MozCon Virtual 2020: Top Takeaways from Day One

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Today marked day one of the first-ever MozCon Virtual! Even though we weren’t together in person, it was so exciting to get the best people in the industry together again.

So much of the day was different from what we expected six months ago, but the one thing we can always count on from our speakers is a MASSIVE amount of value. We’re talking insights, game plans, cheat codes — you name it, we’ve got it — and this year was no different.

Let’s get to it.

Sarah Bird — Welcome & State of the Industry

It’s always inspiring to hear from our fearless leader. Sarah hit on some of the changes that we’ve seen this year and how they’ve affected both us as people and us as an industry.

Sarah also laid out her thoughts on major SEO trends for 2020.

In closing, Sarah reminded us that we rise and fall collectively and that in the end, the world is our work. In difficult times we must all come together.

We’re all so happy to be able to create this virtual experience and allow for everyone to have something (somewhat) predictable to look forward to for two days.

Andy Crestodina — Thought Leadership and SEO: The 3 Key Elements and Search Ranking Strategies

Andy started off by walking us through the three key aspects of thought leadership: personal brand, taking a stand, and proving expert insights.

Then, very kindly, Andy laid out exactly what to do to fulfill each aspect.

Expert Insights

  • Create original research
  • Write books
  • Share novel ideas

Take a stand

  • Have a strong opinion
  • Don’t shy away from controversy
  • Inspire others

Build a personal brand

  • Have a social following
  • Be cited by others
  • Be influential

This presentation was 163 slides of actionable insights. It’s definitely one that we’ll have to watch a few times over!

Shannon McGirk — Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

Shannon came to set us straight: we aren’t showing the full picture when it comes to Digital PR, and it’s quite toxic.

She started out by showing a few of her own tweets and pointing out that she rarely, if ever, shares anything about campaigns that don’t “go viral”.

Shannon explained that we talk about Digital PR campaigns as if the majority of them are “huge wins”. The reality, however, is that most of our campaigns will be steady performers and the huge wins are actually just anomalies.

How we talk about campaigns:

How campaigns actually perform:

Aira put out a state of digital PR study and found that most campaigns only got between one and 20 links. When Shannon broke down the numbers for Aira, they were consistent: about 17 links were gained per campaign!

What do we do about this? Shannon challenged us to take as much time looking into what didn’t work as we do looking into what did work.

Using a custom made success matrix, Shannon and her team were able to spot the trends for both “successful” and “not successful” campaigns and implement plans accordingly.

Her parting strategy:

  1. Take off the pressure of “virality” and focus on steady performers and fails.
  2. Realize that steady performers can consistently impact weighty SEO KPIs.
  3. Use the success matrix to review campaigns and catch trends early.

Robin Lord — Whatever You Do, Put Billboards in Seattle: Getting Brand Awareness Data from Google

Wow! Our minds are still blown from this presentation. Robin took us through some extremely valuable workflows for collecting and analyzing data.

When it comes to determining the success of your “brand,” the numbers aren’t straightforward. There are a lot of data points to take into consideration. In fact, Robin started off by asking us if we used multiple datasets, collected data on our competitors, and got granular. Needless to say, many of us knew we were in for a ride.

Honestly, this presentation was so jam-packed with information that we had a hard time keeping up! Thankfully, at the end of his presentation, Robin laid out step-by-step instructions on how he collected, compiled, and analyzed all of this data.

Alexis Sanders — The Science of Seeking Your Customer

Determining your audience is about more than demographics and affinity data; it’s about truly understanding your audience as people.

Alexis took us through four questions we should try to answer when defining our audience:

  1. What’s the key information?
  2. What are they like at their core?
  3. How do they choose products?
  4. What’s their relationship with technology?

She even provided a list of free and paid resources that anyone can use to collect this information.

Alexis also explained that audience research is not something that happens only once (at the beginning of a campaign), but instead should inform the entire customer journey.

Her parting words encouraged us to learn fast and become in-tune with the constant change, instead of always trying to guess correctly!

