MozCon 2017 Takeaways

MozCon 2017 Takeaway- Mobile Madness

Niki Mosier

August 29, 2017

MozCon 2017 Takeaway- Mobile Madness

We are lucky enough to be in an industry that is brimming to the top with experts that really know this stuff. By “stuff” I’m talking about SEO. I also work at an agency that encourages its employees to be smarter and sends all of its employees to really-cool conferences. Sharing the information we learn at industry conferences with the rest of our team through in-office trainings and with our clients is another important part of conference attendance.

My co-worker Jason and I spent a few days in July at MozCon in Seattle, WA. We packed a lot into three short days, including but not limited to; amazing speakers, coffee, mind-blowing new ideas and theories about the work we do every day, lots of networking, did I mention coffee? And last but not least, a Unicorn Bar.

I have a love-hate relationship with conferences. I love them because of the networking opportunities they provide, the engaging speakers and the new perspectives. I always come home fired up to experiment and apply what I learned to take client websites to the next level. I hate conferences because I can never take enough notes and I wish there was more time to connect with all the other people in attendance.

The landscape of the SEO industry changes overnight. We have to be constantly on our toes to stay on top of what Google is doing, so we can do the best job possible to make client campaigns succeed. I learned a lot in Seattle; my brain is still overloaded a few weeks later. One thing that really struck a chord with me was all of the buzz about mobile search, more specifically about Google’s decreasing focus on indexing and ranking web pages for desktop users and how big of an impact AI (artificial intelligence) is having on how we do SEO.

Cindy Krum, CEO & Founder at MobileMoxie here in Denver, kicked off our final day of the conference with a stellar presentation on mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first-indexing means that eventually Google will be primarily crawling the web and websites from a mobile perspective, as opposed to from a desktop. Mobile-first indexing is something SEO’s need to consider, especially as we strategize for clients. Cindy’s most interesting thoughts were around AI and the role it is playing in the mobile search landscape.

As I’m sure most of you know, a mobile device is considered anything that isn’t a desktop or laptop computer. Smartphones, tablets, Amazon Echo, and even smart fridges and stoves are considered mobile devices.

How people use their mobile device is at least as important now as what device they are using. Voice search currently makes up for 20% of searches from mobile devices. The huge growth in voice search in the last year is overwhelming.

Voice First Device Footprint
Image Credit to Cindy Krum “The Truth About Mobile-First Indexing” MozCon 2017

As people start to use voice search on mobile devices more frequently, the devices are getting smarter. Paying attention to how people are interacting with mobile devices using voice search is important for all types of businesses, but for local businesses, this is particularly important. As a local business owner, you want to make sure your Google My Business listing is claimed so when someone asks Alexa, “who has the best donuts?” your bakery comes up first.

Voice search is also changing how keywords are targeted. People tend to interact through voice search more conversationally, so thinking about long tail keywords and conversational phrases instead of just keywords is becoming more important as well. Devices that rely on voice search like Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Home will only continue to get smarter as they gather more information on how people are searching and what they are searching for.


Image Credit: Purna Virji, citing Bing data

Chatbots are another force to be reckoned with. Chatbots are growing faster than mobile apps EVER did! They also are becoming essential to mobile-first indexing, as they allow for users to have a “conversation” and get the information they are looking for, again without clicking on a specific URL. Chatbots will also continue to get smarter as people interact with them.


Image Credit to Cindy Krum “The Truth About Mobile-First Indexing” MozCon 2017

URL not required content is another factor to be aware of. URL not required means that content can be accessed without actually clicking on a link. Take the screenshot below for example. With URL not required, when you search for “cupcake recipes” you can see that the first result is the recipe first, without even leaving Google.

Cindy Krum argued, “To understand Google’s vision of the future, you have to understand that Google believes the future is not mobile-first — it is artificial intelligence/ AI-first. ”That means that eventually, Google wants to rely on a cloud of data instead of having to search and crawl URLs for information to be found.

With more content being shared in the cloud between apps and Google’s Knowledge Graph becoming more prevalent, there is tons of content out there that is accessible without having to actually click on a link or go to a website, which is Google’s ultimate goal. The Knowledge Graph isn’t directly connected to AI, as it’s controlled by the schema (or structured data) that is on a website’s page, but it does have some connection in that you could be in your kitchen and ask your Google Home for a cupcake recipe and in return see the knowledge graph result first.

The featured snippets section of Google is not restricted to mobile, but it is something to have on your radar. A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage and includes the page’s title and URL.

Being mindful of URL not required and featured snippets going forward will give you an advantage over the competition. The biggest favor you can do yourself (or clients if you’re a marketer) is to start to figure out how to answer your client’s questions. Just like with voice search, searchers aren’t using short-tail keywords anymore. We need to be using long-tail keywords and answering the questions they are asking Google with our content and resources.

So what does all that mean? It can definitely seem scary to think that all the strategies we’ve been focused on could become useless over time. However, that’s what we SEO’s are trained to be able to handle. We know to be on guard for changes and to be ready to come up with strategies to continue to execute successful SEO campaigns and get our clients the results they want.