Advanced Internet Marketing Seminar: Recap of SEOmoz’s MozCon 2011 Conference in Seattle

Seattle, home of SEOmoz and the MozCon Conference

Beautiful Seattle is home of SEOmoz and the MozCon Conference

What an awesome internet marketing seminar SEOmoz’s MozCon 2011 in Seattle was! The speakers, all impressively smart and highly respected experts in the online marketing industry, presented the audience with much more than advanced SEO training and search engine optimization tips.

There were tons of innovative marketing strategies, approaches, philosophies, down and dirty tactics and specific action items, analysis and measurement of what really matters, ideas, creativity… the list goes on.  And yes, there were some not so pure white hat SEO discussions, but all with the goal of understanding the “dark side” so we can be even better white hat SEOs. Most all attendees felt that our brains were overloaded and couldn’t wait to pull back into our SEO caves to digest all of this so we could share it with our teams and start implementing and testing what we learned. I’ve been to numerous online marketing conferences, and SEOmoz surely organized the most advanced one I’ve been to so far.

In addition the food was the best conference fare EVER! Not to mention the after-conference parties.

The MozCon conference attendees ranged from small SEO companies and large search marketing firms, to in-house SEO’s, business owners, PR professionals, developers, freelancers, etc. They came to Seattle not just from all corners of the US but from many different countries around the world, like Canada, Brazil, Spain, Israel, etc. We were all hungry for advanced SEO and internet marketing strategies.

SEOmoz’s MozCon Seminar audience

Ice cream break at SEOmoz's MozCon Conference

SEOmozzers LOVE ice cream!

My family was arriving at the end of the last day of the seminar and we were planning some exciting travels and hiking in the greater Seattle area, but I was so inspired and full of ideas at the end of the conference that I couldn’t even think of the adventures starting the next day.  I went back to my hotel room and went through my notes, writing down ideas, plans, reviewing the presentations until the next dawn.

Below is a recap of the first day of the seminar. There are many takeaways and I tried to sum up each presentation with a few main points. The overarching takeaway is so simple yet so significant: SEO is changing. It needs new ideas. The sooner you open up to them the better. As at so many other times in history, the early adapters will benefit the most.

After you read some of the takeaways from Day 1 below, make sure to check out my MozCon Day 2 recap, sharing some awesome online marketing strategies and tactics from the seminar. Also check out my recap of MozCon Day 3, which was just as advanced and action-packed as the first two days.

Recap of the MozCon 2011 Seminar – Day 1

Unveiling SEOmoz’s Latest Project… and discussing Interruption Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz (@randfish)

What’s marketing? Pushing people to buy something they don’t want? No; that is interruption marketing. That’s not how people buy today. Today when people have a need, they research it, ask their friends, look for experts and communities to get an understanding of the product/service they need before converting.  We need to earn these visitors, not buy them. When we do inbound marketing, we help people; we make the web better.

Rand Fishkin opening up the MozCon Seminar

Rand Fishkin welcoming the MozCon attendees

Exciting upgrades to the SEOmoz Open Site Explorer

The new crawler version -index is biased to larger sites with deeper crawls. The metrics will be changing and we should compare our clients to their competitors to get an understanding of where they are; not their historical data. There is also social data integration now, Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus. You can filter however you want AND can group backlinks by domains now. You can drill down in anchor text, where they are linking from AND can get custom reports in the advanced reports

Other news from SEOmoz:

  • Ranking analysis now shows grades right in the report for each page
  • There is  a new shiny, super cool Chrome toolbar with new features, and you can choose metrics to see

Maximizing the Power of Retargeting – Mistakes & Lessons Learned

Joanna Lord, SEOmoz (@JoannaLord)

  • In general 95% of visitors don’t convert
  • Retargeted visitors are 70% more likely to convert and spend on average 50% more

Joanna Lord walked us through some of the mistakes and lessons she learned, step by step.

  • Watch where your retargeting ads show up
  • Choose a retargeting vendor wisely
  • Know your burn pixel code locations & check placement often
  •  Totals aren’t enough, know each piece: impressions, CTR, CPC & CPM, Conversions
  •  Retargeting in Google AdWords: it is nice and easy to manage from within AdWords along with your PPC campaigns.  But… you are retargeting only in their network. Retargeting goes way beyond Google AdWords

Turning Google Places Pain into Gain

David Mihm, (@davidmihm)

David Mihm presenting about local SEO

David Mihm sharing invaluable insights on local SEO

David is a true expert on local marketing. He discussed the Google Places pain points and solutions in detail. Verification and management, declining traffic, bad or missing data, core data issues, competitive analysis, reviews, large businesses getting outranked by small businesses and centroid bias.

  • Google Places Directory just rolled out in a few cities and will likely be expanding. It features elite reviewers so you can use it to find and reach out to them.
  • Google is pulling data from all over. The local ecosystem is not changing soon. You must fix your data at upstream data providers.
  • The update mid-July was NOT an algo update; ranking stayed consistent. Google removed 3rd party reviews and citations from the Places pages. Note that Google Places still pulls images from 3rd parties.
  • Elite reviews will become more and more significant.

