Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOMoz, recently unveiled his personal blog. Rand is summarily known for his unparalled SEO blogging skills, which have helped bring SEOMoz to the heights they’re at today. His discussions there, however, have been limited to the subect at hand – SEO. Because of this, Rand has been unable to vent on the other subects he is an expert in – such as being a CEO, running a startup, and raising Venture Capital.
Thus, the new blog.
I’m not sure if Rand realizes this, but the implications of a Fishkin personal blog are bigger than just new, great content to read. Fishkin’s personal blog has the potential to evangelize SEO to the entire hacker community.
Hacker News and the Identifiable Hackerati
Hacker News is a community in which Fishkin is a big fan, and also, a decent-sized contributor. For the uninformed SEO crowd, Hacker News is a social news sharing site for hackers – a spinoff of the uber-successful seed-stage investment company, Y-Combinator.
For hackers, it’s the go-to for tech news regarding start ups, coding, venture capital investment, and etc. As such, it’s also a breeding ground for great discussion and opinion-forming regarding new tech developments and also, new start-ups. Unsurprisingly, SEO, there, like many other places, has a large black eye – and it is pretty rare that any post focused on SEO every breaks the front page of their site.
In the tech community, there are certain “Hackerati” – those people who make blog posts, and within minutes of having made them, automatically have these posts skyrocket to the top of Hacker News due to their popularity. Some of the most popular, off the top of my head, are:
- Paul Graham, Y Combinator Founder
- Derek Sivers, CDBaby Founder
- Scott Adams, Dilbert Cartoon Writer
- Chris Dixon, Hunch Founder
- Steve Blank, Venture Capitalist
- Jason Cohen, Smart Bear Software Founder
- Gabriel Weinberg, Duck Duck Go Founder
Most of these people gain a lot of “one off” benefit from their blogs – such as easier promotion of their side projects, where their own start-ups either get clicked through from curiosity, or by later promotion, when the people that read these posts follow them on Twitter. There is some real, great benefit.
So how does this lead back to Rand’s personal blog? Well, Rand has the amazing opportunity to both leverage writing about what Hacker News cares about, well, and also blend that with SEO. Rand’s last three posts have all made it to the front page of Hacker News, and done rather well – a great feat indeed. He also had a more broad post on SEOMoz have incredible success.
Rand already has a pretty good reputation, but he isn’t unanimously known within the hacker subculture. That is quickly changing, and it will continue to change as he writes more hacker-targeted posts in the future. Before Rand, nobody in the SEO community really had the ability to do something in this way – because nobody else has unique position of both running a software company AND focusing on SEO – while also being a great blogger.
What this can do for SEO, and his company, shouldn’t be underrated. Again, I’m not sure if Rand has realized it, but his personal blog might be a bigger promotionary tool, currently, than even the mature-stage SEOMoz blog itself. Because it reaches a community of individuals who could use SEO, but largely, don’t. And every time he writes a post that blends SEO and start-ups, he’ll continue to brand himself and SEOMoz. And eventually, they’ll click through and evaluate SEOMoz, see that it’s great, and sign up. Or they’ll go to SEOMoz, start thinking more seriously about it as something that should be paid attention to, and adopt the fundamentals. Or, when they hear SEO next time at a tech party, they won’t wince – because the black eye will quickly begin to heal up as SEO starts getting frequent mentions next to PHP, Ruby and jQuery.
These things can’t really happen with the SEOMoz blog itself. To use a cute SEO analogy, it’s much like using hyphens and a .us TLD – your clickthrough rate is going to be lower, and surely, some portion of the Hacker News community will absolutely ignore every thread title with “SEO” in it. But they won’t ignore those with raising VC, company, or start-up in the headline.
I am rooting for Fishkin’s success here – and you should too. Here are some of the many benefits Rand’s blog could have on the space:
- More designers/developers educated on SEO
- More startups thinking about SEO/looking to invest in it
- More investors/VCs interested in SEO/aware of its benefits
- Improvement in perceived SEO reputation
If things progress as they are, it seems likely that Rand has the potential to become one of the “Hackerati” – as he has already had his last three posts go front page, which means 5-10k visitors each time, and even more residual traffic. That means a lot of smart, informed, connected people thinking about SEO.
I dig it.
Thanks, Rand, and good luck.