How to Follow the Wonderful Wizard of MOZ to Emerald SEO [ EP 11 of The Blog Chronicles]

October 6, 2016

the wizard of moz

Welcome to Episode 11 of The Blog Chronicles.

On this episode we’re meeting with Rand Fishkin, The Wizard of Moz,

That is now his official title at Moz Inc. after stepping down as the longtime CEO.

Rand has been considered an authority on SEO, Blogging and Online Business for years now. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events around the world.

He loves to teach on these topics. You can learn a lot each week by watching his White Board Friday series over on YouTube.

That’s where we start. Due to a connection issue, the first few questions I asked Rand are not included in the podcast.

I apologize for that unfortunate glitch.

The good news is this episode still offers over 40 minutes of time with Rand. I ask him questions about blogging, SEO, content marketing, and his secret to getting his hair to stand up so perfectly.

So let’s dive in! You can use the audio podcast or read the transcript. I always offer both so however you prefer, enjoy!

If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

We’re off to see the Wizard of Moz: Rand Fishkin on The Blog Chronicles


Rand Fishkin Interview Transcript

( For those who like to read.)


Where Does One Go to Find Your ”Whiteboard Friday” Online and What are They About?

Matthew Loomis: Interesting.

So if someone hasn’t checked out your ”Whiteboard Friday”.

Can you tell a little bit about them and where to find them and what they’re about?

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin: Sure.

I mean, you can search Google for Whiteboard Friday and you should find them.

Hopefully, we’re good at SEO 🙂

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin:  You can also go to the Moz-Blog.

And you will find them there: moz dot com / blog

We basically publish them Thursday night at midnight Pacific Time.

So very early in the morning for East Coasters. And right when folks are waking up in the U.K. and Europe. I tend to be awake at 1 am, so I’ll reply to the comments, that kind of thing.

The video format is really simplistic – It’s a camera on a tripod pointed at a well-lit whiteboard with low shadows, and low glare.

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

I spend about thirty to forty minutes writing up the whiteboard prior to filming the video. Then walk folks through a concept in web marketing or SEO to try to help them understand how Google works the way it does.

Or how to do keyword research or a process for creating great content.

Or what to worry about when it comes to duplicate content or spam penalties or canonicalization;


In computer science, canonicalization (sometimes standardization or normalization) is a process for converting data that has more than one possible representation into a “standard”, “normal”, or canonical form.

Canonicalization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All those different kinds of concepts and hundreds more. And we film literally fifty-two of them a year. Even when Friday falls on Christmas to New Year’s Eve.

We will put those up. Yeah.

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

It’s become a tradition for a lot of folk in the marketing world to fire up Whiteboard Friday at their offices.

On Friday’s during lunch and gather around the table and watch a ten-minute video from me. And then they discuss the topic and sort of make that part of the learning and training of new marketers on their team.

That’s been really cool to see!

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

Why Did You Decide to Step Down as CEO of Moz in January 2014?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

You obviously have a passion for creating content.

I’m just curious.

Was the amount of time needed for things like Whiteboard Friday – Is that why you had to step down as CEO or was that part of the decision?

Rand Fishkin: No. I wouldn’t say so.

Stepping down for me as CEO was really just centered around just one thing.

Which is – I had a lot of mental and emotional issues back in 2013 starting 2014.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: Specifically some form of clinical depression.

That’s not a good quality for a leader. That’s not how you get folks inspired.

So I talked with my board of directors and Sarah Bird was my Chief Operating Officer for the prior seven years and we promoted her to CEO.

I think that was a good decision.

What Brings You the Most ”Joy” When You’re Creating Content?

Matthew Loomis: Okay.



Image result for Images with the word JOY


We’ll get a little more into your depression and things. There is something I wanted to ask you about that a little later.

In the meantime, I want to ask you – What gives you the most joy when it comes to creating content?

Rand Fishkin: Most joy?

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin


And I am going to say –

I think it’s when I create something that provides value that you can’t get anywhere else.


Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

That is something that I take a lot of pride in, is trying to provide that unique value.

Not just; ”Hey! we’re going to do a better job at this” Or ”we’re going to do this differently”.

But that, it’s the only place. (The content that I create wherever I create it)

That is the only place you can find that specific either information or tactic or experience.

I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy personal experiences.

Because that’s an extremely hard to replicate form of content value.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Rand Fishkin: You know.

