MozCon 2019: Everything You Need to Know About Day Three

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KameronJenkins

If the last day of MozCon felt like it went too fast or if you forgot everything that happened today (we wouldn’t judge — there were so many insights), don’t fret. We captured all of day three’s takeaways so you could relive the magic of day three. 

Don’t forget to check out all the photos with Roger from the photobooth! They’re available here in the MozCon Facebook group. Plus: You asked and we delivered: the 2019 MozCon speaker walk-on playlist is now live and available here for your streaming pleasure. 

Cindy Krum— Fraggles, Mobile-First Indexing, & the SERP of the Future 

If you were hit with an instant wave of nostalgia after hearing Cindy’s walk out music, then you are in good company and you probably were not disappointed in the slightest by Cindy’s talk on Fraggles.



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MozCon 2019: Day Two Learnings

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KameronJenkins

We had another amazing day here at MozCon — our speakers delivered some incredible expertise for Day two. But there was plenty of moments in-between that was also just as spectacular. 

In no particular order, today also consisted of: 

  • Areej parading 180 slides-worth of knowledge in 14 minutes — like a boss!
  • 1,000+ attendees singing Marie happy birthday
  • Dr. Pete bringing the “wizard” in SEO wizard to his talk (and now everyone wants to know which House everyone belongs to)
  • Dogs DO like birthday cake, thank you for coming to our TED talk
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • This tender moment between Wil and Stacy, our live event captioner
  • Cat puns

And much, much more. Let’s get to it! Read on for our top takeaways from day two of MozCon.

Heather Physioc — Building a Discoverability Powerhouse: Lessons From Merging an Organic, Paid, & Content Practice

Heather kicked off day two by making a strong case for un-siloing our search teams. When paid, organic, and content teams join forces, they can reach maximum effectiveness.

By using her own team’s experience as an example, Heather helped us see what it takes to build a powerful, cross-functional team:

  • Start with a mantra to guide your team. Theirs is “Connected brands start with connected teams.”
  • Rip the bandaid off. Get people involved in the mission and brainstorming as soon as possible.
  • While you want to start collaborating as soon as possible, make the actual changes in small, incremental steps. Develop committees dedicated to making certain aspects of the change easier.
  • “No process is precious” means establishing clear, living processes (they use Confluence to document these) that can adapt over time. Check-in regularly and ditch what isn’t serving you.
  • Commit to cross-team training not so you can do each other’s jobs, but to promote empathy and to start thinking about how your work will affect other people.
  • Just like we should avoid siloing our departments, we should avoid siloing our reporting. Bring data from the channels together to tell a cohesive story.
  • Create a culture of feedback so that feedback feels less personal and more about improving the work.
  • Even if you’re not able to change the org chart, you can still work on un-siloing by collaborating with your counterparts on other teams.

Visit https://mozcon.vmlyrconnect.com/ for even more wisdom from Heather!

Mary Bowling — Brand Is King: How to Rule in the New Era of Local Search 

Mary took the stage next to shed some light on why brand is so critical to success in this latest era of local search.

  • With so much talk about Google taking clicks away from our websites, Mary posited that Google’s actually giving local businesses a ton of opportunity to increase our conversions on the SERP itself.
  • According to research from Mike Blumenthal, 70% of local business conversions happen on the SERP with the smaller percentage happening on websites. While both are important, Mary says that local businesses really need to concentrate on owning our branded SERPs.
  • Google loves brands, and one way we can tell Google we’re a good one is to take control of what other websites say about us.
  • Want to understand Google’s recent attention on local? They’re moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done.
  • Control whatever you can on your branded SERPs, whether that’s managing reviews, making sure your GMB is up to date and accurate, and investing in PR to influence news and other mentions that show up on your branded SERP.
  • Google is giving small businesses a lot of ways to attract customers. Use them to your advantage!

Casie Gillette — Making Memories: Creating Content People Remember 

Casie told us that only 20% of people remember what they read, which means you might not remember this. We’ll try not to take it personally. In the meantime, how do you create something that people will actually remember and come back for again and again?

