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AMA with Rand Fishkin

Posted by Rand Fishkin

Guest: Rand Fishkin of Moz

+ Web marketing, particularly non-paid/inbound channels like SEO, social, content, community, email, CRO, etc.
+ Software development, product design, user experience
+ Startups and entrepreneurship
+ Scotch whiskey
+ Beards & mustaches

Time & Date: Thursday, August 21st at 11 AM/PST 2PM/EST

Did you miss the event? Check out the recording:


Welcome to our Wistia Community AMA where you, the lovely inhabitants of this Wistia Community, are able to tap into the knowledge and prowess of some of our awesome guests! In case you are not familiar with what an AMA is, it is short for "Ask Me Anything."

Each AMA we will try to have a guest with a different knowledge-base than ones featured prior, so keep your eyes peeled for topics that might be super interesting or helpful for you.

I'm a joker, I'm a broker, I'm a midnight toker... no, wait. Oh yeah! I'm Rand, founder & former CEO of Moz, author of several books on SEO, frequent blogger, social media addict, traveler, speaker, and, most importantly, husband to the amazing Everywhereist. I've had a long, winding journey from dropping out of college to build websites, then moving into SEO consulting, and eventually founding one of the marketing world's fastest growing startup software companies, Moz. Questions on any and all topics are welcome - I try to be as transparent as possible, so nothing's off limits.

Questions should be posted as comments, and will be answered on a first-come-first-serve basis between 11 - 11:30 AM PST/2 - 2.30 PM EST. In case you're curious about whether this is an anything-goes kind of situation, there are the some guidelines. You can check them out here. Enjoy!

Here's Rand's original intro video:

Zareen -

Hi there Rand, I really like your 'stash. We're a SaaS company that wants to develop an online academy for our customers. I've seen corporate university platforms that prescribe a series of lessons with video content embedded. I've also seen online academies that showcase video tutorials and allow the user to pick-and-choose their learning path, like Khan Academy. Can you share a little bit about the decision-making process that went into the development of Moz Academy and why you chose to 1) build your own page and 2) create subscriber-only video content?

Daniel Loeschen, Marketing Director at Mixer Direct -

What is the best way for a startup marketing agency to get the first client? It's hard when you don't have a portfoilio yet.

Matt coffy, CEO at CustomerBloom -

you should work with a coach to learn what to do, i was in your position 2 years ago, and now have a 50K a month recurring business. we now teach people how to fish

Matt coffy, CEO at CustomerBloom -

could time on site be an issue?

Slane -

What is the best way to handle citation listings for multiple locations of the same business or 2 different companies at the same location?

Elise Ramsay, Community Manager/Sasha Fierce at Wistia -

Rand! Welcome. My big question is: how do you get loose before getting on camera? Espresso? Dancing? Please let it be dancing.

Slane -

If my client sets up a Google (or other major search engine) listing but forgot his log-in information, what is the best way to go about cleaning up the old listings, even though I cannot access them?

Matt coffy, CEO at CustomerBloom -

Rand - we are seeing a few rare occasions in our accounts where rankings fluctuate almost daily , and i mean really wide , almost like a sign-wave pattern.. have you seen this, does it mean a panda?

Margaret Nicoll, 5 ft Idea Machine -

Hi Rand! What are your recommendations for smaller B2C brands (with lower domain authority) to find content opportunities that allow them to be part of a larger, more competitive conversation?

Margaret Nicoll, 5 ft Idea Machine -

Thanks Rand for answering my question! Great nugget that really rings true "The only solution is a lot of experimentation." So true.

Realistically, how many people are required to do a good job marketing a business going from $1m in sales to $5m in sales? Including Google ads, landing pages, web site, SEO, back links, content creation, content distribution, and user group attendance/community meetings? Does it make sense to hire an agency to handle all (or at least most) of that?

Matt coffy, CEO at CustomerBloom -

Very Real.. In fact, with SEO and PPC , we took a local Kitchen Cabinet Wholesaler from 50,000 a month in sales to $500,000 in 2 years. He started with 2 phone lines and a small showroom, now has a 20 line phone system and 10 staff members and 2 offices,...

