Best of Digital Summit 2020: 97th Floor CEO Paxton Gray on Marketing, Algorithms, and The Human Brain for 2021


We’re still celebrating and spotlighting some of our best sessions from our Digital Summit at Home events from 2020, with a few favorites still in the hopper to share with you from last year. Back in September of last year 97th Floor’s CEO, Paxton Gray gave a great presentation with tips to best optimize your content and UX for the algorithm overlords in 2021. A recap of the high points follows, and the full session video is above. Enjoy!

At Digital Summit at Home in September 2020 Paxton Gray, CEO of 9th Floor, shared some of the most important things you need to know about algorithms and marketing for 2021 and beyond. SEO experts across the world live in constant fear of the next Google algorithm update – one of which is coming sometime in 2021 (00:51). But we can manipulate the algorithm all day but never get the results we actually need. So what’s the solution?

Ultimately, Google and users just want marketers to provide good content (see: Google E-A-T). Over time,  marketing focus has evolved from driving revenue and leads and going towards creating better user experiences. So how do we focus on user experience while being prepared for algorithm changes?

Among the tips Paxton shared throughout his presentation, these three stand out; easy levers to pull that will result in better user experiences for your customers. 

#1: CRO is a Customer Research Tool (09:10)

If you use conversion rate optimization (CRO) as a way to increase your bottom line, you’re doing it wrong. The goal is not to just improve your conversion rates. It should be used as a way to conduct customer research, by conducting A/B testing to better understand your audience. Your conversion rates are a metric to measure against as you determine what your customer cares about and how to respond to different content. 

#2: How to do Keyword Research with Actual People in Mind (13:35)

Paxton argues your keyword research should never start with brainstorming – it should begin with data. Begin by pulling as many keywords as possible and include the search volume, suggested bid, and difficulty score. Next, you’ll find keywords with good metrics and group them by user intent. You’ll use those groups of keywords to drive your content creation. By using data, you’re allowing users to tell you exactly what keywords are the most valuable to them. 

#3: Content Marketing (22:23)

Content means everything from blogs to video to infographics and more. Social media, search engines, and even the human brain are composed of algorithms. Knowing how all of these algorithms interact with the human experience is the key to great marketing. 

Humans are compelled by stories no matter what technology we’re using. Don’t use content marketing to manipulate people into things they don’t want to do. Instead, use content marketing to get people to do things they want to do. 

If you’re finding yourself frustrated with Google algorithm updates, just focus on the customer experience. Stop trying to manipulate the algorithm and focus on creating experiences that humans want to interact with. That’s the best way to ensure growth going into 2021 and beyond. 

To hear from experts like Paxton and hundreds of others that teach at Digital Summit, check out our 2021 calendar of virtual and in-person events. 

If you can’t wait until February for more Digital Summit in your life, join us on January 27 for Digital Summit Go!, a FREE 1-day online event featuring 12 of our best speakers. Hear 12 rapid fire talks on Content, Social, Email, and SEO with tons of actionable takeaways to help your marketing soar in the new year. Did we mention that it’s FREE? 🙂