2018 Mozcon: Day One

This post contains notes from Day One of MozCon 2018 on July 9, 2018. The notes were taken live and they have not been edited yet.

The Democratization of SEO

Jono Alderson

Many of the technical SEO fixes we spend lots of our time on each month are types of problems that software and web developers can fix easily, however, we continue to keep ourselves busy. We need to step back and fix the root cause. We need to step back and review how it is we work. This applies not only to technical SEO but link building, user experience design, etc. In my ways, SEO has evolved into campaign-driven work. If you truly want to solve this, we need to understand business functions, skills, and people. The way we think about SEO isn\'t mature enough to solve our current problems. We need to master some new skills and how they all fit together. The T-shaped marketing model doesn\'t scale. There are too many areas. We can\'t rely on people mastering all of the skills.

We need a new model. Looking back to a simpler time, we can expand upon it. Your ability to do SEO is limited by the number of remarkable people you can hire. Doing favors and building relationships and social engineering doesn\'t scale either.

SEO needs a system and a plan. We shouldn\'t try to own all of these areas. Control isn\'t the answer. Allow others an opportunity. Why now?

Gutenberg is a new experience for content modeling for WordPress. This componentized view of web content is something search engines and Google loves. Schema is one solution, but for big blocks of text content, this isn\'t always helpful or applicable. If you search SEO redirect stackoverflow, you\'ll see block-level schema from Q&A on stackoverflow. Google needs componentized content or block-level schema to solve many upcoming challenges. Google is starting to ask publishers what CMS they are using. It\'s impossible to do this one site at a time. You can have a bigger impact on the ecosystem by fixing problems at the core. The team responsible for this has very limited time and resources. The team is working with WordPress to influence Gutenberg and fix root causes. Other CMS\' will follow suit or they will be left in the dust. We need to change what we do from fixing sites to helping Google understand block-level content. Winning will be about having the most comprehensive well-structured content.

Let\'s be democratic. WordPress and Gutenberg are open-source. Gutenberg is being built by the same developers who we have failed to educate over the years. We should use our superpowers to start collaborating. Get involved with open-source projects. Specifically, Start to find ways to fix the root cause and to invite others to help understand. Stop fixing your problems and begin fixing our problems.

Mobile-First Indexing or a Whole New Google

Cindy Krum

Entity-First Indexing is a thing. More than half of Google searches are mobile and 61% of mobile searches don't get any clicks. It's important to understand desktop SEO tools are not providing accurate mobile rankings, they don't report browser or device. In reality, these numbers don't matter anyway since there are so many features, knowledge graph, Q&A, rich cards, etc. On mobile, the knowledge graph shows up first and pushes results below the fold. Google is giving people their answer without having to go to your website. There are 32 different types of features that appear in mobile and can steal position one. These features are growing quickly over time. The features that are prominent on mobile appear in position one.

Mobile-first indexing is not just about websites. Google is investing in devices without screens. Google is selling hundreds of millions of devices per year. The mobile crawler is the primary crawler of the future. Why is this taking so long and why is it a big deal? What you need to focus on moving forward is entity-first indexing. These are the things that are taking traffic away from your website.

Entities are language agnostic. People, businesses, ideas, things worthy of being understood. You can even now link to entities with the Share button in the search results.

Indexing is just organizing content. You can sort books by color, title, etc. Cindy believes the Google index used to be organized by link graph. Google's goal has expanded to more than just crawling websites. There are more efficient ways to crawl, feeds, APIs, databases. Many of the things Google wants to index don't have separate, unique URLs.

It's easier to organize these concepts using the knowledge graph. Google created the cloud language API. You can drop in a sentence and it will identify how it parses the text and what entities it identifies.

Entity indexing is topic indexing. A great use case where a website isn't required is when you search for, what time is it in Denver? We need to start thinking about search experience on less capable devices. Google My Business is a way for Google to allow businesses and brands to manage their entity. Google will begin to send users not only to a homepage but also to deeper pages.

Google wants to be the presentation layer of the internet. They want to be the transactional layer to the internet. Entities can now be followed, driving pre-search SERPs.

Why is entity-first indexing great for Google? They make voice queries easier to parse, it's good for business, they are easier to monetize. Traditional PPC has monetized well for a while, but Google can monetize on entities through shopping actions, entities, etc. Google's Media competition has grown substantially in the media arena as more people move away from traditional cable.

Quality signals will not be all about content and links. Pay attention to reputation, engagement, multimedia, schema markup for in and outside of your website. Build out entities, Check out mobilemoxie mobile tools.

It Takes a Village: 2x Your Paid Search Revenue by Smashing Silos

Amy Hebdon

3 of the main ways having siloed teams will cause problems in your paid search campaigns.

