Unlocking the Future of Tomorrow: MozCon 2023 Day Two Recap

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Day two recap contributions written by Emilie Martin, Meghan Pahinui, Miriam Ellis, and Zach Edelstein.

We’re back for more insights from day two, the final day of MozCon 2023! Day two brought more speakers, more chances to fill up your bingo card, and more time to grab swag. Let’s get back to the future of search!

Back to the Future: What Lessons From Marketing History Can Tell Us About the Future – Andi Jarvis

Kicking off day two, where Andi is going, we don’t need roads. Andi started the final day of MozCon 2023 with his talk on what lessons the history of marketing can tell us about the future!

He assured us that people, not robots, still sit at the heart of marketing… cue a big sigh of relief! Andi explained the advantages that SEOs can gain by interacting directly with customers to come up with content ideas, as opposed to focusing purely on what Google is looking for. This is because Google is all about the user.

Andi outlined classic marketing strategies throughout history to highlight fundamentals that can be used by SEOs and content creators. More specifically, he describes ways in which the well-known ‘FAB’ can help your marketing efforts. FAB stands for features, advantages, and benefits. Andi puts a twist on the FAB strategy, though. When you are writing content in order to sell a product, he recommends flipping the order of these things so that your descriptions clearly outline your products:

  • Benefits

  • Advantages

  • Features

By doing this, you can ensure that your most important messaging is right up front. This also ties into Andi’s “don’t telegraph” advice. Make sure that you’re leveraging your brand voice & tone in all of your communications.

In this thorough and reassuring talk, Andi highlighted lots of ways in which marketing principles have not changed, despite the ability of AI and new marketing tech to make your more effective in your role.

Lower Your Sheilds: The Borg Are Here* (* Written By ChapGPT) – Dr. Pete Meyers

Our very own Dr. Pete Meyers set us up for success with his talk on the future of SEO as we know it. Last year, he spoke about how Google pushes us down the funnel. This year, Dr. Pete touched on how AI is disrupting search as we know it.

Dr. Pete’s hypothesis is that the strengths of AI chat responses in search results create new opportunities for SEOs, as opposed to replacing queries for which we were already optimizing.

According to Dr. Pete, AI struggles with YMYL searches and providing well-sourced and accurate facts. He ran through several examples of ChatGPT providing inaccurate quotes from business leaders and misleading financial information. When the answers you are looking for are not clearly sourced somewhere in its corpus of data, AI will essentially make things up and piece together plausible responses from different sources. Extremely dangerous!

AI excels at, well… getting weird. It can help you think in new ways because AI tools think differently than people do. Asking questions that are so specific that they may not have been asked before. Dr. Pete gave examples like generating recipe ideas using a specific set of ingredients. ChatGPT also has helped him get ideas for temporary page copy to use on a website mockup, way more interesting than lorem ipsum.

As Dr. Pete eloquently and succinctly put it, there are some problems that Google doesn’t have a solution for. Those are the instances where ChatGPT is the most useful right now.

How to Use Brand SEO to Future-Proof Your Online Visibility – Miracle Inameti-Archibong

Last year, Miracle spoke about accessibility using machine learning. This year, she showed us how to use brand SEO to future-proof our online visibility. Given the rapidly changing search algorithm, the emerging presence of AI, as well as the increasing cost of paid search advertising, Miracle emphasizes the importance of brand search.

Before diving into tips, Miracle outlines the challenges of brand SEO, which include difficulty to measure, ownership (needing to think more like marketers), and collaboration between teams.

Here are her quick-fire tips for a better brand SEO strategy:

  • Optimize your Knowledge panel. Make sure all of the information showing up here is accurate and up to date.

  • Dominate your brand SERP. It’s often assumed to be a given that you will rank well for your own brand searches, but this is not necessarily true. Miracle provided examples where popular brands don’t have visibility for some of their own terms.

  • Find your brand’s personality. Incorporate this into your top-of-funnel content strategy.

  • Collaborate with brand, product, CRM, social, and PR to align on your brand image and personality.

  • Build authority and trust through reviews, social strategy, and website UX.

