Key Takeaways, Trends and Tactics from MozCon 2019
MozCon has come and gone. Aside from soaking in the Seattle scenery, drinking copious cups of coffee and basking in the glory of majestic boats, we gained valuable insights. Upon returning to the office, we got together to reflect over the wide range of sessions and speakers. Like Roger in the thumbnail above – we were thrilled with the actionable tactics and takeaways that were shared.
In the event you or your team couldn’t attend this transformative and inclusive conference, we’ve packaged a summary of the most impactful takeaways that occurred over the three days of MozCon 2019. Continue reading to learn:
- Takeaways and trends from five speaking sessions that will be impactful for companies and SEO strategists for the remainder of 2019 leading into 2020
Speaker #1: Rand Fishkin – Web Search 2019
Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro and previous co-founding father of Moz did some necessary level-setting for marketers and SEO experts. His session spoke to the importance of not getting swept up in the latest trends so much that we de-prioritize viable channels and platforms still performing. Rand’s key takeaway for marketers includes:
1.) Don’t lose sight of desktop or mobile experiences – As Rand stated during his presentation, the “new and trendy thing” should not wipe out older, established channels that preceded it. For example, TV didn’t eradicate radio, and most recently; voice search won’t destroy desktop or mobile experiences.
The image above, from Rand’s presentation at MozCon 2019, illustrates the influence desktop and mobile still have with consumers. Other notable takeaways:
- Websites, podcasts and video continue to be sound investments for companies
- Obtain links from relevant and authoritative sources, especially within your specific industry
- Content that completely answers queries, is and up-to-date and thorough will boost SERP rankings and have a greater likelihood of earning a featured snippet
- ‘Evil twin’ content is also driving engagement (e.g., instead of a “How To” articles you would see a “How Not To” article)
Speaker #2: Dana DiTomaso – Improving Reporting and Analytics Using Google Tools
Are your reports merely a collection of numbers without actionable insight? Data by itself doesn’t solve business problems or point an organization in the direction it should go. Dana highlighted the merits of having reports tied closely to an end goal. To ensure that reports communicate progress toward goals during each stage in an analytics and reporting project, Dana recommends companies incorporate a ‘Goal Charter’.
A Goal Charter is when a team begins a reporting project by defining every goal that should be achieved along the way. Each goal is broken into clear objectives and measurable results are attached to each objective. These checkpoints help teams stay accountable, while keeping the reports themselves accessible for everyone working on a project.
Beyond the creation of a Goal Charter, Dana stresses the importance of data hygiene. Messy analytics, incorrect and/or missing tracking codes and poorly labeled events will prevent teams from maximizing data. One of the easiest ways to lose sight of your goals during the reporting process is to rely on inaccurate data. To improve data hygiene and make reports more accessible within every level of an organization, Dana recommends the following:
1.) Remove jargon from reports – Are the insights from reports obfuscated by too many acronyms? To produce reports that can be applied across teams and ultimately tell better stories, Heather recommended jargon that’s too specific be removed in favor of the accepted terminology the client assessing the report finds familiar. This will help the insights contained within your reports more accessible and actionable.
2.) Utilize Google Data Studio for Better Data Visualization – Google Analytics provides a massive repository of data, but that isn’t always required when telling a story or answering a question within a report. Google Data Studio (GDS) offers more freedom for customization. Dana provided the following tips teams can take to improve reporting and storytelling capabilities in GDS:
- Only answer one to two questions per page
- Choose report colors and data placement based on the needs of the user reading the report
- Keep Google annotations in a Google sheet and pull that data into GDS for easy information exports
- Set up alerts so your team is aware of when your client opens a GDS report
Speaker #3: Ross Simmonds – When Keywords Aren’t Enough
Are your content creation efforts centered around a careful selection of keywords? Ross Simmonds challenged MozCon 2019 attendees to dig deeper. Beyond the limited scope of keywords, Ross provided an actionable methodology for analyzing and deconstructing your content from the planning stage up to publishing (and beyond).
Ross’s content methodology is broken into three distinct phases:
1.) Research – Does your marketing team have insight into the channel your audience spends its time? The research phase boils down to being mindful about how the content your team creates can serve your unique audience best. To find answers, your team can ask the following questions:
- What channels does my audience spend time on?
- What channel does well with my audience?
2.) Rethink – Once your team has determined the channel or platform your audience prefers, it needs to then determine the topics your audience wants to see most. Ross urged attendees to ask two crucial questions:
- What topics resonate?
- What stories connect
3.) Remix – After your team selects the ideal channel and topic that resonates with your audience, it can measure how your audience responded to that piece of content. Remixing involves gaining insight on a piece of content (what worked, what didn’t) and applying those learnings to future posts. During this phase in Ross’s methodology, marketers are looking for answers to the following questions:
- Can this be remixed further?