Here’s some of the advice she offered:

  • People care about brands that care about them. Make your audience feel seen and you’ll win.
  • Pay attention to your audience demographics and psychographics! Make your content resonate with your audience by knowing your audience.
  • Keep your content clear and simple to give your audience the answer to their question as quickly as possible.
  • Add movement to our images when possible. It grabs attention among a sea of static images.
  • Choose colors wisely. Color can drastically impact conversions and how people respond in general.
  • Messages delivered in stories can be 22 percent more effective than pure info alone.
  • Whatever you do, commit to not being forgettable!

Wil Reynolds — 20 Years in Search & I Don’t Trust My Gut or Google  

Wil Reynolds brought the honesty in a continuation of his talk from last year’s MozCon. Massive opportunity is at our fingertips. We just need to leverage the data.

Here are some of the best nuggets from his presentation!

  • There’s power in looking at big data. You can usually find a ton of waste and save a bunch of money that helps fund your other initiatives.
  • Every client deserves a money-saving analysis. Use big data to help you do this at scale.
  • Looking at data generically can lead you to the wrong conclusions. Instead of blindly following best practices lists and correlation studies, look at data from your own websites to see what actually moves the needle.
  • Always stay in hypothesis mode.
  • Humans are naturally inclined to bring our own bias into decision-making, which is why data is so important. You can’t know everything. Let the data tell you what to do.

Bonus! Go to bit.ly/savingben if you want to stop losing money.

Dr. Marie Haynes — Super-Practical Tips for Improving Your Site’s E-A-T

Dr. Marie Haynes serves up incredible tips for how to practically improve your site’s E-A-T — something every SEO and marketer needs.

Those tips included things like:

  • Using Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to get authoritative mentions in publications
  • Publishing data — people love to cite original research!
  • Create articles that answer previously unanswered questions (find those on forums!)
  • Create original tools that solve common problems
  • Run a test and publish your results

Sounds a lot like link building, right? That’s intentional! Links to your site from authoritative sources is a huge factor when it comes to E-A-T.

Areej AbuAli — Fixing the Indexability Challenge: A Data-Based Framework 

How do you turn an unwieldy 2.5 million-URL website into a manageable and indexable site of just 20,000 pages? Answer: you catch Areej’s talk. 

  • When doing an audit, it’s a good idea to include not only what the problem is, but what effect it’s causing and the proposed solution.
  • The site Areej was working on had no rules in place to direct robots, creating unlimited URLs to crawl. Crawl budget was being wasted and Google was missing what was actually important on their site. Fundamentals like these needed to be fixed first!
  • She used search volume data to determine what content was important and should be indexed. If a keyword had low search volume but was still needed for usability purposes, it was no-indexed.
  • Another barrier to Google indexing their important content was the lack of a sitemap. Areej recommended creating and submitting separate sitemaps for the different main sections of their website.
  • The site also had no core content and its only links were coming from three referring domains.
  • Despite all of Areej’s recommendations, the client failed to implement many of them and implemented some of them incorrectly. She decided to have a face-to-face meeting to clear things up.

If she were to do this all over again, here’s what she would do differently:

  • Realize that you can’t force a client to implement your recommendations
  • Take a targeted approach to the SEO audit and focus on tackling one issue at a time.
  • At the end of the day, technical problems are people problems. It doesn’t matter how good your SEO audit is if it’s never followed.

Go to bit.ly/mozcon-areej for her full methodology and helpful graphics!

Christi Olson — What Voice Means for Search Marketers: Top Findings from the 2019 Report 

Microsoft’s Christi Olson gave us the down-low on everything you need to know about voice search now and into the future based on findings from a study they ran at Microsoft.

