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10 Takeaways from Mozcon 2014 Thought Leaders

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MozCon remains one of the biggest, most important conferences in the world for the topics of SEO, social media, content marketing, branding, and community building. Started by Moz founder Rand Fishkin, the annual conference attracts thousands of participants and dozens of innovators and geniuses who present their latest findings in the field. For three solid days of presentations and discussions, thought leaders help spread their dynamic ideas and learn from their fellow experts.

MozCon 2014 did not disappoint. Check out some of the highlights from these ten innovative conference presenters:

1. SEO Doesn’t Matter: User Experience Does.

articleimage427SEO Doesn’t Matter

It takes a special kind of bravery to denounce the importance of SEO at a conference hosted by a leading SEO authority. Entrepreneur and thought leader Wil Reynolds wasn’t afraid to put his opinion in straightforward terms: “You know what matters more than links? Customers.” Reynolds went on to discuss the importance of understanding what’s important to your business and why, rather than trying to hit some arbitrary metric like a certain number of blog posts or a certain number of links. When all is said and done, what keeps customers coming back is a great overall user experience.

2. 6-3-5 Brainwriting Will Make Sure You Never Run Out of Ideas.

articleimage4276-3-5 brainwriting

Do you ever wish you had a fast, easy way to come up with 100 new ideas for your business or blog? Stacey MacNaught showed us how to accomplish this in half an hour with a technique she called “6-3-5 Brainwriting.” Six people sit down for six rounds of brainstorming, each lasting for five minutes (the 6 and 5 in the equation). At the start of each round, one person writes down three new ideas (the 3 in the equation). These ideas are passed around the table, with each person coming up with three new ideas inspired by the previous three, so by the end of the round you’ll have 18 new ideas. After six rounds of five minutes each, you’ll have spent 30 minutes coming up with 108 new ideas.

3. Broken Brand Promises Are the Source of  Dissatisfaction.

Author and educator Kerry Bodine, with her presentation entitled “Broken Brand Promises,” illustrated the importance of quality customer service with a number of statistics—81 percent of all consumers happily pay more for a better experience, and 64 percent of consumers have switched to a competitor after receiving a poor customer experience. Bodine suggests that “broken brand promises” are the root of dissatisfaction. In order to give your customers the best possible experience, you have to deliver exactly what you are expected to deliver.

4. Save the Best for First.

articleimage427Save the Best for First

The phrase “save the best for last” is antiquated, or at least irrelevant to the world of content marketing, according to Dr. Pete Meyers. If you have a great idea, you might be tempted to wait to develop it, in the hopes that you’ll be able to give it the time and attention it truly deserves at some future date or over the course of several weeks and months. However, Meyers argued the longer you wait to write about your “great idea,” the less passionate you’re going to be about it, resulting in an inferior finished product. Instead, work on your greatest ideas first.

5. Great Communities Need a Sense of Community.

It sounds painfully obvious, but too many inbound marketers have tried to build a social following that has no interconnected elements that draw people together. As Richard Millington explained, communities can only thrive if people are actively contributing to that community, and people only want to contribute if they feel they can actually influence the group. In order to create a community where people feel that influence, you have to carefully analyze the environment and build a structure that empowers people to influence each other.

6. Experiment Like a Scientist.

For search marketers, trying to rank in search engines is like a constant experiment. You never have all the information (because Google keeps its algorithms under lock-and-key), but over time you can develop an idea of how things work. Moz founder Rand Fishkin gave the closing presentation at this year’s conference, describing the importance of “Mad Science Experiments in SEO and Social Media.” According to Fishkin, the best way to learn more about your search marketing environment is to conduct your experiments thoroughly, like a scientist, with all the rigor of the scientific method. That means establishing control groups, repeating your experiments multiple times, and looking at a variety of factors—not just ranks—to form a conclusion.

7. Tell a Story Instead of Relying on Charts.

As a search marketer, you’re probably used to thinking of your progress in terms of numbers, charts, and graphs. After all, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are incredible resources you can use to retrieve almost any kind of data you need to measure your success objectively. But speaker Marshall Simmonds argued that information can only get you so far; you need to take that information and turn it into a story in order to truly understand how much progress you’ve made, and why you are where you are. Through storytelling, you can have better, higher-level conversations and come up with more abstract ideas on how to improve your performance.

8. Establish a Period to Loom Over Failure.

Former Olympic Skier and current entrepreneur Jeremy Bloom spoke about the importance of recovering from failure as a part of any marketer’s career. Failure is a recurring certainty no matter how prepared you are, but Bloom suggested a strategy with how to cope with (and learn from) failure. After a failure, no matter how big or how small, Bloom argued that you should dedicate a specific amount of time to spend considering the outcome, dissecting the factors responsible for it, and planning to prevent such an outcome in the future. After that period of time has passed, whether it’s one hour or three weeks, you have to cut mental ties with the failure and move on.

9. Find a Methodology for Idea Generation.

One of the most difficult tasks for any content marketer or entrepreneur is coming up with new ideas. For many professionals, idea creation is an unpredictable, chaotic process, dependent on a random stroke of genius to propel an idea forward. Richard Baxter, CEO and content marketer, argued that the best tactics for idea generation are built around a solid, predictable process. Citing fundamental principles from the landmark work A Technique for Producing Ideas, Baxter explains that methodology is the key to coming up with consistently great new ideas.

10. Experts Are Key for Stronger Content and Stronger Relationships.

According to Lexi Mills, contracting independent journalists who are known as experts in their respective fields is one of the best ways to cultivate a dynamic long-term content strategy. These journalists already have the credibility and authority to write engaging, detailed material, and they can easily draw an audience when working on behalf of your company. Over time, you’ll develop a strong network of niche journalists, and you’ll have a veritable army of content creators you can call on when you need expertly written content.

The scope of content marketing and SEO is always changing, so it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Take these insights to heart as you continue to refine and perfect your inbound marketing strategies.

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Nick Wilson

Nick is AudienceBloom's publication wizard. He works his magic to perform outreach for external content marketing campaigns.

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