eCommerce Podcast

Our podcast is raw, honest and damn right insightful, as we chat to some of the best minds in eCommerce

Hosted by Richard Hill

Ep 50:
Rand Fishkin:
Get Ahead of the Mainstream with Smarter Audience Targeting

Drum roll please…

Welcome to the 50th episode of the eCom@One podcast! What a better way to celebrate it with the absolute godfather of SEO, Rand Fishkin. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one.

Rand is the founder of SEO software Moz and audience intelligence software SparkToro. After setting up his blog, SEOmoz, back in 2003, and initially being accused of sharing ‘trade secrets’, he has now been able to help millions of marketers worldwide through his blogs, software, video series and event talks. 

Listen in as Rand talks to us about how he found his passion for SEO, the challenges he’s overcome as an entrepreneur and of course, we couldn’t finish the episode without getting some sneak peeks into what projects Rand has coming up in the future.  

eCom@One Presents

Rand Fishkin

Rand is the creator of Moz, formerly a blog and online community where SEO experts could share their ideas and expertise and now provides a range of SEO solutions that are widely used around the world. More recently, Rand founded SparkToro, a market research and audience intelligence tool designed to better inform business’ advertising and content strategies. 

His journey into SEO started as a matter of necessity when he couldn’t afford SEO professionals for his web projects, so had no other option than to learn how to do it himself. It was his frustrations from his own learning journey that inspired him to start his own blog, SEOmoz, with the hope that he could make SEO easier for others. Since then it has reached millions of people and has grown to become Moz as we know it today. 

In this episode, Rand talks about his journey of founding both Moz and SparkToro and discusses what exactly he attributes to their success and how these tools have been able to help eCommerce businesses enhance and fine-tune their marketing strategies. In this open and honest episode, Rand also discusses the personal and financial challenges he has had to face since building his businesses. He also touches on how to tackle your team’s and of course, your own mental health as a business owner during the current lockdown.

Want a smarter way to market your business? Of course, you do. Join us this week to find out how, from one of the most influential people in online marketing. 

Topics Covered

01:52 – How Rand found his passion for SEO

05:31 – What does he attribute to his success?

08:24 – What is SparkToro and how does it benefit eCommerce businesses?

14:15 – How to use SparkToro to uncover better audience targeting opportunities

25:31 – How to secure investment as an eCommerce store

32:53 – How to really look after your team during lockdown

39:26 – You heard it here first – What’s next for Rand?

42:00 – Book recommendation

 

Richard Hill:
Hi, there. I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One. Welcome to our 50th episode. In this episode I speak with Rand Fishkin, the actual godfather of SEO, creator of Moz, and CEO and founder of SparkToro. Rand is somewhat of a legend to say the least in our industry, and to me personally to be there. He's the guy that from a simple idea over 18 years ago started blogging about SEO and created what we now know as Moz, a $50 million a year SEO toolset. I personally spent hours listening to Rand's now very famous Whiteboard Fridays, and SEO training, and seen him speak many times at conferences. Learning so much of what I know now and taken for granted in our agencies.
Some of the topics we cover in this episode include, we talk all things audience intelligence going deep into how to target those hard to find audiences. Whether you're looking for paid ads targeting or going super niche with your content creation, which I believe is one of the best skills you can have. Rand also talks openly about the different ways to raise finance and how he has funded SparkToro, his new market research and audience intelligent toolset. Rand really opens up about mental health and what we should really be focusing on more now than ever. If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe, so you are always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now, let's head over to this fantastic episode.

Rand Fishkin:
This is Rand Fishkin, and you are listening to the eCom@One Podcast.

Richard Hill:
How are you doing, Rand?

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah. All right, Richard. Thank you for having me.

Richard Hill:
Thank you for coming on. I was just saying to Rand just before we hit record, we were planning on getting Rand on and Rand happened to message me on another matter, and here we are a couple of weeks later, episode 50. Thank you for agreeing to come on the podcast.

Rand Fishkin:
Oh, my gosh, my pleasure.

Richard Hill:
So let's get straight into it. So what ignited your initial passion way back when for SEO that led to the development of SEOMoz?

