. One of the ones that we are adopting just now that we are giving a try to is 7geese. So you might check that one out.

    And with that I am going to move on Stuart. I know you had much bigger questions but I feel like there is lots of folks to get through.

    [19:43]

    Trayton asks, “Is SEO really dead? Do back links still work? If yes, for how long?”

    So SEO is most definitely not dead, I think it has been proclaimed to be dead by media sources who wanted a bunch of SEO’s to visit their websites and link to them which indicates the power of SEO. For 16 years I can’t remember a three month period that went by in the SEO world where somebody didn’t write an article about how SEO was dead including 2005 when Google went public.

    In terms of back links, yes back links still work. They are still very powerful. I think Google actually wishes they were a little less strong and you can hear Google’s head of web spam Matt Cuts talking about that a little bit from time to time.

    How long do I think they will be strong? I think they will be very strong for two to three years to come and I think Google will continue to experiment with ways to turn down their relative value but I would guess even five years from now they probably are still going to be relatively important.

    [20:47]

    Inga asks, “What is the big issue that you solved at Moz?”

    Oh man what is the big issue that we solved at Moz? Well you know I Think one thing that we were able to solve relatively well early on in our history was to build a company that was centered around SEO and around SEO software and even consulting before that, but had a trustworthy positive brand even outside of our field. I think that was something that some folks had done before us but not quite to the scale that we were able to at least at the time that we did so right, at least in the mid 2000’s there. And that has carried with it a lot of benefit. I think being an early adopter, early mover in that space and one of the few kind of trusted brands to reach scale really helped us out with community, with marketing, with adoption of our software; all of those kinds of things.

    [21:56]

    Utomo asks, “What is best tools and strategies used by international eCommerce websites?”

    Gosh, this is one where when you say international part of me almost doesn’t want to answer and the reason being that every country, every culture is so specific right and the things that I have seen and talked to folks working in Spain don’t work in Argentina, or Chile or Peru. And the things that I have seen work in Germany, don’t work in France. And the things that I have seen work in the UK don’t always work exactly the same way in the United States. So I think I am not the most qualified person to do that and especially because I focus very much on the English language speaking market. Unfortunately I don’t speak other languages; a tiny bit of German and a teensy weensy bit of Italian. My wife is Italian and she speaks it fluently but yeah I think there is probably other people who know that one better.

    If you are asking about ecommerce though there was a wonderful guide this morning put out by the crew over at I think it is called builtvisible.com. They have this ecommerce whitepaper that is really, really impressive. Gosh is it under their services? I think it must be under research. But yeah they have a great whitepaper on ecommerce. I shared it on Google Plus if you want to check it out there.

    [23:37]

    Let’s see. Some of these are pretty fun. “How do you get a better ranking in local business search? I currently own a UFC gym in Las Vegas.”

    Well that sounds super cool Chris. My suggestion to you is to check out the local search ranking factors. That is a document put together by Moz’s own David Mihn. He is the master, the expert of local SEO and he has got a lot of great stuff in that guide that will walk you through the process there. That would be the first and best resources that I would urge you to check out. Local SEO is very different from classic SEO. And so a lot of the signals, you know some of them are the same, keywords and links have some overlap but there is a lot of uniqueness in getting listed in the right aggregators, data aggregators that feed into Google’s listings and Bing’s listings and those kinds of things.

    [24:35]

    Scott asks, “If you had to launch a brand new site today, how would you approach the concept of link building, especially what to avoid?”

    Okay. I mean for me I am very passionate about getting the engagement and interest and interaction of a community who is going to help me grow my link profile rather than sort of manual push focused link building. It is very similar to what I talked about at the opening about inbound versus push marketing. And so for me that is about engaging with the right folks, finding the right types of content that I can produce and share, and building the kinds of relationships that will enable me to sort of earn links naturally, have links come to me.

    Key point here: This is a slow process. It is a slow process, it takes time, it can be very frustrating but it is also very safe in the long run right. So maybe six months, a year in, you are not where you could be with some of the manual or more you know kind of spammy manipulative link tactics that Google doesn’t like but two years from now you will still have a phenomenal platform and that flywheel will keep operating such that you know you are earning a link, that link is helping all the content on your site perform better, you are pushing out a little bit more unique content that is being amplified and socially shared and visited and clicked on and searched for. And that is pushing you up. And then as you build up that repertoire of content that can really help out.

