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An Interview with Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOMoz

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 8 years and 117 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Rand Fishkin1.     Define SEO in 200 words or less.

~82% of all the clicks on search results in engines like Google & Bing go to the unpaid, organic results.

Only ~18% go to paid listings. SEO is the practice of attracting traffic from those unpaid results and involves a massive array of strategies and tactics.

2.     If you had to identify the TOP 10 ranking factors, what would they be?

  1. Relevance
  2. User Experience
  3. Popularity
  4. Quality
  5. Accessibility
  6. Branding/Ubiquity
  7. UI/Design
  8. Engagement
  9. Freshness
  10. Speed

3.     What are the most common SEO mistakes?

Nearly all of them revolve around two fundamentally flawed (and often diametrically opposed) core beliefs:
#1 – SEO is about optimizing toward a perfect formula vs. building a great brand and optimizing that brand’s signals to the engines

#2 – SEO will take care of itself if you get the product right

4.     If you were teaching a new college graduate with a degree in marketing how to do SEO, what resources and tools would you point them to first?

I’m biased, but I’d start with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO:, then recommend they read and follow the major blogs and news sources in the industry which are reasonably aggregated here: and individual posts that show up on

If they’re seeking a deeper dive into professional knowledge, I’d recommend and/or

5. Define quality, relevance, value, and authority.

Quality – a combination of potentially subjective and objective measures of the experience provided by a product or service
Relevance – the degree to which something meets a desired intent
Value – the combination of psychological, physical, financial, or other subjective/objective return(s) provided by a given product or service
Authority – the perceived importance and reliability of a source, often based on historical performance/accuracy, brand association(s), and social proof

See also :-)

6.     What is the future of SEO?

The practice will continue to exist, but it will be less and less a silo and more of a piece of the broader earned/inbound/organic marketing puzzle. User experience, search, social, content, links, and branding are all connected. The engines are constantly working to make their algorithms reward those who build genuine interest and value across these channels and devalue those who exploit any individual signal.

Todd Malicoat & Rand FishkinI was considering your post: why optimization is a terrible way to think about seo.
What is the better way to think about seo?

I think of SEO just like any other facet of marketing – it’s an ongoing, competitive process that requires consistent, diligent effort and solid measurement to determine what’s working vs. not. SEO is also an extremely fast moving and constantly evolving field (even if you’re doing only the most white hat, timeless techniques, there are new opportunities presented by the engines and the marketplace every week!).

GetListed was my favorite local business tool, and you bought it.  What should small business owners expect from the Moz and GL together?  Will the service still maintain a free component for SMB’s?

We’re definitely planning to maintain a free service similar to what GetListed does today. Long term, though, there’s a team internally (headed up by David Mihm) working on a more substantial subscription product that we hope can help both small business owners and the marketers who serve them to better track and optimize their local campaigns and follow their competition’s activities, similar to what SEOmoz PRO does today.

With extremely limited budgets, what is your top 5 hitlist for a small business to check on their marketing?

I feel far less qualified than David to chip in on this one (another reason to love acquisitions – talent that knows the field far better than I!), but I’ll do my best :-)

  1. Claimed listings in Google, Bing, and Yelp at a minimum
  2. Verification of citations from the major providers (GetListed today works pretty well for this) that the correct address/phone/etc info is displayed
  3. A website that’s mobile friendly, fast loading, and provides the critical information consumers look up (stuff like menus, products, hours, phone number, address/map/parking, etc)
  4. Listings/citations that are claimed in any of the region-specific portals in your area (for example, in Seattle, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, and NWSource would all be important)
  5. Pay attention to your ratings and reviews on a semi-regular basis – what’s going right and wrong? What needs improvement? What can you do that will encourage more exceptionally positive experiences (and fewer negative ones) so your online reviews move up in quality and quantity?

Will you be doing the search ranking factors survey this year? when?

Yes indeed! We’re planning to launch them at Mozcon July 8, 9, and 10. The project ownership belongs to our head of data science, Dr. Matt Peters, and he’ll be working with Dr. Pete and others on definition and execution. If you have ideas, feel free to send them over!


Rand Fishkin is the CEO of SEO software company; SEOmoz. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media, co-founded, and was named on PSBJ’s 40 Under 40 List and BusinessWeek’s 30 Best Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand is an addict of all things content & social on the web, from his multiple blogs to Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare and even a bit of Pinterest. In his minuscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, whose serendipitous travel blog chronicles their journeys.

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