I’m not a big fan of Listicles:

plural noun: listicles
  1. an article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.
    “a recent BuzzFeed listicle called ‘21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity’ has attracted more than 13 million views”

I’m not a big fan of Infographics.

plural noun: info-graphics
  1. a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram.
    “a good infographic is worth a thousand words”

I’m not a big fan of Round-up Hosts.

These are sort of content formats that a lot of people are using. Because they heard they work and you know they think it’s a great growth hack.

But for me, the best content has always been uniquely valuable content.

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

What are Three Things that a Blog Absolutely Needs?

Matthew Loomis: Value.

Yes definitely. Value is an important thing.

So to make money with a blog what are three things that a blog absolutely needs?


Image result for images with the word BLOGImage result for images of the word BLOG with a dollar sign


Rand Fishkin: Well first off.

  • You’re going to need a revenue model – Write something that takes the visitors and traffic that you get and has calls to action of some form.

That has an economic benefit to you and to them.

I think that’s why a lot of blogs are run by business companies, software companies that are trying to do lead generation for sales. And somebody to see products. Certainly.

But I think it’s much tougher to run a blog that is purely based on advertising.

It’s gotten a little better in the last couple of years because ad CPM’S have gotten better with higher quality targeting and with more personal information being out there.

Marketing Calculator Spreadsheet

The CPM model refers to advertising bought on the basis of impression. This is in contrast to the various types of pay-for-performance advertising, whereby payment is only triggered by a mutually agreed upon activity (i.e. click-through, registration, sale).

The total price paid in a CPM deal is calculated by multiplying the CPM rate by the number of CPM units. For example, one million impressions at $10 CPM equals a $10,000 total price.

1,000,000 / 1,000 impressions = 1,000 units
1,000 units X $10 CPM = $10,000 total price

The amount paid per impression is calculated by dividing the CPM by 1000. For example, a $10 CPM equals $.01 per impression.

$10 CPM / 1000 impressions = $.01 per impression

Social advertising, re-targeting, all those kinds of things.

But that is a real tough slog for a lot of content creators. That is why I think it’s great if there can be a product or service or lead generation that is linked to the content that you’re creating. More specifically.

  • Second thing I would say is – You need to have a tight focus on a valuable audience.

I’m not saying it is impossible to reach a broader audience.

I’m not saying it is impossible to monetize a broader audience

But it is much easier if you can say – ”Hey if I can get a thousand of these people in this group to visit my site every week, I know I can make a very compelling content for them and be a successful economic model”.

I think that is vastly easier if you go more niche than if you go extremely broad.

There’s a lot of media properties that are trying their best to get those millions and tens of millions of visits. That is real tough because the cost per a thousand visits on an advertising piece is just tiny.

You’re not going to be making much. And so that would be my second recommendation.

  • My third recommendation is – You need to find content that resonates with you and resonates with your audience.

I urge folks to look for the intersection of three things –

  •  A form of content that they are personally passionate about. That could be animations, it could be video. It could be photography it could be tools, right.

If you’ve got some coding skills maybe make some online Embed Core Tools. It could be classic blog posts. Long-form articles, whitepapers, research….

Graphs and charts.

Whatever it is that you’re amazing at creating and have a real PASSION for!


Image result for Images for the word passion



  • Second thing is, you want to find an area where there’s not a ton of competition.
  • Third thing is, you want to find an area where your audience is actually paying attention to that medium and you have some great ways of amplifying that content.

So if you can find those three things I think you’ve got a great way of building a content flywheel.

You add that to an economic engine and a tight audience focus and I think you’ve got a great formula for a blog.

What Myths are Out There When it Comes to Monetizing Your Blog?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Good stuff!

So what are three things a blog doesn’t need to make money?

Like, are there any myths out there that you can debunk for us?

Rand Fishkin: Sure.

  • I don’t think you need to post every day!

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: I’m not a believer in more content is better.

  • I’m a believer in better content better.

And I think that so long as you establish a publishing schedule and stick relatively to it. You can publish every week, every two weeks. Or even once a month.

And if it is the right stuff for the right audience, you can make a big difference to your business or the business that you’re working for. I think for independent bloggers right. Independent blog owners more frequency is a little bit better. I would probably look at no less than once a week.

But then again I would urge you not to feel compelled to write every day. Just because you need to. Certainly writing every day on it’s own is a great habit for writers but I think for content producers especially on the web -There’s like this signal-to-noise challenge that you have to overcome, right.

If you become too much noise and too little signal. You will turn off readers you will lose subscribers. It’s definitely not ideal.