    And if content isn’t your thing, you know that relationship building can work very well. I have seen lots of people do this through in person events and just travelling and meeting people, that kind of thing. So there are alternate ways to do that too. But I think we are moving to a world…well and I don’t know if we are moving to this world but I certainly love the practice of link earning rather than link building right active link building.

    [26:44]

    “How did you get such an awesome mustache?”

    I didn’t trim it. Seriously. It was not a huge challenge to grow Jason. This is about six months of growth now. I started growing it in the end of November and we are into May, so yeah just about six months. And it curls on its own. It is pretty weird. I don’t have to put any wax or anything like that. It just kind of curls up; I don’t know what is going on there.

    [27:13]

    Brian G. asks, “How does your Moz local service compare to Yext other than price?”

    So Brian great question. Actually right now today Moz local has a few different feature sets and functionality pieces but it is relatively similar to Yext other than the fact it is a sixth of the price. So that is the primary difference. And then over time we hope to be adding more and more features to it and get it to help with additional listings, have more bulk options, have more one off options, all those kinds of things. And some monitoring over time stuff as well. But today this early version has fairly close overlap with what Yext does.

    [27:58]

    Saffa Naranya asks, “I know that you have grown to this level from scratch. What would be your advice to me if I am at the stage where you started?”

    Well gosh so you know the stage where I started I dropped out of college and went half a million dollars into debt before turning that around, so I would urge you not to take out tons of credit cards to try and finance your business. You know I wrote a post about things I wish I had known when I started my career. I believe you can find that on Moz.com/Rand. Let me see. Yeah, 24 things I know now that I wish I knew then. I will paste that into the You stream chat and if you want to check that link out you can from there.

    [28:58]

    Let’s see. Vivic asks, “How do you build an SEO strategy for any website from scratch?”

    Wow that is an extremely broad challenging question. I would say that the strategy should fit the niche you are in, the community that you are targeting and the things that you are good at right. And I know I am coming back to some points here again and again and I am harping on them because that is what has been successful for me and that is what I have seen others have success with. I don’t think there is one strategy that works for every type of website and every website creator and every marketer. I think that each of them has to fit to their strengths.

    [29:42]

    Wayne W. asks, “What do you see as the best opportunity for someone starting up today?”

    Well, so I am going to take that question very broadly. One of the things that I would do today if I were just starting out my career is I would most certainly use some of the online resources and learn how to code. So I would pick Ruby or PHP or [30:11 no dutch ASs] and I would learn how to build at least simple to mildly complex applications on the web because I think that knowledge can really transform your career and that ability set will be something that benefits you forever.

    The other thing that I would certainly urge folks to do if you are starting out today is to gain a lot of self awareness. Know what you are personally passionate about. What makes you sort of the best you can be at your job. And sometimes there is things that really hold you back, things that you hate about your personal or professional life that you wish you could change. If you can identify those things and you can get rid of the wrong ones and keep the right ones and focus on those, being passionate about what you do and engaged with it, that is a super power. That will make you tremendously more productive than 99% of people out there.

    [31:12]
    Let’s see, Philippe asks, “What is the most important aspect to recover from a Google penguin penalty?”

    I wish I could say that Google was very consistent about how they apply penguin and how they lift the penalties but that just isn’t the case. The key thing of importance is to be able to get rid of and show Google that you seem to be putting in a tremendous amount of effort to get rid of the links you have acquired that are causing the penalty, causing the problem. But I have seen Google say, “Oh yeah you got rid of 10% of the links and it looks like you are working hard at it, and sure we will lift the penalty,” and I have seen you know 90% of the links are taken away and Google just for some reason they decide they are still not going to lift that penalty.

    And I don’t know what the attributes are there you know. They have a lot of different people reviewing them. It could be that different people are applying directives that come from the web spam team in different ways. It could be you know that they are seeing something behind the scenes they are not showing you in webmaster tools and so it is very hard for you to know. It is a frustrating thing.

    I wish Google were more transparent about it and I wish I could give better advice on that front but because of how inconsistent they are I think this is just something where a lot of people bang their head against the world, try and get those links removed, try and show Google that they are not going to do it anymore and that they are working very hard to get them removed and that they are disavowing the ones that they can’t actually get removed. But you can’t just disavow once you get penguined right like they need, they want to see most of the time, they want to see that you are actually actively getting rid of those links or at least trying to.

    No, it is super frustrating. And you know one of the things I hate most about penguin is it has given rise to this parasite industry of people who will sell you links and then when you get a penalty they will charge you to remove them. Like that is just despicable. Those people…man that is a dirty business.