Problem: Bad goals & KPIs. Goals are often based upon traffic. The problem with traffic-based goals is that they can make things look great, however, when you drill into the results the CPA or other metrics were losing money. Fix is to avoid traffic-based goals.  Focusing on the wrong metrics. You should be measuring quality leads and sales. You can report on secondary metrics.

Solution: How do our paid search goals support business growth?

Problem: Bad Human Experience. We need to create experiences that are great for your visitors. You're placing users in front of your optimal product or service. Don't just call visitors to action, give them reasons to take action. Dedicated landing pages can help improve performance, especially when the alternative is a bad experience. It's important to know that dedicated landing pages don't always work. You need to consider the information that your users are looking for

Solution: Pages that answer users most important questions, outperform those that don't. Do our visitors have what they need to want to take action?

Problem: Bad data. Your team should be sharing knowledge, so you can use data to inform strategic decisions. When we don't understand the data that is available and how to use it collaboratively. Do you know what you're tracking and why you're tracking it? Ask someone who does. Before we can change behavior, we need to understand why we engage in it.

The #1 and Only Reason Your SEO Clients Keep Firing You

Meredith Oliver

Retaining clients. They tried several times by getting ready results, sending reports, etc.

They implemented a required client meeting every month. The goal of the meeting is communication in order to educate your clients and to teach them what you do.

Proactively schedule these meetings by communicating with them. Remind and confirm the meeting. Send a reminder in 24-hours, attach the reports.

Here\'s how the 1-hour meeting works.

Report & Educate  - 30 minutes (GA, Moz, etc.).

Brainstorm & Add Value - 30 minutes.  This is your client\'s open mic time and they get to ask whatever they want.

End call with Action Items & Ownership for both you and the client.

Be bold, think big, consider your communication style and adjust communication to fit.

Tell them more. What is a SERP?  Share your frustrations with them, talk about it openly?

Why "Blog" is a Misnomer for Our 2018 Content Strategy

Taylor Coil

Solving problems matters. Our blogs don't matter, customers aren't coming to our site to peruse. Key problem is that marketers tend to conflate marketing to content marketing. A well-known example was Van Winkle by Casper. If you're not driving business results, you will cease to exist. Impressive media and high-quality content aren't the same things as effective marketing. Content is just another way to solve problems for customers. You're writing a library of resources to solve problems for your customers.  Writing a library of content requires different organization and plan than a blog.

Barbell approach. On one side, start with a finite set of problems you're going to solve.  On the other side, adapt these problems to the channel or medium that makes the most sense. A story or brand-first piece will spike after release, then fall off. If you're building resources and meeting people where they are, traffic should remain constant over time. A resource is comprehensive, relevant, expert.

What needs to change if you're moving to resource-driven content. You'll need bandwidth, energy, and time to produce something comprehensive. The second thing to rethink is your blog home page. If you're creating a resource directory, timeliness doesn't matter that much. Gather posts by topic and link off to big thing posts. Find out what your customers need when they have this problem? Start thinking about content and blogging as problem-solving.

When looking at attribution, pay attention to multiple models. First-touch can be a great way to look at first ever blog post views. Also, pay attention to assisted conversions, especially if you have a longer time to purchase window.

Near me or Far: How Google May Be Deciding Your Local Intent for You

Rob Bucci

Don\'t ignore keywords with implied local intent.

It is up to Google to interpret the intent of a searcher\'s query. It\'s up to us to understand Google\'s decision. Every SERP is localized to some degree and Google almost always knows where you are. Get Stat is moving customers toward local vs. hyperlocal search tracking.

According to the research,  looking at geo-modified and non-geo-modified queries.

Local Pack findings. 73% of 1.2m keywords returned a local pack.

  • Near me = 96% have local pack
  • base = 52% have local pack
  • in [city] = 78% have local pack

How far from the base geo location.

  • Near me 0.62 miles
  • Base 0.99 miles
  • in [City] 1.62 miles

Geo-modifiers change a local pack by roughly 20%

Geo-location has a bigger impact on the local pack than geo-modification. Google uses the geolocation to determine the center of the map. The geo-modifier is used to draw a circle/radius on the map.

Measure the distance of your local pack results then find competitors within that radius.

Google reviews impact items shown in the local pack. For near me queries, Google rating score is lower than average. In City queries, the average rating was higher.

Organic ranking. You don\'t need to be ranking on the first page to be eligible to appear in local pack. When Google

Local Pack Ads by Geo-Modifier was 16% overall.

How do local packs change based on quality terms, such as best, good or recommended? There are rarely similarities between zip codes when quality words are used. If you want to be a best business, you need a certain threshold of ratings and you need to have good ratings.

Branded keywords have a big impact.

Organic findings. Google interprets intent the same as it does for local pack searches. Geomodifiers don\'t impact local, but they do impact organic listings. Geo-location doesn\'t have a large impact on organic results. The types of businesses appearing in organic results for near me lean towards.


  1. Every SERP is a localized SERP.
  2. Location matters, but so do geo-modifiers.
  3. If you\'re not sampling at least some local SERPs in your strategy, you\'re not seeing what your searchers are seeing.
  4. Smart segmentation is key to local ranking success.
  5. Your local SERP tracking strategy probably isn\'t segmented enough.


None of Us is as Smart as All of Us

Lisa Myers

Verve measured the value of offsite and links to their clients.

Verve was 10% Tech, 20% On Page, and 70% Off Page. Most agencies and consultants specialize in on page. Paying for off-page optimization is really risky. If you are building links via outreach, that is also risky, because the blog could start selling links in the future. In January 2015, Verve changed their strategy. Lisa closed their content and outreach teams down.

In the United States, 50% of all traffic goes to only 74 websites.

They started to build campaigns that deserve more than just links. Their work regularly gets radio, print, TV coverage, and shared by high profile organizations and people. This is a more sustainable strategy.

Examples: What makes a Hollywood Hit? - 165 Links and 6 Million Views

People are really willing to collaborate if you just ask. Don't give up when it gets difficult.

Think differently about hiring. Write multiple versions of the same job opening. Look for passion + perseverance. Past experience isn't the only factor to consider when hiring, consider future capability and curiosity. Look for the disagreeable givers. Those who will push or challenge your ideas to improve them and to make them better. Take care of people and they will take care of the results.


Search-Driven Content Strategy

Stephanie Briggs

Ways we can look to the market to figure out what to write and how to write it. One of the best places to start is a competitive analysis. A snapshot hides lots of important data. Look at data over time. Some brands are able to determine market needs and fulfill them at scale. You will use the SEMrush API.  Watch for SEMrush database updates where all domains grow. Focus on who is growing, how and why they are growing. Explain the growth by looking at New Pages in SEMrush. This is also more accurate than using the site:operator. Another place to look to explain the growth is to look at link velocity over time using Ahrefs or Moz Link Explorer.

Use the Wayback Machine to understand redesign and new features. Use LinkedIn to find out more about the team at an organization. Look at the overall market view to find out where you're winning versus huge mega brands.  Drill in deeper by choosing a set of keywords, 1k to start. Create a custom rank tracking project in SEMrush. When you're in the top left of the chart, you have lots of traffic, but not lots of rankings. If you end up in the bottom right, you right well for a handful of head terms. The goal is to create and expand on your coverage. When you end up in the top-right, it means you are a market leader. In the long term, you may need to exhaust the long tail and move into new markets.

Look at Layered Intent model to go beyond a simple 3-part intent model of Do > Know > Go. Google can understand our content better than they ever have before.

Salience. You can use Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence console will provide salience scores. The sort order of salience score is more important than the score itself. Move from keywords to indicators. Nothing beats subject matter expertise for determining salience.


Some Common intents:

  1. Lists (use entities as headings). Disambiguate entities in headings.  Think in terms of an outline.
  2. Process. e.g. How to develop film. Writing for process intent. Write as a command. Sentence structure is key.
  3. Know. What's the right temperature for chicken? [Entity] is [Answer]. Answers don't usually need epic posts. Users want specific answers. Focus on areas where you have topical authority and expertise. Specific content isn't thin content. When users want long-form, consider the intent and the goals of each subtopic. You want to do this for new posts and also to edit old posts. If your rankings dropped over the past 1-2 years, consider this method.

Google favors intent over authority but loves when you have both. Google's goals haven't changed, to find the right content that users want. Google knows what your article is about and what your domain is about.

Look to the market and structure for SEO. You know you are getting intent right if you get the featured snippet. If you find a template or format that works, reuse it.

Ranking Is a Promise: Can You Deliver?

Dr. Pete Meyers

The Five Intents

  1. Informational (Open). E.g. How is gelato different from ice cream?
  2. Informational (Closed). E.g. Knowledge graph reply. You can\'t compete for these spots.
  3. Investigational. Google is starting to understand this and to deliver specific features for it. E.g. walk-in freezer > Drill into brand at the bottom > See product ads. Google is pushing people further down the funnel.
  4. Commercial. e.g. getato spoons
  5. Brand/Product. Brand is very difficult for Google, especially mega brands, such as Apple.

Intent in Action

Understanding click-through rates. Compare CTR for everything compared to organic-only compared to brand SERP results. Compare CTR for Informational (open vs. closed). If it is a definitive answer, no one really cares about the other results. The click curve will vary largely based upon intent.

Google translates intent into search features.

