Howdy readers!! Welcome to another interview edition of KVR Webtech!

Today, we have a special guest with us, his success story influences many and he is among Forbes’ Top 10 Online Marketing Experts list. Yes, it is about the SEO superstar and the Wizard of Moz: Rand Fishkin!!

Rand Fishkin is the founder of Moz, a software company that builds amazing tools to make inbound marketing easy. He is also a regular contributor to Whiteboard Friday (We all love that) where he talks about SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media.

Through this interview, we got a chance to know him better in personal as well as professional way. This is first time Rand has featured in KVR Webtech interview edition and we all are highly excited. Hope our readers enjoy it too!


Interview with Rand Fiskin- The Wizard of Moz

Major topics discussed in the Interview:

1) The journey of Rand and the biggest challenges and accomplishments.

2) The controversies involved in the journey.

3) Rand thoughts on Moz’s Keyword Explorer and how it is different from SEM Rush and other top tools.

4) The Future of SEO and role of artificial intelligence.

Explore what the expert has to say…

Varun: We all know Rand Fishkin. Anything that world does not know about you and your scope of activities in and around Moz?
Rand: I’m sure there’s a lot, despite my attempts to be transparent. One thing that often surprises folks to learn is that my position in the company doesn’t give me free reign or control over most of what the company does. It’s a very different role from CEO, and there seems to still exist a perception that I’m in charge, when that’s really not the case. That said, I think Sarah Bird, who is our CEO, is doing a great job — I just wish she’d get the credit!
Varun: When I was Goggling your name, I was surprised I could not find any Wikipedia page for you; do you have any plan to create a Wikipedia page for you?
RandDefinitely not! I strongly dislike and distrust Wikipedia. The content there, particularly about people, is massively biased and incomplete. I actually did have a Wikipedia page, but used Wikipedia’s removal request protocol to get it taken down. Let’s hope it never returns 🙂
Varun: From Almost-Bankrupt College Dropout to Amazing Success! How do you rate this journey and what were the biggest challenges and accomplishments?

Rand: I actually don’t consider myself a success at all. An entrepreneur who raises money from investors has the obligation to get the returns those investors are seeking in a sale or IPO of the company. Moz has not accomplished that (at least, not yet). While I have hope that someday we will, I consider myself and Moz “striving to achieve success,” not “successful.”That said, biggest challenges are definitely around building a great product and maintaining it over time (especially in a dynamic field where we need to keep up with the search engines’ changes) and managing people (which is a nightmarishly tough and complex problem).

Biggest accomplishments… That one’s hard. Our revenue and customer growth have been big accomplishments, but very incremental ones over time. Fundraising is very hard, but not necessarily an indication of success or accomplishment. Maybe I’d put a few products that I’m particularly proud of into the “accomplishments” list: Mozbar, Moz Local, and Keyword Explorer are among my particular favorites.

Varun: TAGFEE, I believe lot of questions have been asked about the same, however, can you let us know “Who is Roger”?
Rand: Well, TAGFEE isn’t really related to Roger 🙂 He’s just a cartoon character that started as a representation of Moz’s web crawler and became a sort of company mascot.
Varun: Recently, we had a client whose homepage was banned by a DMCA complaint; we have been doing everything from filling up forms to reaching out on forums with no success. Is there anything you would like to share on the issue?
Rand: That’s a tough one. If Google’s ruled against your client on a DMCA action, it’s very hard and very rare to see them reverse that. I might suggest doing whatever possible to work around — recreate a different page or even consider redirecting the website.
Varun: In an interview, you mentioned “Consultancy” was difficult, the success really started once you got into software development; can you shed some highlights of difficulties you faced during the consultancy phase?
RandI hate sales and selling, and consulting requires a very sales-focused relationship. I also never felt like we found a path to scale consulting — all our clients always wanted my personal input, rather than the small team we were building. Maybe, if we’d grown bigger, that could have been helped, but instead we pursued the software path. I did enjoy the actual work of consulting – helping people find problems on their sites and fix them/improve has continued to be a passion of mine, and I do a lot of pro bono consulting still.
Varun: In a successful career and being an influencer, there might be some controversies along the way, is there a story you believe you would like to share and think you should have stayed away from?
RandThere were lots of little controversies in my early career at Moz, especially around sharing certain types of content. Some of Google’s reps have, over the years, been pretty annoyed with some of the experiments we’ve run and how we’ve shared information about Google’s ranking systems. That said, I don’t think I’d change any of those. Moz’s mission is to make search engines more transparent, and we need to stick to that even if it causes problems.
Varun: You also speak at marketing conferences around the world. What’s your fee for a keynote session and what are the topics you generally speak about?
Rand: I don’t actually accept fees to speak, but I do ask events to make a charitable donation (usually $5K to Give Directly). I typically speak about startup entrepreneurship, SEO, and/or web marketing. You can see a collection of most of my presentations here.
Varun: Please share your thoughts on Moz’s New Keyword Research Tool- Keyword Explorer? How it is different from SEMrush, Google keywords planner and other top notch keywords research tools?

