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PPC at mozCon – Challenge Yourself to Cross Geek Out

Last year I received an invitation to speak at one of the biggest search conferences of the year, MozCon. MozCon is put on by Moz (formerly known as SEOmoz) an SEO software/tool company in Seattle and MozCon, in the past, has been more commonly known as an SEO conference. As such, I’ve noticed that those that are firmly entrenched in PPC or paid search, haven’t ever been or have little experience with the Moz toolset or brand. But, then there are those that are really familiar with Moz and know what an honor this was to be asked; which meant I got two questions before and after the event: “How did YOU get in?” and “Why is PPC here?”

Well, over the years, MozCon has evolved its schedule to include social, content and much more, just as the industry has. The speakers are hand picked by a committee at Moz each year and the 2014 line up included topics on:

  • SEO
  • Analytics
  • Psychology
  • Branding
  • Social Media
  • CRO
  • Mobile
  • Local SEO
  • PR

That’s a heck of a list.

Why is PPC Here?

Short answer: because you can’t ignore all this red:
GoogleSERPmy presentation for MozCon, with the guidance of the MozCon queen, Erica McGillivray, we very intentionally chose Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads as the subject, because of its past close ties with SEO. In fact, when it first launched as Google Base, it was technically SEO. SEOs would go into Base, upload product feeds and see if they could get traffic from Froogle or Product Search, as it was called before it went to an entirely paid platform in October of 2012.

Nowadays, it’s called Google Shopping and it’s all paid – but the advancements and optimizations that are made through paid have serious SEO and content benefits. In fact a recent post on the YouMoz section on leveraging panda to get out of product feed jail, while geared towards SEO and content, could make a powerful argument for a site or navigation restructure using data or content from paid product feeds. So, yeah, PPC belongs. (Even if just a little bit.)

Disclosure: I did test the outline and the presentation itself on a few SEOs at Portent first. They seemed unharmed by it.

In fact, after I gave my presentation at MozCon, I had several SEOs come up and tell me they learned something or realized something about PPC that they didn’t know and that it was relevant to their own work. Heck, in the future they threatened to go to more sessions on paid search tracks, instead of always just going to SEO.

To me, that was a win.

Cross-Geeking Out

It also occurred to me that sometimes, we continually send people to the same conferences or they go and they stick only to the track that is their everyday specialty. I think we need to break that pattern. We should be challenging ourselves to cross-conference and learn more about the specialties we aren’t in everyday. I would rather have a session be over my head (like a super technical SEO session) and I have to stop and think about how all the pieces fit together rather than complain that the last session I was in wasn’t advanced enough.

Considering the rise of paid social and content promotion as well, we’re all blending into “marketers” more and more, away from that “specialists” label whether you like it or not.

So, I challenge you to go cross-geek out. Go to a social media session where they talk about their tools. Go to an SEO session where they talk about the changing SERP. Go to a content session where they talk about how they decide what to write. You’ll be glad you did. You might even make a friend.

I know I enjoyed MozCon as a PPC person. I cross-geeked out on social communities, web psychology, international SEO, semantic search and mobile SEO. What’s not to like about that?

How Did YOU Get In?

Yes, that was a real question and by more than one person. The only answer I have to give on that is “because I’m awesome.” And I can prove it:


Thanks, LinkedIn and my students at the University of Washington.
(The serious answer can be found on the Moz blog.)

Now What?

Feel free to check out the line up for MozCon 2015. (I’m not on there again, but that’s OK, I’ve started therapy.) Next time you go to a conference, be sure to read all of the sessions, not just your usual track. Sign up for webinars on different subjects, there are tons out there everyday and for every level. I went to one on email marketing the other day, something I’ve never really done! Ask someone you know or trust either in your field or at your company that is in another field to make a recommendation. And if you like to deal in volume, ask on Twitter, you’ll get a ton of responses.

And last, but not least, after 8 years and 8 months at Portent, I have to say that this is my last blog post on the Portent blog. This post is my 107th post in total. A distant 2nd to Ian’s 1500+ posts, but it’s a second place I’m proud of.

It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of Portent. I will miss the culture, the work and most of all the staff, immensely.

Most of all, thank you for the opportunity to learn how to be a “pay per clip” marketer! It’s been a great ride.

To stalk me on future adventures, you can find me on Twitter @ebkendo

Live long and prosper!

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