Everything You Need to Know about MozCon 2015

August 24, 2015

Jelly is always learning. We also like sharing.

That’s why we thought we would share some key insights from this year’s biggest SEO conference. Prepare yourself for 3000 words of awesomeness. Ready? Here we go!

Rand Fishkin of MOZ kicked the conference off and brought it home in front of 1500 eager, loyal SEO fans. He reminded us of how important it is to disrupt your own model in order to stay relevant. “If we don’t build the thing that kills us, someone else will.” He also reminded everyone about the “kings” of the consumer digital world: Google handles 90% of all searches and Facebook provides 90% of all social media referrals. Rand also shared how the two leaders in ROI in 2015 are email and SEO.

Dana DiTomaso of Kick Point Inc. (Edmonton, Canada) shared “How to make your marketing match your reality”. She emphasized the importance of unity across businesses and how silos lead to broken brands. Her talk reestablished how brand strategy starts with core values. “Your brand is your promise, it’s more than marketing.” Our favourite insight from Dana? She claimed that digital marketers are uniquely equipped to lead brand strategy. We agree! Digital marketers understand and measure many of the possible touch points someone might have with a brand.

Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic shared a talk called “How To Do Content Strategically (Probably)”. She put forth an idea that content strategy is not just “what” but why, when, how, for whom and how often. “If your content is for everybody than it’s for nobody.” By that, she believes that more content does not equal good content; a content strategy has to include considerations for workflow and governance. In other words, content strategy is more than just writing and editing. She gave a illustrate example of this concept. When good content strategy is like a bear hunting with its mouth open in the river. When absent of strategy, content seems as out of place as a bear hunting with its mouth open in a field hoping a big fish will jump in out of thin air. We see a parallel with Guy Kawasaki’s Peking Duck analogy: “One must wait for a long time with your mouth open before a Peking duck flies in your mouth”. Also, cool pokeball visual for strategy.

Matthew Brown of MOZ gave a profound talk called “An SEO’s Guide to the Insane World of Content”. This was a fast-paced, hard-hitting talk about something he calls 10X readers. “Content loyalty is more important that content virality.” The key is creating evergreen content to gather 10x readers. He also shared a unique perspective about not trying to get links to content, but rather publishing it to the right places (distribution strategy). He said it takes 12-17 months to create loyal readership. Matthew also announced the release of “Moz Content” for optimization.

Duane Brown of Unbounce spoke about “Delightful Remarketing: How You Can Do It”. Duane shared a refreshingly foundational message about value. “Make customers better versions of themselves.” How can you do that? By not over-marketing to converted customers. For instance, he uses burn pixels to stop advertising showing up to people who have converted. This, after all, creates a better advertising experience for consumers. In other words, Duane recommends using remarketing to augment a sales process, not to BE the sales process.

Stephanie Wallace of Nebo presented on what she called “The Perfect Pair: Using PPC Data to Influence SEO”. First, she feels it is crucial to mirror your landing page with your advertisement to create a seamless user experience. Second, she recommended using PPC data to improve customers experience and SEO query data to improve how PPC ads perform. We agree! PPC is the first brand touch point and your landing page copy should follow up on the expected experience for that page.

Adrian Vender of IMI presented “Tracking Beyond the Pageview”. He reminded the audience about how much Google Tag Manager rocks. Wondering what we think about it? We love it! It helps us streamline our on-site tracking tools for our clients and we were glad to see it show up at Moz this year. Does Analytics tell you what you really want to know? How about reading? Downloading content? Navigation? Event tracking? Conversion influence? “Now you can place more pieces of code more easily and find out more information. This is Google Tag Manager.” By placing just a single container code on your site, the ability to manage extra tracking scripts is possible. And all from a fresh beautiful dashboard. It allows MARKETERS to manage how a website is tracked, rather than DEVELOPERS. So cool!

Marta Turek of ROI DNA in Vancouver kicked our butts with a talk called “Too Busy To Do Good Work”. She empathisized with us as marketers have increasingly more responsibility through customer experience loyalty and advocacy. As a result, marketers overwhelmed with 1 interruption every 8 minutes or 50-60 a day. So how does she curb this? She says habits are unconscious behaviours that can be formed through tactics. Marta gave us 21 tactics for knowledge workers that can help improve our skills. The topics included considerations for capacity (time), context (priority, interdependence, clarity), mindset (focus, efficiency), and review (feedback). Her key was to “Stop mindlessly accepting meetings” and practice systematic time planning using lists. Our favourite takeaways: “Email is not a storage container, it’s a shipping container” and using Pocket to store away things to read later.

Cara Harshman of Optimizely spoke about “Online Personalization That Actually Works” and spoke from a personal brand interaction story through email remarketing that led her to buy new pieces of furniture at the price she wanted. This was to drive home a point: “The one size fits all web is dead… and lazy.” She also provided framework to strategize for personalization with three easy questions:
1) Who to target (Contextual, Demographic, Behavioural)?
2) What to show them?
3) How to prioritize?
She had an interesting thought: the power of personalization is in how you wield it. Cool!

