The Edit Blog

SearchLeeds 2018: Stage One Live Blog

ARTICLE BY Steph Naylor
READ TIME: 8 mins
14th June 2018


17:00 That’s a wrap

Thank you to everyone who came along to Search Leeds 2018, and a big thanks to our fabulous speakers and sponsors, we hope you had an amazing time.

We’ll see you all next year!


Now is the time to move on from “user experience” as a ranking factor – the only result that matters is the one with the best customer experience overall.

SEO will help brands deliver the best customer experience, because we are tailoring content to show users the exact search results they want to see (Did you know that 2017 was the first year that brands spent more money on search than they did on TV advertising?).

We need to keep 3 main things in mind when thinking about creating the best customer experience:

  • Do people want it?
  • Does Google like it?
  • Will it make the business money?

We also need to think about link relevancy when pushing out our content, Steve recently conducted a study on this. He says that acquiring links from relevant pages is more important than acquiring links from relevant domains (you can read the full study here:

Key stats:

  • 40% of searches are moving to YouTube
  • 60% of people are still watching cat videos
  • 54% are watching ‘How to’ videos

He settles the great meta description debate!

Steve says that the main purpose of meta data is to encourage people to click through to your site – so keep testing it until you get it right!

This slide summarised Steve’s talk perfectly:

16.35 Our very own Stephen Kenwright closes the show

Branded3’s Director of Strategy is ending the day, a big thank to everyone who stuck around for Steve’s talk.

Customer-centric search: serving people better for competitive advantage.

You can follow him on Twitter @stekenwright.

16.10 Pinching keyword insight from your competitors

Kelvin Newman from Rough Agenda and organiser of Brighton SEO is sharing his insight into alternative keyword research. Follow him on Twitter @kelvinnewman.

“Just write for your user is a lazy suggestion”, we can better understand the user if we can better understand how other sites are writing about a topic.

15.45 Advanced integrated influence strategy and tactics

Lexi Mills from Shift6 is up next! Follow her on Twitter @leximills.

She’ll be talking about incorporating Machine Learning / AI to help with your SEO & content strategy.

14.55 Retailers…Stop thinking store, start thinking story

Jasper Bell, Head of Commerce from AmazeRealise is sharing his expertise on how to understand your customers better, and how to give them a unique shopping experience.

Follow him at @jasperbelluk

So, who are AmazeRealise?

Customers are rarely loyal, and brands are failing to make a connection with their customers – so what do we do about this?

Jasper explains, that we need ‘story thinking’ and the way brands can do this is by:

  • making a human connection
  • creating a narrative that puts customers at the front and centre
  • maintaining the pace

Check out this awesome diagram:

Thanks, Jasper!

We think he liked our fancy lights, too!

14.30 Will robots destroy us all?

Kristal Ireland, Head of Ecommerce & Technology at Virgin East Coast Trains is up next. She’ll be putting ethical debate back into the narrative about the future of AI.

“AI undoubtedly has the potential to unlock a paradigmatic shift in the way that humans live, work and love in the world we call home. But is enough attention being payed to the ethical considerations companies and brands need to make in the face of such a brave new world? So much of the narrative around AI is focused around ‘how we can’ as opposed to asking the much bigger question whether we even should.”

Follow Kristal at @kristalsmile

14.05 Mobile first indexing – is it important?

Jon Myers, UK Search Personality of the Year 2017 and Chief Growth Officer at DeepCrawl tells us everything we need to know about The Mobile First Index: What, why and, more importantly, when!

There has been a lot of hype around mobile first indexing recently, but is it important?

Jon says, “yes”.

Users who have a bad mobile user experience are 60% less likely to revisit and purchase from that brand in the future, and Google will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site.


Will keyword rankings be affected?

Jon explains that if your mobile content is reduced and doesn’t contain terms the page was previously ranking for on desktop, then rankings will be affected. So, the following things need to be consistent across desktop and mobile

  • Content
  • Metadata
  • Markup
  • Hreflang
  • Images
  • Alt attributes
  • Indexing rules
  • Canonical tags

(All of these elements must be crawlable and indexable)

Site speed is also important!

To summarise, mobile should be your number 1 priority!

14.00 Welcome back – we have loads more speakers this afternoon, so stay with us for a live update.

12.30 It’s beer o’clock – see you all after lunch!

12.00 Complete Content: A new model to drive SEO success and much, much more…

Next up is Danny Blackburn, content director at Stickyeyes and he’ll be talking about the link between great content marketing and getting to the top of the search results.