    [33:23]

    Larry asks, “If you were to build links to a niche site of yours what links would you try to get? Guest posting, blog commenting, article subs, social bookmarking etcetera?”

    Ah, almost none of those would I try to get right because I think all of those fall under the high risk either today or in the future from Google right. Guest posting; clearly high risk with the exception of a few very trustworthy sites that are extremely picky about who they take as authors. Blog commenting; same thing. It is fine to do blog commenting but if you are primarily commenting on, do follow blogs, are trying to get anchor text into your blog commenting links, that can get your penalized. Article sites; same story as with guest posting. Google just hates that stuff. Social bookmarking; it is okay to do it a little bit but it better look natural to Google right, if they see that a large percentage of your links are coming from those places and a lot of them have those exact match anchors and that kind of stuff, they just hate that.

    So to me the best links are the ones you earn and the ones that I always go after are the ones where I have a personal relationship and or I have content that appeals to someone or a product that really appeals to someone and I can get them to engage with that. And once they engage, if they really like it, they will cite me, they will link to me those kinds of things. It is really about earning links. If you want my perspective on it. I know there is lots of people on Warrior Forum who do things differently and do have success although my sense is that many folks here purport to have much more success with spammy link building than they are actually having and that it is also often the case that the most sophisticated folks at sort of manipulative link building are the ones that get all of the attention and awareness and a lot of the time the 99% that is getting penalized or is not having as much success doesn’t get written about and used as an example. So I would just be careful on that front.

    [35:30]

    Let’s see, Shaheed asks, “What are the best link building strategies in 2014?”

    I feel like I tackled that one with the last question and a few before so I am going to keep going. If you have something more specific though Shaheed, certainly let me know.

    [35:46]

    Giovano R. asks, “Was it difficult for you to drop out of University and start Moz? I attended a top university in the U.S. but I also have a business idea I really want to pursue.”

    For me it wasn’t a super big challenge. I had been doing a little bit of web design work already, contracting and that was much more fulfilling and interesting to me than university but I think it depends. If you are at a great university, that pedigree can carry with you. The one thing I would say too is if you have got a scholarship or someone footing the bill you can potentially use a lot of the time that you are in university to learn and do things. It is just a question of what’s right for you and the kind of future that you want, and whether you think a university degree will make a huge amount of difference. I think for me it wasn’t and in fact I almost think the story is a little better dropping out of university for me than it would have been if I had stuck through.

    [36:51]

    Clint asks, “Video and info graphics are the hot marketing vehicles. What do you see next on the cutting edge of marketing online?”

    Great question. I think interactive pieces sort of classic old school tools, interactive graphics, interactive stuff like quizzes which have been very successful the last few years, and elements more like the interactive charts and graphs that you might see from an NY Times or the Atlantic put some of those together. I see big potential for those. I also think that a lot of marketers ignore the value of producing unique data. We are constantly aggregating but if you are the unique source for data, the primary source, the one who came up with the data who you know created the industry survey, who did the firsthand research that is reproducible that is high quality, you can earn a lot of links and citations through that type of content creation.

    [37:55]

    Sunday asks, “What are the best tools used for building natural links?”

    So you know you guys are probably familiar with the Moz toolset right, the competitive link finder an open site explorer, Followerwonk is one that a lot of agencies are really passionate about for finding influencers. Some of the lesser known ones, one that I really love that is new is buzzsumo.com. I would check out buzzsumo, I think that is a super exciting, very, very interesting site. And then there is one that Stefan Spencer mentioned to me recently, let me see if I can find that. It was in his search engine land column. Yes, so he recently wrote scaling and systematizing your link building and in that he mentioned a tool called pitchbox and pitchbox.com is another tool I might check out particularly if you are going through a lot of engagement and influence or outreach I think pitchbox can be a very cool one.

    [39:09]

    Let’s see, Christopher B. asks, “What do you think is preventing most SEO agencies from scaling and becoming bigger?”

    That is an interesting question. You know my first reaction is a lot of SEO agencies don’t want to scale and become bigger. I’ve actually, you know I had a call with a friend of mine in the industry who runs a very, very successful agency, very profitable, the few folks that work there really love it and he was asking me you know, like, “Would you recommend that I scale? Should I try and do this? Should I hire a bunch of people?” And this kind of thing. And we had a long conversation about whether that was really going to make him happy. And I think for many people kind of the craft, artisanal nature of doing the work is something that they love, and scale means that you do less of that hands on kind of fun stuff and more management and operational procedures and building process and working on people issues. This stuff gets exponentially harder and more complex and more time consuming as you build a company and so I think it is often the case a lot of SEO agencies want to stay small.

