The Top 4 SEO Factors from the Top SEO Leader

I attended the Next10x conference for the second time last week, Wednesday, May 9th, and it did not disappoint. For those who don’t know Next10x, it’s a Digital Marketing Conference in Boston presented by Stone Temple and its CEO Eric Enge. Eric is the author of one of my favorite SEO books, The Art of SEO.

The conference offered numerous insights on everything from content to AMP to SEO & AI. There was no shortage of great things to learn from speakers like Larry Kim (whose company WordStream just sold for a whopping $150 million), and Rand Fishkin (who gave everyone his newly launched book Lost and Founder). I’ve just started the book and I already love it. I highly recommend you give it a read. You can get it here.

Tips from a Top SEO Leader: A Signed Book and a Little Extra

Just like any other SEO professional, I wanted to personally meet Rand, one of the Top SEO Leaders; and upon meeting him, why not ask him an SEO question?

Rand was offering to sign copies of his new book, so that’s when I asked him if he would mind listing out his most important SEO factors along with his signature. Here was the result:

Lost and Found

Rand’s Top 4 SEO Factors

So there you have it, Rand’s top 4:

  2. LINKS

I did some research and looked more into what Rand has said over the years about these 4 areas, so let’s dive a little deeper into each category:


Content is still king. Rand has been saying if for years. I did some digging and found some of his top guidelines for killer content. He says your content needs to be one-of-a-kind, relevant, helpful, uniquely valuable, and provide a great user experience.

One-of-a-Kind: Unique content that’s not readily available is key.
Relevant: Serve user intent.
Helpful: Solve the user’s problem quickly.
Uniquely Valuable: Give value that nobody else gives.
Great User Experience: Don’t make the user work. Ensure design is responsive on every device.

Content should be enhanced and supported by SEO efforts, but not dominated by them. As Google continually shifts toward serving user intent, quality and relevant content becomes ever more important.


Content is the basis for success, but regardless of how good it is, you’ll have a hard time competing in the SERPs without links.

Backlinks: Getting Started

If you’re starting from scratch, this particular whiteboard Friday video from Rand gives 3 easy link building tactics to acquire your first 50 links. Here’s a basic overview. Rand recommends searching Google for:

1) Your brand name, domain name, and founder’s/executives names
2) Sites that list your competition
3) Sites that list people/organizations in your field, your geography, with your attributes.
In each of these areas, there are opportunities for quick wins to build an initial base of backlinks.

Internal Links

Rand says here that in order to ensure SEO success, it’s critical to get your internal linking right. Anchor text, location on the page, link relevance, and the type of link are some of the main factors you’ll want to get right. He stresses the importance of avoiding orphan pages and gives tips to build the ideal internal link structure.

Continued Link Building Efforts

In this piece, Rand talks about prioritizing your link building efforts and opportunities. He outlines these three critical steps to ongoing link building:

Step 1: Tie your goals to the link’s potential value
Step 2: Estimate the likelihood that the link target will influence that goal
Step 3: Build a prioritization spreadsheet

3UX and Engagement

Rand cited user experience and engagement as one of his top 4 critical SEO factors. This is something he’s been preaching for years, but it has become ever more important recently. Chapter 6 of Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO covers user experience as a crucial SEO component. In another resource, Rand states that UX and SEO used to clash, but that as search engines have evolved, they’ve come together as necessary partners.

When UX and SEO are combined, users are offered the best experience. They’re not only able to find the content they are looking for, but also easily navigate it.


Yes, let’s not forget keywords. They’re still a critical part of any good SEO strategy. Rand has given loads of suggestions on keyword strategy over the years. In this piece, he gives a process for discovering and prioritizing the best keywords to target. He recommends:

1) Using multiple sources to get keyword suggestions
2) Selecting keywords that match multiple types of search intent
3) Collecting keyword metrics and sorting/filtering/prioritizing them based on goals
4) Determining keyword targeting & new content creation needs & priorities

In this video, he lays out how to use a keyword map for SEO to build the best content.

It’s easy to see Rand has a wealth of knowledge, just a small portion of which I’ve outlined here. Yes, meeting Mr. Rand Fishkin was a great experience, and the tips he offered will continue to guide my SEO pursuits.
I’ll be attending MozCon this summer, where I hope to gain more valuable insights from SEO leaders like Rand and others.