Joe Baugnet

Associate Manager, SEO

MozCon 2016: Three Things Search Marketers Need to Know

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the future of Google Search and the swift end of the 10 blue links. Many digital marketers are puzzled on where to best prioritize their SEO efforts and on whether or not there’s still value in developing an SEO strategy.

Moz’s annual conference, MozCon 2016, provided great insight as to where the industry is heading and why both brand reputation and smart content marketing are more important than ever. Here are the top three things marketers should know stemming from this elite digital marketing conference.

1. Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will continue to change to best match user needs.

Many SEO marketers saw it coming, and now it’s finally a reality. According to MozCast, only three percent of search results return 10 traditional blue links. Results continue to become more advanced and more personalized for users.

New features that have taken over the 10 blue links include, but are not limited to:

  • PPC ads
  • Google Answers
  • AMP pages
  • Local Packs
  • Twitter Cards
  • News Feed
  • App Indices

 


An example of the new Google SERPs features.
 

 

For brands, this means that the focus should be on spreading out your organic presence across many of these features. Aside from PPC ads, all of the features listed above are free. Ask your SEO expert whether any of the SERP features above are right for your brand.

In addition to the change in SERPs, Google is now running machine learning 24/7. The company calls it “RankBrain.” The difference between RankBrain and Google’s core algorithm is that RankBrain focuses on teaching itself. This means that certain keyword rankings may become more volatile, as Google is constantly adapting results pages to match searcher intent.

Here are other useful and fun facts related to changing SERPs that were covered at MozCon:

  • A Moz clickstream data study revealed that the average searcher performed three queries a day. Of these queries, only 1.19 percent resulted in an ad click.
  • According to the same study conducted by Moz, 40 percent of searches resulted in no clicks at all. This was due to the growing presence of Google Answers, Twitter Cards, and Google’s Knowledge Graph proving answers without clicking to another page.
  • 51 percent of Google SERP clicks go to organic, non-Google results.

Source: Moz
 

2. Brand Reputation will become more important to ranking in SERPs.

Did you know that 20 websites contribute to 22.8 percent of all Google search traffic referrals? Some of these web giants include Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, and Wikipedia. This is no coincidence, as these brands continue to gain trust in the organic marketplace.

However, the issue with some of these big brands is that they tend to scoop up rankings, regardless of how relevant their pages are. This is a battle SEO marketers have been fighting since the launch of RankBrain.

But not all hope is lost. A main theme stemming from MozCon was the importance of having a strong brand presence and delivering on user expectations. Here are some tips that could help brands compete organically in their respective verticals.

  • “Don’t try to be everything to everyone” - Rhea Dysdale (Outspoken Media). Focus on your core business and make sure those consumers are taken care of. Oftentimes, businesses will create content just because of search volume, but does it truly address the right people? Develop content that sticks to your core and tells your company story.
  • Connect the dots for your users - Walk them through the process getting from point A to point B. - JoAnna Weibe (Copy Hackers)
  • “Reputation marketing is not reviews management.” - Rhea Dysdale (Outspoken Media) Optimize for reputation, not around it. Instead of managing your brand’s reputation, develop a marketing plan that exceeds stakeholder expectations.
  • Feed your consumers ego and empower them — Make them feel good about being a part of your community. You essentially create organic evangelists that will help spread the word about your brand and products. This positive association could eventually help marketers get on the good side of Google’s algorithm and RankBrain.


3. Conversion rate optimization is all the hype, and for a good reason.

There were two primary subthemes stemming from conversion rate optimization (CRO) at MozCon. The first was the growing importance of the practice, and the second was using cognitive behaviors to help increase conversions and reputation.

More Marketing Teams Are Prioritizing CRO

According to Cara Harshman and a study by ConversionXL, over half of the marketing teams surveyed said they will be allocating more budget to CRO in 2016. The logic: A data driven A/B testing approach is a key indication of whether or not you are effectively reaching your consumers.


Source: Cara Harshman

Here are a couple of quick eye-opening stats:


These issues primarily rest around poor conversion testing and the lack of data-driven hypotheses. SEO and CRO teams should be working together to ensure tests are constantly being measured and both teams are aware of the results.

Understanding Human Psychology and Cognitive Behaviors

Beyond A/B testing, there was fascinating data presented at MozCon surrounding human psychology and using psychographics to increase conversions and overall brand reputation. One of the key concepts highlighted during Sarah Weise’s (Booz Allen Digital Interactive) presentation was the idea of tapping into the three decision-making parts of a consumer’s brain. These universal parts include: survival brain, emotional brain, and rational brain.
 


Source: Sarah Weise

The most persuasive campaigns and websites engage all three parts of the brain. From an SEO perspective, this can be applied across a number of areas, especially metadata. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Social Proof - Providing a “best seller” badge, ratings, and details around how many people have purchased a particular product could help appeal to the rational part of the brain and “validate” a product. From an SEO perspective, there are several things you can do using schema markup to address this idea.
  • Scarcity - Including content that relays topics related to limited time offers, limited product quantities, and restrictions on a number of sign-ups, among other examples, is an area to consider. This concept appeals to the survival part of the brain.
  • Comparison - Demonstrating differentiation can put things into context for a user. For example, it could answer a question like, “If I signed up for your VIP offer, what am I saving vs. a normal consumer?”
  • Association - Highlighting where a customer’s contributions would go if they were to donate or purchase could also be persuasive. Show that “with a $25 donation, they could help buy x for y cause.”
 

Appealing to the cognitive behaviors of your consumers is important because it results in the user performing an action. If these actions align with your content, important engagement signals will be triggered that ultimately help visibility within search engines.

With all of this in mind, SEO is not dead, nor is it going anywhere. MozCon 2016, overall, brought to light the importance of multichannel collaboration and the power that it holds within the modern search engine. Focusing in on these three key areas can help marketers better prepare for what’s next in SEO.

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