    The other one I think is probably the case that many SEO clients, people who use SEO Agencies and consultants are looking for one-time activity. And so building an ongoing recurring model can be very challenging which has hurt a lot of that scale that you might see in other industries.

    But you know it is true in every field. Design agencies, Ad agencies, Creative agencies, there is a ton of tiny ones and only a few really big ones.

    [40:45]

    Steve S. asks, “If you were just starting a new consumer brand today selling mobile accessories for example, what is the first method of customer acquisition you would employ?”

    Yeah so Steve for me the first method before I did any other kind of marketing is I would want to make sure that I had a product and a brand and a mission vision community like connection that was powerful enough to where word of mouth would comprise a significant amount of both repeat business and referral business. So you know talking to a few people in the field, selling a few of those products to friends, family, coworkers, people I am professionally connected to and then seeing whether that turns into a viral loop. And if it doesn’t I would work on the product before I work on the marketing. I think it is really, really, hard to put lipstick on a pig as a marketer right but if you have an amazing product, one that is naturally spreading and you can observe that and validate that, then a lot of customer acquisition methods become scalable and become worthy of investment, whereas before you know you were just going to churn and burn those customers. So that is the first methodology I would go after.

    Alright I am going to switch away from the AMA thread over to, let’s see some of these comments in the chat here.

    [42:24]

    Matt asks, “Do you think Google is AB testing its revenue when it releases its algo updates?”

    Actually Matt I think I’ve heard some folks from Google talk about this. They are not necessarily AB testing exclusively revenue. Revenue is something they look at and they would like to increase that but a lot of times when they are releasing updates to visual elements or interaction, what they really want is stickiness, return visits, time to user satisfaction, all of those engagement metrics because Google cares about the very, very long term. And in fact there is a deep core belief held by most of the engineering group that works on search in particular that making user satisfaction the primary metric will lead to greater revenue over the long run and focusing on revenue in the short term can actually hurt user satisfaction which will hurt revenue in the long term.

    So they are pretty, you know, they could be much more aggressive about advertising than they are. I think they obviously have got more aggressive about advertizing in the last few years, but yeah, that is…revenue is not the only thing they are optimizing for.

    [43:35]

    Let’s see. “With the possibility of Google abandoning Google Plus will authorship be affected in SEO?”

    So I actually don’t believe at all that there is any possibility of Google abandoning Google Plus I think that rumor was created by Tech Crunch to drive page views after Vic Gundotra left. I know people who have worked for and around Vic and my understanding is he is one of the most challenging people to work for and with inside of Google’s organization. And so I think there were a lot of people who now feel good about going and working over at Google Plus. And you can clearly see some of the engineers there on Google Plus refuting this idea of Google Plus being shut down, like “No, none of us are leaving. We are not going anywhere. We are all moving over to this building but that doesn’t mean we are not working on Google Plus any more.” So I think that was a false rumor.

    [44:34]

    “How can money be made by SEO?”

    Gosh. So SEO you know drives traffic to websites and there is lots of people who will pay for that right, lots of businesses and sites who will pay directly to have marketers help them earn traffic. And then of course there is also the, if you run your own business or you run your own website you can monetize that traffic directly through sales and conversions.

    [45:05]

    Mercenary Carter asks, “Is SEO dead?”

    No. But that is a common question.

    [45:17]

    “What is the name of the local SEO guy?”

    I mentioned earlier. David Mihn. You can find him, and yeah let me pull up that Local Ranking factors work that he puts together every year. That is a great resource. We will share that on the You Stream chat.

    [45:58]

    “Rand does it require a chisel and mallet to wash your hair at night?”

    No, what are you talking about? My hair is super soft. I like all the men’s fashion and grooming questions; that is pretty awesome.

    [46:21]

    “If I had no knowledge, no in-depth knowledge of internet marketing and were in college today, what business would you start?”

    What business would I start? Gosh, I’m not quite sure where to begin with that I mean businesses that are really interesting to me are those that have recurring revenue right, a subscription as opposed to a one-time product sale. I think that is a very powerful way to a) make sure that you are driving a lot of revenue per customer but b) to also make sure you are constantly reinvesting in the product. And if you are reinvesting in the product you can expect longer customer life time value and more revenue per transaction. And it means that the work that goes into selling one unit doesn’t end with the revenue margin on that one unit. And I think all of things are really optimal from my perspective.