Rand: It’s different in lots of ways. Whereas SEMRush focuses on showing keywords that a particular domain or page appears for, KW Explorer’s suggestions are much broader and include ideas from Google Suggest/Related, from AdWords, from topic modeling-based results, question-type queries, as well as those for which similar pages rank. SEMRush is much broader in what it offers (not just keyword suggestions, but competitive intel, search traffic estimates, etc), so the two products aren’t necessarily competitive. We overlap with SEMRush on one feature, but that’s it.We do try to compete more directly with Google KW Planner, and there I think we have a lot of advantages. Our volume data is more accurate, especially in this new world of Google combining keyword volumes for related terms (Moz keeps them separate using a process that includes getting clickstream data and segmenting data from AdWords, too). We have additional metrics that are critical to the SEO process – difficulty (how hard it is to rank), opportunity (what CTR you can expect to the organic results based on what SERP features appear for a keyword), and importance (which you can control to set how valuable a keyword is to you).

Keyword Lists are probably our most outstanding and unique feature, and enable SEOs to save hours of work compiling metrics in Excel and trying to prioritize keywords. All the metrics that we found folks grabbing from various tools and putting together in Excel or Google Spreadsheets are now automatically compiled and sortable inside KW Explorer’s Lists. You can export them, import keywords to get metrics, and even add your own custom Important scores to express more or less interest in a particular term/phrase.

Varun: Google has started showing keywords data (not provided) in Google webmaster tools but up to a limited level. What are some good ways you have found to get around the loss of keyword data?
Rand: We’ve moved over to a model of A) landing pages and B) a system that predicts keyword traffic to pages based on rankings + search traffic to those ranking pages. It’s a feature inside Moz Pro Campaigns that estimates the keyword traffic and various keywords for given pages, and we’ve found it’s a pretty reasonable substitute for most marketing/SEO activities.
Varun: What role artificial intelligence going to play in SEO? What changes webmasters should bring in their SEO strategies to make their websites machine learning friendly? Please share your insights with us.
RandI put together a slide deck on this topic here. Basically, I think AI and machine/deep learning are going to mean that there’s less focus on singular algorithmic features and a greater ability from engines to discern when sites provide a truly great experience based on the combination of signals they uncover. That could mean a more complex set of algorithmic inputs that are much harder to reverse engineer, while simultaneously a simpler focus on user experience and searcher satisfaction can take sites to the top of the results in many types of queries.
Varun: What interesting changes we can see in upcoming 3 to 5 years in SEO Industry?
Rand: I think Google is going to continue to make critical data harder and harder to access, and third party tools and providers will have to step up. I also see more and more domination of search by big brands, with increasing difficulty for new entrants and small companies. Google’s also going to test a lot more features and enhancements in search results — hard to know exactly how much more searchers will take before they have visual exhaustion though.
Varun: Before we put an end to our keen questions, please can you say something very special to our readers who are dealing to be successful in SEO and Digital World?
Rand: Two keys for me in digital marketing success have been A) to be willing to be an early adopter – try new things when they come out, see how they work, and experiment ceaselessly and B) focus on my personal strengths rather than trying to compete in every arena or every type of marketing channel/tactic.


We really thank Rand Fishkin for sparing some time from his busy schedule for this interview session.

We hope you all liked this interview and the tips shared by Rand Fishkin will surely help you to grow your business successfully.

Please share your thoughts about this interview in the comment section.

Stay tuned with us for more informative interviews.

You can also read the interesting interviews of other influencers of the digital marketing world here.

3 thoughts on “KVR Webtech in Conversation with SEO Superstar- Rand Fishkin of Moz

  1. Great interview with Rand Fishkin and really surprised to see that he dislikes Wikipedia so much. The Moz site is a strange one as it no longer comes up when using Safari.

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