Rand Fishkin Interview
Rand Fishkin is CEO of SEOmoz.org. SEOmoz offer a Pro Membership at $47 per month and recently celebrated their 2000th paying member. Now, you do the MATH on that! Well done Rand and Team!
Todays interview is with Rand Fishkin CEO of http://www.seomoz.org
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. SEOmoz has recently become one of my favorite websites and it is a real honor to have you here at RetireAt21.com
First off – can we have a little background information – Where you live? How old you are? What motivates you? Inspires you?
Certainly! I live in Seattle, WA, just 25 blocks north of the SEOmoz offices (which means I get to walk to work and back each day – a lot of rain, but great exercise). I’m currently 28 years old, and turn 29 this July. As for motivation and inspiration, I’d have to point to my family, my friends and my terrific fiancee. They help to keep me grounded, and remind me what’s really important.
1) Tell us about your main project, SEOmoz? Why did you launch SEOmoz? Where are you now with SEOmoz?
Main project is surely an understatement 🙂 I live and breathe this company a solid 12-16 hours a day. I originally launched SEOmoz as a place to discuss the difficulties I was having getting clients ranked in Google’s search results back in 2004-2005, during their infamous sandboxing period. Today, the company has 13 employees, a board of directors, venture capital investment and a lot of very high expectations.
2) What is the biggest mis-conception in SEO that most new webmasters make?
Probably in thinking that it has something to do with meta tags. Honestly, the meta tags have been a relic of SEO for at least the past 5 years, but somehow, it sticks in peoples’ minds when they hear SEO, and that creates a lot of frustration. I also would caution new entrants to the market against listening to the numerous snake oil pitches out there. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is, and if it sounds expensive, but intelligent and legitimate, you’re much more likely to have success. Don’t let anyone sell you anything related to SEO without first explaining to you their opinion of how search engines index and rank pages. Your own internal BS meter will guide you the rest of the way.
3) Where do you see the world of SEO in 2 years time?
Most probably in a very similar position to where we are today. Certainly SEO in 2008 has advanced from 2006, but this industry has reached a level of semi-maturity, and although there will certainly be new and better tools and probably a better comprehension of the service as market penetration rises, I doubt we’ll see a “whole new world” in SEO.
4) You are recognised as an authority on SEO – other than an extensive knowledge of the subject, are there any other factors that you think has helped you raise to the TOP in a very competitive industry?
I think that the relationships I’ve built are primarily responsible for where SEOmoz is today. I’ve been blessed with a great number of friends and associates in SEO and around the web world, who’ve always had positive things to say about us and the brand. I only hope that I can return the favor in kind to everyone who’s given me their time, energy and friendship. Honestly, it’s the people that make SEO a great industry to be part of.
5) http://www.seomoz.org/team/randfish is a very informative web page – I had not realised that it was only in 2005 that you attended your first SEO conference. What, more than anything else that has allowed you to be come such an authority and grow to over 60000 membership in such a short time?
I think the website’s success is really based on the content we provide there. The blog, the articles, the tools and the community create a brand that I find really compelling and I think many others do, as well. We now have an average of more than 150 people each day sign up at SEOmoz and much of that is to run tools, to comment on blogs, to participate in our marketplace and to interact with a truly informed, intelligent community of peers.
6) I understand that you offer Pro Membership at SEOmoz for $49 per month. How long have you been doing that – and did you have any issues with your Free Membership when you decided to do this?
The PRO memebership has been offered for 12 months now, and we’ve just added our 2000th member today (we had a little mini-celebration at the office). We haven’t had any issues with the free membership since, mainly because everything we’ve added with PRO has been on top of the services and tools already available to free members. Nothing was taken away – things have just been added on.
7) If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what business related advice would you give yourself?
Hiring advice. Hiring is the most important job I have and it’s the hardest thing to do. That time machine might be able to save me quite a bit of heartache if used properly 🙂
8) Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
That’s particularly hard to say with me. My Mom was (and is) an entrepreneur, so it might be in my blood, or it could be I learned it from her, growing up under her office desk as a kid 🙂 I suppose maybe it’s the latter, as my younger brother and sister don’t seem to have the bug.
9) Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on? (You can name more than one)
In many ways, I really admire what Craig Newmark has built with Craigslist. I’m also a huge fan of Danny Sullivan’s, and have been looking up to him as a mentor and role model for years.
10) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Productize. If we hadn’t built the SEOmoz PRO membership, I don’t think we ever could have grown beyond a niche consulting firm. We needed a product to be able to scale.
11) What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Hire the smartest, most trustworthy, most inspiring people you can find. Don’t worry as much about experience as you do about personality fit, ability to learn, and raw passion and ability for the work.
12) How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks for your sites?
I’m sadly in the group who regularly puts in 10-14 hour days, but I hope to curb that in the near future. My tasks right now are so varied, it’s almost impossible to describe them all. Basically, I manage all of the projects at SEOmoz from a high level (and some of them from a hands-on perspective). I also have a lot of phone calls and in-person meetings, still do a bit of consulting and, of course, report to our investors.
13) If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?
Building it! Seriously, I loved computers from the time I was 5 years old (remember those old TI machines you plugged into the TV?)
14) What do you like best about the Internet?
The ability to reach so many people around the world and the closely connected communities that feature creates.
15) What do you like least about the Internet?
The lack of cordiality and basic humanity that occasionally pops up in social communities on the web. I think we all need to act more like we’re talking to each other in a room full of friends and less like we’re removed and unconnected.
16) Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
I’m getting married in September and taking a long honeymoon – very much looking forward to that! 🙂