5 Takeaways from Mozcon as Someone with No SEO Experience

This post is written by Ali Howard, who is currently on a three month internship with our US team in Seattle. Before joining Distilled, she worked for Yelp assisting local businesses. She has a degree in International Business from Chapman University with an emphasis on Communication. Ali also loves pugs, ketchup and any baked good. Send questions and thoughts to @alihowardd.


Your first day at work can be a bit intimidating. What do you wear? Who are you going to meet? What do you need to bring? How do you make a good first impression? Now imagine your first day of work happens to coincide with one of the biggest conferences in your industry, and you get to attend. That was my first day as an intern. Cool, right? But also seriously intimidating. Not only was I meeting my team for the first time, but I was also meeting people from digital marketing companies from around the world. 

To be honest, when I was told my first day was going to be at this conference I really did not grasp how massive and *super freaking cool* this digital marketing conference was. I figured, “oh it’s just a conference that happens to be going on the same day I'm starting”, assuming it was just some small local thing. Boy was I wrong! When I walked in on Day 1 and started talking to people, I realized there were attendees from all over the world who flew in specifically to be at MozCon 2019

My first reaction was, “Woah, it’s so cool that I am here with all of these people”. But my immediate second thought was a bit less enthusiastic. It made me a little nervous thinking about how important and well known MozCon is within the SEO industry, an industry I know nothing about. Will I fit in? Will I know what the speakers are even talking about? Those were just a few questions running through my head as I opened my laptop and prepared to take notes. 

Here are my top 5 takeaways from my first MozCon from the perspective of someone who knows very little about SEO:

People connect to a brand that tells a story 

Thinking about my favorite brands, the ones I admire most (and spend the most money on) are the ones that tell a story. I never really understood why until I heard Cassie Gillete’s talk on creating content people remember. As a brand, you should tell a story based on your customer, because at the end of the day, what do people care about most? Themselves. Make your content resonate with your audience by knowing who your audience is, what they want, what they care about, and what problems they have. This will help you build your brand’s voice around the story of your customer.

Main Takeaway: 80% of people remember what they see, only 20% of people remember what they read.

When it comes to content, quality over quantity

One of the topics I found most interesting throughout the conference was content. Coming from a more general background in marketing, this topic is the one I have definitely heard the most about. What I found most interesting (in terms of SEO and content) is how important great content is in order to attract an audience, and keep people coming back to a website. The talk Andy Crestondia gave on content really solidified how important it is to create great content.

Main takeaway: Create original research. Stronger content will benefit you better in the end. 

Voice will not be the end of search

Rand Fishkin’s talk on SEO trends was extremely interesting to hear. As someone who doesn’t know much about SEO, whenever I hear a rumor, or someone say “Voice is the next thing. Search is dead!” I don’t really know enough to form an opinion on that. So hearing Rand give compelling evidence as to why that statement is not the case was really cool to hear. 

Main takeaway: Both mobile and desktop searches are still big, so don't ignore either.

You need to run tests on your website

An area I had heard about before starting my internship and within marketing was A/B testing. However, it never really made sense to me before listening to Rob Ousbey’s talk on Distilled’s own ODN platform and learned why testing is so important within SEO. What I found most interesting was how some SEO “best practices” (ones people feel like they needed to implement) made no difference to search traffic when tested. 

Main takeaway: Testing and results are unique for each business and website.

Local search varies even within zip codes

Another topic that stood out to me was Joy Hawkin’s presentation on local search, and the level of granularity within a local search. Throughout other speakers, I realized that when accounting for local search, it is not enough to simply account for the city level. You need to go deeper than that because there is a ton of variation within different zip codes in a city. Joy went even further to show that there is also a ton of variance even within the same zip code. 

Main takeaway: Ranking in the local pack can take less than a day

The speakers at MozCon left me curious to learn about all of the exciting SEO insights they spoke about. I definitely am ready to learn how to crawl a website, do some keyword research, test some pages, learn some coding basics, and one day hopefully save my clients tons of money from Wil Reynolds advice. I will never forget that the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google!

Thanks, MozCon for putting together an amazing conference filled with so many amazing industry experts! And many thanks to my company Distilled for allowing me the opportunity to attend. I am so grateful for the experience and so thankful that even as *just an intern* I was given that chance. It was extremely cool telling people where I worked and them knowing tons about Distilled already. If you were not able to make it to MozCon, a number of the speakers are heading to London in October for SearchLove 2019!

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About the author
Tim Allen

Tim Allen

Tim joined Distilled in March 2013 after making a considerable impression upon Duncan and Tom Anthony by wearing a Panda jumper to his interview. Originally moving from Lincolnshire to London to study acting at Reynolds Performing Arts, Tim soon...   read more