Phillip Nottingham — How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

The marketing funnel is broken, we all know that. But if we aren’t focusing on getting people to work down a funnel, what are we working towards? Building our brand. Right. Well, how do we go about doing that?

Phil blew our minds with insights on how he helped Wistia change their mindset when it came to creating “brand awareness.” The first step was to stop calling it brand awareness and instead call it brand affinity.

Building an affinity to a brand means spending time with a brand. A KPI that usually gets lost in the mix of impressions, clicks, etc.

In his presentation, Phil breaks down the exact method he used with Wistia to get people to spend as much time on the site watching four videos as they did reading all 1,170 blogs.

Greg Gifford shared a great summary slide here:

Dr. Pete — Moving Targets: Keywords in Crisis

We were so thrilled to have Dr. Pete back to speak at his NINTH MozCon this year. While this year’s conference was unlike any other, his presentation was just as insightful.

Dr. Pete talked all about spotting trends. Nothing about this year could have been predicted. There was no way that hair salons could have predicted that “how to cut hair” was going to be an opportunity keyword.

However, there is still a way to capitalize on these opportunities as we spot them.

Dr. Pete showed us exactly how we can use tools that we’re familiar with, and a few that we might not be familiar with, to spot trends and turn them into opportunities including Google Trends, Pinterest, Twitter search, and even Boing Boing Store.

There were some real gems in this presentation!

Needless to say, Dr. Pete has officially gone nine straight years impressing MozCon.

Francine Rodriguez — Let It Go: How to Embrace Automation and Get Way More Done

2020 has really come out swinging. Francine voiced exactly what we were all thinking: “that’s enough!”

We have enough to worry about, do we really need to keep adding to the list?

When it comes to search engine marketing, there are a lot of moving parts and it can be excruciating to try and keep up with it all. There is a solution though: ROBOTS! (Someone call Roger!)

Google is constantly learning, so why not let them leverage their new knowledge?

Francine walked us through the different areas of PPC automation:

  • Bidding
  • Ad copy
  • Smart campaigns
  • Keyword matching

If you’re looking for a great example of letting go and embracing automation, Microsoft Ads is a good place to go. They allow you to import all of your Google Ads right into Microsoft ads so they can start running right away.

Rob Ousbey — A Novel Approach to Scraping Websites

What do we even say about this presentation? Rob is one of a kind.

If you take a look at the #MozCon feed on Twitter, you’ll notice far fewer people live-tweeting — that’s because they were busy taking notes!

Rob showed us how he scrapes websites (including the big G) in seconds using a few lines of code. He walked us through every piece of code needed to scrape G2, Google, and even Google’s Lighthouse tool.

He wrapped it all up by showing off exactly what he did to integrate Lighthouse data into Moz Pro’s SERP analysis.

Again, this is going to be one of those presentations that you have to rewatch multiple times. Or maybe even at half-speed!

Ross Simmonds — Designing a Content Engine: Going from Ideation to Creation to Distribution

We closed out day one with the Coolest of Cool.

Ross came in hot with some Disney references to make us think.

Disney movies — where do the storylines usually come from? Other stories!

In recent years we’ve seen Disney “revise” their previous movies to make them fit today’s world. And actually, some of the original Disney movies were “remixes” of Shakespeare’s plays.

Ross loves his four Rs (revise, remix, remove, redirect), and this year he gave us even more actionable plans.

This closing session really encouraged us to put on our “Sherlock Homeboy” hat and get curious about what others are doing, and how we can do it better.

A few places to find inspiration for innovation that Ross mentioned:

  • Your favorite website’s site map
  • Wayback machine for industry leaders’ sites
  • Wikipedia

There’s so much to do

For now, we're calling it a day and getting some rest because we get to do it all again tomorrow!

If you want to access the speaker slides, you can sign in with your Moz Community credentials and download them on this page.

If you did join us today, what was your favorite session? Your biggest takeaway? We can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

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