Give It Up for Our MozCon 2015 Community Speakers

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Super thrilled that we’re able to announce this year’s community speakers for MozCon, July 13-15th in Seattle!

Wow. Each year I feel that I say the pool keeps getting more and more talented, but it’s the truth! We had more quality pitches this year than in the past, and quantity-wise, there were 241, around 100 more entries than years previously. Let me tell you, many of the review committee members filled our email thread with amazement at this.

And even though we had an unprecedented six slots, the choices seemed even tougher!

241 pitches
Let that number sink in for a little while.

Because we get numerous questions about what makes a great pitch, I wanted to share both information about the speakers and their great pitches—with some details removed for spoilers. (We’re still working with each speaker to polish and finalize their topic.) I’ve also included my or Matt Roney‘s own notes on each one from when we read them without knowing who the authors were.

Please congratulate our MozCon 2015 community speakers!

Adrian Vender

Adrian is the Director of Analytics at IMI and a general enthusiast of coding and digital marketing. He’s also a life-long drummer and lover of music. Follow him at @adrianvender.

Adrian’s pitch:

Content Tracking with Google Tag Manager

While marketers have matured in the use of web analytics tools, our ability to measure how users interact with our sites’ content needs improvement. Users are interacting with dynamic content that just aren’t captured in a pageview. While there are JavaScript tricks to help track these details, working with IT to place new code is usually the major hurdle that stops us.

Finally, Google Tag Manager is that bridge to advanced content analysis. GTM may appear technical, but it can easily be used by any digital marketer to track almost any action on a site. My goal is to make ALL attendees users of GTM.

My talk will cover the following GTM concepts:

[Adrian lists 8 highly-actionable tactics he’ll cover.]

I’ll share a client example of tracking content interaction in GA. I’ll also share a link to a GTM container file that can help people pre-load the above tag templates into their own GTM.

Matt’s notes: Could be good. I know a lot of people have questions about Tag Manager, and the ubiquity of GA should help it be pretty well-received.


Chris DayleyChris Dayley

Chris is a digital marketing expert and owner of Dayley Conversion. His company provides full-service A/B testing for businesses, including design, development, and test execution. Follow him at @chrisdayley.

Chris’ pitch:

I would like to present a super actionable 15 minute presentation focused on the first two major steps businesses should take to start A/B testing:

1. Radical Redesign Testing

2. Iterative Testing (Test EVERYTHING)

I am one of the few CROs out there that recommends businesses to start with a radical redesign test. My reasoning for doing so is that most businesses have done absolutely no testing on their current website, so the current landing page/website really isn’t a “best practice” design yet.

I will show several case studies where clients saw more than a 50% lift in conversion rates just from this first step of radical redesign testing, and will offer several tips for how to create a radical redesign test. Some of the tips include:

[Chris lists three direct and interesting tips he’ll share.]

Next I suggest moving into the iterative phase.

I will show several case studies of how to move through iterative testing so you eventually test every element on your page.

Erica’s notes: Direct, interesting, and with promise of multiple case studies.


Duane BrownDuane Brown

Duane is a digital marketer with 10 years’ experience having lived and worked in five cities across three continents. He’s currently at Unbounce. When not working, you can find Duane traveling to some far-flung location around the world to eat food and soak up the culture. Follow him at @DuaneBrown.

Duane’s pitch:

What Is Delightful Remarketing & How You Can Do It Too

A lot of people find remarketing creepy and weird. They don’t get why they are seeing those ads around the internet…. let alone how to make them stop showing.

This talk will focus on the different between remarketing & creating delightful remarketing that can help grow the revenue & profit at a company and not piss customers off. 50% of US marketers don’t use remarketing according to eMarketer (2013).

– [Duane’s direct how-to for e-commerce customers.] Over 60% of customers abandon a shopping cart each year: http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate (3 minute)

– Cover a SaaS company using retargeting to [Duane’s actionable item]. This remarketing helps show your products sticky features while showing off your benefits (3 minute)

– The Dos: [Duane’s actionable tip], a variety of creative & a dedicated landing page creates delightful remarketing that grows revenue (3 minute)

– Wrap up and review main points. (2 minutes)

Matt’s notes: Well-detailed, an area in which there’s a lot of room for improvement.