Rand Fishkin:
Oh, yeah. Gosh, going back a long time. Well, I was forced into doing some SEO work because we were building websites at a time and unable to pay our SEO subcontractors. This is 2002, 2003. And so, I had to learn the practice myself. The blog was just a natural kind of outpouring of my personal frustrations around how difficult SEO was to learn and do, especially at that time. There was so few resources. The resources that did exist were very secretive and protective. I don't know if you recall in the early days of SEO, Richard, but there's a lot of people in the field who felt like sharing how they did what they did was not content marketing, it was giving away their trade secrets. Yeah. And so, they were absolutely against that, and actually I would say a healthy number of early influential people in the SEO field were very frustrated with SEOMoz's existence at all.

Richard Hill:
It was like the magician giving away his secrets.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah. There was a lot of shut up, don't talk about that stuff. And that was true, both in the SEO world and from Google side of things. When I left Moz I remember I was like, "Oh, man, I saw these emails for Matt Cutts when he was a head of web spam team emailing me and being like, "Stop inviting these people to speak in your conference. Don't do Whiteboard Fridays like this. I wish you wouldn't blog about this stuff," that kind of stuff. So there's not everybody loves transparency.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So, it all started with the blog, and I can remember myself... I mean, I've been doing this for over 20 years-ish. It was one of the first, the blogs, and then it obviously grew into... From SEOMoz to Moz and grew into this huge, huge, huge sort of the number one SEO/content/you name it sort of SEO focused software. Obviously, that's 20 years in SEO is a long, long time. Obviously seen everything, heard everything. I actually saw you speak at SearchLove. I think it was nine years ago, maybe a little -

Rand Fishkin:
Oh, wow. Yeah.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Obviously, you've seen a lot. I've actually read your book on holiday a year before last. I was going to say last year, but we didn't go anywhere last year.

Rand Fishkin:
No holidays.

Richard Hill:
But yeah, obviously your Lost and Founder book, amazing book. I recommend that to all the listeners that are listening in now. A real sort of no holds barred, real life, unedited version of the startup world, the world of setting up a business. Yeah, it really resonated with me. I couldn't put it down. I have to admit, I couldn't put it down. Very much that journey I think it's just so interesting from literally creating a blog. I remember I think you were looking at office space like you do back in the day, and I think your own, it's like several $1,000 for office space, or we can we get... Do a bit of a deal and get a smaller office and all that sort of journey from, oh, we've got a bit of an idea here. And then the next thing you know I think Moz's revenues are 50 million or whatever they are a year. That's a bit of a made up number, but I think that's what I heard.

Rand Fishkin:
I think that, yep -

Richard Hill:
Somewhere there. So if you had to say, what was one thing that led to the success from a startup idea? Literally you and your keyboard to the success it is now, what will be the one thing you think that led to that success?

Rand Fishkin:
I think lucky timing is the primary one. And unfortunately, a lot of startup success stories are post hoc attributed to the genius or the hard work or the amazing ideas of the founder, whatever it is. I don't think so. I think most of Facebook's success is right time, right Place, and decent execution. But I bet there were companies that executed just as well or better, but they didn't do it at exactly the right time. And so, they didn't become Facebook. I think Moz is a lot like that. Moz is a company that had, yeah, decent execution and a mediocre talented leadership. I have no idea what I was doing. I was really stumbling around in a ton of ways.

Rand Fishkin:
I don't think I'm nearly as impressive or smart as many of the people who I've encountered in the search and technology and SaaS worlds. The only reason my business became much bigger so fast was SEO was a practice that was being adopted at an incredibly rapid pace right around then. We hit the market just with the perfect timing of being this resource that everybody turned to when everybody was getting into SEO. I think, today Moz is still regarded very well for its content and conferences and that kind of stuff. But the software is maybe a third place player in the SEO field.

Richard Hill:
We can say that now. Can we? It's okay to say that now because you -

Rand Fishkin:
With me, the truth is always fine to say. Absolutely.

Richard Hill:
No, I would agree with you 100%. We were all Moz, SEOMoz, Moz, SEOMoz launched... For our listeners it was launched as SEOMoz. Then was it in 2014 it changed its name?

Rand Fishkin:
I think 12.

