Number of followers is a crap metric.

And yet, as I’ve been watching and learning from folks who do content marketing, PR-focused outreach, social media marketing, and influencer campaigns, I’ve found that more than 90% of the time… that’s *exactly* what people use. They’ll nod their heads and say “yeah, I know it can be gamed,” or “yeah, some people still buy followers,” or “yeah, but what else is out there?”

So… darn… frustrating.

Here’s an example: my wife Geraldine runs the Twitter account @everywhereist. She has a respectable 72,517 followers. I run the Twitter account @randfish, which has 413,696…

Our new company, SparkToro, LLC has just completed a $1.3mm angel financing. And, because we think our structure might be right for many other businesses, we’re making our documents open-source for anyone to use.

The Story

SparkToro is, obviously, a product of my and my cofounder, Casey‘s, experiences in the mostly venture-backed worlds of software startups. The last company I founded and ran, Moz, raised $29.1 million. Casey spent time at Hubspot, Moz, Ookla, and Wistia, half of those raised large institutional capital and half didn’t.

Despite some great experiences with people in the venture world — entrepreneurs and investors — venture…

Written by Aaron Allston, published by Wizards of the Coast 1991

(Including a story about Dungeons & Dragons)

Recently, I had a series of epiphanies about my experiences as a founder. Please forgive the length of the post, and stick with me, I’ll do my best to make the journey worthwhile.

I was eleven years old, maybe twelve, and my family lived way out in the middle of nowhere, in unincorporated King County. We were a 15 minute drive (at 45mph) to the nearest grocery store. My geographically closest friend’s house was another 20 minute drive from there. Walking to anything besides the frog pond in the giant forest behind our house would have taken hours. …

There’s good news for SEOs — the number of searches on Google keeps growing, interest in SEO remains massively higher than other forms of web marketing, and the field is far less distrusted than even a few years ago (source).

But, there’s bad news, too. Thanks to the kind folks at Jumpshot (whose clickstream data covers tens of billions of Google searches each month on millions of US mobile and desktop devices), we’ve got a fresh look at how clickthrough rates are evolving. …

Over the last few years, I’ve been incredibly frustrated with inaccurate, unrepresentative data sources about how traffic flows on the web and where web searches take place. Some of these are well-intentioned mistakes (e.g.), while others feel like they’ve got a specific motivation. But one source that’s been consistently excellent is Jumpshot, a collector and provider of anonymized, clickstream-level data from millions of real people’s browsers (both mobile and desktop).

With such a large segment of the United States’ web browsers sending data to Jumpshot, the macro insights are not only valuable, they’re trustworthy. I’ve written about their data previously…

If you’re in the business of content marketing, I know you’ve seen advice like this:

  • “Start with your customer personas.”
  • “Create content that will resonate with your customers.”
  • “Great content is content that your customers actually want to consume.”

It sounds compelling. But in my experience, it’s wrong. Or at least, incomplete. Why?

#1) Because, most content marketing goals are around:

  • Amplifying your content so it reaches a broader audience
  • Driving more brand awareness so a greater number of people recall your brand with positive association
  • Earning links and other ranking signals that can help your content/site rank higher in…

A few months ago, I settled on a name for my new company. Since the launch two weeks ago, I’ve received the question, “why SparkToro?” a few dozen times. Unlike my prior entrepreneurial venture (in which I started with the very awkward SEOmoz.org, and later rebranded to Moz.com), I was far more thoughtful and intentional this time around. And since one of my big missions is to help people do better marketing, I couldn’t think of a better time to tackle what can be a thorny subject.

What priorities matter when choosing a name for your new business or project…

In his keynote at INBOUND last year, Dharmesh Shah (Hubspot’s cofounder) shared a personal story of meeting Elon Musk and their short but powerful conversation about aligning people on a team as you would vectors in an equation. Unlike many folks in the startup world, I’m not a die-hard Musk fan. I appreciate his creativity and accomplishments, but also find him to be frustratingly quiet regarding political, social, and moral issues on which I wish he’d speak up. That aside, I find the analogy from his chat with Dharmesh something I return to over and over.

The basic concept is…

17 years ago, I dropped out of college to work with my mom, Gillian, on the business that became Moz. For 7 years (from 2007–2014), I was that company’s CEO. For the last 4, I’ve been in a variety of individual contributor roles. And today, for me, that journey ends.

On a scale of 0–10, where 0 is “fired and escorted out of the building by security” and 10 is “left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,” my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally. I have a lot of sadness…

This post originally appeared on Rand’s Blog: Moz Returns to SEO

Preface: This is a hard post to write, and one that’s taken far longer than I hoped to publish. Never before have I been so challenged to walk the line between empathy and transparency. Never before have I had to get a blog post approved by my boss, board, and legal team. …

Rand Fishkin

@SparkToro founder, author, speaker, blogger, husband to @everywhereist, tiny Backstage Capital/Techstars investor, & feminist. Formerly @Moz.

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