By: Jack Clark on 27-09-2017 in Analytics, Content Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Search, SEO

Since my comprehensive recap of the inaugural Big Digital 2016 conference, I’ve been preparing for my next big wrap up post. I won’t keep you waiting any longer, here it is – the full wrap of my very first MozCon.

Prepare yourself for invaluable notes from every presentation, plus some insights into the Seattle nightlife from the perspective of a 22 year old overseas for the first time. I’ll let you decide which is more interesting.

Sit back and relax, and enjoy everything from my key conference takeaways to bizarre tactics employed by a Seattle bar.

Mozcon 2017

MozCon Workshops

I was lucky enough to get along to the pre-MozCon workshops and despite the limited sleep and severe jetlag, I could not have been more excited to get in there. I’d chosen my 3 workshops with 3 of Moz’s best – Dr Pete, Britney Muller and Rand Fishkin!

The workshops were an intimate, 1 on 1 type learning environment where anything went and attendees were encouraged to speak up and discuss the issues they face in their day to day work. Now, at the risk of being taken out by the powers that be at Moz, I will not spill the beans (much) on what was delivered at the sessions I attended. In saying that, I will provide everyone with one of my key takeaways from each of the workshops.

Dr Pete

This session was about keyword targeting, especially for rank brain. Dr Pete went in depth about what we know so far about rankbrain and how we can use it to our advantage. My main takeaway was that pages should be targeting groups of keywords, and ensuring all user signals on your pages are looking good, or else don’t expect to rank well in the long run.

Britney Muller

I was then off to Britney Muller’s session to hear about all there is to know about Technical KPI-driven SEO Audits. I was extra keen for this one as Technical SEO is a focus of mine so any new tips and tricks I could come away with would no doubt benefit me. Again, will not spill too much, besides the method in which Britney likes to go about her technical audits:

  • Goals
  • Indexation
  • Accessibility
  • Prioritization
  • Pivot

I say no more!

Rand Fishkin

My third and final workshop for the day was none other than Rand himself. Rand was running a session on The 10 Jobs of SEO-focused Content. As usual, he didn’t disappoint outlining several tactics, tools and workings to have our content solve the user’s problem and rank well. Rand outlined some important goals we should try and hit with our SEO focused content:

  • Rank for conversion likely keywords
  • Rank for eventual conversion keywords
  • Rank for informational and topical keywords
  • Rank for further afield tangential keywords
  • Attract influencers likely to amplify content
  • Brand and reputation management

Now with the workshops done and dusted, there was nothing more left to do other than have a burger, couple of beers, attend the networking event and get an early night to be supercharged for the next 3 days of MozCon.

Jack, Rand & Karthik at Moz Workshops

MozCon Day 1

Feeling fresh as a daisy, we made our way down to the Washington State Convention Centre where we enjoyed a beautiful breakfast. The crispy bacon for breakfast alone was worth the 18 hour trip. I polished off seconds and stepped foot into what felt like the year 2080. The lighting and stage setup was superb, everything I expected and more. The Kwasi team found seats and settled in for a big day. Please enjoy my day 1 notes.

Rand Fishkin – Welcome to MozCon 2017

  • Google is breaking into job listings, reservations and cultural content
  • Google aren’t penalising link spam – they’re just ignoring it
  • Google face a major threat from Amazon
  • Search is still growing
  • Google owns 10 times more referral traffic than anyone else
  • We definitely live in a Google world

Lisa Myers – How to get big links

  • You need to come up with a lot of bad ideas to come up with any great ideas
  • Over invest in formats that can be reformatted
  • The creative is what connects with people
  • Outreach is about grit and perseverance
  • Chrome and/or Firefox users are 17% more likely to stay in their jobs

Oli Gardner – Data-Driven Design

Oli Gardner at MozCon 2017

  • 67% of marketers said they don’t have enough data to do their job effectively
  • 81% of landing page designers start without receiving copy
  • Conduct usability tests by pop-quizzing colleagues
  • Extreme ironing is a thing
  • DESIGN = EMPATHY = RESULTS

Joel Klettke – How To Write Customer-Driven Copy That Converts

  • Every conversion is a conversation
  • You are not your customer, stop trying to think for them
  • Don’t look for opinions, look for experiences
  • Address your customers’ pain points, anxieties, priorities & outcomes
  • SHUT UP & listen to customers

