Interview with Rand Fishkin at MozCon’17!

Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of SEO software startup-Moz, is a confirmed expert and key influencer within the search industry. His direct drive and outsource of creative energy has been successfully blasted via the web, allowing a bonded community to be formed, and many of us growing in terms of ‘tech’.

Charisma may play a large part in Rand’s fantastic ability as a speaker, but his knowledge, generosity and sense of humor have allowed us to join him on this worldwide journey of SEO.

And luckily for us, we were given the pleasure of speaking with him one on one.

Remaining a true household name in the industry, Rand’s own story takes on a character in itself. As he began his career in web design for his Mom Jillian’s clients, a twist of income problems required him to learn the tools of SEO himself. Through this task, Rand’s discovery of limited SEO sources online caused frustration and ultimately led him to create his own blog ‘SEO MOZ’- a platform complete of everything he had learnt so far.

Thankfully, this gutsy endeavor led to a direct surge of traffic and interest, which finally resulted in the SEO consulting firm- Moz.

But it didn’t stop there- Rand’s desire to produce useful tools for the public led to an in-house consultant powerhouse, producing software that could be used by paying a small fee every month. After 6 months of work, the revenue increased dramatically and Rand was given insight by Michelle Goldberg to ‘raise money and take the business somewhere else.’

Our founder Yigit Konur made an interview with Rand at MozCon’17. Here are the details:

Yigit: Moz was your first big project, and your first money earning venture. Many other agencies dream about getting into the software business, and we agree that it could be a more interesting route. How do you feeling about shutting down your service business in 2009?  

Rand: I felt good about it as far as Moz went, once you're a venture-backed company, service revenue is just not that valuable to you and it doesn't get evaluated the same way by investors and the same way by public markets, so I think it made sense for us.

Although, I've talked to many consultants and agencies over the years and realized that you can build a very exciting business in consulting and you can generally build it with decent margins. It can be built it in such a way that you own everything-you don't have to give away portions of the business.

I personally think that if you make a million dollars a year but only have to spend 650,000 dollars on a couple of other consultants, it can be so profitable. You get to take those profits in addition to your salary – even though a software company like Moz has a nice salary, that's it…so I think you have to decide what you want, because the software path and the venture path is a moonshot, you might make it, you might be huge or it could also fall apart-it’s still a possibility.

Yigit: How do you feel about creating such a strong community in 2017? Is it still possible to do this by using only the power of content, or should we be focusing on other social media channels?

Rand: I think that nowadays you have many more channels and opportunities. I would say that for every business and every person who's looking to build their community, different channels are going to work and not work, so this is not a one-size-fits-all type of thing, you need to figure out the people who care about my topic- are they on Pinterest, are they on Facebook, are they on Twitter?...

Wherever they are, you need to use those platforms to drive the traffic back to yours. I think the dangerous thing is relying on someone else's platform to build your community. So if you say ‘hey I'm going to build my community and it's all going to be on my Facebook page’, you don't know what Facebook is going to do next week, it can change the way those updates are received, they can change how the notifications come in, they can change the newsfeed and maybe you'll lose 20, 50, 60 percent.

Yigit: According to your own experiences, how do you feel about the next five years of SEO? What will happen to our industry and how will the current SEO analyst shape in that time?

Rand: So to my mind, I think that SEO is still extremely Google centric. I think that there is one potential player in the market who could change that and that's Amazon. For many ecommerce types of transactions, it’s possible that Amazon will become a true driver of a significant amount of search, browser and commerce traffic in such a way that actually infringes on what Google loves today.

Also, I think that voice search is something in the long term future- but voice search is no problem at all, it doesn't change anything for us in terms of SEO.

However, voice answers can change the whole game. They are not attributed, they don't drive traffic to your site, they don't give you a brand impression, you can't re-target to the people who hear those answers, you don't get to control the user experience and you don't get to capture an email address. Everything is gone, everything's taken from you and I think that's a dangerous game to play.

We would like to thank Rand also from here for this interview. What do you think about these subjects? If you have any ideas what will happen to SEO industry in five years please share it with us from below!