Richard Hill:
12, 12 it change itself to Moz. And it was really, I think you say that timing. It was the only software out there that would do what it could do, and there was nothing else even close. So, that timing piece. I think you guys listening in. That idea that you may have might not be that crazy. It's timing, what's going on in the industry, new products to market. Even more so now with what's happening with the pandemic. So many opportunities out there as eCommerce stores that they might seem a little bit crazy, but crazy times we are in so thank you. Thank you for that. So now obviously the co-founder and CEO of SparkToro. We as an agency have been using your software, your audience intelligence platform for I think probably about six weeks or so. And my outreach team, my link building team, my content team, they are very much in love with your tool, I have to say.

Rand Fishkin:
That's great to hear.

Richard Hill:
So, I think it'd be great for you to give us a bit of an overview of what SparkToro is, how it came about, and what it can do for eCommerce stores.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, the concept behind SparkToro, the benefit of using it is that you can instantly discover what any audience you might want to reach listens to, reads, watches, follows, talks about, how they describe themselves online. So, if you're curious about people who are into tabletop games, and you want to sell them a game product. You can find the communities that they pay attention to and who they're following on social media and which podcast they're listening to and which YouTube channels they're subscribing to. And then you can do, whatever. Better ad targeting, better digital PR outreach, better messaging, better listening, social listening or content listening.

Rand Fishkin:
You can use smart hashtags in your social content as the most tactical piece of something you might do. You can create content that's speaking to what they've been talking about over the last few months, which is what SparkToro will show you. And this applies to very, very well, in a lot of eCommerce sectors. So, we've had folks from a bone broth company in Austin to fancy sneaker resellers to folks who are helping authors in book world sell their books online, and reach their communities and hundreds of products beyond that.

Rand Fishkin:
The applications are very wide ranging and numerous. It is mostly marketers, and market researchers who use the product, but it's pretty broad. And that's actually been a little bit of a challenge. I think with Moz it was really like, "Oh, do you do SEO? Do you need to, whatever, crawl your website every week, and track your rankings, and get links, and that kind of stuff?" Okay, well, Moz does those things. SparkToro is more of a, hey, this is an entirely new kind of software, new kind of data. Who is it for? What is it used for? Well, the applications are very wide ranging, and the market is very broad.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, I think as you do as an agency there's a lot of different tools out there for everything but this, I think, is a real find for us as an agency. Some of the things like say we've been using it for not that long, really. Before we came on the call I was... When you log in, obviously, I can see what my team have been doing in it more recently. I was like, "Okay. Okay. Okay." And obviously, we have this podcast, obviously, and to be able to then look at the topic. If you've got a podcast, you're listening to this podcast, an example where we've used it is to look a podcast that potentially we could get on in our industry that are very, very specific.

Richard Hill:
And then one of the little strategies we've been doing as well is we use the tool to find the podcasts and the podcasts that are very, very relevant. But then also, we then go to the podcasts, and then we go back to the SEO days of getting the links and things like that. Which podcasts are doing transcriptions? So, if we talk for an hour about eCommerce on a podcast, obviously, we can find those podcasts with your tools and the better podcasts that have got the better affinity and a more targeted, but then if we know that an hour's worth of talking about eCommerce or Google Shopping or eCommerce SEO is going to get transcribed onto that page, we've got 10,000 words, that obviously is referring back to our brand on those podcasts. So, that's just an example we've used it for in-house, which has been fantastic.

Rand Fishkin:
I do a lot of podcast, whatever, appearances and guesting, and that kind of stuff. My experience, Richard has been that even those podcasts that don't give a link. In fact, many times the podcasts that don't give a link are just as valuable, if not more than the ones that do. I'm not sure whether that is the case that Google is as perfectly able to represent a brand mention of SparkToro alongside market research, or audience intelligence, whatever, let's boost their rankings for their blog posts. I don't really know. I can't say for certain. If I were in Google, I'd be doing it that way. Because that's a far better signal, generally speaking of quality than a raw link, which is often... Well, you and I know from our SEO world that oftentimes the link building aspect of it is the more manipulative side, and the brand mentioned side of it is often the more authentic one.