This talk was a nice reminder of the new metric we launched on Monday, Brand Authority! Don’t forget to try it out yourself now with Moz Pro or the Moz API.

Build Better Backlinks for Local Brands – Amanda Jordan

Amanda gave us more insight into the world of local SEO. Last year, she focused on the future of local landing pages, and this year she brought us through how to build better backlinks for local brands.

Amanda started with the helpful reminder that links can either be relevant to your topic, or your location, but that, for local businesses, your location is also a topic! Her talk emphasized that learning to bucket links into categories can play a major role in your competitive local marketing strategy.

Amanda looked at categorized links (such as local links, topical links, citations, and more) for high-ranking HVAC brands across the top 50 US cities and found that a high number of backlinks didn’t automatically correlate to high rankings.

What Amanda discovered is that the highest performing pages had both the highest amount of local and topical links, rather than other types of links or just generic links in general:

To start to build a more local and more diversified backlink profile for local businesses, Amanda recommends:

  • Choosing competitors who are consistently eating your lunch (attracting your customers)

  • Using your favorite link analysis tool to uncover your competitors’ link profiles (Check out Moz Link Explorer for free right now!)

  • Categorizing your competitors’ backlinks by type – are they local, are they topical, are they citations, tool-based, something else? Set clear guidelines for how you want to categorize these links, and stick to them throughout your research so that your data has clear takeaways.

  • Identifying whether your top competitors are winning at a category of backlinks you’re not yet doing well with

  • Identifying your quality + local-focus link opportunities

  • Getting those links!

Memorably, Amanda noted that she’s seen local business websites earning top rankings that appear to stem from them having earned a single good link from a local news site. A little can go a long way in local search marketing. If you’re struggling with the task of categorizing a ton of competitors’ backlinks, Rickety Roo is in the process of developing a tool to help with this, and if you need to become awesome at the art of earning backlinks, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building.

Rethink Your Industry Pages – They’re Not What You Think – Jason Dodge

Jason, one of our community speakers, graced the MozCon stage this year to talk to us about rethinking your industry pages. Industry-specific pages, or landing pages, aim to create relevance and rank for certain search terms within a particular industry.

Typically sales and marketing meet with internal sales to figure out ways to sell more of a certain product. However, the problem is that these conversations and strategy plans are out of touch with the actual customers buying the product. Jason believes there is a disconnect that happens here.

One challenge that B2B marketers and SEOs face is that Google is built for consumers. So, what are some tips for better industry pages that don’t miss their mark? Optimize for pain points, not industry! Jason ran through some examples of niche B2B pages that have been set up to target particular pain points and challenges that customers in these industries are facing.

Jason walked through the process of using keyword research tools to find long-tail keywords that correspond to pain points faced by B2B customers. You can use these terms to optimize your pages.

Additionally, Jason recommended reframing content for language and industry culture. Meaning your pages should be completely aligned with the language your customers are using. In his experience, Jason has found that getting SEOs in the room with possible customers and listening to their challenges is key in the content creation process. Pain points first, industry second, ignore volumes, and understand the customer!

Hiring the Perfect Agency: How to Avoid Getting Burned — Duane Brown

In his recent blog post, Duane wrote about how you can use Google Ads AI and machine learning to run better campaigns. In his MozCon talk, Duane shared that hiring is a valuable skill and emphasised identifying agencies that are the best fit for your business.

When you hire an agency, your goal is to make more money. If you can identify what you actually want help with, you can make sure your money is spent wisely. For example, maybe you’re interested in paid ads, exploring particular ad channels, or perhaps you’re looking to scale, diversify your business, optimize your funnel, or simply want to ideate.

Duane’s team built a DTC Brand Index. With this resource, you can see what other competitors are doing across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. If you’re looking to explore how your brand fares on the SERPs, be sure to check out our new metric, Brand Authority.

The marketing work you need done is the opportunity, and understanding what those opportunities are can make your life so much easier. Knowing the opportunity, makes it easier to look at the impact, and the key to impact is picking the right team. When hiring an agency, there are a number of questions you should consider asking them — see this resource for Duane’s document of all the questions he went through in his talk.

