Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Mosh Pit

It’s Pubcon’s 15th birthday (and the final panel), and you know it’s a party when there’s beer and cake and an SEO Mosh Pit, a Q&A session where conference attendees get to ask their questions of some of digital marketing’s best minds and leaders, including Bruce Clay, about the current SEO state of affairs.

A panel of
A panel of digital marketing’s best minds at Pubcon’s SEO Mosh Pit

Leading the charge is moderator, Brett Tabke, Pubcon CEO. Introducing the SEO Mosh Pit panel and their predictions for SEO in 2015:

Bruce Clay, President, Bruce Clay, Inc.

The industry will be 90 percent mobile within a year, and it will change everything.

Gareth Hoyle, Co Founder / CEO, LinkRisk / Marketing Signals

Google will give more clarity to updates and Matt Cutts was kicked out because of Penguin!

Joe Laratro, President, Tandem Interactive

Just introduces himself, no predictions.

Jenny Halasz, President, JLH Marketing

A Dismal prediction: the divide between SMB and enterprise will widen and it will be hard for small businesses to compete in the space.

Tony Wright, CEO/Founder, WrightIMCG

He welcomes the Google overlords, as it takes content from websites and displays it for its own monetization.

Eric Enge, CEO, Stone Temple Consulting Corporation

Dramatic expansion in Knowledge Graph and answer boxes. More structured snippets, and more webmasters won’t like it.

Mike Grehan, CMO & Managing Director, ACRONYM

Matt Cutts is a multi-millionaire and doesn’t need to work anymore.

Greg Boser, President & Co-founder, Foundation Digital, LLC

Mobile is going to be huge, predatory aggregation is going to be huge, and we will all be here moaning about Google and its products.

First Question from Brett Tabke: Is SEO dead? Should it be called something else?

GARETH HOYLE – SEO is never going to be dead, it’s just going to change what we do. It’s never going to die, and will become 5 spots as opposed to 10.

ERIC ENGE – SEO is never going to die, but there are new technologies coming out that someone needs to be on the front lines of trying to figure out, discovering new ways to get traffic. The SEOs of tomorrow will always be figuring out new stuff.

JENNY HALASZ – SEO will never go away. There is an intersection between content that people want to see and availability of the content. There is also “Subject Experience Optimization.”

BRUCE CLAY – Many years ago he said, “SEO is dead as long as it’s alone.” Because SEO is part of larger digital marketing, there is always something new. Every Monday, SEO is a brand new industry. As long as there are web pages, there will be SEO, and it will be integrated with all forms of digital marketing.

TONY WRIGHT – SEO has come back from the dead so many times. If you can’t adapt to change, then you are in the wrong business. To most, SEO is dead, but to the rest of us, we figure out what works, and we implement it. SEO is not dead as an industry.

MIKE GREHAN – Danny Sullivan was in his office recently, and together they reminisced over an interview from 14 years ago and they couldn’t recognize what SEO was.

Next Question: Does Google have too much power and influence in our lives?

JENNY HALASZ – A simple “yes.”

GARETH HOYLE – Google in the EU has created a great barrier to entry, but we don’t need to use Google. But we keep coming back to it.

TONY WRIGHT – He was in PR with Microsoft, and fought antitrust action against the company in the 90s, and Microsoft was taken down by 2 guys in a garage, not the government. This is the cycle, but no one knows what’s going to replace Google.

ERIC ENGE – There needs to be something dramatically different, but we don’t know what it is. Google will run out of runway eventually.

MIKE GREHAN – In ‘06 Google stopped calling themselves a search engine; they are a digital marketing company now. Google has made so many changes, but they’re not for us, they’re for the user. Hummingbird is not meant for people with a keyboard, because we are talking into mobile phones.

BRUCE CLAY – Asks how many people owe their jobs to Google’s changing all the time? Most raise their hands. Of course.

Next Question: How is mobile changing the game for marketers?

ERIC ENGE – It changes the website fundamentally, based on mobile users and devices. Organizations without mobile are already behind and will feel the financial pinch next year.

TONY WRIGHT – Makes a prediction that there’ll be 2x the mobile analytics tools at the conference next year.

JENNY HALASZ – We need to consider where the customer is and the context of how they are using devices.

JOE LARATRO – Very few are starting to scratch the surface in mobile behavior. Important issues need to be addressed as a result of this new behavior. The greatest opportunity for mobile is building direct connections with users.

MIKE GREHAN – Google does parlor tricks, they don’t actually answer real questions. Example – is it moral for girls to take the pill? See what answers you get. Google is just a database.

ERIC ENGE – Build your own audience, no matter the platform – this is how businesses succeed.