Gianluca FiorelliGianluca Fiorelli

Moz Associate, official blogger for StateofDigital.com and known international SEO and inbound strategist, Gianluca works in the digital marketing industry, but he still believes that he just know that he knows nothing. Follow him at @gfiorelli1.

Gianluca’s pitch:

Unusual Sources for Keyword and Topical Research

A big percentage of SEOs equal Keyword and Topical Research to using Keyword Planner and Google Suggest.

However, using only them, we cannot achieve a real deep knowledge of the interests, psychology and language of our target.

In this talk, I will present unusual sources and unnoticed features of very well-known tools, and offer a final example based on a true story.

Arguments touched in the speech (not necessarily in this order):

[Gianluca lists seven how-tos and one unique case study.]

Erica’s notes: Theme of Google not giving good keyword info. Lots of unique actionable points and resources. Will work in 15 minute time limit.


Ruth Burr ReedyRuth Burr Reedy

Ruth is the head of on-site SEO for BigWing Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City, OK. At BigWing, she manages a team doing on-site, technical, and local SEO. Ruth has been working in SEO since 2006. Follow her at @ruthburr.

Ruth’s pitch:

Get Hired to Do SEO

This talk will go way beyond “just build your own website” and talk about specific ways SEOs can build evidence of their skills across the web, including:

[Ruth lists 7 how-tos with actionable examples.]

All in a funny, actionable, beautiful, easy-to-understand get-hired masterpiece.

Erica’s notes: Great takeaways. Wanted to do a session about building your resume as a marketer for a while.


Stephanie WallaceStephanie Wallace

Stephanie is director of SEO at Nebo, a digital agency in Atlanta. She helps clients navigate the ever-changing world of SEO by understanding their audience and helping them create a digital experience that both the user and Google appreciates. Follow her at @SWallaceSEO.

Stephanie’s pitch:

Everyone knows PPC and SEO complement one another – increased visibility in search results help increase perceived authority and drive more clickthroughs to your site overall. But are you actively leveraging the wealth of PPC data available to build on your existing SEO strategy? The key to effectively using this information lies in understanding how to test SEO tactics and how to apply the results to your on-page strategies. This session will delve into actionable strategies for using PPC campaign insights to influence on-page SEO and content strategies. Key takeaways include:

[Stephanie lists four how-tos.]

Erica’s notes: Nice and actionable. Like this a lot.


As mentioned, we had 241 entries, and many of them were stage quality. Notable runners up included AJ Wilcox, Ed Reese, and Daylan Pearce, and a big pat on the back to all those who tossed their hat in.

Also, a huge thank you to my fellow selection committee members for 2015: Charlene Inoncillo, Cyrus Shepard, Danie Launders, Jen Lopez, Matt Roney, Rand Fishkin, Renea Nielsen, and Trevor Klein.

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Feed the Hummingbird: Structured Markup Isn’t the Only Way to Talk to Google

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

I used to laugh at the idea of Hummingbird optimization.

In a recent poll, Moz asked nearly
300 marketers which Google updated affected their traffic the most. Penguin and Panda were first and second, followed by Hummingbird in a distant third.

Unsurprising, because unlike Panda and Penguin,
Hummingbird doesn’t specifically combat webspam

Ever wonder why Google named certain algorithms after black and white animals (i.e. black hat vs. white hat?) Hummingbird is a broader algorithm altogether, and Hummingbirds can be any color of the rainbow.

One aspect of Hummingbird is about
better understanding of your content, not just specific SEO tactics.

Hummingbird also represents an
evolutionary step in entity-based search that Google has worked on for years, and it will continue to evolve. In a way, optimizing for entity search is optimizing for search itself.

