SearchFest 2012 Mini-Interview: Rand Fishkin

Todd Mintz

Rand Fishkin will be speaking about “Marketing Challenges and the Tools to Solve Them” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1)      Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living.

I’m the co-founder/CEO of SEOmoz. I dropped out of college in 2001 to pursue a career in web design/development which turned into an SEO consultancy which turned into a software startup. Today, I’m heading up a team of 50 folks in Seattle, trying to make the world of marketing a better (and more trackable) place. 

2)      Your SEOmoz Toolset has a myriad of features…please give me three tips / insights that you suspect many of your customers don’t know about.

I’d be happy to help :-)

  1. We just recently launched social media analytics inside Moz. There’s a few really cool views on your Twitter data inside, including being able to see the most followed or highest Klout users who tweeted, @replied, @mentioned or retweeted you. It’s a great way to find folks who might be useful future targets in social efforts.
  2. Our on-page report card is very popular inside the web app, but many folks don’t know that you can also run a one-off version of the tool for non-campaign related optimization.
  3. We give a few webinars every month for PRO members, but we also regularly give free webinars and the archives of those are available, too.

3)      Your recent personal blog post (link) referenced some of your challenges for you in this industry with a non-technical background.  Taking the opposite tack, please talk about the challenges a person with a technical background but no business / marketing background would face in building a business in this industry.


There are a lot of these folks in the tech startup world who’ve taken to believing that product and engineering are all that matters. Unfortunately, sometimes great products lose out to subpar ones due to more effective, often overwhelming marketing. Fred Wilson shared his viewpoint on marketing and customer acquisition for startups at the beginning of this year, and I argued against that anti-marketing bias (he later responded). That conversation illustrates the debate fairly well, IMO.

If you approach the process of customer acquisition without a realistic plan, a metrics-driven marketing culture and multiple methodologies for reaching your target audience, your product has no chance of success. Some startups certainly do succeed without serious investment in marketing (which, for B2B enterprise companies also includes sales), but these are a very lucky 1%. The other 99% need great marketing to help build and execute on a conversion funnel.

Technical founders that respect the power of marketing need not fear – it’s those who think they’re "too good" for marketing that really need to worry (but, of course, won’t). One of my personal goals is to help spread the word about marketing as a practice all companies need to survive and grow. I gave a talk specifically on inbound marketing for startups in Silicon Valley recently that Hackers + Founders filmed and shared on their site; that might be a good starting point.

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    One Response to “SearchFest 2012 Mini-Interview: Rand Fishkin”

    1. Hey Todd! thank you for sharing Rand’s interview. Since i stopped working with SEO consultants and taken up everything manually, Rand is one person i sincerely admire and look up to.

      I have been using his SEO tools and they are pretty awesome. I have tries other tools too and they all end being ‘wanna be’ SEOMoz!

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