Rand Fishkin:
And so, I think there's a future where it's very likely that Google is going to... I don't want to say completely devalue links, but I think they will be more and more skeptical of them, and that brand mentions, and branded search traffic, and people talking about a brand, and building affinity with brands. Those will have the link like influence in the next decade that we saw links having in the last two.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, that's a great takeaway, Rand. Thank you for that. So, the listeners of our podcast are eCommerce stores. We very much have a lot of chat about SEO and PPC, Google ads, Facebook ads, and obviously with ads targeting is a huge area. The targeting of the ads is usually the key, obviously, very much so on Facebook, for example, and obviously-

Rand Fishkin:
They're just ruthless about how much data they've taken away and how impossible they've made it to do good targeting these days.

Richard Hill:
It's getting tougher. It's making things more interesting, that's for sure. But obviously, SparkToro will sort of uncover audiences and help build audiences. Talk us through that. How can our listeners potentially use SparkToro to uncover and target better opportunities, tighter sort of eCommerce product type sets that we might be able to target for their ads?

Rand Fishkin:
Sure. So, SparkToro is not so great for targeting product level interest, but it is very good for finding audiences. So, one of the data pieces that you see inside of SparkToro that's very relevant, for example, for Facebook ads or Google Display Network is how an audience describes themselves. So, these are essentially... What SparkToro does for anyone who's not familiar is it goes out to the web to 10 social networks and website about pages, right? And then it'll say, "Oh, here's Richard Hill on... Here's your public Facebook profile. And that points to this podcast page on iTunes. And oh, there's a link in the iTunes RSS feed of the podcast that points back to your website, and on your website about page that links to your Twitter and your LinkedIn and your Instagram, and your YouTube." All of these are all one profile for us.

Rand Fishkin:
SparkToro crawls all that data, throws away any personally identifiable information because we don't want to get in whenever GDPR trouble or California privacy law issues, whatever. But take all that data, aggregate it, and then make it searchable. So, SparkToro's got about 76, 77 million-ish profiles, almost all English language right now. So apologies to folks who are searching in other areas. And then you can query it and say, "Hey, I want to find people who have these attributes or who talk about these things on their social profiles or who follow certain accounts or use certain hashtags." And then it will give you data about them. So, for example, if you're in eCommerce, and you are-

Richard Hill:
How about use an example of something where... Things we're working on quite a lot in our agency at the moment is drinks brands. So, let's say we are selling gin online.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah. So, for example, I was helping someone from I think the website's Cocktail Kingdom. I don't think they actually sell alcohol, but they sell a whole bunch of branded gear for at home bartenders, which lots of people have been doing in quarantine, myself included. Okay, so Cocktail Kingdom is selling whatever, their shaker, their cocktail shaker, and jigger, and a cocktail spoon, and glassware, and all of this kind of stuff. And so, they want to find people who maybe follow at home cocktail recipe websites. They want to find people who are using cocktail related hashtags. They want to find people who are talking about making cocktails at home. Maybe they're talking about a particular one. If you're selling gin, maybe you want to find people who have talked about Corpse Revivers in the last 90 days. I think the Corpse Reviver, one of the Corpse Revivers can be made with gin. I think it's number two.

Richard Hill:
I'm not sure on that.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, I think it's Corpse Reviver number two. So, as you go in SparkToro can then say, "Okay, people who have talked about Corpse Reviver number two in the last 90 days, they share these attributes. 12% of them follow this page. Oh, great. Let me go take that page, plug it into my Facebook ad targeting options and see if I'm able to target people who have interest in that page. Oh, I'm not. Okay. Let me go to the next one, the next one. Ah, I found one. Great. That's my audience. I want to go after them.

Rand Fishkin:
Now you're getting smarter and more targeted and more niche than your competitors who have to go with the broad targeting options or who just go with Facebook's recommended option, which is give us all your money, and you can do the same thing on the Google Display Network saying, "Oh, I want to target this website in particular. I want to target these interests. So these are words and phrases people have talked about, or there's words and phrases they've used in their bio. So they might say, I don't know, I'm a cocktail aficionado. And you're like, "Oh, let me type that in and see if that's available to me." Or they might say something like, "I'm a..." Perhaps there they say, home chef, and you didn't realize, oh, home chefs have a lot of overlap with... Okay, great. I'm going to put that in there and have that interest category.

