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2Inspire Interview Series
SEO - Like any other discipline, it requires lots of knowledge, hard work and dedication
Rand Fishkin is the so-called "Wizard of Moz" the CEO from SeoMoz. SeoMoz is a hub for the search marketing industry, providing SEO Services Marketplace, a popular SEO Blog and SEO Tools.
I had the pleasure to have him as a guest on our interviews section. Here are his tips regarding Search Engine Optimization and how companies should make the most of it.
Adriana Iordan: Can you please, tell us a little about SEOmoz, the Premium Service and its goals and tell us a little bit about your background?
Rand Fishkin: That's a lot of material to cover in a single answer! I'll try to give you the short, short version so your readers don't have to wade through pages of text :-) I've only really ever held one serious job - this one. I started building websites in 1997, got into usability consulting around 2000 and SEO in 2003. In 2004, I launched the SEOmoz website as a public place to discuss my experiences with the search engines and to share some of the tools we'd built.
I started building websites in 1997, got into usability consulting around 2000 and SEO in 2003.
Over the next few years, SEOmoz became one of the most popular blogs on the web and a hub for the search marketing industry. In February of 2007, we launched premium content as a way to scale the consulting services, tools and expertise we provided to our clients and make it accessible to a wide swath of search marketers. The goals of premium are to provide a one-stop source for SEO education, strategies, tools & research. Eventually, we'd like to make SEOmoz Premium a product that marketers can't live without - literally essential to every successful campaign.
Adriana Iordan: What is your definition for SEO and why is SEO important?
Many e-commerce providers have unfriendly URLs with dynamic parameters that cost them rankings, as well as reproducing the same content over and over on their site.
Rand Fishkin: I think I share the same definition for SEO as everyone else - Search Engine Optimization - the practice of improving a website's technical structure, content and marketing with the goal of attracting more and better quality traffic from the search engines.
It's important because it provides branding & revenue for your business that would otherwise be directed at a competitor. If you're not ranking for the queries interested web searchers perform, you're necessarily losing out to other businesses and websites.
Adriana Iordan: From your experience, what are the most frequently missed opportunities on e-commerce websites when it comes to their search engine optimization strategies?
Rand Fishkin: Two big things come to mind - first, URL structure and duplicate content. Many e-commerce providers have unfriendly URLs with dynamic parameters that cost them rankings, as well as reproducing the same content over and over on their site (or copying the content from the manufacturer's description). It's hard to create 1000's of unique product descriptions and content for each, but if you don't do it, you're likely to find your pages lagging behind your competitors who do invest in unique content creation. I'd probably also suggest reading my recent post - 17 New Rules for Successful E-Commerce Websites.
Adriana Iordan: Can you share a quick list of must have steps that a website owner should be aware of in their online efforts?
Rand Fishkin: A quick list? Not really - there's so many diverse components required for a successful online marketing campaign that I'd be shortchanging your readers by providing a subpar short list. Instead, I might suggest they read something like the Beginner's Guide to SEO or Aaron Wall's excellent SEOBook.
Adriana Iordan: How hard is it to build quality backlinks and where should a company start with reaching link-savvy audience? (or what you call the linkerati)
Rand Fishkin: Link building is probably the biggest challenge for a small or mid-size company that doesn't have a savvy, passionate online audience. When starting out, your first priority should be about finding content and sites that have been successful in targeting social media sites, bloggers and forums with their content by reading and paying attention to the landscape.
I think Social Media Marketing is an amazing opportunity for early adopters to connect with a powerful audience of influencers.
If you read Digg , Reddit , StumbleUpon , Propeller , Mixx , Yahoo! Answers , etc. on a regular basis, you'll quickly form an idea of what types of content and communication styles are successful there and start contributing your own material.
Adriana Iordan: There are a lot of predictions and rumors in the news, social networks and blogs about the "acquisition" of Yahoo by Microsoft. What do you think will be the most important advantage or disadvantage for online marketers from this merger?
Rand Fishkin: I hope that if it does happen (it's looking as though Yahoo! may find a way out), marketers will start paying more attention to the combined offerings of Yahoo!/Microsoft as they control a large share of search and a huge amount of display advertising on the web. One disadvantage I've been worried about may be that some of the tools offered by the two to search marketers get lost in the merger.
Adriana Iordan: What are your favorite tools and applications online? Which seomoz.com tool do you think is the most valuable?
Rand Fishkin: I'm a big fan of Indextools & Enquisite, which both do visitor tracking. I also like http://www.domaintools.com/ - especially the ability to see all the domains a particular individual or company owns. As for SEOmoz, my current favorite is probably the Juicy Link Finder Tool - if you know how to use it well, it's an amazing way to find great links in virtually any niche.
Adriana Iordan: What are you favorite social communities and how should an e-commerce company use them? What is your view on Social Media Marketing?
Link building is probably the biggest challenge for a small or mid-size company that doesn't have a savvy, passionate online audience.
Rand Fishkin: I think SMM is an amazing opportunity for early adopters to connect with a powerful audience of influencers. Some of my favorite communities for e-commerce folks are places like Wikipedia , Yahoo! Answers , Facebook , Digg , Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon . Businesses can use them in a number of ways - to connect with influencers, to brand themselves to potential customers, to acquire links to their websites, etc. I've got a visual rundown on how to do this here on SEOmoz - A Visual Tour through the Basics of Social Media Marketing.
Adriana Iordan: Which online marketing "outlets" do you think are a waste of time? What are some of the tricky schemes that website owners should stay away from?
Rand Fishkin: I think so-called "virtual world" marketing is such a time sink that when compared to higher ROI projects, it's nearly useless. I'm also not a big fan of buying re-directed traffic from typo or expired domains - it doesn't give the user a positive impression of your brand, even if it does bring cheap traffic. As for tricky schemes to stay away from - I'd use a logical litmus test - if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is and if it promises rankings, quick money or easy traffic, you're probably going to regret making that purchase very quickly.
Adriana Iordan: What would you like to say to our readers at the end of this interview?
Rand Fishkin: Don't be fooled into thinking that SEO or any online marketing tactic is an easy way to build a business. Like any other discipline, it requires lots of knowledge, hard work and dedication. You're going to have to iterate, no matter how smart your initial plans might be, so plan to launch, test, review and re-tool frequently.
Adriana Iordan:Thank you Rand for your time and this insightful interview .