The Moz 2016 Annual Report

Posted by SarahBird

I have a longstanding tradition of boring Moz readers with our exhaustive annual reports (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).

If you’re avoiding sorting the recycling, going to the gym, or cleaning out your closet, I have got a *really* interesting post that needs your attention *right now*.

(Yeah. I know it’s March. But check this out, I had pneumonia in Jan/Feb so my life slid sideways for a while.)

Skip to your favorite parts:

Part 1: TL;DR

Part 2: Achievements unlocked

Part 3: Oh hai, elephant. Oh hai, room.

Part 4: More wood, fewer arrows

Part 5: Performance (metrics vomit)

Part 6: Inside Moz HQ

Part 7: Looking ahead


Part 1: TL;DR

We closed out 2016 with more customers and revenue than 2015. Our core SEO products are on a roll with frequent, impactful launches.

The year was not all butterflies and sunshine, though. Some of our initiatives failed to produce the results we needed. We made some tough calls (sunsetting some products and initiatives) and big changes (laying off a bunch of folks and reallocating resources). On a personal level, it was the most emotionally fraught time in my career.

Thank the gods, our hard work is paying off. Moz ended the year cashflow, EBITDA, and net income profitable (on a monthly basis), and with more can-do spirit than in years past. In fact, in the month of December we added a million dollars cash to the business.

We’re completely focused on our mission to simplify SEO for everyone through software, education, and community.


Part 2: Achievements unlocked

It blows my mind that we ended the year with over 36,000 customers from all over the world. We’ve got brands and agencies. We’ve got solopreneurs and Fortune 500s. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people using the MozBar. A bunch of software companies integrate with our API. It’s humbling and awesome. We endeavor to be worthy of you!

Customers and Community.png

We were very busy last year. The pace and quality of development has never been better. The achievements captured below don’t come even close to listing everything. How many of these initiatives did you know about?


Part 3: Oh hai, elephant. Oh hai, room.

When a few really awful things happen, it can overshadow the great stuff you experience. That makes this a particularly hard annual report to write. 2016 was undoubtedly the most emotionally challenging year I’ve experienced at Moz.

It became clear that some of our strategic hypotheses were wrong. Pulling the plug on those projects and asking people I care deeply about to leave the company was heartbreaking. That’s what happened in August 2016.

Tolstoy Happy products and unhappy products.jpg

As Tolstoy wrote, “Happy products are all alike; every unhappy product is unhappy in its own way.” The hard stuff happened. Rehashing what went wrong deserves a couple chapters in a book, not a couple lines in a blog post. It shook us up hard.

And *yet*, I am determined not to let the hard stuff take away from the amazing, wonderful things we accomplished and experienced in 2016. There was a lot of good there, too.

Smarter people than me have said that progress doesn’t happen in a straight line; it zigs and zags. I’m proud of Mozzers; they rise to challenges. They lean into change and find the opportunity in it. They turn their compassion and determination up to 11. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

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I’ve learned a lot about Moz and myself over the last year. I’m taking all those learnings with me into the next phase of Moz’s growth. Onwards.


Part 4: More wood, fewer arrows

At the start of 2016, our hypothesis was that our customers and community would purchase several inbound marketing tools from Moz, including SEO, local SEO, social analytics, and content marketing. The upside was market expansion. The downside was fewer resources to go around, and a much more complex brand and acquisition funnel.

By trimming our product lines, we could reallocate resources to initiatives showing more growth potential. We also simplified our mission, brand, and acquisition funnel.

It feels really good to be focusing on what we love: search. We want to be the best place to learn and do SEO.

Whenever someone wonders how to get found in search, we want them to go to Moz first. We aspire to be the best in the world at the core pillars of SEO: rankings, keywords, site audit and optimization, links, location data management.

SEO is dynamic and complex. By reducing our surface area, we can better achieve our goal of being the best. We’re putting more wood behind fewer arrows.

more wood fewer arrows.png


Part 5: Performance (metrics vomit)

Check out the infographic view of our data barf.

We ended the year at ~$42.6 million in gross revenue, amounting to ~12% annual growth. We had hoped for better at the start of the year. Moz Pro is still our economic engine, and Local drives new revenue and cashflow.

revenue for annual report 2016.png

Gross profit margin increased a hair to 74%, despite Moz Local being a larger share of our overall business. Product-only gross profit margin is a smidge higher at 76%. Partner relationships generally drag the profit margin on that product line.

