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    Inverse Document Frequency and the Importance of Uniqueness

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

    Posted by EricEnge

    IDF content uniqueness

    In my last column, I wrote about how to use term frequency analysis in evaluating your content vs. the competition’s. Term frequency (TF) is only one part of the TF-IDF approach to information retrieval. The other part is inverse document frequency (IDF), which is what I plan to discuss today.

    Today’s post will use an explanation of how IDF works to show you the importance of creating content that has true uniqueness. There are reputation and visibility reasons for doing this, and it’s great for users, but there are also SEO benefits.

    If you wonder why I am focusing on TF-IDF, consider these words from a Google article from August 2014: “This is the idea of the famous TF-IDF, long used to index web pages.” While the way that Google may apply these concepts is far more than the simple TF-IDF models I am discussing, we can still learn a lot from understanding the basics of how they work.

    What is inverse document frequency?

    In simple terms, it’s a measure of the rareness of a term. Conceptually, we start by measuring document frequency. It’s easiest to illustrate with an example, as follows:

    IDF table

    In this example, we see that the word “a” appears in every document in the document set. What this tells us is that it provides no value in telling the documents apart. It’s in everything.

    Now look at the word “mobilegeddon.” It appears in 1,000 of the documents, or one thousandth of one percent of them. Clearly, this phrase provides a great deal more differentiation for the documents that contain them.

    Document frequency measures commonness, and we prefer to measure rareness. The classic way that this is done is with a formula that looks like this:

    idf equation

    For each term we are looking at, we take the total number of documents in the document set and divide it by the number of documents containing our term. This gives us more of a measure of rareness. However, we don’t want the resulting calculation to say that the word “mobilegeddon” is 1,000 times more important in distinguishing a document than the word “boat,” as that is too big of a scaling factor.

    This is the reason we take the Log Base 10 of the result, to dampen that calculation. For those of you who are not mathematicians, you can loosely think of the Log Base 10 of a number as being a count of the number of zeros – i.e., the Log Base 10 of 1,000,000 is 6, and the log base 10 of 1,000 is 3. So instead of saying that the word “mobilegeddon” is 1,000 times more important, this type of calculation suggests it’s three times more important, which is more in line with what makes sense from a search engine perspective.

    With this in mind, here are the IDF values for the terms we looked at before:

    idf table logarithm values

    Now you can see that we are providing the highest score to the term that is the rarest.

    What does the concept of IDF teach us?

    Think about IDF as a measure of uniqueness. It helps search engines identify what it is that makes a given document special. This needs to be much more sophisticated than how often you use a given search term (e.g. keyword density).

    Think of it this way: If you are one of 6.78 million web sites that comes up for the search query “super bowl 2015,” you are dealing with a crowded playing field. Your chances of ranking for this term based on the quality of your content are pretty much zero.

    massive number of results for broad keyword

    Overall link authority and other signals will be the only way you can rank for a term that competitive. If you are a new site on the landscape, well, perhaps you should chase something else.

    That leaves us with the question of what you should target. How about something unique? Even the addition of a simple word like “predictions”—changing our phrase to “super bowl 2015 predictions”—reduces this playing field to 17,800 results.

    Clearly, this is dramatically less competitive already. Slicing into this further, the phrase “super bowl 2015 predictions and odds” returns only 26 pages in Google. See where this is going?

    What IDF teaches us is the importance of uniqueness in the content we create. Yes, it will not pay nearly as much money to you as it would if you rank for the big head term, but if your business is a new entrant into a very crowded space, you are not going to rank for the big head term anyway

    If you can pick out a smaller number of terms with much less competition and create content around those needs, you can start to rank for these terms and get money flowing into your business. This is because you are making your content more unique by using rarer combinations of terms (leveraging what IDF teaches us).


    People who do keyword analysis are often wired to pursue the major head terms directly, simply based on the available keyword search volume. The result from this approach can, in fact, be pretty dismal.

    Understanding how inverse document frequency works helps us understand the importance of standing out. Creating content that brings unique angles to the table is often a very potent way to get your SEO strategy kick-started.