Duane ended his talk highlighting the importance of tracking your success so you can review what’s working, and what’s not working.

Dominating TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Amazon SERPs as Consumer Behavior Changes — Carrie Rose

Carrie shared her process for dominating all SERPs, not just Google. When brands are seeing that their traffic, bookings, and conversions are declining, it can be easy to blame a decline in demand. However, this isn’t always the case – in many situations it can be attributed to consumers searching elsewhere for what they need.

By launching PR and influencer marketing campaigns, Carrie and her team were able to increase traffic and gain links for her clients while also setting them up for success (and inventory sell outs.) She notes that although this was a PR, influencer, and advertising campaign, the strategy at its core was driven by SEO.

Carrie reminded us that it’s important to keep in mind that Google isn’t the first, or only, place people search and interact with content. She spoke about how, oftentimes, apps like TikTok and Instagram answer search queries faster and help people find what they want more efficiently. In Carrie’s opinion, customers and searchers want to hear real life experiences and other people’s advice. They trust word-of-mouth recommendations which is something they may not find on Google, leading them to turn to short-form apps.

When exploring SERP domination beyond Google, it’s all about finding that sweet spot between what clients want to talk about, what the consumer cares about, and what the media wants and needs. So how do you achieve this? One way is to make sure you’re consistently tracking trends so you have the opportunity and awareness to “newsjack” (a term first coined by Carrie, her team at Rise at Seven, and their VP Will Hobson). Some tools to help with this include: Glimpse, Exploding Topics, Pinterest Trends, TikTok Keyword Insights, and TikTok Trending Hashtags

Carrie’s quick tips for ranking on TikTok include:

  1. Put your keywords in the the text on your video within the first 1-5 seconds

  2. Mention your keyword in the caption

  3. Use 3 to 6 hashtags – be sure you don’t go overboard and confuse the algorithm

Despite popular belief, Google isn’t scared of TikTok. Rather, short form video content may actually increase your visibility on the SERP. We’re seeing more and more TikTok videos being included directly in the SERPs.

Entities Are the Past: Search Is Going Multidimensional — Tom Anthony

Tom believes that entities are in the past, and that the future of search is going to be all about context. We are on the brink of a paradigm shift – search is about to enter a new era. Focusing on explicit context (rather than implicit), Tom covered 4 primary topics:

Keywords and Entities — Keywords are limited and don’t allow us to talk about structure of relationships. Entities allow us to start drawing relationships between terms through the use of schema. But, as search continues to evolve, and search habits change, how do we account for that? Before moving on to the second stop on his journey, Tom asked us to consider modern search habits and the idea of post-search browsing. We already perform a process of searching a keyword or phrase and then search through the results manually. We modify our search accordingly and the process continues.

Latent Spaces — Tom led us into the topic of latent spaces, or as he calls it, “the building blocks for the next era.” ChatGPT can help to revolutionze search, but is there a way to get the same impact without the chat part of the equation? The GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) part of the equation allows for the understanding of context by first understanding relationships. And these learning models are already having a huge impact on search.

Next Era — Search engines like Google are finding ways to “incentivize us to add more explicit contect to our searches.” For example, we now have the option within Google itself to click filter buttons below the search bar which then update our original search query. This leads to all new, often unique queries that mimic the post-search browsing process Tom outlined previously in his presentation. And with the rise of GPT models, he notes that structured markup has been superseded.

So now what? Tom offered a few predictions and tips for the future of search.

  • In time, structured markup will have reduced impact.

  • Be sure to feed the GPT algorithm with context-rich text.

  • Keyword research and entailment will become more important (i.e. inferring context & intent).

  • E-E-A-T will become even more important.

Mind the Gap: Bridging Generational Differences in SEO — Jes Scholz

Jes joined us this year to speak about bridging generational differences in SEO. Google is transforming from being just a search engine, to an ecosystem of experiences. Google Discover, Google Lens, YouTube Shorts, and Bard are all examples of the shift towards greater experiences for users online. Google is an online shop, a business directory, an aggregator, a map, a store, a place to shop.