Many SEOs limit their understanding of entity search to vague concepts of
structured data, Schema.org, and Freebase. They fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to participate in the entity SEO revolution is to mark up your HTML with complex schema.org microdata.

Not true.

Don’t misunderstand; schema.org and structured data are awesome. If you can implement structured data on your website, you should. Structured data is precise, can lead to enhanced search snippets, and helps search engines to understand your content. But Schema.org and classic structured data vocabularies also have key shortcomings:

  1. Schema types are limited. Structured data is great for people, products, places, and events, but these cover only a fraction of the entire content of the web. Many of us markup our content using Article schema, but this falls well short of describing the hundreds of possible entity associations within the text itself. 
  2. Markup is difficult. Realistically, in a world where it’s sometimes difficult to get authors to write a title tag or get engineers to attach an alt attribute to an image, implementing proper structured data to source HTML can be a daunting task.
  3. Adoption is low. A study last year of 2.4 billion web pages showed less than 25% contained structured data markup. A recent SearchMetrics study showed even less adoption, with only 0.3% of websites out of over 50 million domains using Schema.org.

This presents a challenge for search engines, which want to understand entity relationships across the
entire web – not simply the parts we choose to mark up. 

In reality, search engines have worked over 10 years –
since the early days of Google – at extracting entities from our content without the use of complex markup.

How search engines understand relationships without markup

Here’s a simple explanation of a complex subject. 

Search engines can structure your content using the concept of
triples. This means organizing keywords into a framework of subjectpredicateobject.

Structured data frameworks like schema.org work great because they automatically classify information into a triple format. Take this
example from Schema.org.

<div itemscope itemtype ="http://schema.org/Movie">
  <h1 itemprop="name">Avatar</h1>
  <span>Director: <span itemprop="director">James Cameron</span> (born August 16, 1954)</span>
  <span itemprop="genre">Science fiction</span>
  <a href="../movies/avatar-theatrical-trailer.html" itemprop="trailer">Trailer</a>
</div><br>

Extracting the triples from this code sample would yield:

Avatar (Movie)Has DirectorJames Cameron

SubjectPredicateObject

The challenge is: Can search engines extract this information for the 90%+ of your content that isn’t marked up with structured data? 

Yes, they can.

Triples, triples everywhere

Ask Google a question like
who is the president of Harvard or how many astronauts walked on the moon, and Google will often answer from a page with no structured data present.

Consider this query for the ideal length of a title tag.

Google is able to extract the semantic meaning from this page even though the properties of “length” and its value of 50-60 characters
are not structured using classic schema.org markup.

Matt Cutts recently revealed that Google uses over 500 algorithms. That means 500 algorithms that layer, filter and interact in different ways. The evidence indicates that Google has many techniques of extracting entity and relationship data that may work independent of each other.

Regardless, whether you are a master of schema.org or not, here are tips for communicating entity and relationship signals within your content.

1. Keywords

Yes, good old fashioned keywords.

Even without structured markup, search engines have the ability to parse keywords into their respective structure. 

But keywords by themselves only go so far. In order for this method to work, your keywords must be accompanied by appropriate predicates and objects. In other words, you sentences provide fuel to search engines when they contain detailed information with clear subjects and organization.

Consider this example of the relationships extracted from our
title tag page by AlchemyAPI:

Entities Extracted via AlchemyAPI

There’s evidence Google has worked on this technology for over 10 years, ever since it acquired the company Applied Semantics in 2003.

For deeper understanding, Bill Slawski wrote an excellent piece on Google’s ability to extract relationship meaning from text, as well as AJ Kohn’s excellent advice on Google’s Knowledge Graph optimization.

2. Tables and HTML elements

This is old school SEO that folks today often forget.

HTML (and HTML5), by default, provide structure to webpages that search engines can extract. By using lists, tables, and proper headings, you organize your content in a way that makes sense to robots. 

In the example below, the technology exists for search engines to easily extract structured relationship about US president John Adams in this Wikipedia table.

