For ten years, MIMA has gathered the industryâ€™s finest talent to speak at the annual MIMA Summit. 2011 will be no different. This yearâ€™s MIMA Summit speakers include Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-Founder of SEOMoz, a leading provider of software tools and industry knowledge to professionals in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. Rand took some time to share his thoughts about where the SEO industry has been and where it’s going.
Josh Braaten: As a speaker and leader of a well-known SEO software company, youâ€™ve watched the SEO industry grow and mature. What are the biggest mistakes companies have made with SEO and what mistakes do companies continue to make?
Rand Fishkin: Thereâ€™s a lot of folks who underinvest or fail to invest in SEO at all, either because theyâ€™re unaware of the practice or believe it wonâ€™t work. That lack of investment leads to a less discoverable website and means they donâ€™t reap the rewards of their branding and marketing efforts on or offline.
For those who do invest, but make mistakes, I see a lot of unfortunate moves, but I think the biggest is a general attitude of pursuing shortcuts and low-value tactics rather than building a solid brand on the web. I was speaking at an affiliate conference in New York City this past weekend and was asked by an audience member whether she could stop writing â€śall-uniqueâ€ť content when submitting pieces to article directories and article â€śspinnerâ€ť sites and could simply make the first and last paragraph unique… Thereâ€™s just so many problems with that entire approach and attitude, it was hard to even know how to begin answering.
Youâ€™ve been active in the SEO industry for coming up on ten years now. How has your understanding of SEO changed over the years? How has your way of explaining the value of SEO to non-believers changed?
I used to start explaining SEO by diving into the tactics of the practice – how you need to do keyword research and build and accessible site and make good content – all that. It wasnâ€™t untrue, but it also didnâ€™t tell a compelling narrative.
Today, if Iâ€™m explaining SEO, I start where searchers start – with a need. People want to know things. And they donâ€™t just want to find low quality junk thatâ€™s been manipulated to the top of the results — they want amazing resources that answer their every question and more. They want depth, detail, social proof, and content thatâ€™s worth sharing.
We all have that primal need for information, and search is the best, fastest way to discover it. Google gets more than 3 billion searches each day! But unless someone is creating great stuff and marketing it well on the web, search becomes a fruitless, frustrating activity. Thatâ€™s why I love SEO – itâ€™s about making great stuff and getting it in front of the people who need it. Whatâ€™s not to love?!
Just as interactive marketing has changed dramatically over the last ten years, it will continue to do so over the next ten. If you had to guess, what are some of the biggest changes on the horizon for SEO?
I think weâ€™re going to see a lot more authenticity and passion from marketers in the work they create and in how they market it. The past decade gave us a lot of shortcuts to ranking content, but the last few years have fundamentally changed what it takes to build a successful business on the web. The growth of vertical search (videos, local, images, etc), the rise and subsequent fragmentation of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, etc) and the growing sophistication of the search engines (Googleâ€™s Panda update, Bingâ€™s improvements on webspam, user/usage data in SERPs, social proof through social media connections, etc) are all changing the game.
Along with these shifts come a huge need for greater responsbility among SEOs themselves. You canâ€™t just work on keywords and links anymore and be successful. Youâ€™ve got to embrace social and analytics and vertical search and content marketing and conversion rate optimization and… Well, you get the idea.
Whatâ€™s the most common misconception people have about SEO? How might your session at the 2011 MIMA Summit help to clear up those misconceptions and help people advance their own SEO strategy?
People think SEO is a process. Itâ€™s not – itâ€™s become a strategy. Itâ€™s bigger than the building blocks of good rankings – SEO today involves nearly everything about building a great business on the web, and that means SEOs need to take a broader view. Iâ€™m planning to talk about this strange death and rebirth of SEO, and why I love the new way of doing SEO and inbound marketing as a whole so much more. I think folks will really enjoy it, and Iâ€™ll have plenty of very specific, actionable recommendations mixed in there, too.
Learn more about Rand Fishkin and SEO by visiting the SEOmoz blog. If you want to see Rand Fishkin present live and in person, visit MIMA Summit 2011 and register for this yearâ€™s event. Rand joins keynote speakers Avinash Kaushik and Chris Anderson in this yearâ€™s special 10-year anniversary MIMA Summit.
Rand at the MIMA Summit
Rand on the SEOmoz Blog
Get your tickets for the Summit
A special thanks to Josh Braaten, a MIMA volunteer, for hosting this interview. Josh is an Online Marketing Manager at Rasmussen College. He has worked in marketing and on websites for over five years. Josh also has a B.A. in Economics from St. Johnâ€™s University. Josh loves Internet marketing and blogs about SEO, web analytics and related topics on his Internet marketing blog. Connect with Josh on Twitter, LinkedIn, and +Josh Braaten.