    Of course, the reasons for creating content that is highly differentiated and unique go far beyond SEO. This is good for your users, and it’s good for your reputation, visibility, AND also your SEO.

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    You Finally Achieved Content Virality! Now What?

    Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

    Posted by Isla_McKetta

    If you’ve ever achieved the holy grail of content marketing success—true virality—you know the rush of endorphins as you watch the share count climb. You’ve smiled the enormous grin when one of your friends shares that piece on Facebook without any idea that you helped create it. Maybe you’ve even felt the skin-chilling prickle when Buzzfeed picks up your content.

    Then you’ve undoubtedly experienced the heart-stopping numbness when the traffic finally stalls. Where did all the people go? Was it real? Can you do it again?

    What happens next depends on which camp you fall into. Most people either

    1. Squander that success in a haze of denial, or
    2. Rush back to their desks to copy the thing that just went viral so they can replicate the success (only to find that the Internet is already over it).

    But there is a third, better way—you can learn everything possible from this moment of greatness and turn it around to create something even more shareable next time. This third path is not easy, but it is the surest way to get you back on the road to virality. Here’s how.

    Celebrate your success

    Duh. You were going to do this anyway, but take a moment (or a day) to fully enjoy all the tweets, traffic, and accolades. This will give you energy for the next step and you’ll be all the more focused for the long road ahead.

    Analyze what went right

    Sometimes content marketing feels like throwing Velcro darts at the wall—you just don’t know what’s going to stick. But when something finally does stick, there are a lot of lessons to be learned about your audience and what might work in the future.

    For example, take this post from Organic Gardening, “7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden.” According to BuzzSumo, it has six times as many shares as the next most successful article from the same site.

    In fact, when looking at content that contained the word “garden,” the post had more than twice as many shares as the top post from Country Living, a magazine with about five times the circulation.

    I think we can safely call this piece a runaway success. Now let’s look at what made this article so much more viral than its top three friends.


    It’s not too much of a stretch to say that “7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden” is a lot sexier title than “Gardener’s April To-Do List,” “Going with the Flow,” and “Cauliflower with Peas.”

    Not only does the highly successful article contain one of those emotion words that get us all excited to click, the title actually fully describes what the article is about—passing what Ian Lurie calls the “blank sheet of paper” test.
    You’ll note that the titles listed in BuzzSumo are actually more descriptive than those on the page—next time they might want to use the more descriptive titles on the page.


    The format of these four articles is pretty basic: text with at least one related image. In fact, the to-do list article could have gone a bit farther if someone had turned it into a downloadable checklist (or at least a checklist).

    Sometimes, like when you’ve invested heavily in a flashy parallax scrolling piece, it’s easy to surmise that form contributed heavily to the success of the content. But in this case, it’s unlikely that the form of this article gave it a viral advantage.


    These four articles vary widely in length, but they conform to what you might expect from the types of articles that they are. “Go with the Flow” is more of an essay and should be longer, whereas to-do lists and recipes get less useful the longer they are.

    7 Secrets April To-Do Going w/Flow Cauliflower
    1100+ words 800+ words 1700+ words 200+ words

    I’d argue that “7 Secrets” is an exception here, in that it’s more in-depth than it needs to be—in a good way. This could be one contributor to its success.


    Not only is the “7 Secrets” title much more clickable, the viral article also hits on high-yield gardening—a high-interest topic. Having not seen the personas for this site, I’m not sure if Organic Gardening has identified gardeners with limited space or gardeners who are trying to sustain themselves entirely from their yards as targets, but this article would be interesting to both groups (which means more excited readers to share the content).

    The to-do list article is practical and “Going with the Flow” (about water conservation) is newsworthy (although it would do a lot better if it mentioned the California drought in the intro). If you love cauliflower, perhaps you can tell me why that recipe is popular. But it’s easy to see why none of these other three articles broke through the viral barrier.


    From what I can tell, the original article is actually a couple of years old. It’s just been hanging out waiting for the right moment. So goes content marketing. But the week that it went nuts on BuzzSumo was in late March—the very week I was mapping my own garden.