I'm not sure you actually read my question. I'm not asking whether it's realistic to do, I'm asking what kind of resources (manpower/dollars) we should expect to use to do a good job. Some folks sell you that with a magic application, one person can handle it all. I'm not buying it. I'm thinking it takes quite a team to run a really effective marketing strategy for even a small business. But I could be wrong.

Matt coffy, CEO at CustomerBloom -

You really need to hire a "proven" digital marketing shop, that knows its stuff and has references you can call and get proof. That "expert team" Expect to pay roughly 2500 a month for the services and about the same for paid ads.. that should do it.. the best part is that that have already "done it" and you avoid the mistakes ... there is no magic application, that's BS, its labor, talent ,skill and low cost resources.

I seem to have a litany of questions. Some more n00bish than others. What differentiates a "wannabe" marketer and a "professional" marketer and what is a good growth path to get from wannabe to pro?

Darrin Fitzgerald, Owner and Executive Producer at ARTIE MEDIA, LLC -

Ok, lets say Im a business owner, a decision makers, or a marketer who is ready to create video content. What are some content resources I may already have, that are often overlooked?

Darrin Fitzgerald, Owner and Executive Producer at ARTIE MEDIA, LLC -

What are some software tracking tools that we can use alongside Wistia Stats and Google Analytics to learn more about our visitors?

Just FYI - the ones I mentioned in the video were, Mixpanel, KissMetrics, and Cheers!

Darrin Fitzgerald, Owner and Executive Producer at ARTIE MEDIA, LLC -

Thank you so much, Rand. Your generosity and expertise are greatly appreciated!

if you were just starting out and only had a $25/month budget for marketing as well as some camera equipment (DSLR, Tripod, Microphone), how would you go about marketing yourself and securing clients? -- Let's say you're a photo/video company moving into marketing...

Kevin Knecht, pblasio & people -

What's up Rand? After all of these episodes of White Board Friday, there has to be some hilarious outtake footage lying around somewhere. Any chance that we'll get to see that on a future episode?

Nick Sayers, Communications Chief at Moz -

We've definitely got ideas for a mega super cut. :)

Woot! Ask and ye shall receive :-)

Hi Rand... thanks for doing the AMA! Do you have any unique tips or strategies specific for law firms (ie. personal injury law firms)? And are there any law firm websites that you have seen/worked with that do a particularly good job at CRO or SEO? Thanks!

Dominick Montgomery, Director of Technology at Lawyer Marketing Services, Inc. -

Check out -

Cara McDonald, Marketing Director at LexBlog -

Hi Kevin, I work in the legal space. Here are some legal sites and blogs that I particularly like and that are pretty effective generating inbound mktg. and their associated website: by Marler Clark (this is a personal injury firm focusing on food poisoning, they built their practice with this site and have become the national authority on this subject) Good luck! Cara

Thanks so much for contributing here! FYI - the one I liked is

This question is more about relationships. I Like the relationship that you have with Wistia and the relationship all the speakers at WistiaFest seem to have with each other. How would someone start that kind of relationship w/ you or Moz, and what would be the path it would take to develop into something similar to what you have with Wistia?

It's weird because it seems so out of reach, yet it still feels reachable, as if all one had to do was ask....

Along with that, How does one rise to the level where you would invite them to guest blog on moz, or contribute something to their site?

Admin -

Beard oil or wax and why? I'm also interested in your general guidance in my quest to win the Internet, and by Internet I mean the hearts and minds of those with $$ in their paypal account and shop online with reckless abandon. How do you see video best used to build loyalty?

Ian Lowell

Howdy doody Rand Fishkin! I like working for the little guys but there's not a lot of money to be made there and I keep getting pulled up to the big leagues even though my heart is in small businesses. What unmet needs do you see to help small businesses with their digital marketing (SEO, social, paid, etc.)? Is there room for another online teaching academy directed towards small business owners? What are your thoughts, thanks!

When launching a new software product, what are some good ways to build an interest list before the product even launches? Social media? PPC? Scotch Whiskey round tables? Also, when is it wise to even open up the door to an interest list? A few months before launch or a day or a few weeks?

Do people expect a discount or a Whiskey of the Month club membership when signing up for an interest list? Or do you treat them like a regular customer on launch day?