Daniel Russell – What We Learned From Reddit & How It Can Help Your Brand Take Content Marketing to the Next Level

  • Online forums are amazing places to find content ideas – reddit is a gold mine
  • reddit is the eighth most visited website with 274 million unique visitors
  • How to find content ideas from reddit, step-by-step:
    • become an active user
    • master reddit’s search function
    • model the top content
    • filter sub reddits
    • look at top content in sub reddit from past month

Kathryn Cunningham – How to Build an SEO-Intent-Based Framework for Any Business

  • Always document goals at the start of a campaign
  • The steps to a successful campaign include:
    • audit your current state
    • perform keyword research to identify modifiers
    • map modifiers to intent stages
    • map to target URLs and KPIs
    • gather universal result data
    • build an action plan
    • deliver the strategy
    • build a KPI driven automated report

Ian Lurie – Size Doesn’t Matter: Great Content by Teams of One

  • Be a badger, not a unicorn
  • Content is not a democracy
  • You’re drowning in ideas: just choose one already
  • Use what you have not what you wish you had
  • Use text editors to write content, don’t use Word
  • Read backwards one paragraph at a time when proof reading content
  • There is always a way to get it done!

Justine Jordan – The Tie That Binds: Why Email is Key to Maximizing Marketing ROI

  • The main reasons people report spam when receiving emails are:
    • Irrelevant or too many emails
    • No longer interested in your brand
    • They never subscribed to your emails in the first place
  • 50% of consumers say it’s easier to mark spam than unsubscribe
  • Emails look rubbish on mobile more often than not
  • Stop tricking people with misleading subject lines
  • No plan? No Purpose? Don’t send an email

Purna Virji – Marketing in a Conversational World: How to Get Discovered, Delight Your Customers and Earn the Conversion

  • 10 years ago, 1 out of 4 Americans were still using dial up
  • 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020
  • Perfectionism is the thing that is really preventing us from taking flight
  • What you should do is build a simple ai bot as soon as you have a good use for it
  • Promote it across your on and offline marketing platforms
  • Engage and track across multiple touch points
  • Caution is needed, avoidance is not

Phil Nottingham – Thinking Smaller: Optimizing for the New Wave of Social Video Platforms

  • One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words
  • All social networks are fundamentally video platforms
  • Your Facebook video strategy should be little “snacks” of entertainment
  • There are no boring niches, only boring companies – you need a perspective, you need an idea
  • Investing in making more, smaller, videos with less investment in “production”
  • Check out Wistia Soapbox for webcam videos

Monday Night #MozCrawl

After taking in so much knowledge on Day 1, the only viable thing to do was to celebrate with a pub crawl. Despite the thirsty MozCon goers drinking the pubs dry of beer (and free drink coupons), the night was filled with plenty of networking and great tasting beers. I should mention the size of the tequila shots: they were large and dangerous, especially when you have more than one.

The highlight of the night was seeing Donald Trump butt naked – despite your political preference, you can’t help but have a laugh at this.

Donald Trump statue

MozCon Day 2

Up bright and early, I tucked away another wonderful breakfast, reminisced on my favourite moments from the night before and got front and centre seats to what would be another riveting day. Not being much of a coffee drinker, I was relying on my sheer adrenaline and eagerness to learn to make up for my lack of sleep. Please enjoy my notes from day 2.

Wil Reynolds – I’d Rather Be Thanked Than Ranked

Wil Reynolds at MozCon 2017

  • Create the content you wish you found
  • People are more than keywords
  • Google is understanding what we feel when we search
  • Listen, watch, learn from your customers
  • Satisfied searchers leave a strong finger print
  • Cut out the dumb remarketing

Rob Bucci – Reverse-Engineer Google’s Research to Serve Up the Best, Most Relevant Content for Your Audience

  • Keyword research is more art than science
  • 90% of results are organic – organic are there, useful and quick
  • Don’t go running after news boxes results just because they are high up on search
  • Immediacy beats loyalty
  • Images are great UX for unrefined queries

