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“Paid Traffic Is Inevitable” And Other Great Takeaways From MozCon 2018

August 2, 2018
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This year was my fourth consecutive year attending MozCon, and it never disappoints.

We always hear scary things from Dr. Pete, encouraging things from Rand, and a strong indictment of our current mediocrity from Wil. One of my favorite things about this event is the single-track format, where cutting-edge approaches are stacked right in between current best practices.

Of course, there was SO much to learn and be inspired by, I’m still processing much of it. In the meantime, here are a few themes that developed across many speakers.

Important theme #1: Intent is Everything

Let’s start with the post title: Paid Traffic is Inevitable. I’m 99% sure this came from Stephanie Briggs’s talk about search-driven content strategy (my apologies if it was someone else!). My interpretation of this is that we can always spend money on traffic — pump enough in and something will come out.

But you don’t want “something,” you want highly targeted audiences that convert.

Smart content is content crafted around intent to do just that. It helps your audience solve their problems and leverages organic traffic to become the most efficient, meaningful way to connect with them. And as a result, it builds your business!

This focus on intent resonates so strongly with me because it’s an essential part of the work we do at Diamond + Branch. By taking the time to really understand our clients’ audiences, we can ensure that the content we produce for them speaks directly to their intent. Finding out what they need, what questions they’re asking, and what words they’re using to ask them will return pages, content, and features to them that are all built to serve their specific needs and desires.

This becomes especially relevant when you take into consideration how user intent can be platform-specific. For instance, an identical keyword used on a laptop may return very different results on a mobile device, based on what the search engine infers about the user’s intent.

But that’s not all. User intent is where it starts, but structured data is how search engines decide what is a meaningful result…

Important theme #2: Structured Data is the Future

Our clients know we’re pushing hard for schema markup on their relevant web content. Structured data, or telling search engines about the meaning of the text they crawl, will have a massive impact on the likelihood that the right people see it.

There’s even more to this as we move into an internet that DOESN’T REQUIRE SCREENS (thanks to Cindy Krum for that revelation). Yes, structured data is good for desktop. Absolutely, it’s more important for mobile. But HOLY COW we are entering an era where typing “gelato near me” and saying into your phone, “Okay Google, where’s the nearest gelato?” is virtually the same search. Structured data will be the factor that decides if the search results are also the same.

As someone who has been using WordPress for nearly 15 years, I also found it incredibly fascinating that they are in the process of retooling its essential code — called WordPress Core — so that it is all structured data. The containers in this model are called “entities.” Remember that word: Entities. We used to talk about header content, body content, footer content, titles, meta, etc., but now these things, and so many others, are all just entities.

Important theme #3: Effective Communication Between Humans is Still Vital

We heard several talks that touched on this in a variety of different contexts. Here’s a quick summary:

Meredith Oliver spoke about the importance of client education as a part of agency work. I was thrilled to see that her model for regular meetings, review of the data and discussion of recommendations, and next steps match our own process so closely.

Rand Fishkin took a slight detour from his talk about launch marketing to highlight Project Aristotle’s findings of what makes the most effective teams. This included things like being okay crying at work, knowing you won’t be judged harshly for saying or doing the wrong thing, and embracing diversity and shared values. So down.

Heather Physioc introduced us to the “SEO Maturity Model” which helps position clients according to their current institutional relationship with SEO. I found this incredibly helpful, primary because our goal at Diamond + Branch is always to improve our practice and our clients’ experiences. With the help of this tool, it will be much easier for us to diagnose where our clients are and identify the best way to move forward. Love it.

So, that’s what I’m bringing home. There are a bunch of new tools and tactics that will start to show up in our work in the near future, but these big ideas serve as our important guides as we do so.