Rand Fishkin:
So, that's a little of how the targeting works and the way we think about it is very much all this data that all of the monopolies, the duopoly of Facebook and Google are pulling away from marketers and advertisers. We want to try and give you that data back in a way that is anonymized, ethical. It's crawl data the same way that Google would crawl the web. We're crawling the web and social profiles. There's nothing special or fancy about it. There's no way I know machine learning. This is not a fancy algorithm. This is just, "Oh, yeah. What do you know? 27% of people who talked about cocktails in the last 90 days follow this podcast."

Richard Hill:
Yeah. It sounds so simple when you say it like that. I think the reality is within the interfaces themselves, it's getting harder and harder. They're tightening, tightening, and you're losing targeting, or so many people are going after the same targeting. So therefore, things are getting more and more expensive. What this enables you to do is to open some doors that, ah, do you know what? I just didn't think of that. I just didn't think... Oh, this 15 million people over here or 100,000, 100,000, 100,000, 100, hang on a minute, and it's 2p a click as opposed to two pounds a click. So, yeah, those doors.

Rand Fishkin:
Sometimes, yeah, I mean, the tighter your targeting gets, and the more you create whatever specific ad groups or specific ad campaigns with specific messaging and specific landing pages, generally speaking, the more effective and efficient your advertising dollars are. This is also true on the organic side. So, if you are finding, whatever it is, a podcast that talks about cocktail gear, and you're the head of product design for Cocktail Kingdom's set you can reach out. you can have someone from marketing reach out and say, "Hey, would you like to have this person on as a guest. They'll talk about all the new things that's coming up in barware. Amazing. What an opportunity for getting a few 100 or a few 1000 people in their getting that mention, potentially getting the link, getting the Google ranking boost. Just beautiful.

Richard Hill:
Beautiful. So, we've got both sides. We've got ads. So, targeting for ads to go off to the platforms and just dig that a bit deeper. But then we've got this side where if you want to call it traditional SEO, or content creation, or podcast guests, and so forth, obviously, I'll uncover in a similar way audience or topics to be talking about, or being able to be connecting with without paid ads, whether that's being a guest on a podcast as we said a couple of times now, or creating a very niche piece of content. That's very... It's not just very broad, it's very specific about how to create your home gym bar with X, Y, Zed at X, Y, Z.

Rand Fishkin:
For sure. I think some of the some of the smartest content applications that I've seen in SparkToro is folks recognizing that before an audience starts searching for a topic, they generally discuss that topic online. So, what happens is, conversations start on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Reddit, in YouTube comments, in Pinterest, all these places, Instagram, and then it moves to a broader awareness, and there's search volume around it. But if you can be the person who's recognizing, oh, here's the conversations that are taking place in a sector. So that could be a, "Oh, gosh people are really curious about large format ice."

Rand Fishkin:
That was a huge cocktail trend maybe a couple years ago in bars. And now it's starting to be something at home. So, if you see that pop up, like 5% of people talked about big honking ice cubes. I don't know exactly what the word for them are. But maybe that's something that deserves some content creation. Maybe you could order 10 different large format ice makers. They put in your freezer, test them all out, and write reviews of them. That could be something where there's very little search volume now, but you are at the cutting edge. And so when you produce that piece ahead of everyone else, you're the reference point. When you rank number one for something in search, as it's trending up before it gets mainstream everyone links to your piece. All the influential sources, they search for it, they find you. They link to you, and that reinforces your number one ranking that's really tough to be.

Richard Hill:
That's gold to us. I think that's so relatable to eCommerce because eCommerce companies, quite often the products and manufacturers that they're representing have a product roadmap and they know ahead of time what is coming out and quite obvious it's depending on the size of the eCommerce store, so they can be even more ahead by looking at, "Do you know what? There is a set of products coming out in four months that's related to X, Y, Z. So that X, Y, Z, what can we find? There's this discussion that's going to connect to those products in three, four months. Getting that content in the index way ahead of time. Getting those positions, those rankings way ahead of time when there's maybe just a bit of chatter to start with in the first few weeks, and then three, four months, when the products launch, you've been talking not just about the product, but the associated products in there. Yeah, that's genius, Rand. Thank you for that. That's really smart.