Our Cost of Revenue (COR) went up in raw numbers from the previous year, but it didn’t increase as much as revenue.COR 2016.png

COR Pie Annual Report 2016.png

Total Operating Expenses came to about ~$41 million. Excluding the cost of the restructure we initiated in August, the shape and scale of our major expenses has remained remarkably stable.

2016 year in review major expenses.png

We landed at -$5.5 million in EBITDA, which was disappointingly below our plan. We were on target for our budgeted expenses. As we fell behind our revenue goals, it became clear we’d need to right-size our expenses to match the revenue reality. Hence, we made painful cuts.

EBITDA Annual Report 2016.png

Cash Burn Annual Report 2016.png

I’m happy/relieved/overjoyed to report that we were EBITDA positive by September, cashflow positive by October, and net income positive by November. Words can’t express how completely terrible it would have been to go through what we all went through, and *not* have achieved our business goals.

My mind was blown when we actually added a million in cash in December. I couldn’t have dared to dream that… Ha ha! They won’t all be like that! It was the confluence of a bunch of stuff, but man, it felt good.

one million dollars dr evil.jpg


Part 6: Inside MozHQ

Thanks to you, dear reader, we have a thriving and opinionated community of marketers. It’s a great privilege to host so many great exchanges of ideas. Education and community are integral to our mission. After all, we were a blog before we were a tech company. Traffic continues to climb and social keeps us busy. We love to hear from you!

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social channels for annual report 2016.png

We added a bunch of folks to the Moz Local, Moz.com, and Customer Success teams in the last half of the year. But our headcount is still lower than last year because we asked a lot of talented people to leave when we sunsetted a bunch of projects last August. We’re leaner, and gaining momentum.

End of year headcount bar charg 2016 annual report.png

Moz is deeply committed to making tech a more inclusive industry. My vision is for Moz to be a place where people are constantly learning and doing their best work. We took a slight step back on our gender diversity gains in 2016. Ugh. We’re not doing much hiring in 2017, so it’s going to be challenging to make substantial progress. We made a slight improvement in the ratio of underrepresented minorities working at Moz, which is a positive boost.

Gender ratios annual report 2016.png

The tech industry has earned its reputation of being unwelcoming and myopic.

Mozzers work hard to make Moz a place where anyone could thrive. Moz isn’t perfect; we’re human and we screw up sometimes. But we pick ourselves up, dust off, and try again. We continue our partnership with Ada Academy, and we’ve deepened our relationship with Year Up. One of my particular passions is partnering with programs that expose girls and young women to STEM careers, such as Ignite Worldwide, Techbridge, and BigSisters.

I’m so proud of our charitable match program. We match Mozzer donations 150% up to $3k. Over the years, we’ve given over half a million dollars to charity. In 2016, we gave over $111,028 to charities. The ‘G’ in TAGFEE stands for ‘generous,’ and this is one of the ways we show it.

charitable donation match annual report 2016.png

One of our most beloved employee benefits is paid, PAID vacation. We give every employee up to $3,000 to spend on his or her vacation. This year, we spent over half a million dollars exploring the world and sucking the marrow out of life.

paid paid vacation annual report 2016.png


Part 7: Looking ahead

Dear reader, I don’t have to tell you that search has been critical for a long time.

This juggernaut of a channel is becoming *even more* important with the proliferation of search interfaces and devices. Mobile liberated search from the desktop by bringing it into the physical world. Now, watches, home devices, and automobiles are making search ubiquitous. In a world of ambient search, SEO becomes even more important.

SEO is more complicated and dynamic than years past because the number of human interfaces, response types, and ranking signals are increasing. We here at Moz are wild about the complexity. We sink our teeth into it. It drives our mission: Simplify SEO for everyone through software, education, and community.

We’re very excited about the feature and experience improvements coming ahead. Thank you, dear reader, for sharing your feedback, inspiring us, and cheering us on. We look forward to exploring the future of search together.

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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BrightLocal opens its 2016 local SEO survey to see how the industry has changed over the last year

Survey questions cover everything from SEO agency size and revenue to services offered and retainer fees.

The post BrightLocal opens its 2016 local SEO survey to see how the industry has changed over the last year appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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See you at Dreamforce 2016

2016’s Dreamforce is set to be huge, with more than 2,000 breakout sessions planned across 30 themes. It’s no wonder tickets have sold out!

And as an email marketing automation platform that offers a deep integration with Salesforce, it’s only natural that we should be in attendance.

dotmailer for Salesforce

The who and the what

During the four-day event in San Francisco, which takes place from October 4, there’ll be a stream of keynotes and breakout sessions by inspiring leaders, thinkers and innovators from all kinds of backgrounds. Some notable names include NASA astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, venture capitalist Mark Cuban, Forrester’s Chairman of the Board and CEO George Colony, and, of course, Salesforce’s Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.

