Search marketing guru Rand Fishkin’s annual MozCon tent revival began this morning at the Westin, where hundreds of marketers using Fishkin’s tools are meeting this week.
Fishkin is co-founder and chief executive of SEOMoz, a 79-person company that develops tools and services for online marketers.
Although some may say SEO — search-engine optimization — is less important nowadays, Fishkin said the practice has evolved to include marketing across multiple online channels.
SEO itself continues to be important because Google and Bing continually change their formulas, requiring marketers to keep pace and adjust, he said.
“If Google stayed stagnant people would figure this stuff out and they have not.”
Fishkin disclosed that he’s switched to Bing as his default search engine at home.
“Bing is pretty good,” he said, adding that for 80 percent of searches he can’t tell the difference with Google. He especially likes integration of social networks.
Still, Microsoft has to improve that remaining 20 percent.
“They still have a long way to go … until they get to this point of true parity and even surpassing Google in terms of relevancy they’re going to have a really tough time,” he said.
The proliferation of social networks and the complexity of marketing across these different channels is providing job security for the search marketing industry, Fishkin said.
Fishkin advised marketers to pay attention to the Google+ social network. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if next year there will be as much discussion of Google+ optimization as there will be this year about optimization on other networks combined.
A big challenge that remains is sorting out which Web site visits lead to a purchase. The system now attributes the conversion to the last visit, even though a person may have come to a site multiple times from different sources before making that purchase.
At SEOmoz, for instance, purchasers on average visit the site seven to seven and a half times before converting to paid customers. They may read an SEOmoz tweet or see a Facebook post.
Twitter accounts for under 15 percent of the first time visitors to the site. But people almost never arrive directly from Twitter and proceed to making a purchase – the site gets credit for only 18 of 5,000 “last touch conversions” at the site.
Fishkin said SEOmoz is developing its own network infrastructure, to improve its services and cut the huge expense of using Amazon servers to power the business. The spent over $600,000 last month on Amazon Web Services.
SEOmoz can afford the project – it raised $18 million in March.
Fishkin also said he’s starting a new blog, Moz.com/Rand, where he’ll talk business and other topic, in addition to online marketing.