    That said, it isn’t the most timely of these four articles. The April to-do list is very timely (and this kind of evergreen content has the chance to get picked up again year after year) and, as mentioned, the article about water (despite being written in 2011) is on-trend with current events in California.

    Again, you’ll have to tell me if cauliflower is timeless, because I’m still not understanding the success of that recipe.

    One caveat: There’s some weirdness around the dating on this site (especially since the site re-branded in the middle of me writing this draft). If you dig into the publication date, it’s April 1, 2015, a few days after March 29, 2015 (the date BuzzSumo called its publication date). And when I first started writing this article I think I found that the page was created about two years ago (though I can no longer verify that information).

    Your lesson here is that if you do a site rebrand in the middle of assessing your content, your data will likely contain weirdness too.

    Overall quality

    This is where your spidey sense comes in, because overall quality is in many ways a combination of all the factors we just looked at along with the strength of the writing. But there’s also that je ne sais quoi factor where you have to trust your gut (don’t worry, spotting great content is easier than you think).

    “7 Secrets” really is a better article for the Internet than the other three. It’s easy to share, seems high-impact, and is a fast read. “Going with the Flow” is also a good article, especially with the storytelling angle, but the anecdotal lead-in followed by the intercontinental comparison of water management styles smacks of classic print journalism (requiring thoughtful rumination), which means it might be more appropriate or successful offline.

    Influencer name dropping

    Ego bait is a tried and true content marketing tactic. It’s not used in this article, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good tool to keep on hand. If I wanted this article to go even more viral, I would have put names to the two experts they cite (and then reached out to tell those experts that I was quoting them).

    The social angle

    Looking at “7 Secrets” against the April to-do list, we can immediately spot a few reasons it was roughly three times more popular on the social network. It has an active and enticing image, the accompanying text is both inspirational and asks for engagement, and the article description is, well, descriptive.

    Now, I don’t have access to the internal Facebook analytics of this site, but if I did, I’d be looking hard at trends in what times of day and days of week they find the most engagement as well as whether there was any paid promotion to see what else can be learned.

    High-profile sharers

    As you can see, except for the magazine itself, very few people who shared this article on Twitter even have more than 1,000 followers. That might not be bad for you and me, but it’s not going to cause a viral stampede.

    If you find that more recognizable folks (or even those with a lot more followers) were part of your success, it might be time to build some relationships there. You can do that either by involving them in your content creation process in the future or by reaching out when you have something new to promote.

    You don’t have to wait until something goes viral to analyze what content is succeeding and why. Get some practice now (and help yourself on the road to virality):

    Download this checklist as a template

    Now that you understand what contributes to content virality, you’re ready to try to capture that magic all over again.

    Resist the urge to imitate

    This sounds counter-intuitive, but the last thing you want to do after achieving content success is to run out and do exactly what you did last time. Why? Because the Internet craves novelty, and just like it’s completely adorable when your friend’s toddler sticks his tongue out at you for the first time, the second, third, and thirty-seventh times are increasingly less adorable (and notable).

    Instead, use all that analysis you just did of what made the piece successful to remix those elements and try something new. In the case of the garden efficiency article we’ve been looking at, I’d follow up with a profile of three influential organic gardeners who have different ways of achieving efficiency in their gardens.

    Enough about gardening already, what about some other topics like windows, water, and dessert.

    • If “DIY Craft Projects using Old Vintage Windows Doors” earned you 428k shares, avoid writing “DIY Craft Projects Using Old Vintage Bannisters” and instead think more broadly with something like “10 Best Stores in the US to Find Vintage Windows for Your Project” or “Last Minute Summer Patio Projects for Upscale Freecyclers.” The first plays with influencer marketing and the second explores a niche readership that has the potential to be very passionate about sharing your content.
    • If you’ve recently had success with “Gray Whale Dies Bringing Us a Message – With Stomach Full of Plastic Trash” (226k+ shares), skip starting a series on dead animals that are portending the end of the earth. Instead try something like an infographic that shows how much the average American contributes to the gyre of plastic in the ocean that includes tips on how we can reduce our impact. That type of content would capitalize a little on the scare tactics of the first post plus the spirit that we’re all responsible for the fate of the planet. It would also be a chance to test if posts that end with positive impacts are as shareable.
    • Or if everyone loved your recipe for a ginormous Reese’s Cup (21k+ shares), don’t be tempted to write about chocolate peanut butter pie. Rather, consider creating a series on revamped recipes for childhood favorites like an upscale Nanaimo Bar or incorporating Jello into a trifle.