    I would probably also start a business around, for me at least it would be something around web marketing, because marketing is something I have so much passion and interest about. But you know if you are someone who really cares about like gadgets and hardware or gaming, or you know party supplies, whatever it is I would go after that area where you just go, “Yeah I love this stuff. That is what I buy magazines about and that is what I like to read about on the web. And that is what I would do in my fun or free time.” That is awesome right? If you are addicted to the ukulele, start a ukulele website. I think that is a wonderful way to connect the things you love to do with a career that you can choose too.

    [48:07]

    “What is your opinion of the Word Press platform and how it relates with SEO?”

    Actually I think Word Press is really good even by just default with a lot of things for SEO and that is not just because it is classic SEO friendly, and you can modify the URL’s and titles that use the SEO For Word Press plug in by Yoast for some of the more advanced things that you might want to do. But Word Press also is a great development platform because there is so many developers at relatively low cost who can build stuff on top of it. And I think that really makes it a very powerful choice from the perspective of which technology might choose to back things.

    It is also highly scalable, there is lots and lots of companies that offer services around if you want to scale up to be able to handle incredible amounts of traffic you can choose something like WP engine and all that kind of stuff.

    [49:04]

    “What is the growth rate of SEO Moz in terms of customers and revenue?"

    Good question. Luckily our CEO wrote about this. So Sarah Bird who we promoted to CEO earlier this year, she wrote this great blog post that walks through all of that stuff. In terms of just today I think customers are around 22,000 paying subscribers for Pro and somewhere around 4 or 5,000 customers of Moz Local. But that might not be customer number; that might be locations so far. So I’m not entirely sure. And revenue I think we right at about a 30 and 31 million dollar revenue run rate. So that would be like if you took April’s revenue and multiplied it x 12.

    [50:24]

    “What acquisitions channels work the best for SEO Moz?”

    So yeah funny story, we are called Moz now not SEO Moz but the channels that work the best for us and worked the best even when we were called SEO Moz, so I believe…one of the most interesting things when you look at the funnel for customer acquisition for Moz, which for us is people taking the free trial of our software, there is no one channel that dramatically out performs others, although that being said organic universally out performs paid both in terms of numbers and percent and in terms of lifetime value right. So people who come through, you know when we had an affiliate program those were some of our lowest performing cohorts. Our paid channels perform mediocre. Retargeting is the one paid channel that is really good for us in terms of performance. But organics, so SEO, social media, content, email, these channels perform tremendously well. Direct navigation, branded search, all of those are pretty strong.

    One of the other interesting points about that which might interest you is that on average we observe I believe it is 7.5 visits to Moz’s website before someone takes a free trial. Which you might think is a lot of visits before someone goes for a trial but actually the more visits they make to our website before they sign up, the better a customer they turn out to be.

    And so you can probably tell we try not to litter our site with push messaging and like forcing people into the funnel and that kind of stuff because we actually want them to engage with our community and our content quite a bit before they sign up.

    [52:15]

    “Do you think monthly or annual subscription based businesses are better?”

    We are monthly; I wish we had been annual only which yeah I haven’t talked about that in the past but that is something that I have really come to the conclusion about and I think we might be testing annual only in the future and seeing how that goes. But I wish we had started from day one as an annual only business and that is both for churn reasons and also the psychological barrier of like every month being reminded, oh yeah you are paying again, do you want to quit, do you want to quit? As opposed to just that you know sort of, hey you are getting kind of a…you can charge quite a bit less if you are an annual only and I think that is something that is kind of both empathetic to a potential customer and also wonderful for your business model because it allows you to invest that revenue into improving the service over the course of the year as opposed to just having it based on the month to month. So I would have gone annual only if I had it to do over again.

    [53:19]

    ‘What advice would you give to someone new to internet marketing given the abundance of online sharks?”

    Gosh I mean this is one where you just have to train up your instincts right? In the offline world you meet people, you can just kind of tell there is something suspicious or fishy about them. In the online world it is often easier right, there are a lot of signals of trust and authority and quality that you can look for by searching for people. You know I would just be a big skeptic. That is the best way to protect yourself.

    And the other thing I do is always talk to people whose opinions you can independently validate. They have nothing to sell you, they are just willing to help. So a friend of yours, a colleague, a coworker, somebody that somebody knows has used this product or service before or has worked with this person before; do that reverence checking I think that can really help protect yourself.

    [54:23]

    “How much product promotion would you recommend within a blog post?”

