By Cory Collins
21 Sep 2016

MozCon 2016 - A Page One Power Recap

A handful of us here at Page One Power had the pleasure of attending MozCon for the first time ever.

In fact, it was the first time anyone from Page One Power attended MozCon.

Needless to say we had a fantastic time. MozCon has a wonderful reputation as a digital marketing conference—a reputation it upheld, easily.


The entire event was unbelievable—from the size of the conference hall, the intensity (and quality!) of the speakers, and perhaps best of all the fellow attendees.

I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few fellow SEOs for the first time in real life, which was simply fantastic.

In fact, my primary advice for anyone attending MozCon for the first time is to do your homework ahead of time. I didn't appreciate just how many SEOs would be there that I would meet for the first time. For example, I ran into Patrick Hathaway and Gareth Brown on the final day and only had a few minutes to chat before I had to head to my plane.

Next time, I'll definitely plan more accordingly beforehand. MozCon is one of the best networking conferences.

The Page One Power group was made up of myself, Andrew Dennis, Nicholas Chimonas, and Joe Oliver.

With 26 presentations in total, it was a lot to cover. So much, in fact, that I thought I would instead stick to my absolute favorite presentations.

If you want to see other coverage (including ALL of the presentations), you can find them here:

Without further ado, let's jump into it.

My Favorite MozCon 2016 Presentations

It was tough picking just a handful of presentations to highlight.

Moz did a fantastic job vetting speakers, topics, and presentations. In fact, the amount of diversity they had was nothing short of incredible. Clearly Moz needs to update their core values to TAGFEED, with "d" for diverse.

I've narrowed down my favorite presentations on the standards of:

  • How relevant the presentation was to SEO and link building (our business).
  • How well the presentation was delivered—including passion.
  • How applicable and tactical the material was.

Here are the seven I loved the most (they truly were all good), based on the chronological order they were presented.

1. Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets by Rob Bucci.

Rob Bucci, CEO at STAT Search Analytics, breaks down research and takeaways from studying 1,000,000 SERPs and analyzing featured snippets.

Some of Rob's findings:

  • Snippets have risen from 9% in January to 15% in July.
  • Paragraph snippets are the most common, followed by lists and then tables. The format of your content determines the format of the featured snippet.
  • Wikipedia owns 15% of all snippets with images.
  • Local-intent queries never have featured snippets.
  • People-also-ask boxes are a good source of finding other queries with snippets.
  • Implied questions might not have featured snippets. [how do I build a roof] vs. [build a roof].
  • Google is clearly preferring a format—tables versus list, say—in certain verticals.

You can download the full data set, white paper, and slides at:

2. You Can't Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter by Dr. Pete Meyers.

Dr. Pete, Marketing Scientist at Moz, is a staple of MozCon, often presenting the insight and data he's collected from monitoring Google search via Mozcast.

This year is no different, although following hot on the heels of Moz's new Keyword Explorer Tool Dr. Pete has additional insight to bring surrounding keywords. In this tactical presentation, Dr. Pete explains how the algorithm is evolving and where we need to be headed as SEOs.

This was one of my favorite talks. Dr. Pete really brought home the idea that as SEOs we've had to deal with a dumb algorithm, force-feeding it information (blind five year old comes to mind). However, search is quickly getting better, smarter.

Dr. Pete shows specifically how he goes about finding and grouping keywords in this presentation, going beyond a concept and showing the nitty-gritty of good keyword research.

3. How to Be Specific: From-The-Trenches Lessons in High-Converting Copy by Joanna Wiebe.

Joanna Wiebe, Conversion Copywriter at Copy Hackers, has built a career on conversion copywriting, and no one does it better. Her presentation did not fail to live up to expectations.

Right off the bat, Joanna gave examples of high-converting copy, and highlighted the fact that too much of copy is predicated on what competitors are doing. Too many brands play it safe with copy, leaving out personality and voice.

The number one rule from Joanna's presentation was stop being vague, and start being specific.

Other good advice from Joanna's presentation:

  • Make your copy obviously about "me" (the person you're talking to).
  • Always connect the dots and make concepts concrete.
  • Create copy designed to build mental visualization. Words are supposed to create pictures and engage our imagination.
  • People do read on the internet—just not boring copy. And converting copy is almost always longer.

4. Local Projects to Boost Your Company and Career by Mike Ramsey.

Mike Ramsey, President of NiftyMarketing and NiftyLaw, demonstrated the value of local projects in his presentation.