    The exception

    There are times when a piece of content you’ve created goes viral even though you feel like you only took the idea halfway. Playbuzz got some really good traction (1.6 million shares) with this post:

    About a month later they followed up with this one which garnered 3.3 million shares:

    They could have taken the idea even farther with “What Sci-Fi Novel…” and “What Horror Novel…” but those get weird fast and it’s safe to say they found their peak audience the second time around by getting more general. So they stopped while they were ahead.

    Build relationships

    Viral success means that a whole lot of people just shared your content. It also means that you have a huge opportunity to connect with people who might remember who you are for the next five seconds.

    Help them remember you for the foreseeable future by reaching out now and thanking them for sharing your stuff or engaging them in conversation. Ask what they’d like to see next time or respond to their questions. Be playful and friendly (if it suits your corporate voice) and get the writer to help you with the follow-up.

    Use your success as brand leverage

    There’s no better time for PR outreach than immediately following a big viral content win. Who doesn’t want to drop a line in an outreach email like “Our latest infographic has earned 452,000 shares on Pinterest (so far).” That number might feel like a fluke, but if you can get someone from a major media outlet interested in your next piece, your future looks bright.

    Keep trying

    Capturing the zeitgeist well enough to give a post viral success is not an easy thing. But have confidence that if you’ve done it before, you have what it takes to do it again. Keep making awesome stuff. And when you’re tempted to get bummed because something doesn’t quite find its audience, instead milk that learning experience for all it’s worth.

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    ​We Want Your Stories: Accepting MozCon Ignite Pitches

    Thursday, May 7th, 2015

    Posted by EricaMcGillivray

    We’re thrilled to announce the addition of a networking and Ignite-style event for attendees on Tuesday night at MozCon. For years, you’ve asked us for more networking and relaxing times, and this is what we’ve dreamed up. But we need your help!

    We want you to share your stories, passions, and experiences. There are 16—yes, 16—speaking slots. Ignite-style talks are 5 minutes in length and slides auto-advance. That’s right, there’s no going back, and once it’s done, it’s done!

    In order to encourage relaxation, none of these talks will be about online marketing. Instead, we want to use this opportunity to get to know our fellow community members better. We want to hear about your passion projects, interests, and the things that fascinate you outside marketing. Tell us about how you spend weekends making support banners for your favorite soccer team or why you mentor high school students, for example.

    The basic details

    • To submit, just fill out the form below.
    • Please only submit one talk! We want the one you’re most excited about.
    • Talks cannot be about online marketing.
    • They are only 5 minutes in length, so plan accordingly.
    • If you are already speaking on the MozCon stage, you cannot pitch for this event.
    • Submissions close on Sunday, May 17 at 5pm PDT.
    • Selection decisions are final and will be made in late May / early June.
    • All presentations must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct.
    • You must attend MozCon, July 13-15, and the Tuesday night event in person, in Seattle.

    If selected, you will get the following

    • 5 minutes on the Tuesday night stage to share with our audience. The event lasts from 7-10pm and will be at Benaroya Hall (where the Seattle Symphony plays).
    • $300 off a ticket to MozCon. (If you already purchased yours, we’ll issue a $300 refund.)
    • We will work with you to hone your talk!

    As we want to ensure every single speaker feels both comfortable and gives their best talk possible, myself and Matt Roney are here to help you. We’ll review your topic, settle on the title, walk through your presentation with you, and give you a tour of the stage earlier in the evening. While you do the great work, we’re here to help in anyway possible.

    Unfortunately, we cannot provide travel coverage for these MozCon Ignite speaking slots.

