Pieces
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Bits & Pieces?

Bits & Pieces

On October 3, hundreds of Milwaukee web nerds came out of their darkened offices to take SEO Mozcation, a great SEO meetup hosted by highly-respected Seattle-based software company SEO Moz. The content was a solid mix of tactical/technical tips with genuine strategic context (and the swag, stuffed mushrooms and Heineken weren’t half-bad either).

All of the presentations were good. I may or may not have gone on a mental mozcation briefly during one about stuff like customizing your rel canonical tags…just a skosh over my head, and why I love me some great SEO specialists. I’m just going to comment on a few of the presentations that I found most relevant, personally.

Brittan Bright from iAcquire shared a case study on how her team, BBH and Edelman Digital conspired on behalf of Axe Body Spray to make a bunch of “internet stuff” and make Susan Glenn “a thing.” This made me laugh, because I can hear a creative team saying it inside my head. Interesting, in that the SEO team was a more major player at the creative table than it often is. The days of SEO being an afterthought are, hopefully, behind us.

Luke Summerfield from Savvy Panda, a Milwaukee Joomla web design shop, reminded everyone of the importance of the mobile user (did we need to be reminded of that? I hope not), and shared some useful tips in his high-quality talk, Mobile Search Skyrocketing? Let’s Optimize and Capture. Tips included: responsive design being preferred by Google, keeping mobile page load times under two seconds, using the Google keyword tool to find keyword ideas and statistics specific to mobile, setting up a separate Google Analytics profile for mobile site visitors and the importance of creating a mobile site map. (Also, more about canonical tags, at which point my strategist’s brain went to Fiji.)

In what was, for me, the most thought-provoking presentation of the evening, Jamie Steven, SEO Moz CMO, spoke about Technical Skills for Marketers. He asserted that the Technical Marketer – with both broad, general and deep, specialized knowledge – is the most indispensable. In this vision, an individual marketer should be able to set goals, strategies and forecasts; personally manage databases; wireframe, design and write copy for web communications; write code; implement end-to-end tracking and evaluate results; and automate campaigns for future success. Said Technical Marketer should know how to personally execute SQL, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, HTTP/query strings, Photoshop, Google Analytics, statistics/regression analysis, SEO, content platforms, email platforms, E-commerce tech…

And so, just when I think I may have a halfway decent handle on what’s going on in the digital world…suddenly, I’m a total marketing #fail by these standards. Yet, I like Jamie’s vision. I agree that the more knowledgeable we, as marketers are, about as many of these areas as possible, the better. And that it’s possible to be very, very good at many of these things. One of the most brilliant (former big-agency) strategists I know, for example, has mastered studio photography, Google Adwords and other disciplines so that he can single-handedly execute marketing for a variety of businesses.

But there’s also a reason why true specialists exist, and I do not believe that the solo technical marketer is the answer in MOST cases. In fact, if all marketing/web communications were created by them, the world would be a sea of creative mediocrity. I guarantee you that if one of our designers designs your email, it’s going to look several million times better than if I design it. Do I, as a strategist, need to know Google Analytics. YES. Do I screw around in MailChimp, to understand how it works? YES. Do I need to know how to code? It would be nice. Do I need to know how to use those darn rel canonical tags? Man, I hope not. But the world may come to that.

Rand Fishkin, SEO Moz CEO, also gave a solid presentation on The Big Picture of CRO (conversion rate optimization.) It was great to hear an SEO guy talking about branding and how the big picture marketing variables affect conversion rates just as much as or more than the color of the button.

Tom Snyder from Trivera Interactive gave a great talk about how social media affects SEO. I loved it, because he agreed with me, saying what I preach to clients until they roll their eyes: “Google really, really likes blogs, because it knows that people really, really like blogs.” If you don’t listen to me, listen to Tom. He’s a very smart man. :]

All in all, I give major kudos and thanks both to those Milwaukeeans who organized the voting to bring SEO Mozcation to Milwaukee and to all of the event organizers and presenters. Regardless of whether you aspire to be a true Technical Marketer, it’s always a good idea to step outside of your immediate world and hear what other types of minds are thinking about.

What do you think? Do you aspire to be a Technical Marketer? If you went to this event, what were your takeaways?

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