My friend Rand Fishkin is the CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz, the veritable ESPN of the search marketing community, and is today our special guest and interviewee for the Wakefly Online B2B Marketing Blog. In 2009, he co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media and was named among the 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30 by BusinessWeek.
Jeff Demers: Should B2B marketers invest heavily, in terms of their own time, in order to understand search engine marketing?
Rand Fishkin: Yes, absolutely. And I don’t say that in a self-serving way – consultants technically are better off (or, at least, more in-demand) when businesses don’t understand their practices internally. However, it’s been my experience that those companies that use the web as a marketing channel benefit dramatically from in-house expertise and understanding. If you can’t build a culture of SEO in your marketing, engineering and content-production groups, you’re going to lose out to those organizations that do. The competitive world of SEO rewards savvy players – either decide that SEO is a channel you want and make it a part of your company, or choose other paths (but be aware someone will own those leads instead).
Jeff Demers: Well said. Here at Wakefly our consulting focuses heavily on the knowledge transfer aspect of search marketing. We want to inbibe our clients with the knowledge they need to succeed and develop B2B online marketing programs that deliver results. Speaking of knowledge – what SEOMoz resources are “must reads” for B2B Marketers?
Rand Fishkin: That’s a tall order, but I’ll try:
1. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/rewriting-the-beginners-guide-the-outline – the new version (now complete but not yet put into article format) of our Beginners’ Guide to SEO
2. http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors – our biennial survey of experts in the SEO field, providing insight into the elements of Google’s ranking systems.
3. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/perfecting-keyword-targeting-on-page-optimization – a best practices post on how to optimize an individual page for a keyword
4. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-secret-to-ranking-at-the-search-engines-thats-really-no-secret-at-all – a blog post about the secret to SEO; getting the web’s active linkers to reference
5. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/30-seo-problems-the-tools-to-solve-them-part-1-of-2 – for those who are actively doing SEO, this post covers a lot of useful tools
Jeff Demers: My favorite is certainly #2. All companies looking to garner traffic should understand the foundational ranking factors as to how websites are currently evaluated by the search engines. Wakefly’s search marketing methodology always begins with a thorough evaluation of what is and is not currently working from a search engine perspective for our clients. More often than not, for many B2Bs, nothing is working and we’re starting from scratch. If you were to give marketers one tip or pointer in regards to approaching search marketing for the first time, what would it be?
Rand Fishkin: I’d tell them to make sure they’re building content that not only has accessibility and good keyword targeting, but also produces something that bloggers, journalists, social media mavens and website builders will want to reference with links. The link graph is still an overwhelmingly strong factor in how the engines calculate rankings – if you can’t earn links, and lots of them, you’re unlikely to have great success in SEO.
Jeff Demers: What is a realistic expectation in terms of increasing traffic, and leads to a content rich B2B site that has never been optimized with the help of a B2B search marketing pro?
Rand Fishkin: We’ve seen campaigns that have brought 2000% increases in qualified leads to B2B sites. I think the sky is the limit here, but it, obviously, depends on the quantity of search demand.
Jeff Demers: How can the new SEOMoz tool, Linkscape, help B2B Marketers understand their competitive landscape online?
Rand Fishkin: For years, marketers have been using services like Alexa, Compete and Quantcast to measure traffic to themselves vs. the competition. Linkscape is measuring something a bit different – links. Since linking means so much to the engines and to rankings, this is a good way to quantify the competition in the SEO field – learning how many links (and linking domains) a site has pointing to it. We provide a lot of metrics for advanced SEOs, but for a B2B marketer, the top level takeaway in the comparison provided on the raw counts – it really does help you see how far you have to go (or, more hopefully, how far ahead you might be).
Jeff Demers: Rand, thanks so much for taking the time to hang out with Wakefly and also for sharing some practical B2B search marketing tips our clients and prospects can benefit from today.