Rand Fishkin on SEO: ‘Failure + Learning x Time = Success’

Rand FishkinOn the second day of the 2016 Digital Book World Conference, Moz Founder Rand Fishkin gave an energetic presentation about the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO) for book publishers, and provided a litany of best practices to help them get started.

Saying at the top that he is not overly familiar with book marketing, he is, however, quite familiar with product and startup marketing. His intention, he said, was therefore to apply the tactics that he uses with products and startups to the book publishing world.

The “Startup Marketing Model” that Fishkin uses is as follows:

• Identify Right Customers
• Target Right Audience in Right Places
• Attract Audience to Your Platform
• Convert Right Customers
• Retain, Delight and Grow Amplification

Once a publisher knows its audience, it has to figure out how to attract them. One of the pitfalls individuals and organizations fall victim to, though, is being overly self-promotional, which can turn off many potential customers.

Speaking to posting on Facebook, for example, Fishkin said, “Be self-promotional maybe one out of 10 times.”

Fishkin went on to ask the question, “Is your publishing platform holding you back?” Sometimes, Fishkin noted, a publisher’s content isn’t the problem.

To that end, he said, a platform must provide five key features:

• Content that’s consistently engaging, useful and interesting
• SEO-friendly access for crawlers and searchers
• A great user experience on all devices
• Compelling reasons to subscribe, share and return
• Freedom from features that annoy or dissuade visitors

So how can a publisher build a platform that consistently attracts its audience?

Quality content, as most people argue, is still key.

“Content is the backbone of what gets distributed on the web,” Fishkin said. But he was quick to caution that “promotional content can’t be your whole platform.”

Producing content that people actually care about, Fishkin said, “that is our goal.”

While many authors and publishers might think that Facebook drives the bulk, or at least a sizable amount, of their traffic, the truth is that search drives about 7-10 times as much traffic as does the social platform.


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