This year I was fortunate enough to speak at MozCon in Seattle, it was one of the best conferences I’ve spoken at.  I’ve not spoken at loads of conferences but I’ve attended a fair few and I was seriously impressed with the speakers, content and audience of MozCon.  A few people have been asking for copies of my slidedeck so you can find them at the bottom of this post or just click here.  It is an edited version, I’ve taken a couple of bits out which referenced client work and the odd tactic I don’t want shared too publicly.  All photos below are from Rudy Lopez.

Summary of MozCon

There were some over-arching themes during the conference which came out during the three days for me.  None of them that unexpected to be honest, but it is good to see the industry taking these kind of things seriously.

  • Content marketing and strategy are at the forefront of people’s mind (kinda expected)
  • The companies that will win in years to come will be doing things that reach beyond just SEO and quick wins
  • We are marketers, not just SEOs – our budgets and the levels we sit at within clients should reflect that

My favourite talks over the three days were from Wil Reynolds, Mike King, Dr Pete and Richard Baxter.  Two of them (Wil and Mike) very motivational and with good messaging.  The other two (Pete and Rich) very data driven.  You can see the slidedecks at the bottom of this post.


Where SEO is going

Getting into more detail, the messaging from a few speakers from MozCon was clear – SEOs need to get over short term tactics and start doing stuff that makes a big impact to their clients beyond links.  This was a little tough to hear for me personally because I opened MozCon with a talk about 35 (ended up being 37) link building tactics which arguably, went against the overall message.  One attendee picked up on this:

and my reply:

Ultimately, I think you need balance at SEO conferences.  My message sat within the overall message in that my link building techniques (with the odd exception!) are totally legitimate and ones that will build good relationships with the right people.

Yes, if companies want to win online they need to deserve to.  But it isn’t that easy.  With many clients, this involves change, people don’t like change, change takes time.  Yes we should totally be thinking big and influencing change within our client companies, however it won’t happen overnight.

In the meantime, 37 ways to build links that you deserve won’t hurt right :)

I actually think that if we were telling a story, the three talks from Wil, Mike and myself compliment each other well.  Mike did a great job of explaining how to pitch content marketing and addressed the fact that this stuff can be tough.  I also favour actionable talks, both as a speaker and as an attendee so Mike’s was good because it laid out a good process which many people could use and adapt.  Whilst Wil was very blunt and to the point about why we need to change our mindsets and it ended up being a pretty motivational talk with a few actionable tips as well.

My own talk

I loved every minute of it.  I was really, really nervous beforehand and felt like I may be sick.  Particularly having to follow Rand’s introduction and be the first speaker of the three days.  But it was amazing and I’ve had some great feedback on Twitter and in person from many attendees.  If you were at MozCon and have some feedback on what I can improve or do better, please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.

I had a number of people say it was the most actionable which was great to hear because this was exactly what I was pitching for.  Let’s be honest, I’m never going to out-perform Wil Reynolds, Rand or Mike King!  So actionable and hands on stuff that people can use is the best way I know to present stuff.  Hopefully it was useful to as many people as possible.

The social time

I think there is one thing that impressed me more than anything else at MozCon – the audience.  Both during the conference and at the social events, everyone was just so nice and friendly.  I talked to some very smart people and certain learnt a lot from chatting to many of the audience, it is a shame sometimes that the smartest SEOs aren’t keen on public speaking because some of the smartest SEOs I’ve met have never spoken at conferences.

The venues were also excellent, particularly the Garage which is a great space and with such great weather, we spent a lot of time out on the terrace drinking beer in the sunshine.  The free bar and food also helped make it an awesome night!  There were also pool tables and bowling alleys for everyone to use.

If you were one of the people who handed me a pint of Guinness or beer over the three days, thank you!  If you came and said hello, thank you!  I was seriously impressed with the audience and the nice words and handshakes – I genuinely appreciate it all.

The conference venue

I liked the Westin.  The one thing I noticed was that despite there being over 800 people there, it didn’t feel like there were.  There was plenty of space to move about and I particularly liked having live streams of the talks on TVs placed around the eating and social areas, so if you had some work to do, you could do but still keep an eye on the stage.

There were moans and groans about the Wifi – yes it was very flakey during the sessions but I know that Moz did put a hell of a lot of effort into making it work.  The fact is that 800 people (all with more than one device probably) trying to use the Wifi at the same time is going to be hard.

What wasn’t talked about much

The fact that despite recent Google updates, spam can still work.  Paid links can still work.  Yes things are changing and companies should be looking to adapt their strategies and even their business models if necessary.  But right now, I feel Google have a long way to go.  I’m not convinced that the Penguin update was specifically aimed at people who bought links, I think that bought links did get caught in the crossfire though.

The fallout and the various unnatural links warning sparked a huge reaction from SEOs who opened up their link building blackbooks for Google to see – this can give them exactly what they need to start going after paid links.  They could of course have collected data on who buys and sells links themselves, but why bother when you have a community of SEOs to do it for you? :)

I wish this had been touched upon a bit more and a number of attendees asked my about Penguin problems after the conference.

Other roundups

These are a few other roundups I’ve seen, let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments and I’ll edit. (includes links to day 1 and 2)


My own –

Mike King –

Wil Reynolds –

Richard Baxter –

You can also grab everyone’s slidedecks from this page.  I can’t find Dr Pete’s right now to embed but you can download it.
If you were at MozCon, feel free to leave any comments below and add your own thoughts, particularly if you have feedback on how I can improve my talks.

Categories: SEO


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Paddy is co-founder of Aira, a digital marketing agency in Milton Keynes.

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