    What makes a great pitch

    • Focus on the five minute length.
    • Be passionate about what you’re speaking about. Tell us what’s great about it.
    • For extra credit, include links to videos of you doing public speaking.
    • Follow the guidelines. Yes, the word counts are limited on purpose. Do not submit links to Google Docs, etc. for more information. Tricky and multiple submissions will be disqualified.

    We’re all super-excited about these talks, and we can’t wait to hear what you might talk about. Whether you want to tell us about how Frenchies are really English dogs or which coffee shop is the best in Seattle, this is going to be blast! The amazing Geraldine DeRuiter, known for her travel blogging and witty ways, will be emceeing this event.

    If you’re still needing inspiration or a little confused about an Ignite talk, watch Geraldine’s talk from a few years ago about sharing personal news online:

    Like our other speaker selections, we have a small committee at Moz running through these topics to get the best variety and fun possible. While we cannot vet your topic, feel free to ask questions in the comments.

    Everyone who submits an Ignite pitch will be informed either way. Best of luck!

    Haven’t bought your MozCon ticket?

    Buy your ticket now

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    I Can’t Drive 155: Meta Descriptions in 2015

    Thursday, May 7th, 2015

    Posted by Dr-Pete

    For years now, we (and many others) have been recommending keeping your Meta Descriptions shorter than
    about 155-160 characters. For months, people have been sending me examples of search snippets that clearly broke that rule, like this one (on a search for “hummingbird food”):

    For the record, this one clocks in at 317 characters (counting spaces). So, I set out to discover if these long descriptions were exceptions to the rule, or if we need to change the rules. I collected the search snippets across the MozCast 10K, which resulted in 92,669 snippets. All of the data in this post was collected on April 13, 2015.

    The Basic Data

    The minimum snippet length was zero characters. There were 69 zero-length snippets, but most of these were the new generation of answer box, that appears organic but doesn’t have a snippet. To put it another way, these were misidentified as organic by my code. The other 0-length snippets were local one-boxes that appeared as organic but had no snippet, such as this one for “chichen itza”:

    These zero-length snippets were removed from further analysis, but considering that they only accounted for 0.07% of the total data, they didn’t really impact the conclusions either way. The shortest legitimate, non-zero snippet was 7 characters long, on a search for “geek and sundry”, and appears to have come directly from the site’s meta description:

    The maximum snippet length that day (this is a highly dynamic situation) was 372 characters. The winner appeared on a search for “benefits of apple cider vinegar”:

    The average length of all of the snippets in our data set (not counting zero-length snippets) was 143.5 characters, and the median length was 152 characters. Of course, this can be misleading, since some snippets are shorter than the limit and others are being artificially truncated by Google. So, let’s dig a bit deeper.

    The Bigger Picture

    To get a better idea of the big picture, let’s take a look at the display length of all 92,600 snippets (with non-zero length), split into 20-character buckets (0-20, 21-40, etc.):

    Most of the snippets (62.1%) cut off as expected, right in the 141-160 character bucket. Of course, some snippets were shorter than that, and didn’t need to be cut off, and some broke the rules. About 1% (1,010) of the snippets in our data set measured 200 or more characters. That’s not a huge number, but it’s enough to take seriously.

    That 141-160 character bucket is dwarfing everything else, so let’s zoom in a bit on the cut-off range, and just look at snippets in the 120-200 character range (in this case, by 5-character bins):

    Zooming in, the bulk of the snippets are displaying at lengths between about 146-165 characters. There are plenty of exceptions to the 155-160 character guideline, but for the most part, they do seem to be exceptions.

    Finally, let’s zoom in on the rule-breakers. This is the distribution of snippets displaying 191+ characters, bucketed in 10-character bins (191-200, 201-210, etc.):

    Please note that the Y-axis scale is much smaller than in the previous 2 graphs, but there is a pretty solid spread, with a decent chunk of snippets displaying more than 300 characters.

    Without looking at every original meta description tag, it’s very difficult to tell exactly how many snippets have been truncated by Google, but we do have a proxy. Snippets that have been truncated end in an ellipsis (…), which rarely appears at the end of a natural description. In this data set, more than half of all snippets (52.8%) ended in an ellipsis, so we’re still seeing a lot of meta descriptions being cut off.