Marty Weintraub of aimClear threw everyone for a loop with a talk title of wild length and yet perfectly summed up his presentation. His talk: “Ultimate Search and Social Mashup: Expertly Curate Owned Audience Cookie Pools”. Already our minds were straining but it really is a perfect explanation of his talk. Simply put? Remarketing ads offers similar “lists” to email marketing but instead of emails, its through cookies stored on the user’s browser. Once you have a list of many users, you can target your advertisements to a very specific person type using user-shared social media data. Marty says, marketing, at its most basic level, is list building. “Capture lists, drill down for personas, and get them to buy.” One important consideration is that specificity is the enemy of scale so be diligent in documenting your personas and know how to scale back your filters to regain value. As an aside, Marty mentioned several marketing awards that he’s seen companies receive in recent years; every award went to a blend of paid ads, organic (PR) and social! According to Marty, Jelly must be on to something!

Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist for MOZ shared some enlightening insights in his presentation “Surviving Google: SEO in 2020”. One of the most profound insights Dr. Pete shared was how and why SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) have evolved a great deal in recent years. “Google is no longer a curator of content: they are a content creator. And they are disrupting their own model.” Dr. Pete challenged everyone to consider what SEO would look like if keywords didn’t matter in 2020. He emphasized building irreplaceable deep content that adds more value. He then went on to cover a wide array of topics, from the importance of mobile to the prevalence of Search Cards. We learned that 65% of online activity starts on a mobile, is continued on a PC, and continued once again on a tablet!

Cindy Krum of MobileMoxie shared a presentation titled “Become a Mobile SEO Superhero”. She reminded the audience that Google’s goal, at the end of the day, is a better user experience across many devices. “Google is using our own content to stop people from getting to our site!” What does that mean? At the most basic level, Google has becoming a presentation layer between websites and users, displaying information so that searchers never have to leave the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Cindy highlighted the top factors affecting mobile SERPs: operating system, location, privacy, browser, bandwidth and more! At this point, Google’s mobile crawler barely factors in the text of your content!

Adam Singer, Analytics Advocate at Google spoke on “Digital Analytics: People, Process, Platform”. This was refreshing to hear when considering data trends: “Think about users! Not search engines, platforms, or devices.” A poignant example Adam provided was framed in a question: “Do sales for beach vacations increase on rainy days?” For some of our seasonal companies, it’s something that’s hard to fully understand! (Although, it’s probably only a matter of time until Google can factor in weather results!) Many marketers stress about analysis but, as Adam reminded, you shouldn’t. It’s fun, creative and improves results. Further to that, Adam challenged us to spend 90% of our budget on our people and only 10% on software. Fancy software does not solve measurement problems, people do. That said, we’re waiting for the day when spam issue on Google Analytics is something we don’t have to take as much time for!

Purna Virji of Purview Marketing shared a talk that had wider implications than it seemed by its title: “How to better sell SEO to the C-Suite”. She said that successful leaders are focused on growing their company. The question then: how do you gain their trust? How do you gain the budget to carry out the work with understanding and support? Her answer, “If you want to sell to a CEO, think like a CEO.” She then gave three simple tips with profound implications:
1) Have a strategy! She recommended using a business plan template to make a case of resources, set expectations for trust and buy-in and set goals.
2) Communicate direction by answering tough questions, provide relevant examples, setting up an execution plan and consider probabilities.
3) Speak the language of profit and loss. This is what pushes a company forward without getting dragged down in the details.
Personally, this was Eric’s favourite talk, so thank you Purna!

Tamara Gielen was clear about how to “Drive More Conversions With Lifecycle Email Campaigns”. There’s no doubt that email is a powerful tool but Tamara’s insights extended well beyond email. She spoke about how attention is a scarce commodity and encouraged the audience to be relevant, timely, and personalized. In other words, delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Automated/triggered email campaigns are one way to do this. In fact, she called it customer service. “If your marketing is good enough, you are no longer marketing to me, you are providing me a service.” Who is your ideal customer? What is their journey? How can you assist them in the buying journey? Great talk Tamara. This high-touch level is time-consuming but possible and would make this world a better place!

Mary Bowling of Optimized! shared a talk entitled “Back to the Future with Local Search”. She provided a no nonsense perspective on SEO. “Don’t take shortcuts just to get better search engine rankings.” Mary shared some classic SEO tips like structuring your website in such a way that people can access and know your services. She also told the audience to grow local barnacles: landing links and information on well-visited local pages (e.g. chambers of commerce, BBB, convention centres). Lastly, use Google My Business. Google has set excellent guidelines for “Google My Business” and following to a tea is the best way to achieve results. We couldn’t agree more. Google’s tools are an intuitive way of approaching SEO.

Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive was hard-hitting and in-your-face with a difficult-to-summarize talk called: “The time to do the web right is incredibly short”. Wil drove home an urgency to realize that businesses are in crisis. The SEO industry focuses more on search than we do on people. “You’re winning at search and losing at people.” He called out marketers to go back to advertising books and understanding how people make decisions and understanding human nature. Wil then applied this to various places where digital can provides business with human connection points. Treat social media platforms like Pinterest as a database of intentions and aspirations. Use SEOs as an opportunity to be the concierge for the entire internet. And lastly, aspire to something greater whenever possible.

Lexi Mills of DynamoPR had everyone in the audience dazzled and ready to hire her with a talk called “Marketing Innovations: Creative PR, Content, and SEO Strategies”. Her talk centred around several case studies about UK company Bathrooms.com, but a very cool one that most people could sink their teeth into and understand. Upon looking at the most commonly missed searches, they learned that people were searching for “bathroom sweets” instead of “bathroom suites.” What they did then, was create a website for their chocolate bathtubs as a PR stunt. It was so effective in the media that it’s entered multiple news cycles across various topics including literacy. We really love PR, and so we’re going to share TWO favourite quotes: “The key to PR success is speed.” AND “Create global PR. You might as well.” Thanks for challenging us Lexi!

Mig Reyes of Basecamp wasted no time breaking out of the normal with a talk called “Upside Down and Inside Out”. He challenged the traditional conventions in the business world. “Burn your business cards” was his first challenge. Why? Because your creative energy is more important than your title. He then went on with a few more controversial actions: break things; make ugly things; spend less time on things. The actions aren’t the point though. Each provides a key to breaking out of uninspired patterns and fears. Mig’s main points were good: be creative for the sake of being creative. Much like creativity, sometimes you need to be inefficient, makes mistakes, and evolve.

Chris Dayley of Dayley Conversion gave a short but sweet talk called “Rocking Your CRO Efforts with Radical Redesigns”. Focusing on optimization cycles, he spoke about the value of recreating and optimizing the design of your landing pages on a regular basis. “User behaviour is rapidly changing. Make sure you’re not operating on false assumptions.” The biggest reason for the rapid change is the quick variation of user expectations. His challenge: rediscover who your audience is as often as you can!

Gianluca Fiorelli of ILoveSEO.net shared a talk called “Parole, Parole, Parole: Practical, Modern Keyword and Topical Research”.In it he shared some philosophies around SEO and a multitude of tools and techniques! “Semantics govern keywords. Keywords are signs representing things that have a meaning.” In other words, Gianluca meant, every keyword tells a story and means something different to each user. He gave us some takeaways:
1) Use google trends better by understand the story behind the interest.
2) Use Pinterest or social media to understand how people interact with these keywords.
3) Then, study your competitors with various tools.
There was a lot of meat in his talk, some of which we’re still digesting. Maybe that’s partly what he meant by, “Don’t be data driven, be data informed.”

Courtney Seiter of Buffer shared a insightful presentation called “The Psychology of Social Media”. “People give on social media and are longing for something in return.” She shared about how social media affects our brains and relationships. Her insights revealed that Facebook users are very trusting, Twitter users are somewhat addicted, Pinterest users can suffer from comparison, and Instagram users value nostalgia. Cool, right? She also said the level of affinity between people and brands is same as between friends, but not as much as with lovers. Here is one more profound insights from her talk: Relationships with brands aren’t created through interaction as much as they are through values. We could go on and on about emojis, selfies, and nostalgia, but we’ll just sum with one of Courtney’s quotes that is strikingly similar to our founder Darian’s philosophy about social media that really formed Jelly in the early days: “Social media is at its best when it remembers it’s about humans: messy and real”.

Last, but certainly not least, was David Mihm of MOZ. His talk “Astoundingly Useful Applications of Facebook” was aptly named. Facebook is at 1.5 billion users and still is growing. Because of that, Facebook gets a billion search queries a day. And so unsurprisingly, Facebook stole the show at MOZ this year! David’s belief is that we have “peaked” our Google search funnel volume and Facebook has become the home app for everyone on mobile phones. This has big implications for search as Facebook continues to roll out Graph Search: their model on how search should be done since 2013. Graph Search allows users to search for people based on interest, location and other identifying features. As of December 2014, this included post information, news stories, products and much more. Facebook dropped Bing at the same time and also bought TheFind for product search. David believes Graph Search is a five year plan, and that we’re between years 2 and 3. If you’re into SEO, you will understand the philosophical significance this quote: “Facebook search is not dependent on links.” Game-changer! If you want more info about David’s killer talk, you really should check out The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Graph Search.

Well, we hope you enjoyed what you found here (if you made it this far, then you probably did). You can always visit jelly.tips for more nuggets or subscribe to our event newsletter! We’ll share them as we get them.

Bye for now!

By Eric Reynolds