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MozCon 2022 Recap #1: Doing What’s Hard Has the Greatest Impact

MozCon 2022 Recap #1:

Doing What's Hard Has the Greatest Impact

At MozCon’s first in-person event since 2019, SEOs shared what they’ve learned and how they’ve failed. We’ve compiled the breakout themes from day one speakers below in case you missed it or wanted to relive some of the key highlights:


What is the Job of an SEO?

In decades of search marketing, SEOs still have trouble defining what their role is.

As Areej AbuAli put it, “SEO is very cross-functional and no one has properly figured out where it should sit yet.” Though many of us first think about things like the content, URLs, sitemaps, links -- MozCon’s day one speakers challenged us to think more broadly about the role of an SEO.

The SERP Means More Than Just Words

When using the SERP as a guide for what types of content fit your target query, Andy Crestodina tells us that we have to have skills beyond writing and coding.

Google’s SERP displays videos, images, directories, big blogs, associations, user generated content sites, service pages, articles, and star ratings. And we, as SEOs, need to figure out how to create the types of content that Google wants to show users for our target search terms.

So, we can’t just be focused on the words on the page, Andy Crestodina reminded us. “Your job also includes digital PR, video creation, image creation, guest posting, reputation management, and business development.”

Image Optimization Requires Brand Consistency

In her talk entitled "Visual Search Tactics and Tools," Crystal Carter took us a step further, focusing specifically on our roles as photographers and brand marketers. As Google displays more images to searchers, "we need to make it easy for Google to understand if the image is relevant to the search query."

But how do we make it clear that an image is relevant to our business?

  1. Consistent branding across every medium, so Google can always identify your brand in a photo
  2. Creating something people want to take photos with, so users can get “that pic”

With consistency across branding and entities, Google can understand how images relate to your business, which means more brand visibility.

How to Generate Ideas and Prioritize Content

As SEOs, we all know that we should create content that users love and reporters want to link to. But, how do we get there?

MozCon gave us first-hand examples of tools and frameworks to generate fresh ideas and how to validate those ideas before putting resources behind them.

Deepening Our Use of Tools We Already Have

As creatures of habit, we often use the same tools for the same research, looking to new resources to solve an existing problem, rather than viewing our existing toolset with fresh, critical eyes.

MozCon’s day one speakers re-introduced SEOs to the tools we already know by showing us how to use them better. Andy Crestodina taught us how to look more deeply at the SERPs to find what’s working for your target keywords. Noah Learner showed us how to take related topics from Wikipedia, the SERP, Autocomplete and Google Trends and analyze them at scale.

In her talk entitled “Getting Your Local SEO Recipe Right,” Emily Brady encouraged us to look at schema not as a markup language, but as an idea generator for unique content on local landing pages.

“Schema informs your content strategy,” she told us. “There are 145 types of local business schema.” Use that list as an idea generator for unique content on your landing pages.

New Frameworks for Link-Building Idea Generation

Link-building campaigns are among the least predictable efforts of SEOs. As day two speaker Hannah Smith put it, “Luck played a bigger part in my own [PR campaign] successes than I’ve ever been comfortable with admitting.”

But even among the unpredictability, MozCon’s day one speakers provided frameworks to generate ideas for relevant link-building campaigns.

In her talk “How to Capitalize on the Link Potential of a Research Report,” Debbie Chew gave us a framework to validate research report topics through a “HOT score" rating. High ratings mean greater chance of relevancy and reach. HOT scores are determined based on:

  • Headline: looking at the relevancy of the potential headline
  • Other teams: asking other departments, like PR and data teams, what they think of the idea
  • Timeliness: thinking through which ideas map back to current events

Paddy Moogan, on the other hand, challenged MozCon attendees to think of link-building campaigns with the customer in mind. “Why do we create content? To connect with customers on their journey,” he says.

Too often, our link-building campaigns focus on who can link to us, rather than on the customer themselves. So, when we’re brainstorming ideas for link-building campaigns, Paddy encourages us to only focus on the customer’s journey and nothing else.

Focusing on ROI and High-Impact Efforts

One of the biggest struggles for SEOs is figuring out how to measure the ROI of our recommendations. Day one speakers not only talked through how to measure the impact of our efforts, but how to map our efforts back to the metrics our teams and clients care about.

Figuring Out Which Efforts are High-Impact

On day one, MozCon’s speakers introduced us to different ways of measuring the potential impact of an implementation. Areej AbuAli encouraged us to look at conversions, focusing e-commerce efforts on product pages that convert the most.

Lidia Infante, in her talk entitled, “SEO Gap Analysis: Leverage Your Competitor's Performance,” told us to benchmark the strength of our SEO pillars against our competitors, focusing efforts in the pillar where we’re below average among competitors.

Will Critchlow, on the other hand, encouraged us to focus only on testable implementations. The more we test, the more likely we are to find high-impact changes that we can apply to the rest of our site. Like casinos in which the house always wins -- when we test constantly, we increase our likelihood of winning.

Measuring Efforts Against Metrics Others Care About

It’s easy for SEOs to measure success by rankings or sessions. But our teams and clients are held to different metrics.

“Align yourself with metrics that other teams are measured on, and you’re more likely to get their attention and help,” Areej AbuAli said.

She told us a story of putting her technical requests in the language of developers and telling the story of its importance using metrics they care about. Her recommendations were implemented in just two sprints. "Measuring your work against business goals starts with understanding the business goals," Noah Learner reminded us.

Ask questions like:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What is most profitable?
  • What is a conversion worth?
  • How do you make money?
  • When do you make money?
  • Where do you make money?
  • What questions are tied to conversions?
  • What is your sales process?
  • How can content support the sales process?

Getting these answers upfront helps you map every deliverable back to dollars and conversions that the C-suite cares about.

In Conclusion

As technical SEOs and marketers, we crave efficiency. We want more automation.

But the speakers at MozCon, particularly many day one speakers, kept us focused on the work ahead. “It’s harder. But that’s the point,” said Paddy Moogan. These efforts, or the metaphorical three-point shots in Will Critchlow’s basketball analogy, are “harder, but worth more.”

“If it doesn’t scale, but is good for your SEO ... your competitors probably aren’t doing it,” Emily Brady said.

It’s not what we want to hear, but we can find a competitive edge by putting in that extra effort that others aren’t willing to.

More Insights from MozCon 2022

Recap #2: Put the User First & Success Will Follow -->

Recap #3: Optimize for People and Search Engines -->


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Sandi Griffin
Sandi Griffin
Sr. Associate, SEO

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