MozCon 2017 – Takeaways For Businesses On A Digital Marketing Budget

General July 28th, 2017

Table of Contents:

  1. Leverage customer feedback for content creation ideas
  2. Outreach is important. Test your pitch template and automate as much as possible!
  3. Make your 404 page a lead generating tool
  4. Focus on Inbox Appearance
  5. Decide on a video platform prior to creating your video marketing campaign
  6. Track user experience
  7. Create “side door” entry pages to your website
  8. Embrace change and prepare for the future of SEO
  9. Understand searchers’ intent and solve their problems
  10. Don’t be afraid to take chances
  11. Map keywords by lexical similarity and group by intent
  12. Content that satisfies the user or “answers the searcher’s query” is a ranking signal
  13. Outreach is hard. Create campaigns around a piece, led by the right person.

For many agencies, Moz is a household name – offering SEO software, tools, and resources for marketers to better do their jobs. Each year since 2006, Moz has held their MozCon conference for internet marketers to come together, share their insights, and listen to presentations from some of the brightest minds in the industry.

MozCon is widely regarded as one of the best digital marketing conferences in the country for its extensive 3-day event featuring a single-track list of speakers ranging from Moz founder Rand Fishkin to community speakers from around the world.

The Inseev Interactive team had a blast attending MozCon in Seattle. Today we are happy to share our key takeaways and actionable insights from MozCon 2017.

Our takeaways are based on the perspective of a small agency, business, or freelancer without six figures available in digital marketing spend. More specifically, we were looking for the key takeaways for someone on a budget.

Whether you are a new website owner or simply interested in all things digital marketing, consider these tips and forward-thinking concepts for your business.

Actionable Tip #1: Leverage customer feedback for content creation ideas

Special thanks to Joel Klettke of Business Casual Copywriting for this tip.

Many content teams forget they have a vast array of data from their existing customers that can be mined to create great content that not only brings in new customers but also helps build brand trust with existing customers. Between blog posts, social media, email marketing, and paid advertising efforts, you’re communicating with your customers on a daily basis – but are you taking the time to listen to what they have to say back?

Gather your customer reviews (a tool like can help) and then use an n-gram analyzer to identify recurring themes, concerns, or compliments your customers are leaving you. You can then use this information to better tailor your content marketing efforts.

The steps are easy:

  • Find the data
    • Reviews
    • Chat Bots
    • Support Transcripts
    • Competition’s negative reviews.
    • Survey results
    • Search Console click data
  • Create the content
    • This process is difficult and there are many resources on the topic
  • Pitch out your piece and enjoy the new traffic!

We love the free tool Check out the wordcloud from our client feedback form:

Similarly, consider doing the same except for your competitors. This can identify content opportunities that you can capitalize on to position your brand or product as the superior offering.

Actionable Tip #2: Outreach is important. Test your pitch template and automate as much as possible!

This tip comes from the Sunday workshops and is courtesy of Russ Jones of Moz. Everyone loves a good pitch and absolutely hates a bad one. Just as you would test your landing pages and CTAs it is extremely important to split test your outreach pitches. This outreach can earn you valuable link equity. When preparing an outreach campaign, test your pitches on the first batch of your prospects. The process is easy:

Everyone loves a good pitch and absolutely hates a bad one. Just as you would test your landing pages and CTAs it is extremely important to split test your outreach pitches. When preparing an outreach campaign, test your pitches on the first batch of your prospects. The process is easy:

  • Write three pitches
  • Send out the pitches to ⅓ of your prospects with your email tracking tool
  • and are great tools for this.
  • Track open rates, responses, and links.
  • Pick a winning template and fire it out to the rest of your prospects.

With both outreach pitches and content creation, it is important to remember how and why someone will appreciate your content. Instead of thinking about your potential customer or prospect, think like them. Take your standard content creation process and answer the following questions:

Consumer-Centered Content Design

Thanks to Joel Klettke of Business Casual Copywriting for this slide.

Actionable Tip #3: Make your 404 page a lead generating tool

This tip comes from the Technical SEO Audit workshop by Britney Mueller of Moz. Users are weird. While we can predict and guide user behavior, we ultimately can’t control it. This means that users will inevitably find pages on your site that are broken.

Big websites will even begin to earn links that are broken or incorrectly placed. While a good SEO is always on the lookout for broken pages, it is often difficult to find every one immediately after they become a 404. Instead of making the user decide what to do next, create a 404 page that has the following information:

  • A fun picture with your 404 message
  • A question asking the user that they are looking for
    • You can collect this data for future content creation ideas
  • Ask for an email address and/or phone number

Here is a great example from our own website:

A mini snake game pops up for the user after they complete the form!

Shoutout to our developer Jesse for creating this page.

Actionable Tip #4: Focus on Inbox Appearance

More often than not, email marketers spend a majority of their time and effort crafting the perfect email copy. While the body and content of the email are important – make sure energy is devoted to the subject line and preview text.