As SEO\'s, Awareness tends to be our sweet spot. Action, we reject this as a realm of PPC. As SEO\'s today, we could move up the funnel.

You can expand people also ask questions list. You can use Moz Keyword Explorer, drill into all keywords, then select \"are questions.\"

Go after featured snippets if you rank in organic positions 2-4. This can often be a quick win.

Pointy Funnels and the Inverted Pyramid. Google often rewards this.

Answer > Details > Q&A

Keep the promise. Be a good match and follow through. Don\'t be afraid to push people further along in the funnel.

Google’s June 25 2017 Algorithm Update & Core Quality Updates

I’m working with a client affected by the June 25, 2017, Google algorithm update.

I’m a few weeks into analysis for a client who experienced significant ranking declines after this update. Rank Ranger did a great job of analyzing the types of sites and rankings affected by this algorithm update. My client’s site fits into Rank Rangers description of the those impacted, it is a consumer goods website, and a vast number of the affected pages were ranking in Google positions 6-10.

After lots of searching and reading, I’ve come to understand this could be what many in the SEO community refer to as a core quality (or Panda) update. It seems Google has been focused on content quality for much of the 2nd half of 2017.

Here are a few items to consider if you or a client has been hit by a core quality update.

One of the quickest ways to see if your website may have been impacted by a core quality (Panda) update is the use the Panguin SEO Tool, which pulls your organic search traffic from Google Analytics and charts it alongside a graph with markers for confirmed and unconfirmed Google Algorithm Updates.

SEO at WordPress Austin Meetup – October 2017

Garrett presented this talk to the Austin WordPress Meetup Group on October 16, 2017. A description of the talk along with the slides is included below.

Learn the basics of SEO and how to optimize your WordPress website to improve visibility in search engines. Garrett will talk about the SEO tasks you should take care of ASAP and will provide an overview of SEO and local SEO. Garrett will also review popular SEO WordPress plugins and settings.


Umbraco Articulate Blog – SEO & User Experience Enhancements

A client recently migrated from a proprietary association content management system to Umbraco, a flexible, open-source dot .NET web content management system. I have been impressed by the flexibility and ease of use of Umbraco for everything from authoring new content, to front-end/back-end development, to the ease-of-use of the templates.

Umbraco Logo

The client now needed a blogging solution. When evaluating blog packages, the team looked at a few options including WordPress and Articulate, a blog package for the Umbraco content management system. From the organization and development perspective, managing the blog within Umbraco made the most sense. I am the SEO Consultant, so I reviewed the Articulate blog package from an SEO and user experience perspective and provided the recommendations below.

Hopefully, an Umbraco/Articulate developer will find this post and consider adding these features to the core Articulate blog package. These changes improve the product, make SEO and User Experience Designers more inclined to use the Articulate blog package, and improve the visibility of Articulate hosted blogs in search engines. I don't have all the technical details on how the changes below were implemented, but hopefully, you have a developer to help with those steps.

Blog Business Requirements

  1. To host multiple blogs under a single install of whatever blog package we choose.
  2. If multiple blogs exist, the /blogs/ page should turn into a directory that has a listing of each of the blogs and most recent posts with links and a snippet of text about each.

SEO & UX Functionality that should be added to the Articulate blog package

  1. It was a hassle for the software developers to get multiple blogs in the same /blogs/ folder. There are still some peculiarities with this in how the content is managed in Umbraco.
  2. If there are multiple blogs in a single instance, make the /blogs/ folder a directory of currently published blogs with the following configuration options:
    • Allow the user to select how many posts to show on the page.
    • Set an option to show the most recent blog post as highlighted, with an image, larger text, display the excerpt/description inline.
    • Set an option to show the excerpt/description, date, and date format along with the blog post link.
    • Set an option to enable/disable RSS feed for the blog.
  3. The default settings automatically place all blog posts inside a folder called /archives/ Why not make the default folder something like /posts/? Or just put the blog post in a corresponding month and year folder?
  4. Consider turning date on by default in the URL. This should help prevent duplicate blog URLs and will help organize blog posts into month and year folders, similar to other blog software.
  5. Add breadcrumbs to blogs and blog posts. These are helpful to users, so they have a consistent experience across the site. Breadcrumbs also help Google and search engines crawl and index blog posts and content.
  6. Consider an option to add an on/off switch that would add a meta noindex tag in the header of tag pages. Often these pages aren't incredibly useful to search engine crawlers.
  7. When published, blog posts should be added to global sitemap.xml file. This is an XML file with a list of all of the important web pages on a website, it is used by search engines to determine which pages to crawl first and can be useful in notifying search engines that you have new content available.
  8. By default, both category and tags should be switched to lowercase and spaces should be replaced with hyphens before the tags and categories are written into URLs. Not doing this, you end up with category and tag URLs that look like this.