MozCon Recap and Test Driving a Starship

MozCon 2014The past week, I had the joy of spending the week in Seattle to experience not only my first MozCon, but my first marketing conference. Having spent the majority of my workforce life in hospitality, most conferences were sponsored by food and beverage vendors and were dedicated to eating and drinking the latest and greatest while wandering booths pretending that you hadn’t already tried the meatballs, similar to Costco’s sample day.

Moz went above and beyond anything I could have expected.

There are so many things to mention about the conference, but I’ll recap the top five that really stood out to me.

5. Mike King – API Killah. 
This guy blew the crowd away entirely. If you were following the Twitter feed for #mozcon you would have witnessed a plethora of “I’m officially freaked out.”, “Mike King just blew my mind”, and “WTF?” tweets. He kicked things off by describing a user’s unique fingerprint they leave on each website which was interesting in itself. He then threw us down the rabbit hole of linking APIs to take that fingerprint to find out EXACTLY who each user was, their demographic, their location, their habits, etc. It was insane. Unfortunately, he didn’t also blow us away with his rap skills this year, but I’m told they’re pretty epic. You can download his slide deck from the conference here and follow him on Twitter under the handle @iPullRank.

Mike Ramsey Shuffleboard4. Mike Ramsey – Small Town Man, Doing Big Things
I had the awesome opportunity to meet Mike Ramsey before his presentation and watch him and Ed Reese clean the shuffleboard house at the Unbounce MozCrawl afterparty. The following day he gave his local search presentation and was nothing short of incredible. He creatively and seamlessly incorporated his hometown of Burley, Idaho into every aspect of his slide deck and polished it with gorgeous photography, strategic humor and even pictures of his kids (who may kick you in the face). His firm, Nifty Marketing, focuses on “making local search sexy” and they do a damn good job. Check out his slide deck here and follow the genuinely nice guy on Twitter at @MikeRamsey. He also loves Weezer. Just saying.

Tesla S3. Test Driving A Starship
I have the pleasure of living a short drive (read: long, but worth it) away from Seattle, but it is usually the best idea to cram as many things into the trip as possible. We decided to take a quick break from the conference to walk over to a little car company named Tesla to take one out for a spin. We fully warned our co-pilot that we weren’t planning on buying one for a while and she reassured us that no one is, because you simply can’t; they’re booked out on production for the next year and a half. That being said, we hopped in, played with every option on the 17″ display and took off into the streets of Seattle. With 100% of the torque going straight to the wheels, my face hurt afterwards from smiling too much.
Note: I did not get paid for this shameless plug.

MozCon At The Garage2. MozCon’s Partner Hub
Moz did a great job in picking several partners for the event who hung out outside and gave demos and information on their products. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of fun people and learn more about some of the partners that we use, or are definitely using in the future. Never once did I feel pressured to purchase anything, they simply wanted to share what they were up to and get to know their potential clients. Had great conversations and a fantastic time hanging out with Paul from Buzzstream, Oli and the Unbounce team, and Taylor from Optimizely! Look forward to seeing all of them at future events!

1. Content
I’m not sure the best way to really title this concept that was generated throughout the conference but it is a breath of fresh air. Sure, we can’t game Google search like we used to be able to, but they’re forcing to provide something the internet truly needs: Good Content. We can hate on Google and their 1000s of employed PhDs who tweak and twist their algorithm without anyone knowing the better, skewing our client’s search rankings we’ve pushed so hard to produce. We can get mad every time they name an update after an animal we will soon despise when we see at the zoo, but they’re pushing us to make a better internet. Nearly every presentation held an underlying tone that we can be as technical as we want, but in the end, just make your site better, publish something people will share, write articles readers will love and want to come back to read again. Stop worrying about the little wins and focus on the big picture. The saying I have been throwing around the office lately can sum up the greatest idea from MozCon, “Do the thing”. Time after time, we get caught in the weeds focusing on unimportant projects, or financials, or who knows what, the problem is that we ignore the main idea. #DoTheThing

0. MOZ
So I am probably breaking some sort of countdown rule by going all the way to zero, but I owe the biggest shout out to Moz for putting on a seamless conference. The production value was outstanding with incredible and entertaining videos, great music, food, shirts, and even stuffed Roger dolls. We’ll be back next year, Moz. See you all then.

