If you’re looking for the person responsible for creating so much chit-chat about SEO – even by people who aren’t actually in the industry – look no further than Rand Fishkin. His story has captivated millions, and his ideas have helped millions more.
When you look up “success story” in the dictionary, you’re likely to find Rand’s picture! That’s because this is a guy who dropped out of college with just a couple of credits to go, started a business, and just a few short years later, wound up with $500,000 in debt.
Wait… Where’s the “success” part?!
Today, Moz is one of the most popular websites on the planet (with more than two million visitors every month), and it has amassed more than $22 million in revenue. Right now, Moz has more than 100 employees and over 15,000 subscribers.
It’s been a tough road to get to this point, though, which is why so many people are drawn to Rand. His story is simply fascinating. For example, then-SEOmoz was featured by Newsweek for being a great example of white hat SEO in 2005.
That’s an amazing accomplishment, but it’s even more amazing when you consider that SEOmoz wasn’t even making enough money for Rand to give himself a salary until 2007!
Rand didn’t just fall into good fortune, though. He and the SEOmoz team spent years creating SEO software, tools to crawl the entire web, and tools to process marketing metrics. After years and years of hard work, Rand’s creations eventually became the most popular SEO software in the world. And, his “Whiteboard Friday” videos have become a must-see for marketers all over the world, because they offer his personal insights in an interesting, easy-to-understand way.
He’s also an accomplished author. Back in 2005, Rand wrote The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Since then, the book has been downloaded more than one million times!
In short, Rand has been responsible for dragging SEO into the mainstream. Without him, SEO wouldn’t get talked about nearly as much!
So, how has he done it?
Part of it stems from his vision. Despite all of the rough early days at Moz, Rand has never lost sight of his goal – to make Moz a $1 billion start up.
In order to make that dream come true, Rand has been relentless in his quest for investors. Back in May 2012, Moz hit the big time – when it received an $18 million investment from the Foundry Group. Typically, these investors only get involved with companies that are in the very early stages, and they usually don’t offer more than $10 million. So, getting them to back an established company like Moz – with an investment that’s nearly double what they normally make – was beyond huge. The news made it all the way into mainstream media outlets, like Forbes. If anyone didn’t know what a force SEO was, they did after this!
But Rand has gotten SEO attention for more than just money. He’s also responsible for making SEO part of the mainstream because of the way he approaches it. Rand firmly believes that SEO is something that every single business should care about, because it’s a way to truly serve customers. To him, SEO is so much more than just some kind of robotic link-keyword relationship.
That’s why he designed Moz’s software to be use in PR, branding, and outreach – not just for SEO purposes. (And, that’s part of the reason he decided to drop the “SEO” and just call the company “Moz”.) As a result, Moz has become a go-to source for business owners who aren’t even looking for SEO information. Rand believes in helping ALL marketers do better jobs, not just giving them ways to get better rankings or increase their web traffic.
By turning SEO into a broader marketing approach, Rand has gotten attention from businesses that may not care much about optimizing their websites. That’s made him a true power player, who speaks all over the world, to major media outlets and tiny blogs alike. It seems like every business publication wants a piece of him, not just the ones that focus on SEO!
And, of course, there’s the personality factor. The world has taken notice of Rand because of WHO he is. He’s a funny guy who never takes himself too seriously. Want to invite him to speak at your conference? Plan on him showing up in a pair of yellow Puma’s. (And, yes, this fashion statement even applied to his speeches at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Stanford University, and the United Nations!) During a presentation, Rand will tell you all about how the early days “sucked balls”, how paid traffic methods are nothing but “advertising crap”, and to “get your ass on Google+”.
If you’re ever in downtown Seattle, keep your eye towards the sky. Chances are you’ll see Moz’s robot mascot made out of Post-It notes, sticking to the windows of Moz headquarters. These random displays are part of what has gotten Moz listed on various “Best Places to Work” lists.
The humor even extends to the “big stuff”. For example, when Moz got its $18 million investment, the official press release was a meme.
You can’t help but NOT like this guy!
That’s why he’s got more Twitter followers than the populations of Juneau, Alaska, Annapolis, Maryland, and Montpelier, Vermont, combined!
Throughout the humor, though, Rand has become a “white knight” of sorts for the SEO industry. He actively fights against the bad apples that give SEO a bad name. He’s proud to be a part of the SEO industry, and he wants to keep it that way.
He should… After all, he’s a huge reason why SEO is even in the spotlight in the first place!