Mike is also a fellow Idahoan, based out of Burley.

In my opinion Mike's speech was one of the most inspirational, challenging all SEOs to better track their own work and build projects that will push forward the state of the industry.

Mike called these projects Bristlecone Pine projects, after a species of tree that is extremely long-lived, highly resilient to harsh weather, and constantly growing (albeit slowly).

Mike featured 10 projects:

  1. Amador's Scholarship Link Building Research project.
  2. Ryan's Local Content Research project.
  3. Chelsi's Landing Page Design project.
  4. Joo's Internship Link Tests.
  5. Devins' Competitive Link Building Worksheet.
  6. Cameron's Spanish SEO study.
  7. Jonathan's Schema study.
  8. Jami's Review Data.
  9. Romans' Blogger Outreach Data.
  10. Brady's Reporting Study.

The data is in the slides (and in some cases published—in which case I linked). I highly recommend you review, particularly for those studies that are relevant to your business.

What's inspiring about these studies is that they were done either on personal time or non-client time. All time spent not directly contributing to the business—which is hard to allocate and invest in.

Despite this, Mike shows the tangible benefits of these projects. In each case important data was learned, and personal growth was clear.

Big hats off to Amador for being the first to tackle such a project, and props to Mike for seeing the potential and giving his team the opportunity and initiative.

Let's hope more of us follow in Nifty's footsteps.

5. Putting Trust into Domain Authority by Wil Reynolds.

Wil Reynolds, Founder of Seer Interactive, is one of the most passionate and energetic presenters I've had the pleasure of seeing.

Best known for starting the RCS (real company sh...stuff), back at MozCon 2012.

This year Wil talked building brand and audience trust, and how to research beyond the SEO silo, to find trends that don't include keyword volume.

Some key points from Wil's talk:

  • Stop with the confirm shaming, already.
  • Watch this ad to understand what keyword volume and research misses.
  • Use meta descriptions that connect with people.
  • To find brand opportunities outside of keyword research use:
    • Chat logs
    • Individual interviews
    • Sales calls
    • Market research: have people "Google" your solution/product and review.
  • If you put keyword volume first, you may just be putting people last.
  • Marketer first marketing must die.
  • If you want to build a community and audience, you shouldn't be looking to market to that audience—add value, instead. Help the community.
  • Pitch revenue with your own data, using an annual model (not monthly). Don't forget about assisted conversions.

As ever, Wil helps remind us all of the bigger picture, continuing to point the way for the SEO community to grow and win budget.

6. Persuasion, Data, & Collaboration: Building Links in 2016 by Kirsty Hulse.

Kirsty Hulse, founder of Manyminds Digital, presented on creative link building in 2016.

Kirsty's presentation was funny (probably the funniest, actually), energetic, and extremely insightful into the world of link building today.

Top takeaway's from Kirsty's presentation:

  • Link building relies upon people, which makes it difficult. But, people can be predicted and trained.
  • In pitching ideas to clients, don't use jargon, pitch a wild first idea (to make the second more palatable), and use questions to prompt agreement.
  • For easy, reliable data use Pollfish, Kirsty's favorite tool.
  • Expert opinions, quotes, and endorsements are vital to gaining credibility, authority, and audience attention (not to mention links).
  • Pay journalists for content feedback, advice, and press release recommendations—they're the professionals.
  • Stop pitching a request to pitch. It makes no sense. Don't lead with a generic lie in your outreach, and quit with the apologetic language. Use sexy language that speaks your contact's language—words like embargo and exclusive.

If you have an opportunity to see Kirsty present, I can't recommend it highly enough. Her presentation was hands down one of my favorites.

7. Link Building's Tipping Point by Rand Fishkin.

Rand Fishkin, Founder and infamous Wizard of Moz, is one of the best-known speakers in the SEO and digital marketing space.

I've had the pleasure to see Rand present a handful of times, and I've never been disappointed. He's well-spoken, insightful, and always goes above-and-beyond to deliver the most value possible in his presentations.

I can't articulate how excited I was to see Rand present on the subject of link building.

This presentation—along with a handful of recent Whiteboard Friday's—marks (perhaps in my mind only) a return to SEO and link building by Moz.

Rand highlighted how to build a link strategy (by building a flywheel), and also the value of manual link building, with specific recommendations.

