According to Wolfram Alpha there are an estimated 625.3-million websites and 10.82-billion pages of indexed content on the world wide web. The State of Search conference is all about how to stand out, and be that one in a million website.
The days are over when you just throw a website out there, and expect the money to come rolling in. The social media world has also rapidly matured. Setting up a Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest page and waiting for people to flock to your account are as probably rare as lightning striking in the same place twice.
In order to be found, a website needs a strategic combination of search optimization, paid advertising, social media and often times strong local strategy elements. The State of Search conference brings in experts from around the United States to the Dallas metroplex for a no holds barred, four track, all day conference.
My State of Search strategy was to learn a little bit of everything. Therefore, I used the morning to bounce from the Local Search Track to Social, and then the Paid Track. Once lunch was over I went to the Data Track, SEO and finished with the Social Track. Add in keynotes from industry titans like Rand Fishkin and Duane Forrester and what do you have? You have a recipe for a full day of bleeding edge Internet marketing strategies as told by the people that live, eat and breathe it. What else could you ask for?
Rand Fishkin Takes The Stage
Who is Rand Fishkin? Rand started SEOmoz with Gillian Muessig back in 2004. Since then, the company, now known as just Moz, has helped to transform an industry. By providing leading edge tools, Moz has helped legions of Internet marketers transform websites into money machines using search engine optimization tools as well as social media tools.
With a background like that, you might have expected the very latest drops of jaw dropping information relayed from another universe directly to your ears, right? Wrong.
Rand surprised the audience and launched into his presentation on management. What? Management. For this entrepreneur, it was awesome. To get a peek into how a wildly successful CEO of an Internet marketing tool that virtually every one of the five hundred or so State of Search attendees in the room subscribes to was a tantalizing treat.
So what did Rand have to say? Moz has grown from a company of 50-people to one of 130+. In that time, he has learned that great work attracts great talent. Want the best people to work for you? Be the best.
Big Business Advantage
Whether you work for a small business, or a big business, each has their advantages. Own it. As an employee of a big company, you get stability and the ability to use that brand, budget and team size to help you look good. Employees at these companies enjoy diving in deep into their fields. A concept that Rand calls “tactical depth”.
Small Business Advantage
At a small business, you get a tremendous amount of responsibility and your performance directly impacts revenue. The employee’s ability to own a project can be really rewarding. In addition, the freedom to work unencumbered by red tape can be very rewarding. Rand calls the small business advantage one of “tactical breadth”.
Bucking the Big Guy
Rand talked at length about Moz’s hiring practices, what works for their culture and how they find a good fit. However, I would like to focus on Rand’s recommendation, “don’t let your role define your influence… let your influence define your role.”
This is probably one of the biggest personality differences in the American worker. The ability for the low man on the totem pole to talk candidly to the guy or gal at the top on a more or less equal playing field.
This is forbidden in many other cultures, and frankly many US companies frown on this. However, those that don’t, like Moz get a bonus of making sure their employees tell them when something needs to be fixed. Giving employees the freedom to talk candidly in a respectful manner is a huge bonus for everyone.
There are just some people who want to do the work. They don’t want to go into management. They don’t want to become CEO. They just want to get better and better at their jobs.
It was refreshing to hear Moz’s approach to this. At Moz, there are essentially two tracks. One is the Individual Contributor Track the other is the People Wrangler Track. Want to become the best designer, developer, or search engine optimizer on God’s green Earth? Stay in the Individual Contributor track. Your pay grade will go up in a similar fashion to someone in an equal spot on the People Wrangler Track.
How does this reconcile with market forces? I’m not sure. It’s just nice to see Moz rewarding folks for following their passions, and not their paychecks.
Wrapping It Up
I could write another article on just Rand’s keynote. There were notable points on hiring the right candidate, accountability, strategy, freedom to fail, team structure and much more. If you were there, and took good notes, these are lessons you’ll savor for many, many years.
What I found most refreshing was the candor Rand Fishkin exhibited throughout the presentation. Moz is not a company without mistakes. However, they learn from those mistakes. I’m thankful to learn something from one of the best in the industry.
What are your thoughts on Rand’s keynote? Was there anything that stood out for you? Feel free to add your comments and thoughts below.