Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz. SMX Sydney Keynote: SEO for the CEO

Our opening keynote for SMX Sydney "SEO for the CEO " is presented by Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz. Since attending his first ever industry conference (SES NYC 2005), Rand has guided SEOmoz to being one of the most world’s most respected search marketing companies.

[– The best bits are at the bottom – Kate]

SEO for CEOs

There is a great amount of misunderstanding amongst CEOs about search marketing. In his keynote Rand is going to talk about “How to get SEO into the mindset of CEOs”. First up those facts that CEOs need to know:

  • Web search is the most popular service used by people. E.g.: 100-150million searches on Google in the USA every day
  • Half of users only enter 1 query and only check 1 result
  • 80% of the time, the abstract dissuades users from clicking on search results
  • If you’re not in the top 3-4 results you’re nowhere.

Next Rand explains how SEO can help your business

  • As a marketing & sales tactic
  • Acquire customers
  • Lower acquisition costs
  • Create awareness
  • Brand your products

Ranking #1 makes people searching implicitly trust your company/product/service. Google is seen as the arbiter of quality and authoritative content


Search engines -crawl, index and ranking
Search engine crawlers are looking for content that is relevant to what the user wants to get, not necessarily what keywords they enter. There is a certain amount of second guessing their intentions e.g.: did they make 1 search query and then quickly modify the search words and submit another query?

Rand explains PageRank to the audience, search engines look for trustworthiness. One factor is how many links they have to follow from your site before they hit a spam/website. In essence are you participating in a clean/trusted community of sites or a disreputable low quality community? Just like the 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

Getting linked to by a lot of trustworthy sites over a sustained period of time will make your site eventually rank better because search engines will judge these incoming links to your site as a vote of confidence that your content is high quality.
Trust/authority of domain 35%, page level link metrics 25% usage data 10% on page and keyword factors 30%


Set business goals

  • Establish how necessary contribution of search referrals traffic to over
  • Search referral conversions (sales)
  • SEO for discoverability (branding)
  • Reputation Management – make sure your company/product name dominates the SERPs so it pushes down any negative results
  • Create a content & keyword strategy
  • Develop a link acquisition strategy – content by itself is not enough


SEOMoz suggested that www.Yelp.com give out window badges to restaurant owners so they could show off how well they ranked on Yelp, this incentivised the restaurants to link back to Yelp in droves. A win win strategy

Require Actionable Analytics – collecting screens and screens of data and creating charts is not helpful by itself. Decide which are the key metrics e.g.: long term (more traffic via SERPS) and short term (tracking results of one-off traffic because your company was mentioned in the media)


  • SEO IS NOT FREE – Just because it has high ROI doesn’t mean you don’t invest time/money into it.
  • SEO IS NOT GAURANTEED – search engines don’t owe you
  • SEO CHANGES CONSTANTLY – even if you have a great rank now, don’t rest on your laurels
  • SEO IS A TACTIC – but also requires long term strategy


  • Global financial crisis causing companies to be more aware of more measurable marketing techniques like SEO
  • More tools and metrics available all the time from: Bruce Clay, SEOMoz, SEOBook etc
  • Search engines cracking down on sites that they see as spam/disreputable
  • Search engines now have many more data sources to decide how to rank your site e.g.: how long do people who use Google Toolbar stay on your site and using this as a sign of quality
  • Social media marketing is merging with SEO


  • Rand explains query deserves freshness (QDF) – http://www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-query-deserves-freshness When you’re trying to get SEO budget from your investors/board:
  • Explain how much better ROI it has than television, print media etc and results can be measured better
  • Tell them what about the successes of your biggest competitors that have resulted from their SEO/SEM efforts

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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