Image result for Images for the word SEO

  • Second thing that I think is a myth is – (So this goes to SEO) There’s this idea that SEO is really about keyword use and keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique, in which a web page is loaded with keywords in the meta tags or in content of a web page.Keyword stuffing may lead to a website being banned or penalized in search ranking on major search engines either temporarily or permanently.

Keyword stuffing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Right, if I want to do well in SEO what I need to do is find the keywords a lot of people search for.

And then I need to put that in my title and in my meta description and my keywords tag and my URL and my headline. Then I need to use the phrase seven times on the page and once on the image alt tag and these kind of things.

There was a time many years ago when that sort of thing did work. I think today is vastly better. You should still do core research. You should know what your audience is searching for.

You should create content that serves that searchers intent. And you should probably have that keyword in your title and headline.

But then it’s really up to your content to do the heavy lifting and your amplification of that content to earn the links and ranking signals.

That’s going to put you on top of Google.

Image result for The word never in images

  • The third thing.

    Never, Ever Ever Ever Ever set up a site on someone else’s domain.

    Or on a SUB-DOMAIN!

Use your own domain.

If you already have a domain put it in a sub-folder. Sub-domains are bad for a ton of reasons. SEO is one of them. But they are also harder to type and harder to share.

They make some messy stuff happen on social.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Rand Fishkin: It can really cost you when it comes to SEO.

Are Sub-Domains Free Blogs?

Matthew Loomis: When you say ”sub-domains”?

You mean a free blog?

Rand Fishkin: Well.

I mean any form of sub-domains. But yes free blogs are even worse.

It’s like;”My new blog got WordPress dot com”! Terrible. Terrible idea!


”My new blog got Blogspot dot com”! Also a terrible idea! But so too is my new blog – My business dot com.

I would put it at My Business dot com / blog

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: So.

Those are my three.

What’s Blog Monetization Going to Look Like in the Next Two Years?

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

We’ll get a little more into SEO in a second.

What do you see happening in the next two years when it comes to blog monetization?

What’s it going to look like?

Rand Fishkin: I think we’re going to see.

The trend that we have seen in the last three or four years continue.

Which is more native content and sponsored content.

Native advertising is a type of disguised advertising, usually online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.

Native advertising – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We’re going to see more monetization of blogs through economic engines that sit on the sites themselves. I think that could be products and services that a blogger sells or products and services that a company sells.

And they have a blog that is helping to bring them traffic through lots of channels. I also suspect that we’re going to continue to see this trend that we’ve seen with things that folks like. Where Facebook and Medium have done.

Where they try to urge us to create the content entirely on their sites and then help to work to monetize it for us.

Some people are going to be tempted to go that path. I will not. I think that’s a terrible idea!

I love when you can republish content on another platform. You know, Linkedin Medium Facebook, they are all great places to share snippets of content or put up your content and bring people back to your website.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Rand Fishkin: But.

Having them be your central home for content. I think is really dangerous!

It’s Like Being a Renter vs An Owner, Right?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

It’s like being a renter vs an owner, right?

Rand Fishkin: Oh. Man.

Yeah. It’s even worse.

Like with a renter. The Landlord has to give you a certain amount of time before they can kick you out. You sign a contract.

You know how long you’re going to stay. 

Matthew Loomis: Right!

Rand Fishkin: This is.

Tomorrow, Medium could decide they own all your content.

And they’re un-publishing twenty of your posts and they’re no longer going to send you any traffic from it.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: So.

You have to be real careful of that.

Facebook did that a few years ago. I remember… 2012, probably. Where there was this organic reach apocalypse on Facebook when folks were finding that their pages were not longer reaching 15 or 20 percent of their audience but only reaching 9 or 10 percent.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: There was this huge uproar.

In the blogging community about that.

Because Facebook’s organic reach was how a ton of people got their traffic.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: Today.

It’s under 1 percent.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: You know.

The order of magnitude is smaller than when everyone was up in arms about it so.

It’s Dangerous to Build Your Central Home on Someone Else’s Platform – You Could Lose All Your Work!

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Image result for Images for the word lose


Rand Fishkin: It is real dangerous to build your central home on someone else’s platform.

I think this is one of the reasons the mobile web and the desktop web continue to be central to businesses and bloggers and content creators.

Matthew Loomis:Right.

Right. I’ve heard many people talk about how their business pages were banned or… Deleted!

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: They don’t even know why.