  • 69 percent of respondents said they have used a digital assistant
  • 75 percent of households will have at least one smart speaker by 2020
  • Over half of consumers expect their voice assistant to help them make retail purchases within five years
  • Search is moving from answers to actions — not smart actions like “Turn on the light” but “I want to know/go/do” actions
  • Smartphones, PC, and smart speakers are the main ways people engage with voice
  • 40 percent of spoken responses come from featured snippets. This is how you win at voice search.
  • To rank in featured snippets: 1) Find queries where you’re already ranking on page one, 2) Ask what questions are related to your query and answer them on your site (hint: even without voice search data, it’s safe to assume that many of the longer and more conversational keywords in your tools were probably spoken queries!), 3) Structure your answer appropriately (paragraph, table, or bullets), however, voice devices don’t usually read tables, 4) Make sure your answers are straightforward and clear, and 5) Don’t forget SEO best practices so it’s easy for search engines to find and understand!
  • Although speakable schema markup says it’s only available for news articles, she’s seen it used (and working!) on non-news sites.
  • 25 percent of people currently are using voice to make purchases

Main takeaways? Voice is here, use schema that helps voice, and bots/actions will help enable v-commerce (voice shopping) in the future.

Visit aka.ms/moz19 to view the full report Christi based this talk on.

Paul Shapiro — Redefining Technical SEO 

Take your textbook definition of technical SEO and throw it out the window because there’s more to it than crawling, indexing, and rendering. And Paul definitely proves it.

  • We’re used to thinking of SEO sitting at the center of a Venn diagram where content, links, and website architecture converge. That idea is an oversimplification and doesn’t really capture the full spirit of technical SEO.
  • If technical SEO is: “Any sufficiently technical action undertaken with the intent of improving search results” then it broadens the scope beyond just those actions that impact crawl/render/index.
  • There are four main types of technical SEO: checklist, general, blurred responsibility, and advanced-applied:
    • Checklist-style tech SEO is essentially an itemized list of technical problems you could answer yes-or-no to.
    • General technical SEO is similar to a checklist with some additional logic applied.
    • Blurred responsibility technical SEO are those tasks that lie in uncertain territories, such as items that an SEO checks but a developer would need to implement.
    • Advanced-applied SEO involves things like SEO testing, adopting new technology, data science for SEO purposes, Natural Language Processing to enhance content development, using Machine Learning for search data, and creating automation. It involves using technology to do better SEO.
  • Advanced-applied SEO means that all SEO can be technical SEO, including:
    • Redirect mapping
    • Meta descriptions
    • Content ideation
    • Link building
    • Keyword research
    • A/B testing and experimentation

Visit searchwilderness.com/mozcon-2019 for some of Paul’s python scripts he uses to make “traditional” SEO tasks technical.

Dr. Pete Meyers — How Many Words Is a Question Worth? 

Rounding out day 2 was Dr. Pete, asking the important questions: how do we find the best questions, craft content around them, and evaluate success?

  • The prevalence of People Also Ask (PAA) features has exploded within the past year! Last year they were on 30 percent of all SERPs Moz tracked and now they’re on 90 percent.
  • Google is likely using PAA clicks to feed their machine learning and help them better understand query intent.
  • Since Google is using them so often, how can we take advantage?
  • Once you know what questions people are asking around your topic, you can vet which opportunities you’ll go after on the basis of credibility (am I credible enough to answer this intelligently?), competition (is this something realistically I can compete on?), and cannibalization (am I already ranking for this with some other piece on my site?)
  • When you target questions, you’ll often get much more than you bargained for… in a good way! Don’t get discouraged if your keyword research tool shows a low search volume for a query target. Chances are, ranking for that keyword also means you’ll rank well for lots of related queries too.

Dr. Pete also announced that Moz is looking into the possibility of a People Also Ask tool! For now, he’s testing the model with a manual process you can check out today. Just go to moz.com/20q and he’ll send you a personalized list of the top 20 questions for your domain or topic.

Day two — done!

Only one more day left for this year’s MozCon! What stood out the most for you on day two? Tell us in the comments below!



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MozCon 2019: The Top Takeaways From Day One

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KameronJenkins

Rand, Russ, Ruth, Rob, and Ross. Dana and Darren. Shannon and Sarah. We didn’t mean to (we swear we didn’t) but the first day of MozCon was littered with alliteration, takeaways, and oodles of insights from our speakers. Topics ranged from local SEO, link building, and Google tools, and there was no shortage of “Aha!” moments. And while the content was diverse, the themes are clear: search is constantly changing. 

If you’re a Moz community member, you can access the slides from Day One. Not a community member yet? Sign up — it’s free!