Rhonda Sand – Purposeful Africa Non-Profit

rhonda-sand-nonprofit-purposeful-africa1I believe it’s important to focus my SEO efforts on good causes when I can.  But, between running a business, keeping my mind fresh with new technical content, and spending time with family, I’m not able to take on as many projects as I’d like.

However, I’ve just added a new one to the list and wanted to let you know.  It’s a non-profit founded by Rhonda Sand of TMI Tours called Purposeful Africa.  I was introduced to Rhonda by Jamie Birch, who is already on board supporting her efforts with a small team from Coeur d’Alene and Spokane volunteering their time and resources.  As I’m new to the project, I don’t have much to share other than that I’m on board and looking forward to contributing to their efforts.  More details in the coming months…

Free SEO Training for Indie Restaurants

My favorite Indian restaurant went out of business this past year.  Call me selfish, but I’m tired of my favorite little ethnic (and other unique) restaurants going under. It’s not just the food. It’s the culture. These unique little establishments add some much needed flavor to Spokane, and I’d like to do something to help them survive in this tough economy. So, I’ve decided to teach a free Internet marketing seminar series for indie restaurants. The classes will focus on how to use search engine optimization, social media, and other Internet marketing strategies to find new customers. And yes, it’s free.

So what’s the problem, anyway? Well, it’s often an impulsive choice of where to eat. “Hey Honey, how does Vietnamese sound tonight?” They search online for where to go. Here’s what they find:

Spokane Vietnamese Restaurants

The problem is that these just aren’t good search results. There are bogus listings as well as duplicates. Players & Spectators is a Vietnamese restaurans? I did not know this. My favorite Vietnamese Restaurant, Vina (at the corner of Ash & Northwest BLVD), isn’t even on the complete list of Vietnamese Restaurants on Google Local. However, the Spokane Public Library is. I didn’t know that, either. Books, free WiFi, and spicy Beef Pho,… now we’re cookin’ with gas! Many great restaurants aren’t even found by their own name. You get the idea. Here are a few details about the first class. I look forward to seeing you there.

Class Location: Monterey Cafe’ 9 N. Washington Street (Sprague & Washington)

Date/Time: TBD (We’re shooting for late April)


We’ll discuss many aspects of Internet marketing. Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn to do:

-Create your own Google Local Business Listing (as well as local listings on Yahoo and MSN)
-Add online citations to improve your Internet exposure (even without a web site)
-Add descriptive online listing categories to get targeted traffic for your business
-Take advantage of the 20,000+ searches a month for Spokane Restaurants
-Use social networks to create a following for your restaurant
-Use great Local Search offerings like to streamline the process.

It should be a good time. The Monterey Cafe’ has graciously offered to host the first event and will be providing a tasty selection of light appetizers for the group. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.

Dick’s Drive-In. Spokane’s Centroid

One of the factors that influences the Local Search algorithm is called the proximity to the centroid. That is, how far whatever you’re searching for from the center of the city as defined by Google. In the case of Spokane, it has a most fitting location:

Dick’s Drive-In

That’s right, the intersection of 3rd & Division is not only the home of the “Whammie” and the best fries in town, but is also the geographic center of Spokane in the eyes of Google.

This is so damn fitting I took the family down for lunch. I love Dick’s Drive-in! Not only do they have some of the best burgers and fries around (OK, Hudson’s in CDA actually has the best burgers in the Inland Empire), but I’m pretty sure they haven’t changed prices since I unsuccessfully tried to pick-up girls there in high school. Here’s the thing I love most about Dick’s Drive-in, though. You see all walks of life in the ten minutes under those amazing heat lamps waiting for your burgers (they are pure salvation in the Winter). It’s actually a pretty representative cross section of Spokane as far as I can tell. At least at lunch.

So what does that mean for your company in terms of Local Search?

While it may sound odd, the closer you are to Dick’s Drive-in, the easier it will be to rank in Local Search (Google Maps) in Spokane. This is expecially true for non-competitive terms. There are many other variables that are part of the local algorithm, but distance from the centroid is one of them. For those interested in additional details, I’d recommend checking out a recap of David Mihm’s SEMpdx hotseat presentation as well as the SMX Local Search interview wrap-up. In the meantime, I recommend ordering a couple of Whammies, some fries, and a chocolate malt.