David Mihm has this awesome infograph called The Local Search Ecosystem on which illustrates which local sites feed which other local sites:

The Local Search Ecosystem by David Mihm

The Local Search Ecosystem by David Mihm

David is starting Review Wednesdays and invited all to support his effort. Review a favorite small business and tweet with #RWX. Details are here:

Design that Drives Action

Bryan Zmijewski presenting about visual design and content

Bryan Zmijewski presenting about visual design and content

Bryan Zmijewski, Zurb (@bryanzmijewski)

What happens when visitors get to your site? Visits mean nothing without engagement. Bryan discussed the importance of three major concepts – visual design, content and form element – and then demonstrated these principles using examples.

  • Think beyond just a single landing page.
  • Visual design provides context, content guides decisions (this is where most companies need help, and should seek to make changes). Form element is what allows the previous to happen and finalize actions.
  • Give something of value before you ask visitors to take action; for example to sign up.

Insanely Creative Ways to Make Your Audience Spread the Word

Bob Rains speaking at MozCon

Bob Rains explaining his background and how he got into SEO and online marketing

Bob Rains, Tandler Doerje (@bobrains)

Bob’s presentation is hard to sum up. There were so many great ideas and amazing thoughts flying around! He has a very diverse background and immense knowledge in internet marketing. Bob discussed some very interesting not so white hat strategies but some of what happens at MozCon needs to stay at MozCon. J

  • “Be creative. No box. No hat. No bullshit .” You need to compete in your space.
  • Learn as much as possible about your clients with your idiot hat on. They know what they do; we put a spin on it.
  • Fail fast.
  • Make it awesome, don’t forget why you’re doing it and keep focused.

Automating & Scaling Keyword Research

Richard Baxter presenting at MozCon

Richard Baxter sharing his awesome keyword research spreadsheet

Richard Baxter, SEOGadget (@richardbaxter)

Richard’s presentation blew my mind! It was one of my favorites and I need to dive deep to digest it all.

His team built an amazing spreadsheet for keyword research and analysis using Google’s API key.

Hat tip, Richard!

Building an Online Brand

Jamie Steven speaking about branding

Jamie Steven’s presentation on online branding

Jamie Steven, SEOmoz (@jamies)

Why does branding matter? Brands get recognized, mentioned, recommended, promote value, have style.  And brands do better in search.

  • Define your brand over time to get where you want to be. Slowly change your logo/branding to avoid re-brand backlash.
  • Jamie went on to discuss ways to establish and measure your online brand.


Content Strategy

Ian Lurie presenting about great content

Ian Lurie stressing the importance of great content

Ian Lurie, Portent Interactive (@portentint)

Good enough content just isn’t, well, good enough! Ian started his excellent presentation by demonstrating how much the importance of content creation has been ignored when setting budgets and organizing projects.

His slide, below, presents  this data best.
Note that the dot for content is magnified 100 times:

Slide representing the differences in the size of the budget for phases of website development

    • Four-step process for content strategies: Opportunity gap, Subject matter analysis, Sourcing and stacking the deck.
    • Document, document, document. Document everything – the process you went through to get to the process you got to.
    • Brain required. You can’t just follow the steps. Marketing is hard work.
    • Measure everything; don’t rely on a single metric to show success.
    • Use UGC (user generated content) as much as you can.

International SEO

Hannah Smith, Distilled (@hannah_bo_banna)

Hannah Smith staring her presentation on international SEO

Hannah Smith staring her presentation on international SEO

Hannah talked about why we should care about international SEO, how to do it right and local links.

  • Define languages, countries and see if your brand translates.
  • Figure out IA: ccTLD or sub-folders? Hannah feels very strongly against sub domains.
  • Create language & country specific content and think locally.
  • Hannah presented a study to see if you need local links to rank internationally and concluded that good links are more important than local links. Even though she noted that local links may become a stronger ranking signal in the future.

Marketing Smarter, Not Harder

Tony Wright, Distilled (@webwright)

Tony Wright on marketing and being innovative

Tony Wright leading into his point of creating sustainable marketing and being innovative

Tony had a lot of good examples about marketing smarter. His point was to reframe the question and think as an inventor. Some examples:

  • UrbanSpoon – designed a system that has bloggers linking to them. They are getting thousands of links without doing anything.
  • DropBox – came up with a referral system; invite a friend and get 500MB of extra space + 250 MB extra for your friend. 1.4 million users in 15 months, and 35% of signups are through this referral loop.
  • Wufoo – invested time to thank customers by hand-written thank you notes. Customers appreciate and talk about it because it brings surprise and emotion. If you Google “wufoo hand-written cards” you’ll get over 60,000 results.
  • Humans love to tell and hear stories. Good examples: Don’t mess with Texas, PayPal Freezes Your Accounts (the ice-block story), Help Save my Mom.

So, that wraps up my experience with Day one! Off to rest up for Day two!