- How can we remix this at scale?
The image below provides a closer look at the methodology:
After your team has reached the remix phase, if it is still unsure about publishing a piece of content on a specific channel, ask the following questions for added clarity:
- Will this content give us a positive ROI?
- Does the content fall into our circle of competence?
- Does the benefit of the content outweigh the cost of creating it?
- Will the post produce shares, links and engagement?
By following the content methodology outlined above, your team will ensure it goes beyond surface level keyword research. Ross provided additional actionable tips for content marketing teams:
- Regularly visit Quora and Reddit forums and sort by the top posts related to your industry. Your team can use these posts as a jumping off point and/or can repurpose the discussion into a piece of content
- Utilize Quora, Reddit and other forums specific to your industry to ask questions and receive insight on content topics and keywords
- Create content based around the most commonly asked questions in your industry
Speaker #4: Heather Physioc – Building a Discoverability Powerhouse
“Connected brands start with connected teams” is the mantra Heather Physioc’s team adopted, though during her speaking session in MozCon’s second day, she urged teams adopt their own mantra and not copy theirs.
Developing a unique, agreed-upon team mantra is merely the first step to building a cross-functional team that consistently fires on all cylinders.
Heather made a compelling case to have content, paid and analytics teams collaborate closely to reach maximum effectiveness. To help teams accomplish this goal, Heather provided tips and a blueprint of sorts that teams can use instead of waxing philosophically about synergy for synergy’s sake. Insights included:
1.) Develop committees dedicated to making team collaboration easier – Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, sweeping organizational changes aren’t accomplished within a workday, or even work week. True change takes time. Typically, change occurs in small, incremental measures. When organizations are looking to collaborate and combine disparate skillsets into one unified team capable of such change, committees will be a necessity. Committees will help ensure the change you want to see take hold is in fact, taking hold.
Certain aspects of the change your organization yearns for will require regular check-ins. In this circumstance, your committee will take center stage. That committee can help communicate, switch trajectories where needed and ultimately; make the process of change and collaboration easier for all.
2.) Don’t stay loyal to any one process – Heather stated the importance of not espousing any one process to the point that alternative efficiencies are never considered. While “the process sets you free” may create a certain sense of freedom, Heather posits a “No process is precious” view to ensure that no process is revered to the point it is never questioned or evaluated. This viewpoint helps processes stay fluid and adaptive over time instead of having things stay status quo, even in the event that process is no longer serving an organization.
Additional takeaways include:
- Commit to cross-team training to promote shared empathy and an understanding of how requests affect other team members
- Don’t silo reporting and bring teams together for more complete and cohesive storytelling
- Encourage a culture of feedback to make feedback feel less personal and regarding more to the object at hand; the work itself
Speaker #5: Andy Crestodina – Breaking Down the 1% Content Strategy
During the third and final day of MozCon 2019, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Studios spoke candidly about content marketing as if he were having an intimate conversation among close friends. The insights and helpful ruminations Andy shared not only served as a wake-up call for content marketers, but also provided necessary level-setting for marketing practitioners. And, content marketing teams looking to earn a position among the “top 1%” were treated with actionable tips that could help them reach that lofty goal. Insights included:
1.) Invest in original research if you want links and shares – Looking to give your content the platform it deserves? Conducting original research that addresses unanswered questions your audience has will uniquely position your organization as an authority on that topic. Or, at the very least, original research will help your organization earn awareness from traffic and potential customers who would have otherwise been unaware of your offerings. Nearly half (47%) of companies have published original research in the last year, making it an opportunity for your organization to break through the clutter.
Though yes, original research is time-intensive, Andy asserts the time it takes to publish a mediocre post is far less productive than the time original research takes is more effective and rewarding at the end of the day.
2.) Already have a top performing post? Make it a visual experience – Andy de-mystified preconceived notions about content that receives high volumes of traffic. Essentially, while this traffic is important, it doesn’t have commercial intent. However; once your team recognizes a top-performing piece of content, it has an opportunity to increase engagement.
By repurposing content into a new form, your team is giving it another opportunity to engage with new visitors (and returning visitors) in a unique way. Additionally, this content can be leveraged to link to deeper pages within your website, initializing conversions. For example, a top-performing post that has been upgraded into a visual format can lead site visitors to product, category or pricing pages.
So Long, MozCon 2019
The three days of MozCon moved at a brisk pace, but the strategic insights shared will take SEO practitioners well through 2020. That said, if your organization needs additional insight not included in this post or requires assistance incorporating the insights shared in this post into an existing strategy, contact us. Our team will be happy to lend additional insight and help your organization make the most out of its SEO efforts.