Mercer Smith-Looper, Community Mod, Customer Champion at Wistia! -

Hey guys, just as a heads up that we are coming to the end of the time limit for this AMA. Thanks for coming and participating!

jdczt -

I have a small video instructional course (drawing) video project. Not yet "business" because no money yet. I have 650+ followers who have been receiving free content for about 1.5 years, and many sign up for my newsletter to receive the free eBook, but also stay on for the videos. I want to launch my first paid product, a video series. How do I best engage my followers to become buyers? Thanks! -Jane

Rand - I'm having trouble finding a good moustache wax... any suggestions?

Ha ha, awesome - I already use their beard oil, I'll have to try their wax...

Alex -

Lets say, you are a brand new software startup in current day. you have a webapp ready to take on new customers and sales funnels ready to collect leads. But before you roll out your sales marketing strategy, you want to create buzz about your brand...

What kinda of media is likely to resonate the best with most audiences and more importantly, Where do you distribute that media to get the most exposure for your particular audience? Do you have any other suggestions for creating buzz around a product or service before you launch it to the public?

P.s Awesome moustache... I could never get mine to curl at the end, how do you do that!?

Funnelbox , Funnelbox -

In the spirit of Fish Shirts and Fishkins, we think you may enjoy our FISHERMAN video strategy piece (powered by the beauty of Wistia!)


Just a lil' pre-show Funnelbox entertainment for all the other early fish out there!

Austin Saylor, Lead Designer at ECRS -

That's a great analogy and a beautiful video to show it.

Funnelbox , Funnelbox -

Thanks, Austin! It was a joy to work on and while we traditionally stray from too much self promotion - we couldn't help ourselves with this fishy theme!

Amazing the connections between fishing and marketing :-) Great video - thanks Funnelbox!

Funnelbox , Funnelbox -

Thanks, Rand! You know what they say "...teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." We're so happy to be part of the Moz and Wistia community - you're both helping us help our Clients succeed with video.

One of my clients is a personal injury law firm that serves a tri-state region (three states). Keyword research shows a significant amount of city-specific queries (ie. Seattle injury lawyer, Tacoma injury lawyer, Olympia injury lawyer, etc). Since we want to rank for all these, and probably about 50+ other major cities that receive significant relevant and localized queries, do you recommend building out "city-specific local pages" for each city? It has always been a popular local SEO tactic to build city-specific pages, but wanted your opinion on if this was still a good tactic looking to the future. Thanks!

Me -

Hi Rand, thank for be here. My question is, how is the best way to measure conversion through mail ? Good luck :)

Mercer Smith-Looper, Community Mod, Customer Champion at Wistia! -

Looks like this will be the last question that Rand has the time to answer! Thanks everyone for your great participation and interest!

Mercer Smith-Looper, Community Mod, Customer Champion at Wistia! -

And thanks to Rand for coming, of course!

Paul -

Do you see exact match domains still working well in the near future?

Check out and specifically the "EMD" influence. It was as high as 5% in the past, but is now hovering under 2.5%. More here:

Felix Cha, Customer Success Videographer at Unbounce -

Hey Rand, thank you for this AMA session. How is Moz local explainer video performing? Have you considered an explainer video that aims to promote the brand and emotional quality over conversion and how-to's? And what kind of impact did any of your videos have on number of new customers and customer retention ratios?

Sorry I didn't have more data for you on this one. You might try pinging David Mihm on Twitter (or davidm at moz dot com) for more details.

Felix Cha, Customer Success Videographer at Unbounce -

Oh no worries at all! Your answer actually gave me a good insight on the subject matter. Thank you again for taking your time to do this! (And WAY over time too!)

Allison Book, Multimedia Specialist / Video Editing Extraordinaire -

Hi Rand, excited about the AMA! Should the same video have different meta data when hosted in a different location?

(Disclaimer: I'm sure it's best to host a video on only one page...but we like to recycle when possible.)

Allison Book, Multimedia Specialist / Video Editing Extraordinaire -

Do video transcripts need to be on the visible copy of the page, or just in the structured schema mark-up?