Rand Fishkin: Right.

Sometimes they won’t tell you.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

It’s so difficult to get answers from the ”Landlord”. So…

Rand Fishkin: Hahaha…


Tell Us More About Your Site – Inbound Dot Org.

Matthew Loomis: Now.

You founded a site called – Inbound dot org

Is that a monetized website?

Rand Fishkin: So.

Right now…

A couple of years ago I actually turned my portion of Inbound dot org over to Hubspot.

So it’s something that Dharmesh Shar the co-founder and I  started together.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: For a few years.

We ran it together as this community.

We sort of realized; ”Hey! we don’t have a personal bandwidth to make this into what we really want it to be”. ”Let’s have Hubspot take it over” And that’s what happened.

I think today they use it as sort of – Leadin Tool. But yeah. It is a separate community.

I participate there as a co-founder sort of… How about an honorary role you might call it.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: But not an active one.

Can a Blogger Benefit From ”Inbound Dot Org”?  (Even If They’re Not in the Digital Marketers Niche)

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

I was just curious with the dot org suffix.

I’m not real familiar with Inbound I just started checking it out myself in preparation for this interview.

If somebody is not in the digital marketing niche – Is Inbound dot org still useful for them as a blogger?

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.

It can be. Especially if you’re looking for interesting news or updates.

Or the latest tactics and techniques around something like; Conversion optimization or landing page design. Or what’s going on in the SEO world.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: I think Inbound can be great for that.

It’s also a great place to have community discussions. And ask questions.

So. Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: And it’s free 🙂

How Would You Define Search Engine Optimization?

Matthew Loomis: Right.

It is.

Let’s move on to SEO for a few minutes.

I want to start out by asking you Rand, as one of the world’s best-known Search Engine Optimization experts.

How do you define SEO?

Image result for the word search engine optimization in an image

Rand Fishkin: I think.

I see SEO as the practice of improving a websites ability to draw in traffic from the non-paid sources on search engines.

I would say that’s pretty broad. Essentially anything that you might think of as a search engine.

So that could be Google, right. Which is the world’s largest and most popular.

Image result for Images with the word Google


But it could be a video search engine like YouTube. It could be a product search engine like Amazon.

And your goal essentially is to not pay directly to the engine through a program like AdWords. Right, or YouTube Ads. But instead to get traffic organically which is where most of the clicks and where most of the searches happen.

Image result for Images with the word Content

By creating compelling content.

Optimizing that content technically earning the amplification and ranking signal that you need and using the markup correctly in order to get into all the different features and opportunities that search engines provide.

Google just isn’t ten little links anymore. It’s Google cards and images and maps and video and on and on and on…

That is something that is very important to SEO along with the classic – Get my web page ranked in the normal organic results.

How Do I make Sure My Posts Get the Sort of ”Search Engine Love”I Hunger For?

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

So. I have a question from a listener named Mary Rose.

She wanted me to ask you, quote – Is it true that SEO focused web copy is experiencing a decline in effectiveness. If search engines are targeting content and context.

How does this relate to keywords and key phrases, or does it?

Basically, how do I make sure my posts get the kind of search engine love I hunger for?

Image result for Images with the word search engineImage result for Images of a heart

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.


So Mary you are right if you define SEO focused content or copy the way we did say ten or twelve years ago.

It’s definitely experiencing a decline.

Let me put in a bunch of uses of my key phrase a bunch of modified versions of the key phrase.

That is old school SEO that is not very effective anymore!

What is very effective is still doing your keyword research using those keywords intelligently in places like the title and the headline. Then doing a phenomenal job of serving the searchers intent on the page with your content.

That doesn’t just mean text content that could mean images and video. It could certainly mean tools and embeds. It could mean forms it could mean surveys and graphs and data.

I look at something, I believe they are still ranking for this. So if you search for Election Polls – I believe you will find five-thirty-eight near the top and New York Times as well. And they are providing a  tremendous amount of very interactive data and graphics and charts along with some content.

But it doesn’t say on the page election polls twenty times. In fact, I don’t think ”election polls” is not even on the page one time on this five-thirty-eight page that ranks so well.

That’s pretty remarkable.

What Google has essentially done over the last few years is – They figured out context.

They’ve gotten way-way better at text analysis of all kinds.

So they know that election forecast and polling data and predictions are all words that essentially mean the same thing as election polls. So they are happy to rank five-thirty-eight content for that they know it solves the searcher’s intent and the searcher’s problem.