The goal isn’t to get in Google’s Knowledge Graph, (which is exclusive to Wikipedia and Freebase). Instead, the objective is to structure your content in a way that makes the most sense and relationships between words and concepts clear. 

For a deeper exploration, Bill Slawski has another excellent write up exploring many different techniques search engines can use to extract structured data from HTML-based content.

3. Entities and synonyms

What do you call the President of the United States? How about:

  • Barack Obama
  • POTUS (President Of The United States)
  • Commander in Chief
  • Michelle Obama’s Husband
  • First African American President

In truth, all of these apply to the same entity, even though searchers will look for them in different ways. If you wanted to make clear what exactly your content was about (which president?) two common techniques would be to include:

  1. Synonyms of the subject: We mean the President of the United States → Barack Obama → Commander in Chief and → Michelle Obama’s Husband
  2. Co-occuring phrases: If we’re talking about Barack Obama, we’re more likely to include phrases like Honolulu (his place of birth), Harvard (his college), 44th (he is the 44th president), and even Bo (his dog). This helps specify exactly which president we mean, and goes way beyond the individual keyword itself.

entities and synonyms for SEO

Using synonyms and entity association also has the benefit of appealing to broader searcher intent. A recent case study by Cognitive SEO demonstrated this by showing significant gains after adding semantically related synonyms to their content.

4. Anchor text and links

Links are the original relationship connector of the web.

Bill Slawski (again, because he is an SEO god) writes about one method Google might use to identity synonyms for entities using anchor text. It appears Google also uses anchor text in far more sophisticated ways. 

When looking at Google answer box results, you almost always find related keyword-rich anchor text pointing to the referenced URL. Ask Google “How many people walked on the moon?” and you’ll see these words in the anchor text that points to the URL Google displays as the answer.

Other queries:

Anchor text of Google's Answer Box URL

In these examples and more that I researched, matching anchor text was present every time in addition to the relevant information and keywords on the page itself.

Additionally, there seems to be an inidication that internal anchor text might also influence these results.

This is another argument to avoid generic anchor text like “click here” and “website.” Descriptive and clear anchor text, without overdoing it, provides a wealth of information for search engines to extract meaning from.

5. Leverage Google Local

For local business owners, the easiest and perhaps most effective way to establish structured relationships is through Google Local. The entire interface is like a structured data dashboard without Schema.org.

When you consider all the data you can upload both in Google+ and even Moz Local, the possibilities to map your business data is fairly complete in the local search sense.

In case you missed it, last week Google introduced My Business which makes maintaining your listings even easier.

6. Google Structured Data Highlighter

Sometimes, structured data is still the way to go.

In times when you have trouble adding markup to your HTML, Google offers its Structured Data Highlighter tool. This allows you to tell Google how your data should be structured, without actually adding any code.

The tool uses a type of machine learning to understand what type of schema applies to your pages, up to thousands at a time. No special skills or coding required.

Google Webmaster Structured Data Highlighter

Although the Structured Data Highlighter is both easy and fun, the downsides are:

  1. The data is only available to Google. Other search engines can’t see it.
  2. Markup types are limited to a few major top categories (Articles, Events, etc)
  3. If your HTML changes even a little, the tool can break.

Even though it’s simple, the Structured Data Highlighter should only be used when it’s impossible to add actual markup to your site. It’s not a substitution for the real thing.

7. Plugins

For pure schema.org markup, depending on the CMS you use, there’s often a multitude of plugins to make the job easier.

If you’re a WordPress user, your options are many:

Looking forward

If you have a chance to add Schema.org (or any other structured data to your site), this will help you earn those coveted SERP enhancements that may help with click-through rate, and may help search engines better understand your content.

That said, semantic understanding of the web goes far beyond rich snippets. Helping search engines to better understand all of your content is the job of the SEO. Even without Hummingbird, these are exactly the types of things we want to be doing.

It’s not “create content and let the search engines figure it out.” It’s “create great content with clues and proper signals to help the search engines figure it out.” 

If you do the latter, you’re far ahead in the game.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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