25 Random Observations about #MozCon Speakers

MozCon logoI attended MozCon 2013 last week. It’s really become a big production with a three-day agenda, large stage and space-age theme in the main room. I hadn’t been to one before and I came away pretty impressed.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a conference recap, but I had a good experience at MozCon and wanted to write something up. Rather than getting into the specifics, I thought I’d share some random observations about the speakers and presentations that I enjoyed.

You can find most of the presentations on the MozCon site or SlideShare.

I’ll cover them in order of appearance:

Richard BaxterRichard Baxter – Richard sure knows how to make the most out of various tools and Excel, in this case for outreach research. His presentation was loaded with specific, actionable tips and instructions.

Aleyda SolisAleyda Solis – energetic and enthusiastic! I’ve read a lot of Aleyda’s blog posts but had never seen her speak before. She knows her stuff, and props for the use of Lego Indiana Jones. Her deck on international SEO and ROI was a top presentation of the day on Slideshare last week.

Avinash KaushikAvinash Kaushik – Avinash did a great job as always of beating people over the head with the need for smart measurement. I couldn’t help thinking though that there is only so many times you can go crazy with the swearing before it loses its impact. Otherwise it starts to become more about watching him freak out than taking in what he has to say. But the man knows what he’s talking about and it was a strong presentation.

Ross HudgensRoss Hudgens – Ross is another smart link builder and content marketer; like Richard his deck was full of specific tactics that are worth checking out.

Matt PetersMatt Peters – You can tell “Dr. Matt” gets a lot of respect from the Moz team, and it seems well deserved. I enjoyed how he walked through the methodology and findings of the 2013 Ranking Factors study with curiosity, and without claiming to know for sure what it all means (as that’s not how it works).

Matthew BrownMatthew Brown – this was one of my favorite sessions and not just because Matthew is a friend. He did an excellent job breaking down the current state of semantic SEO and how marketers can take advantage of it.

Mackenzie FogelsonMackenzie Fogelson – Mackenzie could quite literally be the nicest, most friendly person at MozCon, and she’s a passionate and knowledgeable marketer too.

Dharmesh ShahDharmesh Shah – I really like how if he gets curious about something he goes and builds some kind of tool or script to find out more. For those of us who lack those chops, it’s important to come up with alternate ways to do that.

Phil NottinghamPhil Nottingham – this was another one of my favorite presentations. In addition to being entertaining, Phil really knows his stuff. If I had a business that was getting involved in video marketing I’d want his help.

Joanna LordJoanna Lord – Joanna seems genuinely passionate about building customer loyalty, transparency and some of the specific marketing efforts that big brands have undertaken.

Adam AudetteAdam Audette – Adam is probably the king of ecommerce SEO, and he’s earned it. Pay attention to what this guy has to say.

Brittan BrightBrittan Bright – I wasn’t sure what to expect from a presentation on relationship building and soft skills, but Brittan nailed it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a speaker control a room like that through the tone of her voice and rhythm of her speaking. You could hear a pin drop at one point. It was an impressive performance.

Kyle RushKyle Rush – interesting insights from the Obama campaign’s fundraising efforts. Test and learn, test and learn, test and learn.

Nathalie NahaiNathalie Nahai – Web psychology, specifically as it relates to gender and culture differences, is something I don’t know much about, so this was an interesting one.

Annie CushingAnnie Cushing – Annie is awesome, and a serious analytics and Excel wiz. Do yourself a favor and find all her templates and tutorials.

David MihmDavid Mihm – I’ve already called Adam Audette the king of ecommerce SEO, so I won’t now call David the king of local SEO. But he is. His longer presentations must be monumental because the 30 min version was loaded with useful information.

Dana DiTomasoDana DiTomaso – I liked her ideas and her creativity, and she has lots of good ways for smaller brands to compete against the big ones in local SEO.

Allison Urban Allison Urban – I enjoyed Allison’s UX tips. My main takeaway was that monkeys are good. Or rather, a mascot can be a useful tool for businesses with a strong focus on customer service. As a customer/client I wouldn’t want every business to have one, but it works well in the right situations.

Will CritchlowWill Critchlow – Will gets a special mention for throwing his real mobile phone off the stage and into the audience. I was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t a prelude to a stage dive. P.S. His thoughts on the present and future of user behavior were pretty good too.

Pete Myers - Dr PetePete Myers – Dr. Pete delivered as always, sharing a bazillion examples of the various types of SERPs out there plus ways to make the most of the current landscape. It’s worth going through his slides.

Carrie GouldinCarrie Gouldin – this was another of my favorites. Carrie, you looked a little nervous – if you were, you had no reason to be because you were great! Also, more than one well-known speaker told me they found this year’s MozCon stage a little intimidating at first. The thing I liked best about Carrie’s presentation is that it underlined a key message for using metrics to build social engagement: there’s not one right answer for things like content, style, timing, frequency, etc. You have to find out what works best for your business through testing and experimentation.

Sarah BirdSarah Bird – really nice Japanese art in her slides. What I liked about Sarah’s presentation was all the ways that it’s not so easy to adhere to TAGFEE in everyday practice. But they believe it in and stick by it, and overall it works for them.

Wil ReynoldsWil Reynolds – Wil was just great. He’s an excellent speaker and smart marketer and he really tries to get people to up their game. But more than that he is inspirational as a person, be it through his industry work, his charitable work or just talking to him. Who else brings $1,500 worth of various books just to give them away to people he meets, if he thinks a particular book will be helpful to someone?

Jen LopezJen Lopez – what an entrance! It was like a Zumba-esque dance party. She did an excellent job with her community building tips too. I also like how she called out Wil for something he’d said about how people use Twitter that she didn’t like.

Rand FishkinRand Fishkin – what more can you say, the dude’s a great marketer and he really cares. He cares about the attendees and their success, the industry as a whole, his company and employees, the larger community (and that’s just the work related stuff). That sensibility could be felt throughout MozCon.

Ok, that’s a lot of random observations so I’ll leave it there. For anyone I didn’t mention there’s no intended slight; there were a few presentations that I didn’t get a chance to watch like the Moz community speakers on the third day.

If you have the opportunity I’d recommend you check out MozCon next year. Not everything will be directly relevant to what you do, but it’s good to take some time to step back, get new input from a variety of voices and then figure out how best to apply it all to your own success.


  1. says

    Wow. Some random observation that was! Highlighting each of these presenters is so cool and I enjoyed reading it. The way you describe them and how good they are at what they did was intimidating but in a positive way.

    I would like to pick a favorite myself based on your observations, but I couldn’t. They are all awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *