Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin

I’m Moz’s co-founder (and worked at the company from 2001-2018). Today I’m founder of SparkToro and author of Lost and Founder. I blog, travel, speak, write, and I love the worlds of marketing & technology ; I am Rand Fishkin.


A searcher’s first impression happens on Google’s SERPs, not your website. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand takes us through the inherent challenges of reputation management SEO and tactics for doing it effectively.
We rely pretty heavily on Google, but some of their moves lately have made doing SEO a lot harder. What organic opportunities have been taken away, and what are some potential solutions? Rand covers a rather unnerving trend in this week’s Whiteboard Friday.
When is it right to use metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit, and time on site, and when should they be ignored? Rand adds his two cents to the conversation around whether these metrics are worth considering in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Are your SEO goals right for your organization? They must tie into your company goals, your marketing goals, & provide specific, measurable metrics. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines how to set smart SEO goals for your team & shares examples of how different businesses can do just that.
Link Explorer may be in beta, but when it comes to your links, it’s still a big deal. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand transparently addresses many of the biggest complaints about OSE over the years and explains the vast improvements Link Explorer provides, from DA scores updated daily to historic link data to a huge index of almost 5 trillion URLs.
Rand’s got 16 years of hands-on marketing experience under his belt, and in this Whiteboard Friday, he shares his best advice—from flywheels to product launches to knowing your audience—to help all of us learn from his own trial and error.
What goes into a truly great product launch? Rand reveals his best advice in the form of an actionable checklist in this Whiteboard Friday. Make sure to check out the last item—it may be the most important one to start with!
For your clickbait and viral content efforts to bear fruit, they need to be done the right way and used in the right places. Rand discusses what kind of content investments make sense for this type of strategy and explains why it works in this week’s Whiteboard Friday.
The number-one reason most paid ad campaigns fail: you’re a stranger to your audience. In this Whiteboard Friday, learn exactly what signals the death knell of a PPC campaign, and solutions to ensure your ads are worth the money you pour into them.
Should you put time and effort into building a vibrant online community? What are the benefits from a brand, SEO, and content marketing perspective? In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand answers all your questions about investing in and structuring an online community, including whether it’s worth your time.
Same content, different domains? There’s a tag for that. Rel=canonical can inform Google that the same content exists on multiple sites. Rand covers how to use it properly and what to keep in mind in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Your rankings have dropped and you don’t know why. Maybe your traffic dropped as well, or maybe just a section of your site has lost rankings. It’s an important mystery to solve, and in this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares a detailed process to follow to diagnose what went wrong, why it happened, and how to recover.
Writers regularly receive dangerously incorrect advice on how to write for SEO. To protect your site from Google penalties and ensure your writing is appropriate for modern SEO standards, Rand outlines outdated practices and a brief 5-step writing process for 2018.
Contrary to popular opinion, high ranking pages aren’t always the best targets for link building. This Whiteboard Friday delves into the pros and cons of targeting top ranking sites for links, and why you should consider a link intersect strategy, targeting sites that rank for broader topics, and earning links from publications ranking beyond page 1 of the SERPs.
Increasingly, social networks are tweaking their algorithms to favor content that remains on their site, rather than send users to an outside source. This spells trouble for those trying to drive traffic and visitors to external pages, but what’s an SEO or content marketer to do? This edition of Whiteboard Friday goes into detail on the pros and cons of each approach, then gives Rand’s recommendations on how to balance your efforts going forward.
Broad and unusable volume ranges, misalignment with other Google tools, and conflating similar yet distinct keywords — these are just a few of the serious issues that make relying on AdWords search volume data alone so dangerous. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we discuss those issues and offer a few alternatives for more accurate volume data.
For the past ten years, Rand has made a set of predictions for SEO in the year ahead, and for all ten years he’s been largely correct. Check out what he got right in 2017, and pay close attention to his predictions for 2018 — they’re doozies!
Correlations data isn’t always as clear as it seems. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares the myths and realities of correlations in SEO ranking factor studies, then offers five smart ways to glean more trustworthy, useful information from the data.
This edition of Whiteboard Friday covers a nine-point SEO checklist of the major items you need to cross off to rank in 2018 — and maybe get some hints on how to explain it to others, too.
We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. In this extra-special holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts.
Snippets and meta descriptions have new character limits, and it’s a big change for Google (and us SEOs). Learn about what’s new and what it means for SEO in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Controlling and improving the flow of your page content can actually help your SEO. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we cover the questions and goals you need to hit the bullseye on this process.
Which of your competitor’s keywords are worth targeting, and which can be ignored? Learn how to tell the difference in this week’s Whiteboard Friday.
We’re well aware that PPC can have an effect on our organic results. But what effect is that, exactly, and how does it work? This week’s Whiteboard Friday covers the ways paid influences organic — and one very important way it doesn’t.
Buried inside most SERPs (especially those with more general queries) is a host of insight into Google’s assumptions about searcher intent. Rand explains how you can find it.
In honor of the late SEO pioneer and our friend, Eric Ward, this episode of Whiteboard Friday covers the kinds of link strategies he worked so hard to teach.
There’s a powerful concept in the world of SEO software: the “keyword universe.” Learn how to harness the potential of tens of millions of keywords and their rankings data in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
For many years now, Moz’s customers and so, so many of my friends and colleagues in the SEO world have had one big feature request from our toolset: “GIVE ME KEYWORDS BY SITE!” Today, we’re answering that long-standing request with that precise data inside Keyword Explorer.
This week’s Whiteboard Friday covers links in headers and footers, in navigation versus content, and how that can affect internal and external links, link equity, and link value between your site and others.
A single headline can’t do it all. You need to develop something a little different for your goals tied to SEO, social media, and site visitors. This Whiteboard Friday covers a process to help optimize your titles across multiple platforms.
Plenty of websites that make it easy for you to contribute don’t make it easy to earn a followed link from those contributions. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares five tactics to help you earn equity-passing followed links using traditionally nofollow-only platforms.
Not everything you do on your website affects your Google rankings. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes through ten things commonly believed to influence rankings that Google actually doesn’t care about.
In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand reminds us of link equity’s basic principles, covers the 3 most common issues websites face with equity flow, and offers advice on how to actually control and optimize that flow in a way that works.
Without a solid base of links, your site’s SEO won’t be competitive. This Whiteboard Friday shows you three relatively quick, easy, and tool-free ways to (link) build a sturdy foundation for your site.
It’s not uncommon to rank well in one locale and tank in another, even for sites without an intent to capture local queries. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows you how to diagnose the issue with a few clever SEO tricks, then identify the right strategy to get back on top.
What makes a page high or low quality? How can you easily filter pages on your site to determine which pages are of high importance, which need work, and which are just plain bad? Check out the answers in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn’t actually exist. “Perfect” isn’t universal — your content’s success depends on tons of personalized factors. It’s all explained in this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Imagine Google assigned a quality score to organic search results based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function similarly to the Google AdWords quality score. How might such a score work and how could you optimize for it?
Stop bumming out journalists, bloggers, and content creators by begging for links. Try out some of Rand’s tactics in this Whiteboard Friday to earn those links without the painful ask (and low success rate).
There’s a new ranking factor in town, and it’s one that will affect almost every aspect of your site optimization. Check out why searcher task accomplishment is such a big deal in today’s Whiteboard Friday.
Avoid confusing Google by learning how to properly implement the canonical tag. In today’s episode, Rand defines rel=canonical, explains the situations where it’s necessary and appropriate, and outlines the pitfalls you should avoid at all costs.
It’s not impossible to compete with comparison sites in the SERPs. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand tackles one of the toughest ranking issues in SEO: capturing those broad plural search queries with comparative intent.
Making enemies with your content can actually have a lot of benefits, not the least of which are new allies gained and the links and shares that follow. Rand shares what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to chasing success with controversial content.
Most SEO campaigns need three kinds of links to be successful; targeting your content to influencers can get you 2/3 of the way there. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the tactics that will help your content get seen and shared by those with a wide and relevant audience.
How do you measure the ROI of attending a marketing conference? It’s less about the numbers and more about the results. Rand explains the rationale behind why he believes conferences are worth the investment and shares his own personal list of favorites.
Unclear on how to apply link metrics like linking root domains, Domain Authority, and Page Authority? Rand defines these terms and how to use them alongside your other SEO metrics in this Whiteboard Friday.
Does Google treat text kept behind “read more” links with the same importance as non-hidden text? The short answer is “no,” but there’s more nuance to it than that. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains just how the search engine giant weighs text hidden from view using CSS and JavaScript.
Rankings fluctuations can be panic-inducing, but they happen to everyone. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses why ranking fluctuations occur, the importance of keeping your cool during those darker moments, and how to identify when you should actually be concerned.
Learn how to analyze, optimize, and structure your internal links (and put the kibosh on out-of-date tactics) in this Whiteboard Friday.
A blog is only as effective as its posts. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand offers six paths you can take to make sure your posts resonate with your audiences.
Optimizing your images for ranking in Google Image Search and the Image Pack is not a side of SEO to be ignored. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains just about everything you’d want to ask about image search SEO, from foundations to best practices.
This week we’re chatting about pop-ups, overlays, modals, interstitials, etc. They have specific kinds of interactions with SEO. In addition to Google’s guidelines around them, they also change how people interact with your site, which can adversely or positively affect you accomplishing your goals, SEO and otherwise.
Net neutrality is a hot-button issue lately, and whether it’s upheld or not could have real ramifications for the online marketing industry. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the potential consequences and fallout of losing net neutrality. Be sure to join the ensuing discussion in the comments!
Hovering your finger over the big red “launch” button for your new website? Hold off for just a second. From a keyword-to-URL content map to sweeping for crawl errors to setting up proper tracking, today’s Whiteboard Friday covers 5 boxes you need to check off before finally setting your site live.
By comparing top pages data from multiple sources against one another, you can get some really cool, powerful advanced SEO opportunities in your content and keyword targeting. Rand explains how in this Whiteboard Friday.
You know SEO is important, but you barely have time for lunch, much less keyword research. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers a minimum viable SEO strategy to give those with limited time a plan forward.
Should you rank one site higher in a single position frequently, or own more of the SERP real estate consistently with multiple domains? In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand presents 4 questions you should ask to determine whether this strategy could work for you.
How many words are in the average query? What percent of queries are phrased as questions? Are people really starting more searches on YouTube than Bing? Rand uses clickstream data to answer all the questions about searcher behavior that Google doesn’t provide.
Thinking of publishing an expert roundup? Don’t—there’s a better way. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why expert roundups aren’t the best use of your time and effort, and how to pivot your strategy to create similar content that’ll make the juice worth the squeeze.
Reaching the perfect audience is priceless, but hyperlocal keyword research is frustrating. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares how to find powerful, laser-focused keywords to bring you *exactly* the customers you’re looking for.
Link building is incredibly effective, but it’s intimidating and frustrating, too. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand builds out a framework you can start using today to simplify the link building process for everyone involved.
Earning site traffic from competitive keywords with decent search volume doesn’t always have to be a struggle. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares how to make ranking for competitive keywords easier on yourself using very fresh content.
What’s new for on-page SEO in 2017? Rand outlines it in 5 succinct tactics: 1) Move beyond keyword repetition rules; 2) Searcher intent matters more than raw keywords; 3) Related topics are essential; 4) Links don’t always beat on-page; and 5) Topical authority is more important than ever.
There’s both a right way and a wrong way to go about selecting an SEO company or consultant for your site. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares his best advice and mistakes to avoid when it comes to the hiring process.
Comment marketing can be a strong yet largely undervalued strategy, with high potential and low competition. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand details what you can do to get noticed in the comments and the benefits you’ll reap from high-quality contributions.
It’s that time again friends… That time where I grade my 2016 predictions to see whether I’ve got the clout and foresight to get another shot in 2017. This year is gonna be really close, as I was more aggressive last year than in prior ones, so let’s see where we end up, and what I’ve got to say for the next 12 months.
It’s incredibly important to consider SEO when launching a startup. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares how to kickstart a comprehensive SEO audit for your new business’s site.
From understanding the big-picture search trends to making sure your SEO goals jive with your CEO’s goals, there’s a lot to consider when planning for 2017. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines how to craft a truly remarkable SEO strategy to help you sail through 2017.
What value does your community provide and what value do you provide them? Rand explores 10 fresh, actionable strategies to encourage and promote an exchange of value that will feed your content and community efforts.
After analyzing hundreds of SERPs, Rand has identified and classified the 10 distinct content types that work best for SEO. In this Whiteboard Friday, he explains those types and how to use them effectively in your content marketing strategy.
Should you focus on H1s and H2s, or should demand all your on-page attention? In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand expounds upon what still works for on-page SEO and what’s out of date.
When it comes to certain kinds of backlinks, avoiding penalties can be a gray area. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand will teach you which rules to follow to keep you safe and help you benefit.
Rand’s three-step process for improving your “content comprehensiveness” will help you answer all of a searcher’s questions and help you beat out competitors for those higher-ranking positions.
It may seem like an uphill battle to compete with big sites in the SERPs, but there are tangible SEO benefits to running a smaller site. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains how small sites can target opportunities the big sites can’t, despite their natural advantages.
From your top-level nav to your seal-the-deal content, there are endless considerations when it comes to crafting your ecommerce page. Using one of his personal favorite examples, Rand takes you step by detailed step through the process of creating a truly superb ecommerce page in today’s Whiteboard Friday.
Have you ever considered gating your content to get leads? Whether you choose to have open-access content or gate it to gather information, there are benefits and drawbacks you should be aware of. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand weighs the pros and cons of each approach and shares some tips for improving your processes.