    You know I actually do almost no product promotion within my blog posts, very, very rarely, I would say maybe one out of five, one out of ten posts that I put up or that Moz puts up right even on our blog, promotes our product directly. And yet I think it actually works better that way because people learn to trust you as an authority, they learn to…I think it builds up the kind of relationship that promotes long term thinking and long term customers. And of course for our business model right, customer life time value is so much more important than single conversion. So I keep it pretty minimal.

    Sorry I am just trying to dig into all these questions.

    [55:20]

    “If the Google algorithm is so good at telling what people want to see, there is one pages with only links on high key words.”

    Gosh I’m sorry I don’t quite understand the question Philippe. Maybe if you want to rephrase that I will try and answer.
    [55:40]

    The guy1111, “Why is Moz not number one for SEO software and inbound marketing?”

    Yeah so funny story we used to be number one for SEO software and then as we have kind of changed to be broader in our software focus, we have worked a little less hard on that key word. I think we actually might not even have a page that targets SEO software right now which we probably should fix, we should probably make a page that does do that.

    In terms of inbound marketing, that term doesn’t convert very well for us so I probably wouldn’t urge us to go chasing it down although I have been producing a lot of content around inbound marketing and other forms of marketing.

    We do have a bunch of keywords that do convert well for us and we target those pretty heavily. I think one that has been a good producer for us is SEO tools so we have been targeting that one fairly heavily.

    [56:36]

    Mercenary Carter asks, “Do you think black cat will die given the fact that Google uses links which are out of their control?”

    You know I don’t think black cat will die. I think even if Google were to move beyond links, whatever signals they use and measure are always going to be manipulatable in some facets, so I think black cat will always be with us but I think you know you are going to have people who have an extremely high risk profile, risk tolerance and are able to support or, hopefully able to support that kind of churn and burn methodology and oftentimes those of us who do more of the standard white hat within Google’s guidelines type of stuff have a tremendous amount that we can learn from black hats.

    Any time I spend time with black hats I always learn something fascinating, so I really, I appreciate that willingness to go outside the boundaries. You know I draw the line at really distasteful or illegal or evil stuff, but I think there is a bunch of wonderful [57:41 tessitures] in the SEO world who come from black hat backgrounds or engage in sort of stuff that is outside Google’s guidelines and I don’t think that will die.

    [57:49]

    “Do I do site critiques?”

    Every time I browse the internet.

    I don’t , I’m not available unfortunately for any type of consulting work, but if you email me your site and you want me to take a quick look if I have time I will, I will do my best. I am just Rand@moz.com. I do warn you my email is insane and my schedule is nuts, but yeah I love helping people so if I can I will.

    [58:21]

    “What do you think about search controls that are SEO spam hacked? Why doesn’t Google clean them up more, Buy Viagra being a good example?”

    You know I have been shocked, I really thought, and I did a whiteboard Friday that mentioned this recently, I really thought that Google was going to spend more time and energy trying to clean up these spammy results. Part of me almost wonders if the teams at Google say, “Hey these search results are really poor, spammers are all over them, you know what let’s just let them have their heyday in these particular kinds of porn-pills-casino results and we will learn from that, apply it to the rest of our stuff and kind of leave that as a black hat playground. And we don’t want to expend energy and effort fighting with these guys all day long.” That might be what is going on.

    It is tough to try and get into the mind of those web spam engineers sitting around the table in building 43 but if I had to guess I think that would be my guess about the conversation that they have.

    [59:25]

    “Ten years from now will the internet still be a profitable media or will mobile take over?”

    So you know this is an interesting one right. I really don’t think of these devices as not being the internet right, or not being the World Wide Web. Mobile web usage has gone up, mobile Ap usage has gone up, but mobile Ap usage has not cannibalized either mobile web usage or desktop. Both of those have continued to go up. You know desktop’s growth has certainly flattened, it is not growing as fast as it used to but I think that is because it has become a much more mature medium. I don’t see the Ap world overtaking the web as we know it, accessible through browsers and websites and those kinds of things. I guess it is a possibility but I would be very saddened by that, and I really hope that is not what happens. But I also don’t see it right, the stats have not borne it out so far. Us playing angry birds on our phones a lot, or candy crush saga or whatever, that has not prevented us from also visiting lots of websites and doing lots of Google searches on mobile and on desktops.

