In early July, five members of our SEO team headed west to Seattle for a few days to attend MozCon 2018. As one of the best conferences out there for technical SEO, mobile strategy, analytics, and content, we all were excited to learn and bring back actionable insights for our accounts. We also were excited to escape the Colorado heat, enjoy some of Seattle’s best eats and coffee, and hang out together in our fairy-tale-esque Airbnb house. (No, really, look at this house!)
Because we’ve all got different roles at Two Octobers, our takeaways from the conference varied. Here are some highlights of what we learned and how we plan to apply these ideas to our accounts.
Emily Pickelhaupt, SEO Manager, Digital Presence Lab (DPL)
One of the most common and difficult struggles in client service is delivering a well-thought-out, innovative recommendation that falls on deaf ears. That’s why Heather Physiocs’ presentation on conducting a client search maturity assessment and identifying potential implementation barriers was so enlightening. Not only is it important to understand our clients’ SEO capabilities, but also their organization as a whole. Do our clients have personnel, budget, and capacity to complete the work we are recommending?
Having these conversations and getting on the same page in terms of projects will ensure the work we do provides value. Knowing constraints will eliminate time wasted working on projects that don’t fit with our clients’ capabilities, making us a better agency partner.
Niki Mosier, Senior SEO Manager, Marketing Engineering Group (MEG)
One thing I really like about MozCon is that they include speakers on local search in the line-up, in addition to organic and technical SEO. I was especially excited to hear from Mike Ramsey and Darren Shaw, as they always have something new to share about what will make the most impact in local search. Mike’s session “The Awkward State of Local” left me with a couple of things I’m really interested to try out for some clients in the next couple of months.
Mike talked about fighting spam on maps in markets specific to clients. It had never occurred to me to spend time making suggested edits on competitor listings who are keyword stuffing their Google My Business (GMB) titles or descriptions.
The most mind-blowing local takeaway for me was that keywords in reviews have an impact on rankings. I was shocked. But it makes perfect sense. I will most definitely be adding that tip to our review best practices documents. Overall, MozCon 2018 did not disappoint and I’m excited to start putting all that I learned into action.
Alli Berry, Content Lead, DPL
Content is becoming more and more of a focus at SEO conferences for good reason. Without quality content, no technical SEO fix in the world can make a site rank well. In Casie Gillette’s talk “The Problem with Content and How to Fix It,” we learned how important it is, particularly as an agency, to talk with the stakeholders of the company about their business. Not only is it important to learn the priorities of the company, but also the voice, values, and unique aspects of the business. This make us a better agency partner, and allows us to better create content that is on-brand and relevant to a client’s target audiences. It seems obvious, but the reality is for many agencies, it’s not.
Data storytelling was another theme that emerged throughout the three days. In Dana DiTomaso’s talk “Focused Reports: Fewer Reports that Do More,” she framed reporting in a simple, effective way. Discuss these three points with clients, and the answers should shape everything that goes into a report:
- What are your goals?
- Why do these goals exist?
- How will we know when we’ve met the goals?
There are a lot of agencies out there doing great work that get fired by clients because they do not communicate the right information in reports and in a way that resonates with the client. This is something we’ve been discussing at Two Octobers quite a bit lately, and is something we will continue to improve upon using this framework.
Jason Rogers, Senior SEO Manager, DPL
Two themes stood out for me this year: the importance of content, and Google’s shift away from webpages and towards “entities.” Just defining entities can be challenging. Think of it this way: we’re now in a technological world that is more complex than just organizing information by keyword — there are new areas of search that extend beyond web pages, like Google Home, video streaming, and podcasts. Google is using entities to understand and organize different thoughts, concepts, ideas, things and their modifying descriptors. Google isn’t just indexing websites anymore; they are also indexing Feeds, APIs, databases and more. If it counts as information, Google is or will be indexing it.
The notion of web presence is evolving beyond an owned website and into a collection of related content entities. In this scenario, SEO is about creating associations among entities related to your brand, services and products, irrespective of the specific presentation layer or source website. Both Jono Alderson of Yoast and Cindy Krum of MobileMoxie spoke on this topic, telling us to prepare for this new era in digital.
Grant Fogle, SEO Manager, MEG
An interesting takeaway for me was that SEO professionals need to invest in open-source technology. Developers have been taking the lead in dictating changes to the Internet, and the SEO community needs to get more involved and work more collaboratively with developers for greater success.
The final presentation of the conference focused heavily on building successful teams. Rand Fishkin brought up some surprising, key findings showing that great teams:
- Feel comfortable crying in front of each other
- Know they won’t be judged harshly or unfairly
- Bolster weaknesses and compound strengths
- Are diverse people who share core values
Luckily, there weren’t any tears on this trip! But, I think being able to live successfully in a house together for four days is a sign that we’ve got the great-team thing figured out.