Born in New Jersey and now residing in Washington, Rand Fishkin has gained an admirable reputation in the digital sphere. He is the CEO and co-founder of the most popular SEO software provider on the web, SEOmoz. This successful entrepreneur keeps climbing to new heights of digital excellence, and is well-known for ‘telling it straight’. Rand was kind enough to share some of immense SEO knowledge with us at Heavy Chef.
(photo courtesy of SEOmoz)
Thank you for taking the time to speak with Heavy Chef Rand. We know that you were originally studying finance and working for your mother’s company, how did you get into SEO?
We were running a web design and development business and contracted with a number of SEO firms to help bring traffic and conversions to our clients’ websites. The contractors didn’t have much success, so I undertook the practice personally, learned from reading blogs and participating in forums in the SEO world and eventually started my own blog – SEOmoz.org.
We have many Heavy Chef readers in emerging economies (including Southern Africa) where mobile internet access is sometimes more prevalent than desktop access. For a small to medium size business looking to take advantage of SEO on mobile, what would your top three tips be?
Thankfully, mobile and desktop SEO are merging into a single practice as smartphones become dominant, speeds become better and the engines do less to change the types of results shown to mobile browsers.
That said, it’s critical to have a site that can load quickly on a mobile device. Even in the best circumstances, broadband speeds are rare on mobile, so speed is essential. I’d also make sure that pages can load and render in mobile-friendly browsers. Most CMS platforms (Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc) have great mobile support for rendering cleanly on the small screen. Third and finally, make sure you’re targeting keywords that mobile/local users are searching for (the Google AdWords Keyword Tool can help with this). If the phrases you’re ranking for aren’t matching what’s being searched, there’s little use in optimizing.
One of our readers wrote to us recently with a question that would be well suited to you, with your extensive knowledge in the field. She is a marketing manager for a retail outlet that has recently moved more aggressively into the online market. She is in the process of procuring an outsourced SEO team. She wanted to know what key questions she should be asking, to try and spot the inauthentic people from those who are going to do the business for her?
Sadly, there’s a lot of folks claiming to be “SEOs” who are little more than spammers or scammers. This has frustrated the industry for years and given a bad name to professionals who do quality work. Luckily, sniffing out the difference isn’t hard. Here’s a few resources that should help:
Even in the emerging markets, saturation in the online space is true within most industries, and doing just the SEO basics often isn’t enough. We know link building is time consuming but it can be the vital edge. Do you have a great link building strategy that you’d like to share with our readers, that they could set about implementing before the end of the year?
I love the practice described here -http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/using-twitter-and-backlinks-to-build-links/2011/07/28/ – where you take the people already connected to you (via email lists, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and make them your primary link targets.
Are there any companies (not agencies) within the emerging economies that have caught your eye over the last couple of years from a web marketing perspective? A company that has made you sit up and think “I like what they are doing, more companies should be doing that.”
I love what Etsy is doing in their emerging space (they just launched a gift finder that connects to Facebook which is absolutely terrific). A Slovenian company, Zemanta, has also been impressing me of late with their partnerships and marketing.
Who are your SEO heroes, the people YOU admire and look up to?
There’s so many! Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive, the entire crew at Distilled, Ian Lurie at Portent, Bill Slawski from SEO by the Sea, Laura Lippay from How’s Your Pony, Rhea Drysdale at Outspoken, Richard Baxter from SEOGadget and dozens and dozens of others. This field is filled with amazing people doing remarkable things.
Congratulations on your book! Are there any more in the pipeline at this point?
I’ve only written one book so far, “the Art of SEO”, but I’m planning another one next year or in 2013 so stay tuned.
Thank you for talking with us, if you ever plan of visiting South Africa, you are more than welcome to pop into our Heavy Chef events. And if you fancy talking at one, I’m sure we wouldn’t say no.
I’ve never visited South Africa! But if I do make it, I certainly appreciate the invite.