SEO Rockstar Rand Fishkin Steps Out And Moves On
College dropout-turned-SEO-messiah, Rand Fishkin is a legend in the SEO world. Co-founder of Moz, Rand held the seat of CEO for one of the top software analytics companies in the world for years. His SEO empire Moz grew out of the humble web design business he started right around the time Google entered our lives and changed the virtual world. Talk about being in the right place at the right time–and with the business acumen of a pizza pusher at a Blue Jays game (with the right amount of MOZ-arella).
Rand built his success, somewhat reluctantly, upon the general lack of knowledge about SEO and page ranking that existed at the time. While businesses clamoured to gain a first-page spot on any SERP, Rand outsourced research to SEO experts to meet the needs of his clients. With the demand for SEO expert knowledge and their prices increasing, Rand took it upon himself to become an authority. Massive research and self-study led to the birth of his blog SEOmoz and his successful venture to uncover the secrets of SERPs, which eventually became what it is today–Moz software business empire.
Rand’s SEO empire ranked #334 on the Inc. 500 list in 2010, has received multi-million dollar financing from high-profile investors, and receives over three million visitors per month. Its three primary products, Moz Pro, which includes Keyword Explorer and Open Site Explorer, Moz Local, and Moz API service everyone from professional SEOs to the local paint store owner to individuals who want site data and analytics.
After stepping down from his role as CEO of Moz and a subsequent four years fulfilling a variety of roles, Rand’s journey with Moz ended this past February. Rand’s last day at Moz was over a month ago and it was hard to digest.
Logical Mix Has Benefited Immensely From His Teachings
I know he’s doing more ‘whiteboard Friday’s’ (in fact, he lined up about a dozen before he left), but he’s gone to do… Sparktoro.
You can check out what the heck Sparktoro is by clicking here, but first, the million-dollar question lingers: If Moz is so successful, why the heck did Rand leave? The search for a clear answer leaves a pile of earth and stones. But reading between the lines of his personal blog, we can extract a sense that Rand was aggrieved by the operation of Moz over the past several years, which may be why he stepped down from CEO in 2014–this is mere conjecture though so don’t quote me on it. But he did write,
“On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “fired and escorted out of the building by security” and 10 is “left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,” my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally. I have a lot of sadness, a heap of regrets, and a smattering of resentment too.”
Personally, Rand taught me a lot about the SEO game, one of the most significant being that it actually isn’t a game. When it comes to SEO best practices, he clearly demarcates between quick hacks for instant rankings and hard-won experiences as a result of consistent hard work. He reveals that his “secret sauce” for SEO success is not so secret at all and anyone who isn’t transparent about his SEO activities is likely up to some shady business. He insists that there is no one right move that will accelerate the growth of any business. The value is in the whole, not its individual parts. Anything else smacks of black hat biz.
But damn, even with the success of his SEO enterprise and the years of hard work under-riding it, Rand is an uncommonly humble guy. Personally, I suspect that is the cornerstone of his success. Humility supports a continuous desire to improve.
“I’m not sure I’d call Moz a ‘success,’ at least not yet. We’ve raised venture capital, and that means returning money to our investors, hopefully at a very high multiple. It’s a very tall task, but I believe one that’s possible – just an incredibly hard thing to do.”
A juicy last tip from Rand: Put your customers first. VCs are important for economic growth but you’ve got to listen and respond to what your customers want.
Love him or hate him–that dude is a legend in SEO. White hats off to you Rand!
Check out Rand’s recently released book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.