They know that it’s earned a tremendous amount of traffic and engagement and links and shares. So that’s the kind of content that they want to rank.

Even though the keyword doesn’t appear exactly on the page.

And I’m not urging you to not use the keyword on the page. I’m just saying that Google’s got way more sophisticated about this.

Right. So you can write for a much more wider variety of terms that are related to the problem your content solves. If you do a phenomenal job of solving that problem.

So that would be how I think about that.

So it’s More Rewarding Using Multiple-Key Phrases Instead of Just One Key Phrase When Using SEO?

Matthew Loomis: So.

It’s good not to think about one key phrase.

But to have a strategy of using multiple key phrases?

Image result for Images for multiple key phrasesRand Fishkin: Yeah.



There’s a Whiteboard Friday that you can watch that I did on exactly this topic called – ”Can SEO’S Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics” 


Image result for Images with the word keywords

(It’s on Whiteboard Friday from February 5th, 2016)

I kind of describe the process that I would use to do keyword optimization today.

What Are Three SEO Tactics That a New Blogger Could Implement Today?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

By the way –

I’ll be linking to all of your resources in the Show Notes on the blog page for this episode.

Rand, what are three simple SEO tactics that a new blogger could implement today?

Rand Fishkin: SEO tactics that a new blogger could implement today?

Let’s see.

  • The first thing that I would urge you to do as a new blogger is – To assemble the keyword terms and phrases that you want to rank.

So I would do some keyword research to figure out what are the things that people are searching for. What are the terms and phrases that my audience is looking for that aren’t too difficult to rank for.

So I’d look for some form of keyword difficulty on that. I’d look for opportunity. Meaning terms and phrases where there’s not a ton of ads over the page that are taking away the click through rate.

Where you have an opportunity to rank and to earn traffic from those.

And I would be looking for those terms and phrases that are very important to you because you know they are going to drive exactly the right audience you’re looking for.

Image result for Images for the word Target Audience



Then I would take that list and prioritize it in order.

And I would come up with the pieces of content that you’re going to write that you feel great about. To target each of those keywords and I would set a schedule for myself.

So that’s kind of step one.

  • Second step – I would do some… Just a quick audit of your site. And you could use a number of core tools. If you’re more sophisticated something like: Screaming Frog is pretty good.

If you’re a little more basic there’s: OnPage dot org is good they might be also a little advanced.

The Moz tool – The Moz Pro is pretty good for that and Google, (used to be called; Google Webmaster Tools) Now called – Google Search Console that’s also a good tool for just identifying any problems that your site might have.

If you’re using WordPress, you’re in a pretty good place already.

Image result for images for the wordpress logo

There are some SEO plugins. You know the Yoast SEO plugin.

The Yoast SEO plugin is pretty popular. It has some options that are a little more advanced that can get you into trouble.

But if you use it carefully, you should be in a good place.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

I had a talk to Yoast not too long ago.

He said they are actually going to be doing away with those advanced features.

But yeah…

Rand Fishkin: Oh really.


That makes total sense, right.

Like I’ve seen a bunch of people that had  installed on their blog and they messed around with some features and hahaha…You know. Just causes all sorts of problems.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: So. Yeah.

I’m glad to hear that.

That’s a smart move on his part.

  • Then the third thing that I would say is – I think you need to figure out how exactly you are going to achieve amplification and links from your audience.

So I like to ask the question before I ever start creating a piece of content.

I ask the question – Who will amplify this and why?

And I want a list of people, right.

I want individuals that I know I can reach out to. I can talk to them and they will go and tweet about it.

They’ll go link to it from their site. They’ll go put it up on their Facebook post because they care deeply about the subject matter. They care about wanting that message to be amplified.

Image result for images for the word care

They care about helping. Whatever it is.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: And so.

I would look into from a broad perspective.

Not just individual content perspective.

  • Who are the people.
  • The websites that are going to link to you.
  • The social accounts that are going to share your content.
  • The influencers that are going to talk about you.

That’s going to help you achieve some visibility.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

It sounds like your influencer list should be someone that you’ve developed a relationship with, is that right?

Image result for Images for the word visibility

Rand Fishkin: Ideally.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, right.

A lot of times you can find people that you don’t know or don’t yet know.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: But.

You know that they care deeply about this particular issue.

They are likely to talk about it and if you contact them they’re going to be interested. Because it is up their alley and you’re doing something unique in that sector.