“I’m still a little embarrassed to admit it, but admit it I must. KW Explorer is the best keyword research tool in the market, period*.” 3 brand-new upgrades to Keyword Explorer will make your research easier and more accurate than ever.
Penguin 4.0 has finally rolled out as a core part of Google’s algorithm. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains Penguin’s past, present, and future, offers his analysis of the rollout so far, and gives advice for going forward (hint: never link spam).
RankBrain is unlike any of the classic Google algorithms we’ve dealt with in the past. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand tackles the question of what RankBrain actually is and whether SEOs should (or even can) optimize for it.
Featured snippets are here to stay, and they’re proving to be an important goal in the never-ending quest for rankings. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains the 3 types of featured snippets and how you can best position yourself to grab those coveted spots in the SERPs.
From where to how to when, there are a number of erroneous claims about link building floating around the SEO world. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand sets the record straight on 8 of the more common claims he’s noticed lately.
We need to think about a broader spectrum of content than “what our target audience wants.” In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the nuance we should all have in mind when figuring out what content to create next.
Have you been ignoring local link and citation building because you’re an online-only or non-local website? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why all sites should consider chasing local links and citations, suggesting a few different ways to discover opportunities in your areas of focus.
When Google says jump, it’s hard not to jump. We often take the words of Google representatives as law, but it’s important to understand subtleties and to allow for clarification with time. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses some angles to consider that will help you stay grounded when the “Big G” makes a statement about SEO.
You’ve got content on your site that doesn’t intentionally target any keyword. But how do you identify those opportunities and, most importantly, capitalize on them? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand illustrates the process of creating your own content-to-keyword map to discover where to optimize, what content to build, and how to intelligently target keywords when you’re auditing a site.
What’s more important: drawing in more traffic, or converting the traffic you have? When it comes to your landing pages, that may be a tough question to answer. After watching today’s Whiteboard Friday, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether you should opt for an SEO focus, a conversion focus, or a strategic balance of both.
Is the practice of tracking keywords truly dying? There’s been a great deal of industry discussion around the topic of late, and some key points have been made. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand speaks to the biggest challenges keyword rank tracking faces today and how to solve for them.
We’re hearing a lot about voice search lately, and that trend doesn’t seem likely to disappear. But does it have a direct impact on how you should be thinking about your SEO strategy? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses what to expect when it comes to the future of search.
How to choose a domain name: make it brandable, pronounceable, short, intuitive, bias to .com, avoid names that infringe on another company, use broad keywords, and if not available, modify.
We don’t live in a world where we have the luxury of thinking about ​just​ user experience or ​just​ SEO. The two share many of the same spaces online, working in tandem and sometimes clashing. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand details the considerations and compromises that must be made for UX & SEO to coexist in harmony.
A simple change in language and perspective could be what’s standing between you and getting the C-suite buy-in that’s integral to your success. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand helps you translate your marketing jargon into financial metrics and data that the folks in charge will actually care about.
The keyword phrases you can uncover in the long tail of search are worth their weight in gold, often driving highly valuable traffic to your site. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand delves into core strategies you can use to make long tail keywords work in your favor, from niche-specific SEO to a bigger content strategy that catches many long tail searches in its net.
It’s been 5 weeks since Keyword Explorer’s launch and in that time, more than 75,000 folks have tried out what is, in my opinion, the best keyword research tool on the market. Today, we’re upgrading it further with three of the most requested features since launch.
Picture this: You discover that your site is ranking for a keyword you’ve been targeting. Cause for celebration, right? But what if that ranking page is irrelevant, wrong, or simply not the best choice? This frustrating situation is more common than you might think. Rand shows you how to cope when you find that your valuable queries are sending traffic to the wrong URLs in today’s Whiteboard Friday.
With the right process and a dose of patience, SEO success is always within reach — even if you’re running your own blog. Optimizing your blog posts begins as early as the inception of your idea, and from then on you’ll want to consider your keyword targeting, on-page factors, your intended audience, and more. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out a step-by-step process you can adopt to help increase search traffic to your blog over time.
Moving your customers down the funnel from awareness to conversion can make for a winding and treacherous road. Until you fully research and understand the buying process inside and out, it’s far too easy to make a misstep. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand takes a high-level look at the path to customer purchase, recommending workflows and tools to help you forge your own way.
On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.
Rand outlines a straightforward and actionable 4-step process (including an array of tools to check out) for uncovering and prioritizing the best keywords for your SEO campaigns.
Moz’s newest tool – Keyword Explorer – is available today. Read the post for all the details about the powerful new features, functionality, metrics, and data available from this comprehensive tool for keyword research.
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.





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