Allison Book, Multimedia Specialist / Video Editing Extraordinaire -

Are closed captions viewed as an SEO plus for accessibility?

Allison Book, Multimedia Specialist / Video Editing Extraordinaire -

What are the implications on page speed using an external video hosting service vs. hosting them on our own server?

Thank you so much for taking your time to do this. My question is, when a business starts planning out the keywords to optimize their website, what's the best balance between maintaining a branding image and sacrificing some of that image to put it more in line with higher level keywords? For example, creative vs production. Thank you!

Rand, I'd like to ask you about copywriting. We all know being a good copywriting (and a good researcher to uncover what to say) is a crucial component to success online. I've studied the works of old school copywriters like John Caples, David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert, and other sales copywriters... but was wondering if you knew any good copywriters that you could recommend me to learn from to hone my skills as a copywriter? So, any copywriting gurus you see doing amazing things? Thanks!

Website I referred to on this one was:

Jeff -

Do you have any advice on how to use video for traffic generation? We make about 10 product videos a week for our company. These videos are shown on category pages, sub-category pages, and individual product pages. The main goal is that all these videos help the customer shop, but it doesn't necessarily create traffic and exposure as they are finding the videos since they are already on the site. We do upload to Youtube as well, but it isn't as clear if the viewers from there are coming to our site afterwards to shop. Any pointers?

Hello, Rand! I notice that Whiteboard Fridays are posted first on Wistia and then about two months later also on YouTube. Can you explain how that delay helps and describe your approach to posting the same video on both Wistia and YouTube? We have videos we would like to post on both Wistia and YouTube, but don't want to hurt our Wistia SEO efforts. Thank you!

Hr -

Hi Rand: Thanks for being with us today! I've just updated our interviewing SAAS and our website. What are your suggestions for getting the word out to the world that we are ready to help employers select the best candidate for the job?

Scott -

Hi Rand, I'd like to ask about Google "changing the rules." We hear so much talk about what used to work does not work now. But what if we were simply doing good marketing? Can we still do that? I dug into the history of the algo changes and I never saw anything that said to stuff keywords and "get links." I'm thinking that the rules didn't (or very little) change after all.

Great observation Scott! I agree that many of the fundamentals haven't changed, though the channels, opportunities, and preferences/behaviors of users have.

Scott -

I appreciate the insights Rand!

Hi Rand,

With one word , which website ranks better?

the website with ''useful content you have ever seen'' or ''best backlink profile you have ever seen''.

Mercer Smith-Looper, Community Mod, Customer Champion at Wistia! -

AND we're done! Thanks everyone for your great questions!

Scott -

Here's a question about pages ranking with relatively thin content but awesome design and UX. We hear so much about content being needed to rank. I'm sick of hearing this because people have the tendency to write for SEO. Imagine a website that is really useful, an excellent experience, and acquires natural links with absolutely no help from manual outreach. Can pages rank with natural links even if the content is thin?

Yes, they can, but content depth/quality is often a factor in whether people want to link to, share, use, and enjoy a website/page, which is why it's so important to get both right. Sometimes, just a little content will answer a user's query, but sometimes you can provide more depth and earn more engagement and appreciation. Finding that balance is key.

Justin -

Hi Rand - how many free/paying customers (rough range) does Moz have? I have a SaaS app launching next week ( that caters to the same market so curious what the cap potential is. Thanks!

I'm looking at our metrics dashboard right now and it says: 21,675 paying subscribers 5,255 free trialers

Justin -

Ok great. Thanks for answering Rand!

Hi Rand, can we interview you and share your story with the rest of Seattle? I don't want to ask you for your contact info publicly, so could may I ask you to email me if your'e interested?

The site is still obviously in dev :)

LOVE the mustache btw!!

Sure! I'm I post my email pretty freely :-)

Hey Rand, sweet stache. Curious about whether or not your thoughts about using YouTube to rank with rich snippets on competitive terms have changed at all since Googles changes?

Yeah - I think Casey from Wistia did a good job writing about this:

My question is about content marketing...What are your thoughts about the trend of "the top 10 list" articles? such as best 10 tips ... or 10 favourite locations etc... I noticed all big blogs are using this trend to the point of killing it.

