Rand Fishkin is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, a leader in the field of search engine optimization tools, resources and community. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media and was named on the 40 Under 40 List and 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand has been written about in The Seattle Times, Newsweek and The New York Times, among others, and has keynoted conferences on search around the world. He’s particularly passionate about the SEOmoz blog, read by tens of thousands of search professionals each day. In his miniscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, Geraldine.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on some big ideas around my company, SEOmoz, particularly our software product’s focus and audience in the long term. I’m also in the midst of several research projects, one in particular a correlation analysis of various ranking elements for Google’s new “Places” search results and on launching a new personal blog.
3 trends that excite you?
1. The application of machine learning to many of the world’s challenging problems.
2. The evolution of mobile devices — can’t wait for a true phone/laptop hybrid that I can comfortably type from.
3. The increasing availability of rare scotches in the U.S.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Make them concrete, documented and as fully fleshed out as possible. Rough ideas and inexact plans are exceptionally difficult to execute, which is why I’ve fallen in love with product planning over the last few years.
What inspires you?
I love to see what other entrepreneurs are doing in the startup space. I can spend hours browsing sites like Hacker News, Quora, Drawar, Smashing Magazine, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc., finding new things on the Web and getting excited about them. Just recently, I came across Virb’s awesome roadmap page — http://virb.com/roadmap — and I think SEOmoz will be coming out with something similar soon.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I think that in the past, I’ve been too obsessed with solving massive, challenging problems rather than taking some of the easy wins that would make customers happy and move the business forward. I’m ready to be a bit more realistic and take small bites more quickly, rather than having a 6- to 12-month project that shows little public facing value until launch. I’m still not a fan of “minimum viable product” theory, because I think you need to have some polish, quality and value when you release, but there’s a balance we’re still working toward.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The medical industry is still one of the most closed, unoptimized areas on the Web. Making medical appointments, determining insurance matches, identifying correct specialists, handling insurance and personal information is all a nightmare of bureaucracy and paperwork. Someone needs to do for medicine what Expedia did for travel — centralize the information, make it accessible and sensible, and segmented in useful ways.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
A book that inspired me quite a bit recently is “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t.”
I actually use Flash to create mockups and wireframes of software I want us to build, though my teammates at SEOmoz swear by Balsamiq.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
I’d love to hear from Ryan Finley, who founded SurveyMonkey. I’ve never met him, but the business he built is remarkable.
What’s a big trend you’ve observed in the search marketing field?
Greater integration of multiple roles and responsibilities is certainly one. When I started doing SEO, most other folks I encountered were very specifically focused on content optimization, keyword selection and growing rankings with links. Today, there’s a lot of reporting, there’s social media marketing and management, there’s local, mobile, video and PR content to contend with — the job has gotten more diverse, and many self-described “SEOs” have broadened their foci beyond the classic tactics.
What’s the best part of your life?
My wife – Geraldine.