TONY WRIGHT – Web presence should be the center of your universe. You will avoid a lot of problems if you execute on this concept.

BRUCE CLAY – What if Google decides that organic is no longer needed on mobile phones? That would change our lives dramatically, and there’s nothing to prevent that from happening.

MIKE GREHAN – Does Google have all the power? What about Baidu, and Yandex? He’s a new grandfather again for the fifth time (congratulations), and never sees his grandkids open a mobile browser. It’s all apps.

Up next from Brett Tabke: What would be the top recommendations for earning money in the coming year?

BRUCE CLAY – Get better at PPC. He believes that people will get squeezed out of organic, because Google is not in the business of giving away free traffic. The problem is competition, and we are going to have to spend more money to make more money. Because Google doesn’t make money on organic, the real estate on SERPs will be shrinking.

MIKE GREHAN – Everyone is a publisher, and creating your audience. Build your own audience.

GARETH HOYLE – Paid social. Not all people hang out on Google. Use the context of different social platforms to increase presence. If you can make a website, you can make money.

TONEY WRIGHT – There are big opportunities to create better websites. And websites that work on mobile. People need sites that just work.

ERIC ENGE – Yes, create an audience, but how do you do that? We should all strive to solve problems without asking for a penny.

JENNY HALASZ – Diversify. Build content, audience build, brand build. Mobile marketing. Do not be solely dependent on Google for your audience.

BRUCE CLAY – For brick and mortars, be afraid of Amazon. They are opening up a brick and mortar on 34th Street in NYC. Do not underestimate the ability of large online companies to jump into real life.

Audience Questions

Do you think there will be any profit in semantic optimization for the Knowledge Graph?

JENNY HALASZ – Google has developed a knowledge base on how to properly implement schema. Google recognizes the need to make it easier.

MIKE GREHAN – If Google understands the intent of a query, then structured data is not necessary.

ERIC ENGE – Google is getting good at understanding how likely a user is to be satisfied based on UX, which is somewhat outside the realm of schema. This validates the research by Searchmetics on co-occurrence.

MIKE GREHAN – Co-occurrence has been around for forever, but as the lexicon changes, how does Google adapt? One third of queries everyday Google has never seen before. Keywords used to be strong, but Google thrives on end user data. How media is consumed is the most important thing, which is why content is so important.

Q: Where will marketing strategy be on wearables next year?

TONY LARATRO – Don’t be a glass hole.

TONY WRIGHT – Looks forward to the day he can optimize his fridge.

ERIC ENGE – Consider all searches as voice search, because no one types things on their watch.

JENNY HALASZ – Voice and video

Q: Can Siri compete with Google? Will Facebook create a search engine?

ERIC ENGE –  He published a study using 3000 keywords running on Google, Cortana, and Sir – Google answered 58% of questions, Siri 29%, Cortana 21%. But were the questions fully answered? Google: 83%,  Siri: 40%,  Cortana: 20%

TONY WRIGHT – Facebook will have a Knowledge Graph type function.

MIKE GREHAN – You are tapping into a network of trust, so a Facebook search engine will be powerful.

Q: Why does SEO matter more than just to SEOs? How does a company that doesn’t want to invest in SEO do so?

TONY LARATRO – There are a lot of roadblocks, and sometimes SEO is not the best way, like with competing with Google products. No breaking that ceiling. You have to find opportunities to get through to the organization.

JENNY HALASZ – SEO is about marketing. Companies should continue to invest in it because understanding customers never changes.

TONY WRIGHT – SEO is not an island. If it is, you will fail. You must be able to integrate. Requires more than just on-page optimization. It’s about web presence, which must include an all of the above strategy.

ERIC ENGE – If there are big competitors in front of you on the SERPs, you’re not going to win that battle. You must find the battles you can win in the space.

GARETH HOYLE – Buy ads. Maybe SEO is not the right avenue depending on the topic/keyword. SEO is the glue that brings everything together. Everyone needs to speak to everyone. Google what you want to rank for and assess where you need to place your SEO efforts.

That’s it, nothing but applause for the SEO Mosh Pit. Entertaining as always, and happy 15th birthday Pubcon!

I'm Matthew Young, senior SEO specialist at Adobe, which I joined in 2014 after working for Bruce Clay Inc. for three years as an SEO analyst. At Adobe, clients are my business. I work to ensure the highest levels of digital marketing success in all forms and maintain exceptional working relationships with them all. My opinions are my own and not those of Adobe Systems Inc.

See Matthew's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Mosh Pit”

Thanks Matthew – not able to make it this year – great update :-)


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