Justine Jordan of Litmus conducted a study, finding that email recipients look at the ‘From: name’ first, ‘Subject line’ second, and the ‘preview text’ third. Considering this, focus on what your subscribers see before they open your email.

  • Make sure your emails are optimized for the recipient’s inbox – inbox appearance is extremely important and improves the open rate of campaigns
  • Apple Mail shows 140 characters – optimize what your recipients are reading prior to opening your email
  • 54% of subscribers say they’ve felt tricked by a subject line – don’t sacrifice honesty for a compelling email subject line!
  • Properly executed email marketing campaigns can lead to in-store visits, web-visits, twitter mentions, and many more revenue producing activities Don’t forget to make your emails mobile-friendly! Below are Apple’s recommended copy and button sizes for emails:

*Notice the preview text shown in the above image – does one email’s preview
text fail to offer personalization or entice the recipient to open the email?

Actionable Tip #5: Decide on a video platform prior to creating your video marketing campaign

Even before brainstorming ideas for a video marketing campaign – you must decide where your video will be hosted and what platform it will be viewed on. Why is this? Because how people watch and interact with videos varies dramatically between platforms. Facebook videos are often viewed without sound – this is because:

  • We are bored
  • We are mobile
  • We are muted
  • We are time-bound

In contrast to YouTube, where videos are more of an aural experience with the visual aspect highly diminished. Seem odd?

The most viewed videos on YouTube are music videos. People listen to music on YouTube, while favoring videos on Facebook (and other platforms) that do not rely on sound to get their message across. Phil Nottingham of Wistia, a video hosting platform, ran tests to prove this interesting phenomenon and shared his results (and videos) with the MozCon attendees.

As the list of social platforms grows, i.e. SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram; knowing where to invest can be difficult. Refrain from creating your video and subsequently asking ‘where should I host this?’

In order to get the most value on your investment, decide on the platform and hosting location first and then tailor your video to fit your decision. This will help get your content in front of the right people while increasing views and ROI.

In addition, consider the length of your video on the platform you choose. In general, conversions drop heavily after the 60-second mark. However, like with any marketing campaign, conversion rate should be tested.

Here you can see videos in the 30-60 second range are rewarded with the highest CTA conversion rate!

Actionable Tip #6: Track user experience

The relationship between UX and SEO is often cloudy and difficult to navigate. How exactly does one measure “good” UX and what effect does it have on rankings and SEO?

Matthew Edgar of Elementive offered several interesting and actionable tips on this subject. Good UX starts with making your website easy to find and then measuring “clear, objective, and quantifiable” metrics:

  • Track How People Browse
    • How long before people click a link or button?
    • Depending on what user is viewing, desired time may vary
  • Track the Value of a Blog Post or Content
    • How long until a user navigates to a new page within the site?
    • Measure the relationship between time spent and conversion
    • How far do users scroll before hitting a CTA – how long does it take them?
  • Identify Errors
    • Focus on what makes users leave your site
    • Do people who see this error still convert?

Bottom Line: Good UX can be measured and connected to SEO – thoroughly understand your users and measure metrics that contribute to the bottom line.

Actionable Tip #7: Create “side door” entry pages to your website

HubSpot Global Head of Growth & SEO, Matthew Barby gave an insightful presentation on troubleshooting real-life problems marketers face in growing revenue, traffic, and conversions. No search demand for what your offer? Create “side-door” pages such as:

  • Product integration pages with other products
  • Specific features pages to solve problems
  • Review and comparison pages with other products

*Here you will see Zapier ranking for the terms “rss to twitter” and “hubspot crm and mailchimp”

Contrary to popular belief, new content is not always necessary. Matthew Barby shared that HubSpot simply rebuilt existing assets and improved internal linking, leading to 600,000+ new visitors!

Actionable Tip #8: Embrace change and prepare for the future of SEO

Organic search marketing is a constantly evolving environment which means staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success.

Dr. Pete Meyer of Moz research shows that over 55% of page one search results are on secure (HTTPS) pages, and this percentage only expected to increase (shown below).

Although Google’s algorithm does not currently reward or penalize secure and nonsecure sites, that could be changing in the future. This means shifting to an HTTPS site now, albeit time-consuming and difficult, could mean less headache in the future should Google’s algorithm change overnight.

Side note: Soon Chrome will start to warn those filling out a form online that they are not on HTTPS, this will surely lead to a loss of conversions and signals a change in the SEO landscape.

Everyone wants to be the featured snippet for particular queries, but how can you?

