Key Takeaways from Rand Fishkin’s AMA

26 April 2018

If you work in the world of SEO, you’ll know who Rand Fishkin is. For those unfamiliar with the notable name, he is the co-founder of one of the most renowned SEO platforms on the market, Moz. However, Fishkin has recently parted ways with the company after 17 long years to begin a new venture called SparkToro, a software company that will focus on so-called “influencer and audience intelligence marketing”.

With an impressive résumé under his belt, we were excited to hear he was hosting a Reddit AMA this week to share some of his coveted knowledge. In case you missed it or just want a recap, here are the key takeaways from it.

The moustache is gone for good

First thing’s first, arguably the question on everybody’s lips finally got a definitive answer – the infamous moustache won’t be making a comeback! Fishkin’s facial hair became synonymous with his image (he even wrote about it in his new book), but he waved goodbye to the moustache when Moz made a consistent profit last year. Whether you loved it or hated it, it marked an end of an era which we won’t be seeing again.

Facebook advertising will change… in Europe

Considering the recent Facebook data scandal, Fishkin believes European governments will make a real effort to apply restrictions on what companies can and can’t do (undoubtedly, GDPR will have a part to play in this). However, he does admit it will remain difficult to compete with companies like Facebook and Google. As for the US, he thinks Americans have a much more lax approach to data privacy and we won’t see the same effort of change there any time soon.

Google will get creative with voice ads

Nobody likes ads. Or at least, they think they don’t, according to Fishkin. But, in order for ads to find their place within voice search, he believes Google will find creative ways to monetise it. You’ll inevitably annoy some people, but not enough to give up on virtual assistants completely – they’ll be too hooked on how useful Google’s voice answers are.

SparkToro will help demand creation

As with all new products, there are those who question the necessity of it. Fishkin considers SparkToro imperative for businesses who require demand creation without the need for search, i.e. SEO and PPC. He’s ensured SparkToro is an affordable option to cover most, if not all, of the channels that businesses will need to influence their chosen audience.

You don’t need evangelism to sell

Speaking of demand creation, Fishkin stressed that you don’t need so-called “evangelism” to sell your product or service – you just need to be at the right place at the right time. If what you’re offering genuinely solves a pain point, all you need to do is raise awareness of it and the people who need it will find it.

The political climate has affected (almost) everything

It seems the current political climate has had an impact everywhere you turn and digital marketing is no different. Fishkin has seen a rise in content that is trying to influence individuals to different extremes through what he deemed to be often “unethical and inaccurate” means.

Be emotive and daring when creating content

When asked what his definitive advice would be for aspiring content creators, Fishkin believes vulnerability is best. If you capture the emotion you’ve felt, it will resonate with the audience you want to reach. You also have to be willing to talk about controversial issues others can’t or won’t discuss to really make your work stand out.

Swim against the tide to scale up

If you’re looking to expand your digital business, Fishkin advises it’s best to do what everyone else is doing in your field differently. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to scaling up, he believes swimming against the tide is the clearest way to stand out and raise awareness in a competitive market.

Whiteboard Friday won’t be coming to SparkToro

While at Moz, Fishkin hosted a weekly video series dubbed “Whiteboard Friday” where he shared nuggets of digital wisdom. He announced that he’ll still appear in a few pre-recorded videos on Moz, but otherwise it’ll be up to the team to invite him back for more. As for adopting a similar format for SparkToro, he claims there are no immediate plans to do so.

Apps won’t take over the web anytime soon

Although there seems to be an app for everything these days, Fishkin argues that they are far less popular than the good old-fashioned web. The reason, he states, is simply because people don’t have the space on their devices to install a ton of apps and it doesn’t make sense to install an app you only need occasionally. Our efforts should be focused on mobile sites, instead.

Google’s SEO best practices aren’t gospel

Arguably one of the best SEO questions asked was around the three areas of Google’s official best practice guidelines that don’t always ring true. The first, Fishkin responded, was that “nofollow” links do sometimes have an impact after all. The second, was that Google doesn’t always respect a correctly implemented “rel=canonical” tag. Finally, he believes that link building, which Google has recommended against for years, is actually worthwhile and those that never do it may never see results.

Undoubtedly, Rand’s AMA was chock-full of useful titbits. While his departure from Moz was a surprise to most, we’re excited to see what the future for SparkToro has in store.




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