    I should add that, unlike titles/headlines, it isn’t clear whether Google is cutting off snippets by pixel width or character count, since that cut-off is done on the server-side. In most cases, Google will cut before the end of the second line, but sometimes they cut well before this, which could suggest a character-based limit. They also cut off at whole words, which can make the numbers a bit tougher to interpret.

    The Cutting Room Floor

    There’s another difficulty with telling exactly how many meta descriptions Google has modified – some edits are minor, and some are major. One minor edit is when Google adds some additional information to a snippet, such as a date at the beginning. Here’s an example (from a search for “chicken pox”):

    With the date (and minus the ellipsis), this snippet is 164 characters long, which suggests Google isn’t counting the added text against the length limit. What’s interesting is that the rest comes directly from the meta description on the site, except that the site’s description starts with “Chickenpox.” and Google has removed that keyword. As a human, I’d say this matches the meta description, but a bot has a very hard time telling a minor edit from a complete rewrite.

    Another minor rewrite occurs in snippets that start with search result counts:

    Here, we’re at 172 characters (with spaces and minus the ellipsis), and Google has even let this snippet roll over to a third line. So, again, it seems like the added information at the beginning isn’t counting against the length limit.

    All told, 11.6% of the snippets in our data set had some kind of Google-generated data, so this type of minor rewrite is pretty common. Even if Google honors most of your meta description, you may see small edits.

    Let’s look at our big winner, the 372-character description. Here’s what we saw in the snippet:

    Jan 26, 2015 – Health• Diabetes Prevention: Multiple studies have shown a correlation between apple cider vinegar and lower blood sugar levels. … • Weight Loss: Consuming apple cider vinegar can help you feel more full, which can help you eat less. … • Lower Cholesterol: … • Detox: … • Digestive Aid: … • Itchy or Sunburned Skin: … • Energy Boost:1 more items

    So, what about the meta description? Here’s what we actually see in the tag:

    Were you aware of all the uses of apple cider vinegar? From cleansing to healing, to preventing diabetes, ACV is a pantry staple you need in your home.

    That’s a bit more than just a couple of edits. So, what’s happening here? Well, there’s a clue on that same page, where we see yet another rule-breaking snippet:

    You might be wondering why this snippet is any more interesting than the other one. If you could see the top of the SERP, you’d know why, because it looks something like this:

    Google is automatically extracting list-style data from these pages to fuel the expansion of the Knowledge Graph. In one case, that data is replacing a snippet
    and going directly into an answer box, but they’re performing the same translation even for some other snippets on the page.

    So, does every 2nd-generation answer box yield long snippets? After 3 hours of inadvisable mySQL queries, I can tell you that the answer is a resounding “probably not”. You can have 2nd-gen answer boxes without long snippets and you can have long snippets without 2nd-gen answer boxes,
    but there does appear to be a connection between long snippets and Knowledge Graph in some cases.

    One interesting connection is that Google has begun bolding keywords that seem like answers to the query (and not just synonyms for the query). Below is an example from a search for “mono symptoms”. There’s an answer box for this query, but the snippet below is not from the site in the answer box:

    Notice the bolded words – “fatigue”, “sore throat”, “fever”, “headache”, “rash”. These aren’t synonyms for the search phrase; these are actual symptoms of mono. This data isn’t coming from the meta description, but from a bulleted list on the target page. Again, it appears that Google is trying to use the snippet to answer a question, and has gone well beyond just matching keywords.

    Just for fun, let’s look at one more, where there’s no clear connection to the Knowledge Graph. Here’s a snippet from a search for “sons of anarchy season 4”:

    This page has no answer box, and the information extracted is odd at best. The snippet bears little or no resemblance to the site’s meta description. The number string at the beginning comes out of a rating widget, and some of the text isn’t even clearly available on the page. This seems to be an example of Google acknowledging IMDb as a high-authority site and desperately trying to match any text they can to the query, resulting in a Frankenstein’s snippet.

