The #Mozcon Chronicles – Day 2 Morning Sessions

The #Mozcon Chronicles – Day 2 Morning Sessions

27th July 2012

This post takes a look at the morning sessions which took place at MozCon on day 2 of the event.

SEOmoz MozCon is an absorbing geek experience.

The first can be resumed with: “Forget the past, do real marketing and benefits – from links to social and revenues – will come”.

The figure of the SEO professional is evolving, embracing a larger perspective and merging and cooperates more and more with all the other web marketing disciplines.

But its core value, being a data based disciplines with rely on a deep knowledge of how Search (not just Google) works and how users do search in every environment (Search Engines, Social Networks, Video Platforms…) is still valid. But now the focus is not anymore Google, but end users themselves.

That’s way Mozcon this year presents speeches, which vary from pure Excel hardcore to the apparently more undefinable facets of Content Marketing.

Consistent to this vision, the first speaker of the morning sessions of the second day at Mozcon was Richard Baxter.

Richard Baxter . Link Analytics Through APIs

Richard loves working on data, because it makes him smarter as a marketer and help clients to make the best decisions. But data does have a problem: time.

If you calculate it, you spend tons of money in collecting data.

Let’s solve this.

SEOgadget has created a new set of adds-in for Excel:

  • Open Site Explorer for Excel, which directly lets you work the OSE data into Excel without needing .csv files exports;
  • Competition finder for Excel, for competitive analysis;
  • Anchor Text for Excel, which doesn’t limit itself in showing what anchor texts a link profile owns, but also the link metrics of all the backlinks with those anchor texts.
But first we have to know some basic information. For this reason, Richard starts talking about the Sharedcount APIs, which in reality is just one of the many APIs the SEOgadget Excel adds-in are built with.

In order to explain what the tools are able to offer us, Richard starts an Excel live demo session.

While doing this live demo, he explains how many valuable APIs exist as, for instance, the ones, which tell you from an IP address is.

He talks also about Excel functions like the ResolveIP(URI) and concatenate(IP address Excel cell), which combined can give us essential geolocalization information.

But he also insists on the importance of using Json data, in order to manage data more efficiently and effectively.

Another API he cites is HttpDownloader. It is wonderful in order to then concatenate data like social ones, but also contact emails. A great way to find outreach contacts of a site that are maybe linking to your competitors.

Even more interesting is the Seogadget Links API Extension for Excel, which Richard announced and put live today, especially for MozCon.

But there’s a problem using APIs, like the Mozscape one, is merging and consolidating data.

That said, Richard believes that the MozScape API is awesome:

  • URL Metrics > DA, PA…
  • Links API > return a set of links to a page or domain
  • Anchor API
  • Top Pages

But, instead of trying to resume something really hard to resume, if you want to know more about this new tool offered by SEOgadget, I warmly invite to click on the link presented above.

Finally, tool apart, the most important message of the Richard Baxter presentation is that now we can build rapid prototype applications on our own terms, because APIs are not that hard to understand and work with, and we don’t need to be a developer to use them.

Download Richard’s presentation here.

Cyrus Shepard – High ROI Content Strategies

The future is coming, and in the next times we will see even more changes by Google and Bing.

We must not fear changes, also because “resistance is futile”.

SEO is not dying, but it’s sure that some kind of SEO is vanishing. Also old beliefs are vanishing; just think back to Title tags and how much Google is changing our Titles now.

But let’s try to understand where Google is going to.

Google+… we were thinking about it as a third sock. But we were missing the point, because we were thinking at it as a Social Network, while is way more related to Search, and from an SEO perspective it is simply cool:

  • followed profile links;
  • followed post links;
  • content in Google+ is real pure content you can update along time;
  • it’s the only major platform with Author photos (check the Social Interaction tab in Google Analytics to monitor your tests with photos).

Cyrus suggests that you use All My Plus

After this, Cyrus moves to talking about Infographics and reminds us what Matt Cutts said about a possible devaluation of links driven by them.

He gives two infographic tips:

  • Don’t use any widget for embed. And if someone steals it you can find it quite easily with reverse search for images;
  • Don’t link to your Home page if you use an embed code.