And you’ve seen them ask questions about it before or share content that’s really useful.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Rand Fishkin: I get that stuff all the time.

People reach out to me.

I would say one out of ten of them does a great job. Right.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Rand Fishkin: Nine out of ten.

I either reply. Or I hit the delete button.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Rand Fishkin: It’s really poor outreach.

And then one out of ten.

Someone will send me something like – ”Hey Rand, I know you’re really passionate about gender diversity of conferences, you should check out this project” And you know.

Yeah. I find it I read it. I engage with it. I appreciate it and I share it, right!

Image result for Images for the word share

I think that’s great to do. To categorize your audience into folks who will deeply care about the issues. The topics the comments you’re giving.

Have You Ever Covered – How to Approach An Influencer?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Have you ever covered – How to approach an influencer, like from scratch?

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.

I do.

I have a Whiteboard Friday on Moz on that.

Moz has a bunch of content around influencer marketing research.

So research for influencer marketing on Moz. You’ll see a bunch of good content on that including a Whiteboard Friday on – Earning Application From Influencers.

If Someone Just starting Out Is Not Familiar With Search Engine Optimization, What Do You Recommend That They Do To Learn More?

Matthew Loomis: Okay.


(I’ll link to that in the Show Notes)

If a business owner or blogger doesn’t know anything about SEO. Even after listening to this they still feel they have a lot to learn try to wrap their head around it.

What do you recommend that they do?

Image result for Images for beginner

Rand Fishkin: So.

If you search for the SEO guide in Google – You will find the: ”Moz beginners Guide to SEO”

If you have forty-five minutes you can get through that whole thing and come out the other end feeling like you really have a great understanding of how SEO works.

I certainly recommend that.

Do You Find It Easy To Be Transparent and Perceptive?

Matthew Loomis: Great!

Great. I will link to that for sure.

Now I want to spend a few minutes on the topic of transparency. Which is something that I’ve noticed that you practice on your blog a lot and in your interviews.

You definitely do this more than a lot of business leaders from what I’ve seen.

Why is that Rand, do you find it easy to be transparent?

Image result for Images with the word TRANSPARENCY


Rand Fishkin: Not always.


I think transparency can be a real challenge sometimes.

For example, just last week Moz did the first round of layoff’s that we’ve done. And it was really painful and heartbreaking.

Yeah. I just had a totally crap time. And I was actually out of the country. I was in Scotland I was speaking at an event the Turning Festival up there in Edinburgh.

I logged into WebEx and watched Sarah our CEO announce this. Yeah. It was just, I mean frankly just shitty.

It was really really ugly and very sad.

Moz is growing. Just not as fast as we predicted that we’d grow and so we had got way out ahead of expenses with the hiring that we’d done.

Being a software company most of our sponsor people. So we had to make this move. I’ve been in the board meeting a week before so I knew this was coming but… Yeah. It was just crap.

I have been struggling since that Wednesday of last week.

So for a week now struggling since then to try and write a blog post about it. No to be transparent about the things that led to this and to talk about the board meeting. Yeah. It is super hard.

I think transparency is easy when things are going great.

And it’s really tough when things are not going great!

But I actually think that’s the important stuff. Right. It’s easy to say; ”Hey we’re growing” and double grabbing you” and ”get on the team”

Anyone can do that. That’s easy. What’s hard to say is; ”Here’s how we messed up, here’s what we did wrong”!

Here’s the consequences of what that means and here’s the discussions that we had about it. Here’s the positions people took. Here’s how we ended up and why.

I think that transparency is massively more valuable, you know what? What I hope is I’m going to publish this post and a lot of other entrepreneurs and founders and folks in the start-up world will look at him and say; ”Well I really get how this thing works and I understand what I can do to prevent this” and how my management style can avoid going down this path in the future.

What I hope to do. I want transparency to help.

Matthew Loomis: Alright.

I really admire your courage basically.

To be transparent like this. It’s pretty amazing I think.

Rand Fishkin: Wow.


I wasn’t feeling particularly courageous this week. But yeah…

How Has Sharing Your Struggle with Depression Helped You and Your Business?

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Like I mean.

You mentioned your struggle with depression in the past. How you were transparent with that, you blogged

How you were transparent with that, you blogged about it.

How did sharing that particular piece of news help you personally and your business?


Image result for Images for the word visibility


Rand Fishkin: I mean.

I don’t think it helps the business at all!

But that’s not why I do it.

To me, transparency is not about gaining a competitive advantage. Or like building great content that gets amplified or something like that. Transparency for me is a core value.

