This blog article is dedicated to a very successful “Ask Me Anything” session with Rand Fishkin that we just hosted in our Growth Marketing Pros community.
The session was hosted on our Slack community Growth Marketing Pros, dedicated to assisting founders and marketing professionals in their growth. Which by the way, you can join right now; it’s completely free and already has over 8500 members.
During these AMA events, the members can ask questions live and engage in a dialogue with the guest about their expertise.
And having Rand Fishkin is pretty significant.
Rand is a fascinating colleague dropout who built one of the world’s most important SEO tools. He has been a business owner and digital marketing expert since forever.
In 2004, he and his mother, Gillian Muessig, co-founded SEOMoz, a game-changing digital SEO management application. Since then, he has created more ventures, such as inbound.org, and is now the CEO of his newly founded company SparkToro.
Being in digital marketing for 21 years, he answered numerous inquiries about marketing strategy, channels, techniques, and his entrepreneurial experience and shared some of his favorite comics, novels, and movies.
With all of his knowledge at our fingertips, we’ve selected 5 of the most intriguing questions and his suggestions on how to boost your SEO results in 2023.
1. Competing for organic rankings and/or paid advertising is increasingly the domain of well-funded companies; what strategies would you recommend for bootstrapped companies to compete?
Yeah, I agree. I don’t really love most search marketing unless you’ve got a big budget and a lot of time to build up strength/authority in those fields. For early-stage companies (like SparkToro), my favorite marketing tactic is marketing through your audience/customers’ sources of influence, i.e., finding the podcasts, YouTube channels, email newsletters, websites, social accounts, Slack communities, etc., that they read/watch/follow/subscribe-to, then being present in those places with messages that build brand affinity, trust, and eventually a conversion.
This tweet thread is probably the shortest explanation of that process:
Here's why I love PR and Influence (no "r") Marketing:— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 19, 2021
1) Reach exactly the audience(s) you care about
2) Create relationships w/ sources of influence that can help you/your brand for decades to come
3) Earn trust signals that nudge both people and algorithms to prefer you pic.twitter.com/lLyd1Dm9k3
2. How do you predict and measure the impacts of SEO and PR consistently and predictably?
Predictability is very hard. Even in SEO, it’s pretty difficult to predict whether you’ll be successful at ranking, how long it will take, how hard the competition will fight back, etc. With PR, content, influence, social, and other similar channels, predictability isn’t worse, just different. However, after a few months of investing, you can usually predict the amount and growth rate of coverage, amplification, reach, etc., as long as you maintain promising investments.
Getting started is hard (just like SEO), but once the ball is rolling, it tends to drive predictable quantities of traffic/signups/etc. (you take what happened the last 6 months and project out the next 6, and it’s often quite close). What’s harder is when you have BIG hits that mess up the graph, like a massively viral piece of content or a huge piece of press coverage that gets picked up everywhere. So we’ve excluded those from our predictions when they happened at SparkToro.
3. How to bridge SEO and audience research?
“I think it needs to be clear that SEO and audience research don’t overlap all that much“.
What you need to do instead is to identify the audiences that you want to reach (because a substantial group of them is likely to either a) buy your product/service or b) become fans of your brand to folks who will buy ) and then determine what they are searching on google.
For example, 1000 people a month are searching for the product you are selling; probably 10 million people might buy your product but aren’t searching for it(or anything relevant in Google). So reaching that crowd is what audience research is all about.
4. How do you keep your evergreen content exciting?
Rand Fishkin: The evergreen content itself has to be designed to elicit emotional responses, e.g., surprise, ego-related interest, anger, connection, etc.
For example: Announcing new hires each week is most exciting/interesting to the person being hired and the people who work directly with them, so you should target it to those folks and learn what they want and what makes them react.
5. Is there a space left for a new SEO tool?
There is still an opportunity to build unique and niche products in SEO SaaS. Still, it will be tough for anyone to compete directly with the features and functionality that SEMRush and Ahrefs have built in the self-service SaaS world of SEO. There are probably going to be a few decent sizes companies in “AI” content (which won’t really be AI, of course, just marketed that way), and maybe some in SEO testing or automated keyword targeting.
Join the next AMA session
If you want to participate in some of the next AMA sessions with notable speakers,
join our Growth Marketing Pros community and ask your burning questions.