Cyrus states that some of the best content that we should be using for link building is eBooks.

  • Easier to produce;
  • Less expensive;
  • Evergreen content, while infographics tends to have a shorter lifespan;
  • No saturation;
  • eBook directiories;
  • Can be repurposed;
  • Still not under the Google radar.

But what about the old classic Press Releases? The reality is the press releases now don’t have so much SEO value, and still cost a lot.

Some PR information:

  • But their biggest issue is anchor text related, because of Penguin: bad combo of anchor text and low quality sites.
  • And their other problem is that press releases are not linkbait and don’t have linkable assets.
  • So use them only if you have to promote something really newsworthy.

If you don’t have internal resources, you need to hire a pro. The following sites are good to source PR writers:

  • Contently;
  • oDesk;
  • Guru;
  • eLance.

Another great resource is HARO, which you can use to uncover PR opportunities. There are a few tips for using it better:

  • Gmail canned response;
  • Link to “Expert” page, which is you profile;
  • Link to Top Articles, not just because they show your expertise but also because they are that content reporters will likely use to link to you.

Next the talk moves onto Anchor Text. He’s opinion is that anchor text is not a ranking signal for Google anymore, because Google can rely over other factors now:

  • Contextual Analysis;
  • Block Analysis;
  • KW Proxomity;
  • Reading Level
  • Term Weighting;
  • Title Tag;
  • Page Relevance;
  • Domain Relevance;
  • Inbound Links;
  • Author Authority

But his biggest suggestion (based on his personal experience) is that we should do just those things we feel comfortable with. We like old crap link building tactics? Seriously? If we love what we do, maybe we can fail, but most probably we will have success.

You can download Cyrus Shepards presentation here.

Ian Lurie – Build links without doing nothing.

But a better title for Ian should be: Stop doing link building. You’re trying to hard.

“Penguinoalypse Now”, which demonstrates how Link Building has failed.

It’s not link building, it’s audience building. Links are a results of it.

And Content… no, it doesn’t exist Content Marketing. Unicorns don’t exist, stop it. Content is an outcome, is the great result of Great Marketing.

Content = Audience = Authority = Growth

And this works on top of SEO, Social Media and everything else.

“Content doesn’t work”, bosses don’t want Content:“We love all you, but we cannot implement anything you said”.

Say what matters when you produce content.

Random is the new normal. You have to figure out randomly connected things related to you and your business.

Use the Idea Graph. The Idea Graph is an huge interrelated set of topics and it helps you understand what really matters NOW in the randomly connected topics.

The Facebook Ads Tool is the place to go to experiment with this concept. You set an “interest” and a series of connected ones are showed up.

It takes out weird connections, but just try it. Somehow similar are the related topics in Google.

Try the cool data. Use the Portent Idea Graph to show them to people.

Put an interest and it shows what is also liked and correlation data. The smallest the correlation better.

Can you prove it really works? Test it and say what matters to me now!

Case history from a Portent client targeting studying, but none wants to be connected to studying. But students play games. Connect both and create content and it will find links and social shares.

Say what matters and promote your content. For instance (re)discover Stumble Upon. So cheap and so effective.

Use Facebook, not for your brand but for your content.

And send emails with caution.

And execute.

The Ian Lurie presentation can be downloaded here

Greg Boser – Redifining Business Models in a Post-Penguin World.

Greg gives a short description about Blueglass and about himself. And what is difficult to get passed from being a small agency and some big “crappy” agency.

So, from this we need to find a middle and new way to create business in the Search industry. Greg joined the Blueglass adventure, which evolved with growing issues that needed a deep reconsideration of the roles.

What has happened along these years in Search?

The Google “insane” revolution starting in 2010 with Caffeine, because the new indexing wasn’t able to manage all the low quality it was ingesting and spitting in its SERPs.

That’s why Panda came out and then this year, Penguin.

Both have a deeper mission:

  • Changing our behaviors about how to do our job as search marketers.

And noticing all this, Blueglass understood they needed to focus on executing content-based marketing solutions.