Agreed. I think listicles are overdone and unless there's a great reason to use a list (and sometimes there is), you can find better and more creative ways to attract attention.

Hi Rand, one of my clients is a law firm (I will use fictitious name, Bhuner & Robinson). They have very good brand recognition, and thus get tons of branded organic search traffic. But the company's legal name is Bhuner & Robinson (with the ampersand) and that is how it is listed in online citations. But 95% of people search for "bhuner and robinson" ('and' instead of &).

The problem is, Google only displays the knowledge graph one box (big on right side-bar of SERPs) for people that search "bhuner & robinson", but not for "bhuner and robinson". Since the one box shows some really good stuff (photos, 5-star rating, testimonials, etc) we definitely want it to show for "bhuner and robinson" searches. The law firm website mixes variations throughout the site in an attempt to fix this issue, but no success. Any ideas how to get the one box to show for both the ampersand version and 'and' version of our brand searches? Thanks!

Huh. That's very weird. I think the only options might be A) wait for Google to catch up to the fact that the two are synonymous B) get people to change their searching habits C) change up how you're listing the business online. None of those are particularly appealing sadly :(

1admin -

Hey rand, I'm Going to transform from freelance SEO to agency model; any advice? :)

I never had a lot of success running an agency, so I might suggest seeking out folks who've built a great agency and getting their input instead

What are you using for a camera? Microphone right now? Looks good!

What's your favorite way to get very specific in your targeting of customers? By targeting I mean very specific, as in there are only a few hundred nationwide that we are trying to target but produce a large enough revenue to make it worthwhile.

Facebook targeting may help with that. Reaching out via LinkedIn can help too. You can also try retargeting if you've already gotten some of those folks to your website. In all honesty, when the pool is that small, I tend to find folks having more success in person (conferences, events, meetings, coffee, etc).

When advising a client who has just launched a brand new website, what are some of the first things that they should do do in terms of SEO? (Add analytics, google webmaster tools, start a blog, do some content marketing...) Anything else for initial SEO efforts?

Hi Rand, For an international Ecommerce website with geolocalisation functionnality, what is the best way to organise URLs of the website for languages and countries? CCTLDs (.ca, .us, etc..), subdomains per country or 1 unique domaine name with subfolder. Thank you

I meant, what is the best way if we want to have good results in search engines.

I'm totally new to inbound marketing, SEO, content creation, etc. I'm a 1-man marketing team and there is so much information, possibilities, and ideas, I feel completely overwhelmed every day as to how to move forward. Any advice for a newbie to Marketing and how to cut straight to the most successful things we can do in a small amount of time? I have a B2B SAAS Learning Platform (super fast moving startup) if that helps. Our main clients are corporate, mid-sized companies who are looking to train their employees or 3rd parties.

Thank you so much! We really appreciate your efforts to answer after the video! You were aaaawesome! +1 100 A+

Joseph Villaneda, Solutions Architect at Merrill & Associates -

Hey Rand, our board of directors is troubled with our radio advertising stats. The statistics show that no one is calling our published 800 numbers we advertise for radio however they do see gradually growth with people calling our main number. We run a multiple campaigns on several media sources (radio numerous stations, print, and online PPC) and we run our campaigns all at the same time. Whats the best way to justify our 18 radio toll free numbers or is there? Should we just advertise our main number on the radio?

Any tools or techniques you would recommend for a nonprofit trying to build channel followings on Youtube etc. who want to utilize VSEO on a limited budget outside of utilizing Google Grants? Would something like TubeMogul and or transcription software worth it for someone starting out? Would Youtube video ads be worth it for a very small budget charity for growing their channel?

Do you have experience with ScribbleLive and would you recommend that over something like Wistia or simply Hangouts for interactive live video events if that was to become part of the marketing mix?

Sorry for 21 ?s there. Big fan of the new Stache BTW lol.

Hi, I am form India.. I am learning SEO from last 1 month...i love your website and blogs, can you share 2 ans with me ?

  1. best book for SEO (both for NEW and advanced SEO).
  2. What is the best habit should SEO adobe , to become a Great SEO.

