The Future of Internet Marketing – Rand Fishkin, Duane Forrester, Wil Reynolds

It has taken me two weeks to really process the brain melting moments I experienced at Pubcon and since. It sometimes seems as though every thought leader in the industry had the same basic thought all at the same time.

What is this overpowering mental telepathy?

This moment in time will be the marker of the biggest shift in Internet marketing practices since businesses could create websites. All of the artificial and sometimes dumbed-down work-arounds created to help human beings find the digital information they needed most at the time and place they needed it are becoming a thing of the past.

No matter whether you talk to Rand Fishkin, Duane Forrester, or Wil Reynolds, they will all tell you that the name of the game from this moment forward is creating high quality content that inspires human behavior.


Let’s start with some thinking from Rand. Google has fully embraced the use of machine learning and now allows the algorithms to write algorithms. The machines pay attention to human click-through behavior and are weaning off of the need to be fed potential ranking factors like keywords, anchor text, and unique linking domains by human supervisors. The machines are demonstrating an ability to take in direct human interaction data, learn from it, and create a best-fit algo.


Duane picks up the thread of ideas from Fishkin and takes them a step further as we look closer into exactly how human beings access and interact with the internet. As of 2013 of the 7.1 billion human beings living on the planet 3.45 billion of them were mobile subscribers. Forrester points out that mobile internet usage creates a funnel effect taking everything on the web and narrowing it down to just what the individual user needs in that particular place and time.

“This is why mobile ranking algos exist – context and experience matters” Duane Forrester

The more human beings access data on the go and in the moment, the more it affects their behavioral interactions with the options that search presents. Users are becoming more able to express themselves in natural, intuitive ways and do not have to dumb down what they want or need to a key word or two.

“Search is advancing to be the bridge between a user’s intent and the experiences the world has to offer.” Duane Forrester

Wil Reynolds completes the brain-melting thoughts by forcing us to consider that our main SEO focus on organic ranking isn’t worth what it used to be.


Not only is the effort to win high quality organic search placement costly, it is constantly being bumped further and further down the search results page for rich answers that serve the user better than a link to a page deemed relevant to the search query. To continue winning the internet marketing game, your content has to be more that just brilliant, it has to give the people consuming that content the ability to become a better version of themselves.

“Is your content leveling people up?” Wil Reynolds

In light of all of this, what is a forward thinking digital marketer/SEO to do?

Is SEO dead?

According to Duane Forrester, search engine optimization is not dead, it still matters, but it is more complicated.


Rand says that it is critical to optimize for both algorithmic input and human behavioral output.


Wil recommends that rather than pouring effort into quickly producing more and more new content, take the time to reinvest in the top performing content that you’ve already produced. Transform it into something that will level up not only your business but also your customers. Make sure that the resounding answer to the following question is YES!


Do these comments from notable industry thought leaders jive with your own experience? What is jumping to the top of your 2016 innovations list? Most importantly, as you make changes to your digital marketing strategies, how do you see your tracking and reporting needs changing? Join in the conversation in the comments below.

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