But they encountered problems.

First Problem: Siloed Internal Structure. Trying to build integrated marketing strategies from silos doesn’t work.

Solution: Ditched channel-specific silos in favor of a structure based client lifecycle workflow (one team works on all components).

Blueglass also ditched channel-specific budgeting (no internal fighting over budgets). Then implemented a greater level of top-down transparency (entire team know more about the engagement much earlier in the process).

They implemented open ideation. If the janitor has a good idea, Greg wants to hear it! No idea is a bad idea.

All these changes were positive for Blueglass.

Second Problem: Product Ambiguity between Consultancy and Vendor Services.

Solution: Pick one or the other. Trying to offer both doesn’t really work.

Changes were made. Blueglass killed one-off production-only and 3rd party vendor services. They’re not a vendor, they a full cycle consulting company now.

Third Problem: Antiquated Pricing Models.

Solution: They grouped all services together and tracked the true costs of each group then made value-based adjustments to bundled pricing distribution.

Then they introduced performance based pricing and guarantees for promotion, and reduced redundant production and created a pro-experiment/failure-is-ok environment.

Forth Problem: Poor Client Selection.

Solution: Content-driven strategies are really time consuming. Therefore Blueglass implemented a “High Probability Selling” sales model, and rejected the traditional RFP model. Especially they learnt to say no to abusive “dangling carrot” clients.

Fifth Problem: Outdated Contract Structures

Solution: Blueglass added client obligations/responsibilities and implemented subscription model.

You can download Greg Boser’s presentation here.

Rhea Drysdale – ORM

The problem is that people don’t really care about is ORM….. Until people are faced with the unimaginable.

ORM needs a long-term relation and plan. Playing the dead is not a paying long term solution. When a big brand disaster happens, it takes almost three years to recover, says Rhea. We need insurance for ourselves to protect us, but, we don’t have insurance for Brands.

So, how can we insure a brand?

  • Social media policies
  • Community management
  • Listening Tools
  • Brand development
  • Customer service
  • Affiliate management

Rhea predicts that there will be a 21% increase of the number of PR jobs in the future. This is in response to businesses and government agencies responding quickly to news and information that move fast on the Internet and social media.

We can see it also in Google Trends.

But ORM is the same as “crisis communication”, which is old, like some businesses are.

So… ORM matters, a lot.

Reputation Management is Cleaning Serps. How?

  • Social Profiles
  • Spin Content (not suggested)
  • Flood review sites with positive mentions (not suggested)
  • Use crowdsourcing to sculpt SERPs (not suggested)

All those tactics work but don’t solve the problem. Most of the clients do NOT want to listen, even if they say they do.

Organizational change requires:

  • Trust
  • Conflict
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
  • Results

What is the most common reason for an ORM problem? Bad leadership. And who do we usually have to gain approvals? The same leadership! Funny, isn¡t it? Therefore we need permission to stop listening to the leadership that caused you the problem.

The Outspoken ORM Manifesto:

  • We will work with those deserving of ORM services, not those with the biggest pocketbook.
  • We will work with organization ready to change.
  • We will set clear expectations even when they appear dire.
  • We will let the data speak for itself.
  • We won’t share short cuts, but we will streamline processes.
  • We won’t pay off people, but we will pay for the best tools.
  • We will make a difference.

Listen. The perceived problem is usually not the real problem.

Identify your organizational allies and threats.

Needs assessment, need data. Use auto complete and the SERPs to check. Use Social MentionsCustomer feedback  and  Customer loyalty using the Net Promoter Score (on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to refer to a friend or colleague?)

Analize the conversions, do competitive analysis, audit corporate communication and audit customer communication


What’s working? Looks for areas of improvements. And limitations are an opportunity of content generation.

ORM is not magic. It is SEO. Build reputable, relevant and authority content.

You must have and fix resources, budget and timeframe.

Warning: complicated won’t make it through legal and IT.

Therefore set clear expectations for achievable results and let the data speak for itself.

You can download the Rhea Drysdale presentation here.

Mozcon 2012 Roundup Posts


Written By
Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.
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