What advice or insight do you have on paid facebook advertisements? Our national manufacturing company would like to grow our online network by promoting valuable content from our blog and website. We are starting with a small following and want to know if paying for boosted and/or promoted posts is a viable option for growing our network and increasing engagement.

Ken -

Hi Rand-

We have a lot of products with reviews and rich snippets turned on. We test fine in the structured data tool, but the aggregate reviews don't appear in the Google SERPS at all... unless we do a search as : item, then they show up Any ideas why?


Hi Rand! Thanks for doing this. How important is facebook vs. google ads in driving traffic to your business, given the success of viral sites these days?

Eford -

Hey Rand! Great info so far! I do video production at my company and have a hard time getting employees to assist with videos. Do you have any hints or ideas on how to convince people to go on camera?

Justin Showers, marketing Director at improveit! 360 -

What's the best Islay Whisky? (This is a trick question.)

Lagavulin is my favorite Islay, but I suppose technically, Sullivan's Cove is on an island (Tasmania), and that's one possibly even better :-)

Justin Showers, marketing Director at improveit! 360 -

I have not tried Sullivans Cove yet... I'll need to. Thanks for that! If you like Lagavulin surely you like (or should try) Ardbeg Uigeadail.

Dominick Montgomery, Director of Technology at Lawyer Marketing Services, Inc. -

Google Domains...tell me everything you know. :)

You can buy domains from Google. It probably does nothing for SEO.

How often should I be posting videos on a website? I'm hesitant to make our website too video heavy.

Only as often as you can answer the question "who will promote/share/amplify this video and why" with an incredibly compelling answer.

Hi Rand,

My company is called Local Lawyer Guide (a video driven legal resource) and I have a question about "Page Authority" and it's relation to site architecture. Our site is national and thus, has a rather "horizontal" site architecture. We only have (3) levels in our site architecture. At the moment, "Page Authority" is not currently being passed through to pages on lower levels. In your opinion should we begin passing "Page Authority" to all of our pages on the second level? My concern is that our architecture could be too "horizontal" and there may be too many pages to do this. I hope you find the time to answer this question.

Thank You, Tighe Wilhelmy

Tighe - I wouldn't worry about the passing of PA (or PageRank) or any other metric much if at all. I'd instead focus on whether your navigation is getting your visitors to all the right sections of your site and providing a great experience that makes their tasks/information searches easy. If you do that, and make sure the site's crawlable and pages aren't too many links away from each other (shouldn't be more than 4-5 clicks from any page to any other ideally), you're in good shape.

What are the most commonly overlooked discoverablity tactics for video?

SEO is a big one, but social, the paid content amplification platforms (Taboola, Outbrain, and Zemanta), 1:1 outreach, partnerships, and offline marketing all get short shrift by various organizations.

I think it's all about what you know and what you're good at. Even cutting edge marketers get complacent and focus on what they're familiar with vs. where new opportunities might live. This creates ongoing value and opportunity for those willing to be more adventurous and experimental.

Funnelbox , Funnelbox -

You know someone really cares about their community when their throat hurts and they run overtime, but still follow up with answers in the comment section. Thanks for being such a great part of the marketing community, Rand!

You're much too kind! I just love helping people :-)

Is Moz planning an app? I am one of the small percentage of your visitors who DOES like viewing the Moz blog and especially Moz Pro on mobile and yes, I have been trained NOT to do so;)

We are planning to go mobile-friendly (probably responsive) in the next year, and there's plans for a Moz Local app, too, but no app for the blog/website/Pro.

Also, when are you releasing another Art of SEO?

No current plans. I'm thinking of working on another book (probably with a different publisher - nothing against O'Reilly, they've been great) in the years ahead.

That was great. Thank you so much. I've been making my living from my site since 1997, but it has become a much bigger challenge. In the webcast you said Google values backlinks more than content. Wow! I guessed wrong on that one. I'd like to ask for your advice in a less public manner. Is there another way to contact you? Thanks

I don't mean to say Google values links more than content exactly. It's more complex. Google uses links as a proxy for content value and very often there's correlation between those (assuming Google judges the right kinds of links and ignores the wrong ones).

Thanks for taking the time to answer! I knew you had to be that awesome in real life too;)

MJB troll you are most proud of?