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Rand Fishkin Discusses the Future of SEO & Inbound Marketing

rand_fishkin_(blog)You likely know Rand Fishkin as the cofounder of Moz. In addition to his pivotal role in starting and growing SEOmoz from an SEO consulting agency to the SaaS company that we all know today as just "Moz," Fishkin has also co-authored The Art of SEO and appeared on the 40 Under 40 List and 30 Best Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30.

Rand Fishkin recently hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on inbound.org -- the community for marketers to connect and share -- in order to create the space for inbound marketers, SEO professionals, and anyone else to ask their questions, voice their concerns, and gain insight from Fishkin's experience and expertise. The AMA board has attracted over 460 comments, which include questions about Fishkin’s personal and professional life, specific inbound marketing and SEO related topics and, of course, the occasional silly question about Fishkin’s beard.

The serious questions combined with Fishkin’s honest and knowledgeable responses create a fantastic narrative filled with useful tidbits of advice, information, and insights into inbound marketing practices like SEO, social media, blogging, and content marketing. Below are some of the highlights from the AMA, which will likely help answer many of your questions about inbound marketing, SEO, and analytics.

Top 10 Insights from Rand Fishkin's Inbound.org AMA

1) “I've come to recognize that [SEO] will always carry a rough reputation, much like "used car salesman" or "wrongful injury attorney" or "member of congress."

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The uncertainty of SEO has caused the acronym to gain a somewhat negative connotation in some circles -- with consumers and marketers alike.

2) "SEO is powerful precisely because it's hard to predict and hard to measure."

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Fishkin believes that lack of certainty involved in SEO is precisely the reason that SEO is so powerful. If Google's algorithm factors were clear-cut and transparent, everyone would invest more in SEO and there would be far more competition to rank in the top SERPs, not to mention making it harder for the cream to rise to the top.

3) “I just really like inbound marketing because I get really tired of saying SEO and social media and content marketing and email and CRO and branding and PR and all the other things you can do on the web to earn traffic and attention that don't directly cost money."

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Hard core SEO is giving way to a broader kind of marketing practice that includes technical SEO, content, creativity, social media, email, branding, PR, etc. It is for this reason that many digital marketing professionals are starting to move away from talking about “SEO predictions” in favor of phrases like “inbound marketing predictions,” which stand for all of the things you can do to organically attract traffic and attention online without spending any money.

4) "Stay away from posting just to post. Don't be boring!"        

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The is no universal number for how often a brand should post content online. Instead, companies should focus on publishing content when they have something valuable to share that is relevant to their target audience's interests. 

5) "... When it comes to content and content marketing, you probably want to err on the side of making things SUPER amazing, not MVP."

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Rather than create content that is minimally acceptable and then looking to adjust your strategy as you go, when it comes to content marketing, you should always strive to create the most spectacular content you can.

6) "The SEO I knew and loved 8 years ago still works sometimes, but increasingly, you'll get beat by those who may do less hardcore SEO and more on the content/branding/social elements."

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Although Fishkin denounces the idea that SEO is dead or dying, he does believe that successful online marketers are starting to move away from solely SEO in favor of a mix of inbound elements.

7) "It's not the secrecy of the algorithm, it's the challenge of execution that makes SEO (and all of marketing hard)." 

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Of course, there is no list of tactics that can be used to forecast results but that's what actually makes SEO so powerful, and helps maintain the quality of search results.

8) "I like to say that even if we got a copy of Google's algorithm and understood every piece of it, we'd probably do very little differently."

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Fishkin insists that while it may seem like guess work to an outsider who is unfamiliar with digital marketing, those that are doing good marketing probably wouldn't have to adjust their strategies or tactics too much should the ranking factors become clear.

9) "For the first 5 years of SEOmoz's marketing efforts, I doubt I spent [$200] on anything -- just blogged, participated in communities, produced some interesting one-off content ..."

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According to Fishkin, small companies with tight budgets have no reason to feel as though they cannot compete at inbound marketing, or that they need to spend the available budget that they do have in order to succeed. 

10) "Imagine seeing that people who were first touched by advertising on Facebook vs. an organic follow/click on Twitter had 10% less CLTV."

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Fishkin optimistically explains that he is confident that one day we will have access to a tool that makes it possible to track sources of customer lifetime value (CLTV) within our software, and he suggests that with that type of information at our fingertips, we would likely all be forced to rethink how we’re spending our early marketing efforts!

Check out the full AMA with Rand on inbound.org.

Want more from Rand Fishkin? Fishkin will be speaking at INBOUND this year about how people are using the web, how it's changed, and with it, the tactics that really work to drive traffic, rankings, branding, and conversions.

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