Matthew Edgar – More Than SEO: 3 Ways To Prove UX Matters Too

  • Good UX starts with making your website easy to find
  • Like good SEO, good UX is a long-term & ongoing process
  • Track all the different ways people navigate
  • You want people to engage with your content
  • Make sure technical errors are taken care of, these can cause horrible UX

Jayna Grassel – A Site Migration: Redirects, Resources, & Reflection

  • Lessons learned from a large site migration:
    • Have a clearly defined process
    • Preserve top pages, but don’t neglect long tail keywords
    • Redirects – please don’t forget these
    • It takes around 3 months to see any type of results
  • SEO’s work comes last in the process, remain patient

Kane Jamison – The 8 Paid Promotion Tactics That Will Get You To Quit Organic Traffic

  • Think audience acquisition
  • Split test to find the winners
  • Convert winners to organic posts
  • Target influencers and journalists
  • Get B2B target costs down
  • Integrate your email list
  • Use video for super cheap engagement
  • Retarget for conversion

Tara-Nicholle Nelson – How to Be a Happy Marketer: Survive the Content Crisis and Drive Results by Mastering Your Customer’s Transformational Journey

  • Disengagement is the #1 limiting factor of a business
  • Engage humans’ hearts and minds via their aspirations
  • You sell a transformation, not a product
  • Problem first > product first
  • Use customer journey insights for content and marketing
  • Turn insight into influence

Matthew Barby – Up and to the Right: Growing Traffic, Conversions, & Revenue

  • Don’t just focus on learning tactics, focus on understanding problems
  • Google didn’t kill guest posting, we did
  • Most companies have 1 or 2 channels that contribute to 60% of their acquisition
  • Approach your acquisition strategy as if each tactic you use may not exist tomorrow
  • Create side doors to a website
  • 99% of HubSpot wins come from internal linking

Joanna Lord – How to Operationalize Growth for Maximum Revenue

  • Growth is creating inflection opportunities for business success
  • There are 3 ways to grow:
    • Acquisition
    • Retention
    • Monetisation
  • Who you need to hire has changed
  • We spend too much time on USELESS things
  • Often the hardest most complicated business decision is the one you most need to make

Krista Seiden – Analytics to Drive Optimization & Personalization

  • Make sure your content is for somebody specific. If it’s for everybody, it’s for nobody
  • Have a content strategy
  • Problems arise when smart questions were not asked at the beginning
  • Don’t let your content get old and outdated
  • Make less content overall, but make more quality content

Dr. Pete Meyers – Facing the Future: 5 Simple Tactics for 5 Scary Changes

  • HTTPS – 55% of websites ranking on page 1 now use it
  • Warnings are coming for HTTP sites on chrome and other browsers
  • It’s easier to get to a snippet instead of number 1
  • Write for people
  • Prepare for Voice Search, it’s coming
  • Rankbrain isn’t big and scary, just make sure you provide a great UX

MozCon Ignite

After polishing off my very first Old Fashioned, I was primed to sit back, relax, and listen to inspirational short talks about anything and everything. Everyone who spoke did a fantastic job. I’ve never seen a room bursting with laughter one minute, then sobbing the next. I think everyone who attended left extremely moved and inspired. It was a great experience!

MozCon Day 3

With Day 2 done and dusted I was struggling to comprehend that we had just 1 day left. Time was absolutely flying and I don’t think I’d ever been so tired in my life. Step in the MozCon organisers who pushed day 3 back by an hour, allowing for all the jet lagged and weary eyed attendees to get some much-needed extra sleep. Bacon was amazing once again. Please enjoy my third and final day of notes.

Cindy Krum – The Truth About Mobile-First Indexing

  • Google Mobile First Index is launching in 2018… probably
  • Mobile-first design is not the same as mobile-first indexing
  • Chatbots are growing faster than apps
  • 90% of the world’s data was created in the past 2 years
  • URL not required content is growing rapidly
  • Google hosted content ranks well in SERPs
  • Chrome is a browser but is beginning to act like a remote

Tara Reed – Powerful Brands Have Communities

  • Powerful brands have strong communities
  • Customers will find communities with or without you
  • 4 questions to ask when creating a community
    • Should the community be public or private?
    • Can the community be low-tech?
    • Should it be social-first or content-first?
    • Should the community be gamified?