Richard Hill:
I think as an eCom store listens to the podcast, SparkToro, we use it in both of our agencies, and obviously for ads, and for content creation. So many different ways of using the tools and the software there. So, definitely go and check that out. So, obviously, as I said, a lot... I read your Lost and Founder book cover to cover. I think I missed a few cocktails on holiday during a few afternoons. Well, maybe, maybe not actually. I think I had a flag on that holiday or brought to me maybe.

Richard Hill:
But obviously, a lot of real raw journey from startup to investment and so forth. And then going again, if you like with SparkToro. What advice would you give to our listeners that are maybe thinking about securing investment? So, now you've been there, done that, and got the T-shirt, and quite a few stories there. Obviously, that are in the book. But what would your advice be. You're an eCommerce store that listens to the podcast, and you may be at that point where you've got to a point or a level you may be doing 10 million turnover, whatever your numbers are 10, 20 million pound turnover, but you want to get to that maybe 50 million, 100 million, or whatever the numbers are. What advice and what sort of things would you say to our listeners to think about?

Rand Fishkin:
Let's see. My recommendation generally would be that you think very long and hard about why you want to go from 10 million to 50 million. Yeah. A lot of times that is prestige. You feel like you need the honor of it, and you want to be more important, and you want to be more... I don't know lauded in your communities and entrepreneur world and all of that, which look, that was me too. I have been there. But I think that the reality is that if you're raising institutional capital versus private investment, which in eCommerce world there's actually a lot more options around private investment in software and tech and healthcare and bio sciences, a ton of it is very speculative sort of venture investment, which is my understanding at least much higher risk. eCommerce brands tend to have lower risk investment models. They're also not quite as generous and high reward.

Rand Fishkin:
I think you have to carefully consider what it means to build a bigger company and a bigger business and to aim for a higher growth rate rather than profitable, stay small or niche, both can be great, both can be great. My experience has been that more people are very happy when they feel personally satisfied by and have a great journey with those smaller businesses. And that is because you can optimize for profit, and take out the profits of the business and pay yourself, and oftentimes become far more financially... It's far more lucrative for a founder or an executive team than those bigger companies where a lot of those profits and that growth has to be reinvested in order to satisfy your investors. So, that I would just carefully consider it. Maybe give Lost and Founder read and you'll find a few chapters that are specifically about raising money and thinking about services versus product businesses and margins and growth. I try not to be too... What do I want to say? Financially focused, but also give the very real story of here's the trade offs.

Richard Hill:
So, would you say then that you made certain decisions back then that you would have made now? You've definitely learned from that process?

Rand Fishkin:
SparkToro did not raise any venture capital and we never will. We did raise private capital. We got a number of folks, a lot of agency owners, and people who build software companies, founders invested in SparkToro. Put in 50 to 100 grand and that investment structure is very unique. We designed our own investment structure, which you can... If you search for SparkToro funding, we open sourced our documents. So you can see what those look like.

Richard Hill:
I was reading it not so long ago. Actually, I think it was an interview. It was an interview where you say you had about 30 plus investors initially.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah. We've got 35, I think, 36 investors.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So, you've done it very differently this time around.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah. And those are folks who they put in whatever, 50 grand. The concept is that over the next few years as SparkToro hopefully grows, becomes profitable, that we pay them back the money they've invested, and then pay dividends out each year as we have profits rather than lose it all or win big.

Richard Hill:
That's such an important point. The guys that are listening in there may be thinking about that investment. You maybe started in your bedroom, which is quite often the case with a lot of businesses, especially eCommerce. Do you know what? Let's just try and sell a few widgets online and list a few things on eBay. Fast forward three years, you're doing whatever it is, million pounds a month, million pounds a week, and there's, all right, what's next? What's next? What's next? What's next. We need more money. Why do you need that money? What are you going to use it for? But then what does that actually mean? What have you got to give up?

