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JBH Mozcon 2020

20 / 07 / 20

Going Virtual: MozCon 2020


Rebecca Moss

5 minute read

The year 2020 has been an interesting one so far, to say at least. Being in lockdown under the constant threat of a virus has certainly changed our lives. Although we were not able to travel and spend our time with the things we usually do, it is not all bad.

Many things have been taken online: zoom calls are the new meeting format, sports classes are delivered to your living room, quizzes and online games are the new Friday socials and SEO conferences that usually come with a high entry barrier are suddenly easily accessible. Ticket prices have been reduced to a tenth of their usual price (if it was $1000 before, it is now $100), big budget items such as flights and accommodation have been removed from the equation and you can access the talks and virtual networking rooms from the comfort of your sofa.

Mozcon Virtual poster

MozCon Virtual 2020

In that context MozCon, one of the most popular SEO conferences and almost a must for everybody who is serious about SEO, has been taken to the virtual world and took place over two days on 14th and 15th July. The tickets were affordable, we did not have to book a flight to Seattle and the time difference between London and the USA worked in our favour so that we didn’t even have to take a day off. We could sit down on the sofa and attend the talks from 5 p.m. onwards.

There was a little downside to it though: The technical set up did not quite work out on the first day and many people around the world had a hard time accessing the conference platform. The Facebook group was very busy at that time. Fortunately, those issues were resolved within the first hour of MozCon and we were all able to listen to the wisdom of industry leaders such as Dr. Pete Meyers, Rob Ousbey, Britney Muller and Brian Dean.

At JBH, we have a particular interest in all things digital PR and we got our key takeaways in the talks by Shannon McGuirk, Phil Nottingham and Brian Dean.

Shannon McGuirk: Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

In her talk, Shannon was looking back at many years of digital PR experience. One thing has become obvious to her over the years: PRs tweet a lot about their successes, about those campaigns that go viral, get massive coverage and links. But what about those campaigns that do not go viral? Those campaigns might just deliver average results or even fail. Nobody likes to talk about these, but they exist.

Shannon has split her campaigns into three performance sectors: huge wins, steady performers and huge fails. In between the two “huge” campaigns, we find steadiness – those campaigns that perform well, bring consistent results and long-term wins. Those should be celebrated too.

Screenshot from the talk by Shannon McGuirk at MozCon 2020

For the audience to learn something, Shannon shared some of the campaigns that failed including the reasons. We could summarize those as follows:

  • If there is a significant political event (such as the US presidential elections), journalists are not interested in other topics.
  • Be very thorough in your Q&A process to avoid spelling mistakes such as “Honk Kong” on a map.
  • Less complex campaigns have higher chances of success.
  • A campaign does not need to go viral to be considered a success.
  • Campaigns with multiple angles work well. (Refer to our steps to a successful backlink campaign to find out more!)
  • Consistency and steady performance are more important than one huge success.

Phil Nottingham: How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

The talk presented by Phil Nottingham focused on brand building and we understand if at first, the connection to digital PR might be a bit blurry. Whereas traditional PR aimed at brand building and visibility, digital PR focuses more on coverage and links – but why should these two be mutually exclusive if they can go well together? And having a strong brand will certainly make it easier to get that coverage rolling in for your digital PR campaigns.

What this talk though really was about are the metrics you look at and the audience you target. The example Phil used was taken from the area of video marketing. The links we care about in digital PR, are the views of the video marketing strategist. But what constitutes a view? Does this user really watch the whole video? Where do they jump off? And more importantly: Do they turn into customers and buy your product? As digital PRs, we could ask similar questions about the coverage we get, and we should start thinking about that. Phil has put it in different words: You got an impression (maybe even a click), but are they impressed?

Screenshot of the talk by Phil Nottingham at MozCon 2020

Brian Dean: How to Promote Your Content Like a Boss

He almost is a god in the world of SEO: Brian Dean of Backlinko and after following his blogs for years and watching his talk at MozCon 2020, we know why.

Content creation, blogs and websites in general are nowadays a lot more tangible for many people. 20 years ago, you must have had some serious skills if you had your own website. Now, it only is a matter of seconds and you get it up and running without any technical knowledge. This makes content creation a lot more competitive and even if you are creating something outstanding, it could easily happen, that nobody ever sees it. Brian’s golden ratio is equivalent to the old 80/20 rule: 20% of your time is creating content, 80% is promoting it.

Screenshot of the talk by Brian Dean at MozCon 2020

These are his tips to get the promotion right:

  • Find out which type of content attracts links in your industry, reverse engineer the process and take those learnings into your own campaigns.
  • Use social media appropriately, i.e. find out which channel works for you and your industry and how these channels work.
  • Do not send generic outreach emails.
  • Contact journalists and build relationships before you publish the content to assess their interest.
  • Use retargeting on social media.
  • Try Reddit for distribution.
  • Add a “Click to tweet” link.
  • The old-style newsletter still works!

Virtual or in real life?

MozCon 2020 was a unique experience and we are glad we attended this online conference when we had the chance. We learned a lot and it was an affordable experience. (We even got some ironing done whilst learning more about SEO and digital PR.)

Taking one of the biggest conferences in the industry has certainly made knowledge more accessible for SEOs around the world. The only part that could not replace the real-life experience was the networking and the discussions. But we cannot have it all. MozCon 2020 was a success and we are already looking forward to more virtual conferences.