Here are the key points in Rand's presentation:

  • Google is moving from the old reasonable surfer model to an all-seeing eye model. Google is more ingrained into the web than ever before, across platforms, devices, analytics, and technology.
  • Google's primary goal is searcher satisfaction. The search team is constantly asking if searchers are satisfied with the results, and how they arrive at the answer.
  • Google is moving to machine and deep-learning models. It will be harder than ever to understand the signals and inputs into the algorithm—but it's a safe bet links will remain valuable.
  • Marketers need a link strategy, guided by a strategic road map.
  • Link strategy requires buy-in on experimentation, clear expectations of time-to-ROI, and a balance between long-term investments and short term hacks.
  • The five long-term link strategies Rand identified:
    • The community and UGC (user-generated content) path.
    • The press and media path.
    • The embed path.
    • The partnership and alliance path.
    • The content marketing path.
  • Manual link building doesn't scale, but it solves points of friction within the overarching link strategy. To be effective, you'll need both manual link building and a guiding link strategy.
  • Rand's 10 favorite manual link building methods:
    • Republishing.
    • Guest contributions.
    • Local links.
    • Small site and content acquisitions.
    • Be someone else's press.
    • Bio links.
    • Resource lists (and directories).
    • Testimonials and case studies.
    • Brand, image, and content reclamation.
    • Orthogonal alignments—parallel business relations (geographic connections, founder attributes, employee programs, sponsorships and support, etc.).
  • Align your strategy with Google and where users are going.
  • Link building is far from dead—links are critical to rank.

It was a face-paced, insightful presentation. Again, I can't state how excited I am to see Rand and Moz return to providing solid, actionable link building advice.

My (Cory Collins) MozCon Takeaways

MozCon might be my favorite conference to date. The event was jam packed with insight, excitement, and SEOs I've known online for years.

I can't believe how many people attended the event—not just people I knew, but people doing the day-in, day-out work of SEO.

Here's what I took away from MozCon 2016:

  1. Marketers need to be adding value to the web, their industries, and communities. If you really want to stand out, it's not enough to be tactical. You need to be strategic.
  2. Featured snippets are a cornerstone of Google's future (mobile) strategy. They're here to stay, and might just represent a gold rush in certain industries.
  3. Keyword research continues to be an important aspect of SEO, but is getting more difficult due to Google's obfuscation of data, as well as their machine-learning improvements. Concepts are important, and should be pursued with considerable research into grouped keywords.
  4. We should all analyze the results of our effort more. We're not going to improve (individually, or as an industry), without considerable reflection. We need to hold ourselves accountable and always consider revenue.
  5. Links continue to matter in search, and I look forward to seeing more and more link conversations and presentations at search conferences. As one of the two most important search ranking factors, I believe SEOs are beginning to move back to the topic.

Thank you Moz for hosting an incredible conference. I can't imagine the amount of work, planning, and preparation involved in such a massive event.

It was a pleasure meeting new and old friends alike.

Andrew Dennis' MozCon Takeaways

This was my first time at MozCon and it was an incredible experience. The amount of thought, care, and effort the folks at Moz put into hosting this conference is astounding.

I was blown away by virtually every aspect of the conference: from the delicious breakfasts, to the laser-filled stage, to the custom MozCon crane and arcade games! But by far the best part of MozCon was excellent content from the featured presenters.

Here are my main takeaways from an enlightening three days in Seattle:

  1. Start with small tests when you want to propose meaningful changes (SEO, UX, content, etc.); demonstrate ROI to obtain buy-in and scale.
  2. Rich snippets present a real opportunity for search visibility, and there are different ways to optimize for different snippet types/formats.
  3. Encouraging your team to run tests and experiments that they come up with and genuinely care about is a great way to obtain data and information that can push your business forward.
  4. As marketers, we need to get out of our own heads and the echo chamber in our industry, and really try to develop an understanding of the real human beings that make up our audiences.
  5. Storytelling is still the best way to connect with people—in marketing, sales, business, and life.
  6. Link building can help accelerate the development of your marketing flywheel.

I had a great time at MozCon and hope to have the opportunity to attend again next year. Thank you to Moz for putting on such an awesome show!

Cory Collins

Cory Collins is the Business Development Manager at Page One Power and has been with the agency since 2012. Cory is an SEO strategist, writer, runner, and outdoor enthusiast residing in Boise, Idaho, with his wife, daughter, and (too) many pets.