Richard Hill:
The reason that journey it's been yourself, and has been you've been able to do what you want in effect. Obviously, you've got to work, but you've been able to make the decisions. You've been able to live on your terms. Of course, you're working hard as everybody does when they're doing their thing. And they're doing something that they're enjoying and passionate about. Once you get that investment in, depending on which way you go, you're not necessarily in charge anymore. You're not necessarily making the decisions anymore. And that's probably why you started it in the first place is to grow something that's your own.

Richard Hill:
But I think that second, obviously, the way that you've got investment in SparkToro that's a very... That sounds a lot more, I guess, friendly way. I don't know if that's the right word, but just a nicer way of doing things. Of course, you've got commercial targets, and you're going to grow it as you already have. You're coming up to a year on. Is it a year and a couple of months?

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, that's right. We launched middle of April. So we're only about 11 months in.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah. So a big birthday party soon then. Okay. So, some great takeaways. Thank you. So, I think at the moment, obviously, more and more people, everybody is really working from home, trying to motivate a team, trying to motivate yourself as a leader, and obviously, and also to motivate a team. What advice would you give to leaders who are trying to motivate themselves at the moment and motivate their team? What advice would you give them?

Rand Fishkin:
I mean, it might be an excellent time to think not exclusively about motivation and hard work. It might be a reasonable time to say, hey, this is for most of the Western world, we've been in lockdown for a year or longer now. And many, many folks have worked longer and harder hours than they ever have before. I've taken much less vacation, have had far fewer social outlets, have had massive stress, not only from the pandemic and the fear around that, but also from childcare issues, and parental care issues, and loved ones dying in the United States. Just half a million people plus passed away, and it's just a tragedy.

Rand Fishkin:
Someone says it's a 9/11 every day, and that is exactly right. It is September 11th airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center every day. And everyone has lost people in their lives. So, I don't know. A lot of me when I go to the, "Oh, how are we going to get motivated and work harder and make more money?" I'm kind of like, "Maybe we save that conversation for post pandemic? Maybe we save that conversation for after vaccine distribution?" And right now is a great time to think how do we talk about empathy? How do we talk about taking time off? How do we talk about getting more rest? How do we talk about being healthier and safer? Those are things that I would focus on.

Rand Fishkin:
Oddly enough American entrepreneurial attitudes are awful about this, but oddly enough, you and all of us are far more productive with eight or nine hours of sleep a night and healthy, whatever eating and exercise habits and less work than we are with sacrificing those things and having more raw hours inputted. This is because our decision making improves, and the speed with which we can accomplish even complex information technology tasks, marketing tasks, creative tasks, all improve. We are not factory workers whose job is to place widgets onto lines or dig coal out of mines. We are making complex decisions that require excellent processing capacity. And that ability is governed and improved with sleep, rest, breaks, time off.

Rand Fishkin:
Like Richard, I'm sure you've had this experience, right? You went on holiday a couple of years ago. I don't know. Let's say you're out of the office for two weeks. You don't really do a lot of work, maybe you check your phone a little bit. You come back and you're like, "Oh my God, there's 250 emails, there's so many projects. How am I ever going to get through this? I feel completely buried." And then you look up a week later, and you go, "Oh, my God. I just got three weeks of work done in five days. How did I do that?" And you know how you did that? Because you were well rested, and you took a long vacation.

Rand Fishkin:
That time off, that break, that mental sorbet, that is an energy builder that you then get to spend. We are all batteries. And when we are running on empty, everything is slow. Replying to one email, filling out one Excel spreadsheet, going through one SparkToro report to find the content marketing opportunities and the social media opportunities and the ad targeting takes 10 minutes to do one of those tasks instead of 60 seconds.

Richard Hill:
I can relate 1,000%, completely relate. It is yeah, some days are very, very tough. That is the reality of what we're in at the moment, take a break, be kind to the team, to everybody. It's obviously not all about the work, is it?

Rand Fishkin:
Even if it's all about the work, even if your exclusive focus is I want more better output, I want to be more competitive, then get your team lots of rest and breaks and time off because you will be more competitive if they are better rested and more efficient and more effective. And if you grind your team to the bone, you will not get the output and the results that you are seeking. It's counterintuitive. It's hard for a lot of people to process because we have this mindset of hard work means good job. Nope. Sorry, friends. Non creative practices.