Heather Physioc – From Anchor to Asset: How Agencies Can Wisely Create Data-Driven Content

  • Be impossible to ignore as an SEO
  • 72.5% or people believe their content marketing budgets will increase
  • Let’s focus on proving value, creating a process, sourcing content
  • Understand not every agency has all the resources, not every client has the budget
  • Build a flexible skeleton process with the buy in from across the shop

Britney Muller – 5 Secrets: How to Execute Lean SEO to Increase Qualified Leads

  • Eliminate any rubbish in the Google index
  • Eliminate thin, duplicate and spammy pages
  • Update your CMS – check out Craft CMS and SEO Matic plugin
  • Evaluate your CMS and crawlability – you don’t have to move the whole site, you can use a folder path
  • Learn by doing! Theory is nice but nothing prepares you like practice

Stephanie Chang – SEO Experimentation for Big-Time Results

  • The process is: Define (hypothesis generation), Design, Analyse
  • Controls need to be equivalent when conducting a study
  • Canonicals and 301s have similar dips in traffic when implemented
  • H1 tag optimisations increase visits to the site
  • Meta descriptions drive more visitors to the site, and are a ranking factor

Dawn Anderson – Winning Value Propositions for Crawlers and Consumers

(In my notes Dawn was named under “Dawn Fraser”, the famous Olympic swimmer, highlighting a clear lack of sleep!)

  • Be mindful of choice overload and decision regret
  • Humans have a worse attention span than a goldfish
  • We’re vulnerable to analysis-paralysis, the paradox of choice
  • Keep sites small and unique to improve crawlability
  • rfc 6596 – check out this (odd-named) document for information on canonical tags
  • hreflang tags are form of canonicalisation
  • Search engines love categorisation
  • Use google images to get ideas for sub categorisation
  • Pay more attention to site search and it’s analytics

Rand Fishkin – Inside the Googling Mind: An SEO’s Guide to Winning Clicks, Hearts, & Rankings in the Years Ahead

  • Google is Trojan-horsing people
  • Check out Celebrity Net Worth as a prime example
  • Serve “instant answer” content while simultaneously enticing the click
  • Invest in content google either can’t show in SERPs or that builds your brand when they do
  • Drive visitors to subscription channels you own
  • Use influencer marketing to become the brand that searchers recognise
  • If Google’s already in your space find what they fail to deliver and double down on that

Wednesday Night Bash

The bash was fantastic, a night where everyone could truly let their hair down, discuss learnings from the previous 3 days and just have a good time. The Kwasi team enjoyed a game of 10-pin bowling where the Head Honcho himself showed us how it was done, bowling one of the best games I’d ever seen (unfortunately a fellow Moz goer accidently reset our game in the ninth frame. Don’t worry mate, we forgive you).

After singing and dancing the night away at Karaoke, the crowd who still had any energy left dispersed to different pubs throughout the Capitol Hill area. The Kwasi team ended up at the Unicorn, who have a pretty unique way of letting people know it’s 2 am and time to leave the pub. I can’t quite put it into words what they did, but let me just say anyone there won’t forget it in a hurry. And on that note, MozCon 2017 was done!

Key Takeaway from the 3 Days

The main takeaway I took away from the conference, touched on by many speakers was that we as Inbound Marketers must try to better understand people so that we can help them as best we can. EVERYTHING we implement should be based on – “Is what I’m doing here genuinely going to help someone solve a problem”. When this approach is at the forefront of our minds, the results will take care of themselves.

Final Wrap

MozCon 2017 truly did have it all. After three days of learning, it’s virtually impossible to summarise all learnings and experiences. Being my first overseas trip, I couldn’t have picked a better experience to broaden my horizons. The amazing like minded people I met from all over the world is what really made MozCon for me, not to mention it was great to speak to people who understand I am not an IT tech support guy and that I don’t work for Google.

I was lucky enough to travel the West Coast of the USA for a week after Moz and all I’ll say is, if you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon make sure you get there at some point.

That’s all for now, you made it to the end, well done! Who was your favourite speaker and what was your main takeaway? I would love to hear the thoughts of anyone else who made the trip to Seattle.