    In fact I think at SMS West this year, Ahmed Single said that by the end of 2014 he wouldn’t be surprised if mobile search queries surpassed desktop search queries in raw numbers and that is remarkable because desktop search is still growing. It is just that mobile is growing so fast. So the mobile web is still a very powerful, powerful place to be.

    [01:01:08]

    “How would you do SEO for mobile Apps, searching in apple store, Google Play etcetera?”

    There is actually a good post about this from Ian, I think his name is Ian Sefferman, the founder of mobiledevhq. Let me see if I can find that. [Typing: Mobile App Store SEO.] He wrote a good one about that. It is very challenging right because, yeah there we go; Ian Sefferman. A lot of the search volume and search queries that people us in Ap stores are for brands, so they already know the Ap they are looking for and that makes it really tough. You almost have to do your branding and your marketing outside of the Ap store and then drive sign ups to the Ap store from the rest of the web, from social media, from email marketing, those kinds of things. I have seen a lot of people have success by using Kickstarter as a launch platform for that stuff too.”

    [01:02:07]

    “If you could predict three things that are going to become more important in internet marketing in the next year?”

    Number one, building a brand. Building a brand is going to become more important in internet marketing than it has in the last decade in my opinion.

    Number two, I think the obsession with simple interfaces and the fact that the generations that are upcoming don’t have to deal with nearly the challenging user experiences that older generations have had to because everybody is still figuring out the web, mean that speed, user experience, usability, navigation, all of those things are going to become even more important to marketing, which is a little weird right to imagine that such structural elements of websites would become critical to marketing, but that is my opinion.

    And then I think the third thing that will become dramatically more important to marketing, I think cross discipline marketers, people who are able to leverage one medium to support another are going to be a big trend moving forward and something that we should all keep in mind.

    [01:03:37]

    Let’s see, “If you want to be on SEO software why not join us black hats and create a site to target that and spam?”

    Well that is a kind and generous offer, not my speed but I do appreciate it.

    [01:03:52]

    “Would you say that Google is less and less favoring directories such as yellow pages and Freelancer?”

    Ah yes and no. Yes and no would be my answer on that front. I think that Google is less favoring directories in terms of classic SEO right, they really, really hate a lot of the links that come from directory sites and certainly they have been penalizing a lot of sites that get primarily directory links but that being said, you know yellow pages type stuff for the local world, a lot of those listing places right, getting listed in Yelp, Four Square, YP, Axiom, Info group, all of those places, that is still critical absolutely critical to the process of local SEO and getting listed in the maps, so.

    [01:04:55]

    “Hey Rand what is your vision about SaaS web App providing IM Services?”

    Well you know f you are asking about my vision for Moz and the software that we are building, my vision is that we build something that can help web marketers to measure, improve and report on their inbound marketing channels. I think that all three of those are very, very challenging today right. Measuring is very, very tough because the web is just so big and there is few places to aggregate the data about the top of the funnel and how web marketing channels work right, from Twitter, from Facebook, from the World Wide Web and the link graph and all those kinds of things, from Google and its search results, etcetera.

    And then helping make that information actionable like what can I actually do with this? How can you help me find link opportunities, PR opportunities, outreach opportunities, content opportunities, social media opportunities?

    And then finally reporting which is something that you know it kills me. I go to agencies, I go to consultants, I go to in-house teams and I see them wasting like a whole day of work every week just on collecting, reporting, aggregating. So I am hopeful that eventually Moz can build software that helps solve that problem.

    [01:06:18]

    “I am a developer and I am interested in SEO. I find it difficult to understand at times, how would I start from scratch so to speak and get a full understanding of SEO?”

    This is a little bit biased but one of my go to resources that I recommend to a lot of folks is The Beginner’s Guide to SEO which if you search for SEO guide that is something that I authored years ago and have updated many times since, worked with Cyrus Shepard here at Moz on the last revision and that can be I think a good resource.

    [01:06:53]

    And then the next question someone asks, “Please tell us about your SEO books.”
    So Segwaying into that I coauthored a booked called The Art of SEO with Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie Stricchiola. I have heard a lot of people say that they really enjoyed and appreciated that book, got a lot of value out of it, so you can check that one out.

    [01:07:19]

    “Haha, I’m old so I thought IM was referring to Instant Messenger.”

    I also thought that. You are not alone.

    [01:07:46]

    “Do you have a list published anywhere of the best SEO related blogs that you follow?”

    Yes I do. I have one that I wrote. Where is it, I lost it now and I can’t remember what to search for. Alright I will find it and I will Tweet it because I can’t recall where it is right now. It is not an eBook it is a….no sorry you were asking about Art of SEO. Oh Art of SEO is a physical real book. I think you can get it on Kindle too from Amazon.