Get the speaker slides!

Ready? Let’s make like Roger in his SERP submarine and dive right in!

Sarah’s welcome

Our fearless leader took the stage to ready our attendees for their deep sea dive over the next three days. Our guiding theme to help set the tone? The deep sea of data that we find ourselves immersed in every day.

People are searching more than ever before on more types of devices than ever before… we truly are living in the golden age of search. As Sarah explained though, not all search is created equal. Because Google wants to answer searchers’ questions as quickly as possible, they’ve moved from being the gateway to information to being the destination for information in many cases. SEOs need to be able to work smarter and identify the best opportunities in this new landscape. 

Rand Fishkin — Web Search 2019: The Essential Data Marketers Need

Next up was Rand of SparkToro who dropped a ton of data about the state of search in 2019.

To set the stage, Rand gave us a quick review of the evolution of media: “This new thing is going to kill this old thing!” has been the theme of panicked marketers for decades. TV was supposed to kill radio. Computers were supposed to kill TV. Mobile was supposed to kill desktop. Voice search was supposed to kill text search. But as Rand showed us, these new technologies often don’t kill the old ones — they just take up all our free time. We need to make sure we’re not turning away from mediums just because they’re “old” and, instead, make sure our investments follow real behavior.

Rand’s deck was also chock-full of data from Jumpshot about how much traffic Google is really sending to websites these days, how much of that comes from paid search, and how that’s changed over the years.

In 2019, Google sent ~20 fewer organic clicks via browser searches than in 2016.

In 2016, there were 26 organic clicks for every paid click. In 2019, that ratio is 11:1.

Google still owns the lion’s share of the search market and still sends a significant amount of traffic to websites, but in light of this data, SEOs should be thinking about how their brands can benefit even without the click.

And finally, Rand left us with some wisdom from the world of social — getting engagement on social media can get you the type of attention it takes to earn quality links and mentions in a way that’s much easier than manual, cold outreach.

Ruth Burr Reedy — Human > Machine > Human: Understanding Human-Readable Quality Signals and Their Machine-Readable Equivalents

It’s 2019. And though we all thought by this year we’d have flying cars and robots to do our bidding, machine learning has come a very long way. Almost frustratingly so — the push and pull of making decisions for searchers versus search engines is an ever-present SEO conundrum.

Ruth argued that in our pursuit of an audience, we can’t get too caught up in the middleman (Google), and in our pursuit of Google, we can’t forget the end user.

Optimizing for humans-only is inefficient. Those who do are likely missing out on a massive opportunity. Optimizing for search engines-only is reactive. Those who do will likely fall behind.

She also left us with the very best kind of homework… homework that’ll make us all better SEOs and marketers!

  • Read the Quality Rater Guidelines
  • Ask what your site is currently benefiting from that Google might eliminate or change in the future
  • Write better (clearer, simpler) content
  • Examine your SERPs with the goal of understanding search intent so you can meet it
  • Lean on subject matter experts to make your brand more trustworthy
  • Conduct a reputation audit — what’s on the internet about your company that people can find?

And last, but certainly not least, stop fighting about this stuff. It’s boring.

Thank you, Ruth!

Dana DiTomaso — Improved Reporting & Analytics Within Google Tools

Freshly fueled with cinnamon buns and glowing with the energy of a thousand jolts of caffeine, we were ready to dive back into it — this time with Dana from Kick Point.

This year was a continuation of Dana’s talk on goal charters. If you haven’t checked that out yet or you need a refresher, you can view it here

Dana emphasized the importance of data hygiene. Messy analytics, missing tracking codes, poorly labeled events… we’ve all been there. Dana is a big advocate of documenting every component of your analytics.

She also blew us away with a ton of great insight on making our reports accessible — from getting rid of jargon and using the client’s language to using colors that are compatible with printing.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more actionable, Dana drops some free Google Data Studio resources on us! You can check them out here.

(Also, close your tabs!)

Rob Bucci — Local Market Analytics: The Challenges and Opportunities

The first thing you need to know is that Rob finally did it — he finally got a cat.