It’s something that I do. I do and would keep doing even if it’s a competitive disadvantage.

Because I believe it’s the right thing to do. And it’s something I wish others would do and I appreciate so tremendously when they do that. Yeah.

For me, it’s about values not about business value.


Image result for Images for the word value

Does Being Transparent Really Connect You with You Audience?

Matthew Loomis: Would you say that.

Transparency helps you connect with your audience?

I couldn’t help but notice on your post about depression. There were a ton of comments. And it seemed like everyone really cared about you and was connected to you.

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.

I think that’s an inadvertent but amazing side product of being very open.

Is that some people… Your message will really resonate with them tremendously. And they will find appreciation in that and forge personal connections. The people you are connected to will know how those reactions

A lot of Facebook is built on that, right.


Image result for Images for the word Facebook


You share what’s going on in your personal life and the people that you’re connected to respond and react and show empathy and support and that’s wonderful.

And then there’s a flip side of that too.

Which is, I think you will not find those comments on the post. You’ll find them on Twitter or on Forms or those kinds of things.


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Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: That are much more negative.

And that is okay too.

I think I’ve learned to mostly ignore that kind of stuff at this point.

Matthew Loomis: You brought up social media.

So let me go to that question.

I noticed that you’re not shy about sharing you’re political views on social media.

Speaking of transparency.

Rand Fishkin: No.

What’s your philosophy on making controversial posts on social media?

Matthew Loomis: So.

I was just curious.

As a high-profile business owner. What’s your philosophy on making controversial posts on social media?

Rand Fishkin: Let’s see.

I would never do it just for controversy’s sake.

I think what is awesome and wonderful. Is when people share their views and they’re thinking behind those views and the data and information that formed those views transparently. I think that’s great, right.

I certainly have no problem with that. I think there’s very empathetic and thoughtful ways to share one’s political leanings. Or one’s ethics or philosophies or beliefs or values.

And that’s great.

I would generally say. One of the things I noted given that this is an election year in the United States here, I noted that I would probably be between one in twenty  and one in fifty of my tweets for the rest of the year will probably have some political connotations to it. Because I read a lot of content around that.

A lot of people are producing around that. It’s in that field. And my leanings are very very clear, right. You can see the word feminist in my profiles.

So if you’re following me. You know you’re in for it, right. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

I think that’s also a big part of being transparent having that openness. I  would say that it’s not generally true. That my audience is not deeply interested in that stuff for me. And that’s fine.

They’re looking for web content start-up and technology content. And that’s still ninety plus of what I share.

What Things are Not Appropriate to Talk About?

Matthew Loomis: Right.

So is there any transparency limit for you.

I mean what do you not talk about.


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Rand Fishkin: What do I not talk about?


So I try to be very empathetic and thoughtful to people.

About things that are basically stories that are not mine to share, right.

So that kind of means asking folk for permission. Particularly if we are talking about a Moslem employee. Or someone who’s e-mailed me about something they’ve done in their work life or a conversation I had at a conference. That kind of thing.

If I want to share the ”who” and the ”what” behind that. I will certainly ask first.

We also, you know Moz has also talked about; ”Hey should we be transparent about salaries”? And we have chosen to do that in the aggregate and start statistically speaking. So…

You generally know that at Moz if you apply for a position. It’s usually going to pay between the 60th and 80th percentile for that role in the Seattle area.

According to pay scale our salary data and if you’re an engineer it’s going to be more like the 80th or 90th percentile. So that’s generally how we do it rather than saying; ”Oh, you know this person Joe makes this much money  exactly” ” Here let me publish that on the website”.

Which we felt was not very apathetic to Joe.

What’s Your Formula to Getting That Great Hairstyle?

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

That sounds reasonable.

Okay. Let me just wrap up here with a couple of questions for you.

Let me just wrap up here with a couple of questions for you. So somebody wanted me to ask a serious question Rand, okay. Here it is…

What’s your secret for getting your hair to stand up like that?

Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin


Rand Fishkin: Hahahaha….

Matthew Loomis: Hahahaha….

Rand Fishkin: Ahhhhhh……..

I’m going to say one part genetic’s.

Matthew Loomis: 🙂

Rand Fishkin:  One part thorough drying and one part good hair product.

Matthew Loomis: Alright.

Sounds like a good formula there.

Rand Fishkin: Yeah.


Go for it!

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

I noticed your hair wasn’t doing that five or six years ago.