    The Final Verdict

    If all of this seems confusing, that’s probably because it is. Google is taking a lot more liberties with snippets these days, both to better match queries, to add details they feel are important, or to help build and support the Knowledge Graph.

    So, let’s get back to the original question – is it time to revise the 155(ish) character guideline? My gut feeling is: not yet. To begin with, the vast majority of snippets are still falling in that 145-165 character range. In addition, the exceptions to the rule are not only atypical situations, but in most cases those long snippets don’t seem to represent the original meta description. In other words, even if Google does grant you extra characters, they probably won’t be the extra characters you asked for in the first place.

    Many people have asked: “How do I make sure that Google shows my meta description as is?” I’m afraid the answer is: “You don’t.” If this is very important to you, I would recommend keeping your description below the 155-character limit, and making sure that it’s a good match to your target keyword concepts. I suspect Google is going to take more liberties with snippets over time, and we’re going to have to let go of our obsession with having total control over the SERPs.

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    Give it up for Our MozCon 2015 Community Speakers

    Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

    Posted by EricaMcGillivray

    Super thrilled that we’re able to announce this year’s community speakers for MozCon, July 13-15th in Seattle!

    Wow. Each year I feel that I say the pool keeps getting more and more talented, but it’s the truth! We had more quality pitches this year than in the past, and quantity-wise, there were 241, around 100 more entries than years previously. Let me tell you, many of the review committee members filled our email thread with amazement at this.

    And even though we had an unprecedented six slots, the choices seemed even tougher!

    241 pitches

    Let that number sink in for a little while.

    Because we get numerous questions about what makes a great pitch, I wanted to share both information about the speakers and their great pitches—with some details removed for spoilers. (We’re still working with each speaker to polish and finalize their topic.) I’ve also included my or Matt Roney‘s own notes on each one from when we read them without knowing who the authors were.

    Please congratulate our MozCon 2015 community speakers!

    Adrian VenderAdrian Vender

    Adrian is the Director of Analytics at IMI and a general enthusiast of coding and digital marketing. He’s also a life-long drummer and lover of music. Follow him at @adrianvender.

    Adrian’s pitch:

    Content Tracking with Google Tag Manager

    While marketers have matured in the use of web analytics tools, our ability to measure how users interact with our sites’ content needs improvement. Users are interacting with dynamic content that just aren’t captured in a pageview. While there are JavaScript tricks to help track these details, working with IT to place new code is usually the major hurdle that stops us.

    Finally, Google Tag Manager is that bridge to advanced content analysis. GTM may appear technical, but it can easily be used by any digital marketer to track almost any action on a site. My goal is to make ALL attendees users of GTM.

    My talk will cover the following GTM concepts:

    [Adrian lists 8 highly-actionable tactics he’ll cover.]

    I’ll share a client example of tracking content interaction in GA. I’ll also share a link to a GTM container file that can help people pre-load the above tag templates into their own GTM.

    Matt’s notes: Could be good. I know a lot of people have questions about Tag Manager, and the ubiquity of GA should help it be pretty well-received.

    Chris DayleyChris Dayley

    Chris is a digital marketing expert and owner of Dayley Conversion. His company provides full-service A/B testing for businesses, including design, development, and test execution. Follow him at @chrisdayley.

    Chris’ pitch:

    I would like to present a super actionable 15 minute presentation focused on the first two major steps businesses should take to start A/B testing:

    1. Radical Redesign Testing

    2. Iterative Testing (Test EVERYTHING)

    I am one of the few CROs out there that recommends businesses to start with a radical redesign test. My reasoning for doing so is that most businesses have done absolutely no testing on their current website, so the current landing page/website really isn’t a “best practice” design yet.

    I will show several case studies where clients saw more than a 50% lift in conversion rates just from this first step of radical redesign testing, and will offer several tips for how to create a radical redesign test. Some of the tips include:

    [Chris lists three direct and interesting tips he’ll share.]

    Next I suggest moving into the iterative phase.

    I will show several case studies of how to move through iterative testing so you eventually test every element on your page.

    Erica’s notes: Direct, interesting, and with promise of multiple case studies.

