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Recap SMX: Rand Fishkin – Being Signal Amidst the Noise

Last week, the Peak Ace Team attended the 2015 SMX Conference which took place in Munich. Besides exhibiting ourselves, both Marcel Prothmann (VP Paid Search) and Bastian Grimm (VP Organic Search) spoke at the conference as well as attending the SEMY Awards which was hosted by Peak Ace, Rising Media and Later on this week, we will cover these events on our blog in more detail.

I was able to attend Rand Fishkin’s (Founder of opening keynote in which he discussed five strategies on how to become signal amidst the noise. Before he discussed these with us, he began by explaining that in today’s world, we do not read anymore, we browse. Whenever we share an article, often we don’t even read them, we just hit the like or tweet button and do not bother to really consume the content we share, instead we nibble – taking tiny little bites of the internet. He concluded that due to the sheer number of businesses investing in earned marketing channels, this leaves marketers in a scary predicament and we should therefore try to stand out from the crowd. I have summarized Rand’s 5 recommended strategies on how to become the noise that everyone is trying to filter:

#1: Pursue less accessible opportunities

With everyone chasing the same keywords, it has become much more difficult to try to rank for these. The same goes for influencers we are trying to connect to, to try to somehow get coverage for whatever it is we are trying to promote. Rand suggests, that we shouldn’t focus too much on “the big keywords” and/or influencers, but should also look at other tools such as:

  • Related Searches
  • Ubersuggest
  • *Wildcards
  • Google Correlate

As for the influencers, we should try to use different metrics when we pick out the one’s we want to speak to, by for example focusing on the number of re-tweets. We can also scroll further down the list to find influencers who may not receive a ton of e-mails or phone calls and who therefore, may be more receptive. Lastly, he suggested to try out marketing tactics that do not scale (e.g. Personally hand-written thank you notes). They may not bring you the desired results quickly, but it’s worth giving non-scalable growth a shot!

#2: Invest in formats that other people avoid

Rand started off by saying that the easier content is to create, the harder it is to stand out. It goes without saying that including visuals in your content is crucial. It is not for no reason, that social platforms such as such as Pinterest, Tumbler and Instagram have become so successful.

Rand continued by saying that visuals are often perceived as more authoritative than text alone but that unfortunately, a lot of marketers still invest in poor visuals. The three words Rand used to describe poor visuals are “stockneric”, “borporate”, or “Illedgfographic”. All in all, this strategy is all about focusing on simple, non-salesy and authentic content as these often outperform corporate and professional content that have been created for the purpose of optimizing for conversions.

#3: Adopt early, while competitors delay

The next strategy is all about first-mover advantage, “a form of competitive advantage that a company earns by being the first to enter a specific market or industry”, or in this case by focusing on tactics that are not yet as heavily invested in, such as:

  • Social commerce (such as Instagram ads or promoted pins from Pinterest)
  • Mobile first VS. mobile friendly (think about the mobile-first design success of Tinder)
  • Targeting keywords, influencers or websites before they become popular

#4: Pay attention to correlation as well as causal inputs

Correlation data is widely used and accepted in CRO and advertising but for some reason, when it comes to correlation and SEO – everyone loses their minds! Rand suggests marketers to think about what correlates with rankings as much as what actually causes them. In the beginning of this year, Rand wrote a post on the topic that I highly recommend reading if you want to know more about this particular strategy:

#5: Invest in the hardest tactic to measure: Brand

Given that queries, clicks as well as topical domain authority can all influence rankings and that users are strongly biased by brands, Rand believes that brand advertising may be part of how SEO campaigns are done. He showed us a case study by SEER interactive which describes several ways digital advertising can supplement all advertising initiatives such as combining Twitter and TV to increase brand awareness and potentially sales.


Many thanks to Rand for the valuable takeaways and actionable advice! 🙂
Download his slidedeck here.


Susanna Hartmans and Rand Fishkin at SMX Munich 2015


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