Rand Fishkin: It’s definitely improved.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Definitely. Looks good:)

Looks good!

Rand Fishkin: Well.

Thanks, Matt.

How Blogging Has Changed Rand Fishkin’s Life!

Matthew Loomis: So.

I want to close with a question I ask every guest.

And it’s simply this – Rand how has blogging changed your life?

Image result for Images for blogging changed my life

Rand Fishkin: Well.

Blogging has changed my life basically in every single way!

Blogging is how I built my company. It’s how I share things about my life. It’s how we acquire customers at Moz.

The blog my wife started – Everywhereist dot com Chronicles our travel journeys and helped land her a book deal this year. Which is going to be published next year.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

I will link to that.


Rand Fishkin: Oh. Cool!

Matthew Loomis: It’s not the Everywhereist?

It’s just – Everywhereist dot com

Rand Fishkin: Everywhereist dot com


That’s Right,

Matthew Loomis: Okay.



Rand Fishkin: And my blogging.

And my writing helped me land a book deal as well earlier this year. Which I think will be published next year.

More business focused.

But yeah blogging has been TRANSFORMATIVE for me.

I’m so appreciative that this medium came out.

You know that I was entering adulthood and that I could grasp onto it.

Matthew Loomis: Fantastic!

In fact, your wife’s blog is so good.

I want to invite her on the show sometime. Does she do interviews?

Rand Fishkin: Oh.

Yeah. Absolutely!

She’ll be thrilled to talk to you.

How to Connect with Rand Fishkin Online!

Matthew Loomis: Okay.


So Rand how can people connect with you online?

Where can they find you?

Rand Fishkin: You can find me.

On twitter: @randfish

You can find me on my personal blog at: Moz dot com / rand

And you can also e-mail me at: rand at moz dot com

Matthew Loomis: Awesome!

It’s been great talking with you today on The Blog Chronicles Rand.

Rand Fishkin: My pleasure.

Thanks for having me Matthew!


Image result for Image for Rand Fishkin

I didn’t know a lot of what I just learned about Rand Fishkin of Moz!

Show Note Links:

Contacting Rand:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: +1 206-632-3171 (although email is usually a better way to reach me)


His Wife’s Blog

Thanks for tuning into this episode of – The Blog Chronicles.

If you enjoy the show, please subscribe on YouTube or iTunes and leave a rating or review to help other bloggers find us.If you want to chat with me on Twitter, look up me up: @mattloomis

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter


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  1. John Martin says:    •   3 years

    Matthew, so glad you shared this great interview with Rand! Of course I found the Kansas reference entertaining 🙂 but I especially enjoyed the super valuable nuggets Rand shares.

    I’ve had more than a couple people ask me the past few months about keyword research. I love Rand’s Whiteboard Friday on this: go ahead and do some keyword research, but group keyphrases into a few separate intents. For example, your keyword research could give you a whole bunch of very similar phrases. But then you notice people are really trying to do just two things (intent). You solve those 2 problems for people while staying on topic, and voila! You’ve improved your SEO for that article.

    And it’s so important to make unique, valuable content. If you do repeat what others say, at least make it simpler, easier to use or add your unique perspective.

    And I truly feel Rand adds tremendously to his brand and business because he is transparent, empathetic and real.

    Thanks again for sharing this amazing interview, Matthew!

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   3 years Author

      Hi John,

      That’s true, you know the Oz references very well, I’m sure. 🙂

      That is a sweet formula Rand has shared on keywords. That’s changing my approach as well. I’m glad Google has improved their usage of keywords. Really makes things better.

      So true about Rand being transparent and real. That’s why we follow and listen to what he has to say. There’s a trust factor he’s developed by being real with us.

      Glad you enjoyed this one, John!


  2. Ryan Biddulph says:    •   3 years

    Hi Matthew,

    Wow! Congrats on interviewing such a Big Fish! Rand is awesome.

    I’m glad Rand opened up about his depression. I had big time probs with this earlier in my life and by being open, and embracing these energies, I was able to move into a happier way of living. But only after being with the depression and feeling it, which was highly unpleasant but necessary to move forward with peace, harmony and love flowing throughout my meat suit LOL.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   3 years Author

      Hi Ryan,

      Rand is a generous dude.

      That’s so cool how his story has helped you overcome depression. Glad you have found joy and harmony, mate.

      LOL, I always like it when you use the term “meat suit.” Love it.



  3. kahar says:    •   3 years

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