    Duane BrownDuane Brown

    Duane is a digital marketer with 10 years’ experience having lived and worked in five cities across three continents. He’s currently at Unbounce. When not working, you can find Duane traveling to some far-flung location around the world to eat food and soak up the culture. Follow him at @DuaneBrown.

    Duane’s pitch:

    What Is Delightful Remarketing & How You Can Do It Too

    A lot of people find remarketing creepy and weird. They don’t get why they are seeing those ads around the internet…. let alone how to make them stop showing.

    This talk will focus on the different between remarketing & creating delightful remarketing that can help grow the revenue & profit at a company and not piss customers off. 50% of US marketers don’t use remarketing according to eMarketer (2013).

    – [Duane’s direct how-to for e-commerce customers.] Over 60% of customers abandon a shopping cart each year: http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate (3 minute)

    – Cover a SaaS company using retargeting to [Duane’s actionable item]. This remarketing helps show your products sticky features while showing off your benefits (3 minute)

    – The Dos: [Duane’s actionable tip], a variety of creative & a dedicated landing page creates delightful remarketing that grows revenue (3 minute)

    – Wrap up and review main points. (2 minutes)

    Matt’s notes: Well-detailed, an area in which there’s a lot of room for improvement.

    Gianluca FiorelliGianluca Fiorelli

    Moz Associate, official blogger for StateofDigital.com and known international SEO and inbound strategist, Gianluca works in the digital marketing industry, but he still believes that he just know that he knows nothing. Follow him at @gfiorelli1.

    Gianluca’s pitch:

    Unusual Sources for Keyword and Topical Research

    A big percentage of SEOs equal Keyword and Topical Research to using Keyword Planner and Google Suggest.

    However, using only them, we cannot achieve a real deep knowledge of the interests, psychology and language of our target.

    In this talk, I will present unusual sources and unnoticed features of very well-known tools, and offer a final example based on a true story.

    Arguments touched in the speech (not necessarily in this order):

    [Gianluca lists seven how-tos and one unique case study.]

    Erica’s notes: Theme of Google not giving good keyword info. Lots of unique actionable points and resources. Will work in 15 minute time limit.

    Ruth Burr ReedyRuth Burr Reedy

    Ruth is the head of on-site SEO for BigWing Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City, OK. At BigWing, she manages a team doing on-site, technical, and local SEO. Ruth has been working in SEO since 2006. Follow her at @ruthburr.

    Ruth’s pitch:

    Get Hired to Do SEO

    This talk will go way beyond “just build your own website” and talk about specific ways SEOs can build evidence of their skills across the web, including:

    [Ruth lists 7 how-tos with actionable examples.]

    All in a funny, actionable, beautiful, easy-to-understand get-hired masterpiece.

    Erica’s notes: Great takeaways. Wanted to do a session about building your resume as a marketer for a while.

    Stephanie WallaceStephanie Wallace

    Stephanie is director of SEO at Nebo, a digital agency in Atlanta. She helps clients navigate the ever-changing world of SEO by understanding their audience and helping them create a digital experience that both the user and Google appreciates. Follow her at @SWallaceSEO.

    Stephanie’s pitch:

    Everyone knows PPC and SEO complement one another – increased visibility in search results help increase perceived authority and drive more clickthroughs to your site overall. But are you actively leveraging the wealth of PPC data available to build on your existing SEO strategy? The key to effectively using this information lies in understanding how to test SEO tactics and how to apply the results to your on-page strategies. This session will delve into actionable strategies for using PPC campaign insights to influence on-page SEO and content strategies. Key takeaways include:

    [Stephanie lists four how-tos.]

    Erica’s notes: Nice and actionable. Like this a lot.

    As mentioned, we had 241 entries, and many of them were stage quality. Notable runners up included AJ Wilcox, Ed Reese, and Daylan Pearce, and a big pat on the back to all those who tossed their hat in.

    Also, a huge thank you to my fellow selection committee members for 2015: Charlene Inoncillo, Cyrus Shepard, Danie Launders, Jen Lopez, Matt Roney, Rand Fishkin, Renea Nielsen, and Trevor Klein.

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