Very bold of Rob to assume he would have our collective attention after dropping something adorable like that on us. Luckily, we were all able to regroup and focus on his talk — how there are challenges aplenty in the local search landscape, but there are even more opportunities if you overcome them.

Rob came equipped with a ton of stats about localized SERPs that have massive implications for rank tracking.

  • 73 percent of the 1.2 million SERPs he analyzed contained some kind of localized feature.
  • 25 percent of the sites he was tracking had some degree of variability between markets.
  • 85 percent was the maximum variability he saw across zip codes in a single market.

That’s right… rankings can vary by zip code, even for queries you don’t automatically associate as local intent. Whether you’re a national brand without physical storefronts or you’re a single-location retail store, localization has a huge impact on how you show up to your audience.

With this in mind, Rob announced a huge initiative that Moz has been working on… Local Market Analytics — complete with local search volume! Eep! See how you perform on hyper-local SERPs with precision and ease — whether you’re an online or location-based business.

It launched today as an invitation-only limited release. Want an invite? Request it here

Ross Simmonds— Keywords Aren’t Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing

Ross Simmonds was up next, and he dug into how you might be creating content wrong if you’re building it strictly around keyword research.

The methodology we marketers need to remember is Research – Rethink – Remix.

Research:

  • Find the channel your audience spends time on. What performs well? How can you serve this audience?

Rethink:

  • Find the content that your audience wants most. What topics resonate? What stories connect?

Remix:

  • Measure how your audience responds to the content. Can this be remixed further? How can we remix at scale?

If you use this method and you still aren’t sure if you should pursue a content opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will it give us a positive ROI?
  • Does it fall within our circle of competence?
  • Does the benefit outweigh the cost of creation?
  • Will it give us shares and links and engagement?

Thanks, Ross, for such an actionable session!

Shannon McGuirk — How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom

Shannon of Aira Digital took the floor with real-life examples of how her team does link building at scale with what she calls the “digital PR newsroom.”

The truth is, most of us are still link building like it’s 1948 with “planned editorial” content. When we do this, we’re missing out on a ton of opportunity (about 66%!) that can come from reactive editorial and planned reactive editorial.

Shannon encouraged us to try tactics that have worked for her team such as:

  • Having morning scrum meetings to go over trending topics and find reactive opportunities
  • Staffing your team with both storytellers and story makers
  • Holding quarterly reviews to see which content types performed best and using that to inform future work

Her talk was so good that she even changed Cyrus’s mind about link building!

For free resources on how you can set up your own digital PR newsroom, visit: aira.net/mozcon19.

Darren Shaw— From Zero to Local Ranking Hero

Next up, Darren of Whitespark chronicled his 8-month long journey to growing a client’s local footprint.

Here’s what he learned and encouraged us to implement in response:

  • Track from multiple zip codes around the city
  • Make sure your citations are indexed
  • The service area section in GMB won’t help you rank in those areas. It’s for display purposes only
  • Invest in a Google reviews strategy
  • The first few links earned really have a positive impact, but it reaches a point of diminishing returns
  • Any individual strategy will probably hit a point of diminishing returns
  • A full website is better than a single-page GMB website when it comes to local rankings

As SEOs, we’d all do well to remember that it’s not one specific activity, but the aggregate, that will move the needle!

Russ Jones — Esse Quam Videri: When Faking it is Harder than Making It

Rounding out day one of MozCon was our very own Russ Jones on Esse Quam Videri — “To be, rather than to seem.”

By Russ’s own admission, he’s a pretty good liar, and so too are many SEOs. In a poll Russ ran on Twitter, he found that 64 percent of SEOs state that they have promoted sites they believe are not the best answer to the query. We can be so “rank-centric” that we engage in tactics that make our websites look like we care about the users, when in reality, what we really care about is that Google sees it.

Russ encouraged SEOs to help guide the businesses we work for to “be real companies” rather than trying to look like real companies purely for SEO benefit.

Thanks to Russ for reminding us to stop sacrificing the long run for the short run!

Phew — what a day!

And it ain’t over yet! There are two more days to make the most of MozCon, connect with fellow attendees, and pick the brains of our speakers. 

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below — if you had to pick just one thing, what was your favorite part about day one?



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