Richard Hill:
Completely, completely on the same page with you there. I think we're going to have some great sound bites there for promoting the episode. Yeah, 100%.

Rand Fishkin:
Oddly enough, I have found when I share podcast stuff, audio grams that have captions, and video grams, too, they do really, really well on social. The native ones get more clicks and more engagement and all that kind of stuff, which I think the social networks intentionally engineered because they want people to consume it on the platform.

Richard Hill:
Yes, of course. They don't want you clicking off. They want you there staying, sticking.

Rand Fishkin:
But even if... It's one of those counterintuitive things. Even if you want people to click off the platform, don't share the thing that makes them click off the platform, share the clip that shows you on natively on the platform, and then have the next reply or whatever be the share on LinkedIn. It's like the first comment sometimes in the audiogram itself, it'll be like, "Oh, go to -"

Richard Hill:
Yeah - rather than actually in the text with it, yeah.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, exactly.

Richard Hill:
They're not seeing you taking them away. That are spotting, but you're taking them away indirectly or directly. Yeah, thank you, Rand. Is there anything that you could share with our listeners that's maybe what's next for SparkToro on the roadmap or for Rand yourself, some of the things that are coming up? So maybe any sort of heard it here first teasers you could let us have?

Rand Fishkin:
Sure, sure. So let's see. I mean, we're working on a whole bunch of stuff. The podcast index of SparkToro itself has grown quite a bit because that's something a lot of folks are using this for. Casey's made a big investment there. I think we're going to double, maybe even triple the size of the podcast index that you can find. We are also adding German and Spanish language profiles toward the end of this year because a lot of folks are asking about those two languages in particular, and a lot of localization all over.

Rand Fishkin:
We are adding audience tracking. So this is basically the ability to say, "Oh, I'm really interested in, whatever, the cocktail audience online. And so, I want updates every two weeks, or every month about what they are doing. What's changing? What new hashtags are they using? What new YouTube channels they start following? What new podcast started getting popular? What social accounts are suddenly blossoming with them? What do they start discussing that they never were before? I think a lot of folks want that, hey, just send me the report of what's changed, and what's new. So, that is a big thing.

Richard Hill:
That would be amazing. It'd be amazing. One thing that came to mind just to put on your list would be when you do that, if you can do that. So it pushes it into Slack channels, that will be great.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah. It seems conceivably possible. Certainly Slack can input a... All right, I'll talk to Casey. I don't know exactly how that would work. Maybe there's some sort of API output that Slack could consume. But other stuff that's coming. So on my end, I am working on a new video series. And that hopefully will be launching sometime in the summer. So probably I'm going to be filming a bunch of the episodes in the spring and then starting to release them come summer. My hope is to have something that is a little more in depth and a little more polished than what Whiteboard Friday was. Probably closer to series episode length like 20-ish minutes, 22 minutes, and digging into some tech and marketing topics.

Richard Hill:
Yep. Fantastic. Well, thanks, Rand. It's been an absolute blast. It's been an absolute blast. It really has. We do like to finish every episode with a book recommendation. If you'd recommend one book to our listeners, what would that be?

Rand Fishkin:
Oh, only one. I am... Let's see, I'm a huge fan in the marketing world of April Dunford's Obviously Awesome. Best book about positioning you will ever read. If you don't know why positioning is super important and how it can change the trajectory of your conversion rates online and your brand's perception. I highly recommend giving that book a read. It really changed my outlook, and made me a lot smarter.

Richard Hill:
All right. We'll get that linked up in the show notes, and that'll be my next click after we finish. I'll be getting that ordered. So, for the guys that are listening and want to find out more about yourself, and obviously find out more about SparkToro, what's the best place to do that?

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, yeah. Anyone can set up a free SparkToro account. You get 10 searches a month for free if you go to sparktoro.com and just start searching. I am most active on Twitter, where I'm @randfish. And then you can also find me blogging at sparktoro.com/blog, usually once a week.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Rand, thanks for being on the show. I look forward to catching up with you again.

Rand Fishkin:
Yeah, my pleasure, Richard. Thank you for having me.

Richard Hill:
Thank you. Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce podcast. If you enjoyed today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter, and leave us a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eComOne, the eCommerce marketing agency.

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