Dreamforce has lined up something for everyone, with content tailored to industries, role types and company size. There are sessions for those working in sales, customer service, marketing, IT or as a developer, as well as sector-specific themes such as automotive, financial services and government.

You can check out the days and timings of all Dreamforce sessions here. Or, better still, you can download the free Salesforce Events ’16 iOS app to keep you on track while on the go.

One thing you won’t want to miss out on is a Dreamforce party! Check out what’s going on here and register for networking events or nights of bubbles, beer and bites.

Who’s attending from the dotfamily?

We’ve got a bunch of the dotmailer team making their way to Dreamforce this year:

How can I find out more about dotmailer?

Simple – come and see us at stand 222 in the main exhibition stall, where the team will be happy to give you a demo of the platform. There’ll also be dotmailer for Salesforce brochures on the stand to take away.

You can book a meeting with one of our Channel team members here:

We’ve also got a partner stand at the HR Hub, so do drop by for a chat and to enjoy some nibbles and drinks.

One last thing? Look out for Lightning…

We’re working on the Lightning version of our dotmailer for Salesforce extension. Keep your eyes peeled for updates!

We can’t wait to see you at Dreamforce. Don’t forget to come and say hi.

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Google Updates The Search Quality Rating Guidelines

Google has updated their search quality raters guidelines document on March 28, 2016 reducing it from 160 to 146 pages.

The post Google Updates The Search Quality Rating Guidelines appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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78% Of SEOs Believe That 2016 Is Going To Be A “Great” Year For Business

What does this year have in store for local search engine optimization professionals? Columnist Myles Anderson shares results from BrightLocal’s Local SEO Industry Survey, which may provide some insights.

The post 78% Of SEOs Believe That 2016 Is Going To Be A “Great” Year For Business…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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The 2015 #MozCon Video Bundle Has Arrived!

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

The bird has landed, and by bird, I mean the MozCon 2015 Video Bundle! That’s right, 27 sessions and over 15 hours of knowledge from our top notch speakers right at your fingertips. Watch presentations about SEO, personalization, content strategy, local SEO, Facebook graph search, and more to level up your online marketing expertise.

If these videos were already on your wish list, skip ahead:

If you attended MozCon, the videos are included with your ticket. You should have an email in your inbox (sent to the address you registered for MozCon with) containing your unique URL for a free “purchase.”

MozCon 2015 was fantastic! This year, we opened up the room for a few more attendees and to fit our growing staff, which meant 1,600 people showed up. Each year we work to bring our programming one step further with incredible speakers, diverse topics, and tons of tactics and tips for you.


What did attendees say?

We heard directly from 30% of MozCon attendees. Here’s what they had to say about the content:

Did you find the presentations to be advanced enough? 74% found them to be just perfect.

Wil Reynolds at MozCon 2015


What do I get in the bundle?

Our videos feature the presenter and their presentation side-by-side, so there’s no need to flip to another program to view a slide deck. You’ll have easy access to links and reference tools, and the videos even offer closed captioning for your enjoyment and ease of understanding.

For $299, the 2015 MozCon Video Bundle gives you instant access to:

  • 27 videos (over 15 hours) from MozCon 2015
  • Stream or download the videos to your computer, tablet, phone, phablet, or whatever you’ve got handy
  • Downloadable slide decks for all presentations


Bonus! A free full session from 2015!

Because some sessions are just too good to hide behind a paywall. Sample what the conference is all about with a full session from Cara Harshman about personalization on the web:


Surprised and excited to see these videos so early? Huge thanks is due to the Moz team for working hard to process, build, program, write, design, and do all the necessaries to make these happen. You’re the best!

Still not convinced you want the videos? Watch the preview for the Sherlock Christmas Special. Want to attend the live show? Buy your early bird ticket for MozCon 2016. We’ve sold out the conference for the last five years running, so grab your ticket now!

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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​The 2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey

Posted by Dr-Pete

It’s been another wild year in search marketing. Mobilegeddon crushed our Twitter streams, but not our dreams, and Matt Cutts stepped out of the spotlight to make way for an uncertain Google future. Pandas and Penguins continue to torment us, but most days, like anyone else, we were just trying to get the job done and earn a living.

This year, over 3,600 brave souls, each one more intelligent and good-looking than the last, completed our survey. While the last survey was technically “2014”, we collected data for it in late 2013, so the 2015 survey reflects about 18 months of industry changes.