  • Rank on page one (usually within the first 5 results)
  • People search for answers – you must provide relevant and complete answers!
  • Consider the type of content that is dominating the snippets
  • Certain phrase features video snippets? Don’t try to compete with text, and vice versa
  • If you are ranking 3-5, this is a great opportunity to write better content to steal the snippet
    • Favor information in the form of lists, not tables


Actionable Tip #9: Understand searchers’ intent and solve their problems

Google’s rapid machine learning is exemplified by how it is starting to understand how we feel about what we find. As marketers, we should be producing content that actually solves problems – something most websites fail to do. By reviewing the ‘People Also Ask’ queries (PAA’s) you will understand who is consistently able to answer people’s questions well.

  • Watch how users interact with your page
  • Gain insight on issues Google will pick up on algorithmically
  • Ask the questions that tools can’t:
    • Why did you click on that?
    • Why didn’t you click on that?
    • What would make this better?
    • What is it missing?

Bottom Line: Producing content that answers questions and solves problems will ensure higher rankings and increased stability; as opposed to viral content with a single traffic spike. Review PAA’s and watch how people interact with your site for insight into Google’s algorithm.

Actionable Tip #10: Don’t be afraid to take chances

Britney Muller, an SEO for Moz, purposefully went out of her way to break a featured snippet Moz was earning for the query title tag. You may be asking yourself why anyone would do such a thing?!

In Brittany’s case, by understanding what factors were contributing to their successful feature, she could then make informed decisions as she worked on capturing additional featured snippets for other keywords. This test also proved to show her that meta descriptions – while not a traditional SEO ranking factor – do in fact influence your ability to show in position 0.

Another example of SEOs taking chances comes from HubSpot, where on their very own sales page, list themselves as the second best CRM platform – not the first:

Why would HubSpot do such a thing? Wouldn’t they want to tell potential customers that they are the #1 best CRM? When it comes to users searching for the best CRM, they’re looking for a comparison; more specifically an honest comparison.

Remember: Instilling this good faith with qualified leads can go a long way in more than just digital marketing.

Actionable Tip #11: Map keywords by lexical similarity and group by intent

As Google continues to grow smarter via machine learning and their incredible access to massive datasets, the days of targeting individual keywords are behind us. With latent semantic indexing and user intent, webpages these days should be targeting keyword groups and users based on their intent.

Consider grouping your target keywords into buckets based on the user’s intent or what stage of the funnel they are in:

  • Is this person looking for information? (informational queries)
  • Starting a purchasing journey? (commercial queries)
  • Is the user local to your service area? (local queries)
  • Looking to make a purchase? (transactional queries)

Below is a great slide from Katie Cunningham’s presentation on mapping modifiers to intent stages. This particular example focused on the medical industry:

After creating these modifiers, build your buckets by intent:

Moz Keyword Explorer has a great feature that allows you to group keywords based on their lexical similarity. Consider using this option the next time you do a keyword map or are planning out future content initiatives.

Actionable Tip #12: Content that satisfies the user or “answers the searcher’s query” is a ranking signal

Google ultimately measures satisfaction based on bounce rate (when a user comes back to Google after a search). They can take this metric one step further and see the next click, and the next, and the next, until the user stays on the page for an extended period of time.

Need an example? Conduct a quick search for the cost of your favorite tool. Chances are the brand is not the featured snippet, or even in position one. This is because the user is looking for more than the cost, they want comparisons and benefits.

Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive elaborated on this topic with the below screenshot of the query “how much does Namely cost?”

Bottom line: Content that disappoints is disruptable. Make content that satisfies the user. This also means that if there is a SERP with disappointing content, there is an opportunity to make something better.

Actionable Tip #13: Outreach is hard. Create campaigns around a piece, led by the right person.

There’s no optimal way of writing outreach emails. Lisa Myers of Verve Search shared an interesting graph of “emails sent vs. links acquired” during one of her outreach campaigns:

The takeaway emphasized here is to encourage people to be who they are. Find the right people and allow them free rein as there is no one mold for every campaign. So how exactly does one find good people? Lisa shared with us her experience and offered some unique questions to ask while interviewing that have proven successful, such as:

  • What browser do you use?
    • Lisa found that job candidates who responded with Firefox or Chrome were 17% more likely to stay in the job and perform better!
    • She believes this is because they have not accepted the default, but instead have searched and found something better – a sign of ingenuity and grit
  • How would you get a magic elephant out of your bedroom? (we made this question up)
    • Everyone will answer this type of question differently depending on their personality
    • Goal: Find people that will go out of their way to make things great

Bottom line: The key to outreach, according to Lisa is:


Well, that about wraps up our 2017 MozCon recap and list of top actionable tips for agencies and digital marketers. Did you attend this year’s MozCon and think we left out a great tip? Have any feedback or questions regarding our key takeaways? Shout it out in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Did you attend this year’s MozCon and think we left out a great tip? Have any feedback or questions regarding our key takeaways? Shout it out in the comments! Thanks for reading!



  • Brett Bastello
  • Wesley Flippo
  • Ian Phillips
  • Samuel Wheeler

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