Your job is not to optimize websites anymore, it’s to build a well-known, top rated and trusted brands. Google has moved beyond URL ranking factors, and instead grants visibility to entities in graphs, such as the Knowledge Graph. The best way to track if a brand is an entity is to query the brand name in the Google Knowledge Graph Search API daily and keep a record of the returned results.

Jes advises following three steps to explicitly establish your brand entity in the Knowledge Graph:

  1. Define a brand entity bio. Start with your name, your brand positioning, and unique selling proposition.

  2. Brandsplain your entity with schema markup. Everything you just said about your brand with on-page text, say it again through comprehensive schema markup. This brandsplaining of your entity to Google re-confirms its key attributes, and is a critical step to Google accepting that information as facts in the knowledge graph.

  3. Arrange more get togethers with Google. On average, an entity needs over 30 meaningful touchpoints to become Google’s friend.

Get more from Jes with her Whiteboard Friday on the fundamentals of crawling for SEO.

Drive Execution & Growth: SEO Audits in 2023… and Beyond — Aleyda Solis

Last year, Aleyda addressed her e-commerce SEO horror stories, and this year, she delved into her talk on driving execution and growth through SEO audits in 2023 and beyond. Auditing is at the core of our SEO process, and most SEOs have a hard time getting their recommendations implemented.

Aleyda presented seven actions to integrate within your SEO auditing process:

  1. Do a radical SEO audit prioritization with a high impact, solution-focused action plan, leveraging storytelling.

  2. Develop a parallel “SEO low-hanging fruit” framework to deliver “quick SEO wins” fast. Aleyda suggests taking a look at her SearchLove presentation for more SEO low-hanging fruit tips! She also did a deep dive on her low-hanging fruit SEO strategy on Whiteboard Friday a few months back.

  3. Set an SEO quality framework not only to catch, but also prevent bugs that will hold SEO execution back. Make sure to set a monitoring system to catch negative SEO configurations.

  4. Normalize forecasting based on different execution scenarios to kill amiguity and set expectations.

  5. Communicate “no SEO execution” tradeoffs toward goals, as well as the cost to get them with other channels. Show th decision makers what they can lose if they choose to neglect SEO.

  6. Normalize SEO testing to validate your hypothesis and win stakeholders’ support.

  7. Leverage AI or Edge SEO to accelerate execution in bureaucratic scenarios to prove value and get buy-in.

The Great Reset — Wil Reynolds

Wil got us to dig a little deeper in our keyword research after his talk at MozCon in 2022. This year, he closed out MozCon addressing the current transformational period the industry is going through. Wil has seen many an SEO reset, but let us know that SEO is defined by inflection points. The secret sauce to stay on top of SEO, is to know when these inflection points occur, and realise when to pivot.

Wil mentioned that before Google, there was a lot of friction in the sales process. Once Google came about, friction reduced. However, now we create so much content, that we’ve moved from one type of friction to another. Customers cannot find the content they want, because we are over-saturating the places in which they spend their time online.

We need to understand more about customers, which we can attempt to do through data analysis. Wil referenced Seer Interactive’s new tool ‘Supernova’, which combines campaign-based paid and organic search data, sign up to the waitlist here. He recommended creating your own Looker Dashboard, and looking at any trends in your data. Check out Seer Interactive’s dashboard and see if you have AI-driven search traffic hitting your website from tools like Bard, ChatGPT, Neeva, and more.

Wil addressed a number of instances he’s utilized ChatGPT, such as building code with no experience, crawling competitor links, looking at the Google Trends API, creating content, and more. For Wil, there are no more nos, because ChatGPT and other technology are simply allowing us to say yes more.

See you on the other side!

We ended the final day of MozCon 2023 partying it up at MoPOP. Did you sing karaoke? Dance to Lily Ray’s sick beats? Be sure to tweet (or X) us your favourite memory or photo you took over the last two days so we can all remember how much fun MozCon 2023 was.

The learning isn’t over yet, though! Be sure to pre-order the MozCon 2023 video bundle to recap on this year’s talks.

Safe travels to all, and best of luck trudging through the future of search. We’ve got this!

Read the day one MozCon 2023 recap.



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