    [01:08:39]

    “Do you suspect there is any validity or efficacy in praying for better rankings?”

    No I do not, but that has to be one of the most fascinating questions I have received.
    Oh my gosh and with that you guys it is 5:30pm and so I am afraid I am going to have to run. But yeah I tremendously appreciate all of you joining this and hopefully I will get to contribute every now and then on Warrior Forum.

    [End Recording 01:09:12]
  • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
    Hi,

    Over the years I've seen several posts on the Moz blog about acquiring new clients, but I don't remember any of them mentioning cold calling.

    Cold calling seems to be a pretty big thing at Warrior Forum in the offline section and we've had great success with it as well.

    Is there a reason that this doesn't tend to get recommended very much at Moz? Besides referrals and speaking at events, would you say cold calling is the best way to acquire new offline clients or do you prefer a different method?
  • Profile picture of the author humbledmarket
    Banned
    Will we be able to get a recording of the stream? That would be a great feature!
    • Profile picture of the author Alaister
      Originally Posted by humbledmarket View Post

      Will we be able to get a recording of the stream? That would be a great feature!
      Hey Benjamin,

      We'll have the recording available in the War Room.
  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    Join the livestream now! It's great!

    http://ustre.am/1dIWZ
    • Profile picture of the author Alaister
      More questions from people who have pre-registered

      Amber S asks:
      Do you think Google glass and wearable technology is the future?

      Joe F asks:
      Rand - Where/How would recommend getting your first backlinks to a site?

      Greg M:
      What are your thoughts about SEO on search engines like Baidu?

      Matt asks:
      Do you think Google is A/B testing their revenue when they release a Panda/Penguin or other hummingbird update? If you look at their quarterly financials, their Adwords revenue contribution from their own sites increased dramatically while the contribution from 3rd party sites has dropped. Google seems to be re-routing the Internet to make themselves more money.

      Frank J asks:
      Does Google take signals from Adwords for their organic rankings? e.g. if you have ads that are paying well for Google do you think this biases rankings?

      Jayden s asks:
      Does Moz growth hack? If so what metrics are you guys constantly monitoring?

      James L asks:
      Do you think voice / natural language search is the future (like Siri)? How will this change the industry? Will it move all the power to the big tech companies?

      My question:
      Who else do you think would be interesting to get to do a Warrior Ask Me Anything?
  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    what do you think of building your site using the silo stucture

    al
  • Profile picture of the author thehobbster
    thehobbster asks:
    Rand, does it require a chisel and mallet to wash your hair at night?
  • Profile picture of the author exactprecisions
    With the possibility of google abandoning google+ will authorship be affected in SEO? And is authorship when targeting google rank, important

    - I am from Freelancer.com and am new here.
  • Profile picture of the author exactprecisions
    I am a developer and I'm interested in SEO. I find it difficult to understand at times. How would I start from "scratch" so to speak and get a full understanding of the basics of SEO? I'm also interested in resources to build from that.
  • Profile picture of the author vtjendra
    How would you do SEO for mobile apps search in Apple Store, Google Play, etc.
  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    nevermind: Audio fixed. My mistake.
  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    Rand's
    The Beginner's Guide to SEO: SEO: The Free Beginner?s Guide From Moz
  • Profile picture of the author FBCloakingScript
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author mattbarrie
    Awesome WAMA!
  • Profile picture of the author rambabu.seo
    Hi Rand,

    Wow, you at WarriorForum too, glad to hear, looking great.\

    My question is :
    Why we must have CONTENT now, how it helps to get good ranking with detail guide?

    Best,
    Ram
    • Profile picture of the author Alaister
      Originally Posted by rambabu.seo View Post

      Hi Rand,

      Wow, you at WarriorForum too, glad to hear, looking great.

      My question is :
      Why we must have CONTENT now, how it helps to get good ranking with detail guide?

      Best,
      Ram
      Hi Ram,

      This WAMA session is over. You can read about content marketing on the Moz.com blog - How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy - Moz

      We recorded the whole WAMA live stream session. It went for over an hour and was extremely valuable. The recording will be available in the War Room shortly.
  • Profile picture of the author sathyasingh1991
    Can anyone provide me the Link for the Recording?
  • Profile picture of the author port12345
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    Banned
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    Banned
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  • Profile picture of the author elnaser
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  • Profile picture of the author elnaser
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