A few highlights

Let’s dig in. Almost half (49%) of our 2015 respondents involved in search marketing were in-house marketers. In-house teams still tend to be small – 71% of our in-house marketers reported only 1-3 people in their company being involved in search marketing at least quarter-time. These teams do have substantial influence, though, with 86% reporting that they were involved in purchasing decisions.

Agency search marketers reported larger teams and more diverse responsibilities. More than one-third (36%) of agency marketers in our survey reported working with more than 20 clients in the previous year. Agencies covered a wide range of services, with the top 5 being:

More than four-fifths (81%) of agency respondents reported providing both SEO and SEM services for clients. Please note that respondents could select more than one service/tool/etc., so the charts in this post will not add up to 100%.

The vast majority of respondents (85%) reported being directly involved with content marketing, which was on par with 2014. Nearly two-thirds (66%) of agency content marketers reported “Content for SEO purposes” as their top activity, although “Building Content Strategy” came in a solid second at 44% of respondents.

Top tools

Where do we get such wonderful toys? We marketers love our tools, so let’s take a look at the Top 10 tools across a range of categories. Please note that this survey was conducted here on Moz, and our audience certainly has a pro-Moz slant.

Up first, here are the Top 10 SEO tools in our survey:

Just like last time, Google Webmaster Tools (now “Search Console”) leads the way. Moz Pro and Majestic slipped a little bit, and Firebug fell out of the Top 10. The core players remained fairly stable.

Here are the Top 10 Content tools in our survey:

Even with its uncertain future, Google Alerts continues to be widely used. There are a lot of newcomers to the content tools world, so year-over-year comparisons are tricky. Expect even more players in this market in the coming year.

Following are our respondents’ Top 10 analytics tools:

For an industry that complains about Google so much, we sure do seem to love their stuff. Google Analytics dominates, crushing the enterprise players, at least in the mid-market. KISSmetrics gained solid ground (from the #10 spot last time), while home-brewed tools slipped a bit. CrazyEgg and WordPress Stats remain very popular since our last survey.

Finally, here are the Top 10 social tools used by our respondents:

Facebook Insights and Hootsuite retained the top spots from last year, but newcomer Twitter Analytics rocketed into the #3 position. LinkedIn Insights emerged as a strong contender, too. Overall usage of all social tools increased. Tweetdeck held the #6 spot in 2014, with 19% usage, but dropped to #10 this year, even bumping up slightly to 20%.

Of course, digging into social tools naturally begs the question of which social networks are at the top of our lists.

The Top 6 are unchanged since our last survey, and it’s clear that the barriers to entry to compete with the big social networks are only getting higher. Instagram doubled its usage (from 11% of respondents last time), but this still wasn’t enough to overtake Pinterest. Reddit and Quora saw steady growth, and StumbleUpon slipped out of the Top 10.

Top activities

So, what exactly do we do with these tools and all of our time? Across all online marketers in our survey, the Top 5 activities were:

For in-house marketers, “Site Audits” dropped to the #6 position and “Brand Strategy” jumped up to the #3 spot. Naturally, in-house marketers have more resources to focus on strategy.

For agencies and consultants, “Site Audits” bumped up to #2, and “Managing People” pushed down social media to take the #5 position. Larger agency teams require more traditional people wrangling.

Here’s a much more detailed breakdown of how we spend our time in 2015:

In terms of overall demand for services, the Top 5 winners (calculated by % reporting increase – % reporting decrease were):

Demand for CRO is growing at a steady clip, but analytics still leads the way. Both “Content Creation” (#2) and “Content Curation” (#6) showed solid demand increases.

Some categories reported both gains and losses – 30% of respondents reported increased demand for “Link Building”, while 20% reported decreased demand. Similarly, 20% reported increased demand for “Link Removal”, while almost as many (17%) reported decreased demand. This may be a result of overall demand shifts, or it may represent more specialization by agencies and consultants.

What’s in store for 2016?

It’s clear that our job as online marketers is becoming more diverse, more challenging, and more strategic. We have to have a command of a wide array of tools and tactics, and that’s not going to slow down any time soon. On the bright side, companies are more aware of what we do, and they’re more willing to spend the money to have it done. Our evolution has barely begun as an industry, and you can expect more changes and growth in the coming year.

Raw data download

If you’d like to take a look through the raw results from this year’s survey (we’ve removed identifying information like email addresses from all responses), we’ve got that for you here:

Download the raw results

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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