The Wizard of Moz.com on domains, SEO & Super Bowl
Moz.com (formerly known as SEOMoz) combines analytical marketing tools with a vibrant online community of over one million digital marketeers. In addition to educating the masses and changing the way we think about search, they also have a totally transparent company philosophy which sits between genius & crazy. We were lucky enough to catch-up with co-founder, former CEO and now the official Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin. This is what happened:
EuroDNS chatting with Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, how’s the office move and your new role working out?
The office move has been great. Team Happy (the folks in charge of our office well-being & management) have done a remarkable job making the transition go smoothly. They even correctly identified and prevented one engineering team's attempt to sabotage another by mislabeling some equipment during the move.
The CEO transition seems to be going well, although my workload and schedule have only gotten more crazy it seems. I'm still working to try and disconnect my personal happiness from the company's ups and downs - something that hasn't yet gone well.
You guys also moved website last year (from seomoz.com to moz.com) and underwent a complete rebrand. Is this you guys targeting a wider business opportunity, or more a reflection that SEO is becoming main-stream marketing?
A little of both, along with a recognition that SEO itself comprises much more than just the classic "SEO" tasks of years past. To do great SEO today requires being good at content creation, social media marketing, relationship building, business development, branding, and many, many other channels. This expansion of the roles, responsibilities, and needs of marketers who focus on organic search drove our rebranding.
But what if you haven’t got a big marketing machine? How can small businesses compete with big established brands in search?
Tons of small and medium businesses can and do compete in search results all the time! In fact, while the number of searches on Google has tripled in the last ~4 years, the presence of big brands in search results has grown only a few percentage points. It's true that it is becoming harder and harder to break into competitive SERPs, but it's also more and more valuable (and there's a lot more activity happening in the long tail).
In terms of small sites competing with big brands, it's all about leveraging your strengths. Big brands have to run every decision through tons of layers of approval , legal, and PR. Small companies can be nimble. Big brands are very rarely creative, but small companies thrive on creativity. Big brands frequently get tons of SEO and site friendliness basics completely wrong. Small companies can take advantage of that.
And, of course, Google themselves have created a lot of opportunity in vertical search results like Local, video, images, and more. Small businesses have a leg up in many of these (local in particular).
So how does Moz help?
Our customers are, primarily, small and medium businesses (and the consultants and agencies who help them). We do have several hundred of the Fortune 1,000 as customers, but they use us the same way SMBs do - as a self-service subscription. Moz Pro includes a platform (Moz Analytics) to track your SEO, social, content, brand mention, and link efforts against your competition over time, a suite of research tools, and a number of subscriber benefits (like discounts on other web services).
We also try to provide a lot of free help to those learning or keeping up with the latest in the search, social, content, and web marketing world through our blog, our content resources, and our participation in the community.
You have some excellent advice on how to choose an SEO-friendly domain name. How do you think the new domain extensions could change this?
I don't think they'll change much. For the vast majority of businesses that don't have a fortune to spend on branding and creating consumer behaviour around typing in new TLD extensions, the country-code TLDs and .com/.net are still going to be the best choices.
Do you think many will initially be seen as low-quality? It took .CO a while to get recognised as a ‘real domain’ and gain traction in the SERPs.
Yeah, and I think it might take even longer for many of these new domain extensions since there won't be a wide swath of entities pushing for their adoption, but rather, individual brands.
What about keywords? Used properly it could be a great source of meta-data after the dot (eg. www.mytownname.plumbing), but used badly it could be another source of keyword stuffing. What’s your take on this?
I seriously doubt it. Having a ".cellphones" extension does not make my website one bit more relevant, high quality, or useful to searchers, and I suspect Google won't take keywords in TLDs into consideration much (if at all).
Do you think the fact that Google are opening up their own domain registry will add any weight to how the new domains are treated in the SERPs?
No, probably not. I think the move isn't connected to how their search algorithms will react to the new TLDs.
& finally by the time this interview goes to press the upcoming Seattle vs Denver Super Bowl will have been played. As a Seattle resident, what were your highlights of the game?
I'm actually answering the interview before the game! So, instead, I'll try to be clairvoyant.
There will be a major turnover by Denver that gives Seattle a chance to take the lead. Seattle will be behind at halftime, but catch up at some point in the second half. And finally, the end will be decided by a running play, rather than a pass. Those are my predictions - let's see how I do!
ED. I don't think anyone could have predicted the thrashing that Seattle gave Denver. Half time score 22-0. Full time score 43-8. Good job.
I’ve personally been a long time customer of moz.com, and if you haven’t checked them out now is a great time to start. Readers of our newsletter get a two-month free trial.