What do people want and need from you as a brand? Danny says there are three layers of insight:

But, content doesn’t work unless it’s consumed by the right people. Danny says we need to think about 2 things:

  • CONTENT DISTRIBUTION – Pushing content to the audience via a blend of owned, earned and paid channels.
  • CONTENT DISCOVERY – Creating content in a specific way to make sure people find it when they’re looking.

As digital professionals, we need to understand the brands we’re working with, and how an audience interacts with them.

We can do this by looking performance insights/data; we need to be monitoring what works and what doesn’t – this will help inform a content strategy.

Give him a follow on @Danny_Blackburn

11.30 What Happens when a Werewolf bites a Goldfish?

Now, that is an interesting title – you’ve got our attention already!

Hannah’s job is to come up with ideas which people will share and journalists will want to write about, but where does she get her ideas from and how does she get links?

The answer to that question lies partially in the idea, and what she does afterwards.


Hannah explains that they key is creative thinking. For example, take the unsexy subject of contact lenses – how can this be turned into a fun subject?

She says there are plenty of ways – we just need to think outside of the box!

Hannah started thinking about stuff to do with vision and how we see the world. She then created a visual timed game and sent this to 2,000 survey respondents to find out who performs best at this type of puzzle to help gain coverage. She launched the piece in April 2017, and received coverage every single month, for 12 months.

Thanks to this insight, she discovered that the media had such an appetite for these kinds of puzzles!

So, what’s the point?

If you create something that’s genuinely valuable for journalists – you can get links and coverage! You just need to think creatively!

Give her a follow on Twitter @hannah_bo_banna

11.15 Content and links – how to do these without breaking the bank

Content marketing is getting harder!

So, we need to think more creatively, and in order to stay ahead of our competition we need to:

  • Diversify our objectives
  • Pimp our data
  • Become PR and brand experts
  • Become qualified business consultants
  • Nail creative execution

Kirsty says that we should be thinking about the following in the short term:

  • Ideas, not assets, are everything
  • Volume is imperative
  • Create assets cheaply

She also says that we need to know our brand inside out, and we should be asking the following questions regularly:

    1. What are the 3 core objectives?
    2. What is the value proposition?
  1. What is the USP?
  2. What is the consistent message?

Thanks for the insight, Kirsty! You were great ?

Follow her at @Kirsty_Hulse

10.25 Useless projects: Where AI meets human creativity

Rob McGowan from Edit is our third speaker of the day – Useless projects: Where AI meets human creativity

Give him a follow @Herd6

10.00 Intelligent search and intelligent assistants: Exploring the AI- Era of Search


Follower her on Twitter @purnavirji

So, what is AI? Well, Purna sums this up perfectly!

She says, “search is becoming more intelligent and it is increasingly becoming the centerpiece of consumer engagement”. Now, more than ever, we need to deliver a rich understanding to put the right message in front of the user.

We need to research target audiences across the decision journey:

  • Refocus on what really counts: people
  • Right place and at precisely the right moment
  • Half of digital advertisers plan to increase spend on audience targeting this year
  • Measure and optimize performance easily

She goes on to explain that search is also becoming more visual.  So, we need to think about visual search checklists:

  • Optimise images
  • …and feed
  • Structured data
  • XML sitemaps

Search is becoming more conversational – there’s been a huge increase in the amount of smart speakers sold, but we shouldn’t get too excited! Purna states that “70% of consumers have never used voice search to shop or search for products.” So, curb your enthusiam!

We need to pay attention to featured snippets and describer tokens (phrases

09.35 The future doesn’t exist in silos

Ready. Steady. Go!

Our first speaker of the day is J. Schwan, Creative Digital Officer at St. Ives Group.

J will be talking about his personal experience with fragmented customer journeys. When trying to seek answers to life’s problems online, he couldn’t find solutions in the digital space, resulting in him having to head to high street shops and call centers for answers – a poor user experience.

He explains what brands can do to overcome this issue.

J says that a lot of businesses and brands are still working in silos, and this is limiting interactions between us and the customer, resulting in a poor user experience.

This even happens in the digital industry/agencies – different teams have different KPIs and this can affect us working together in a more streamlined way.

Companies need believe in connectedness.When businesses create silos it takes away the ‘connectedness’ of an organisation and of people.

09.30 We’re live

Branded3’s Strategy Director, Stephen Kenwright welcomes everyone to Search Leeds 2018.

09.30 Stage one about to kick off

Stay with us for live updates throughout the day

09.20 Welcome

Welcome to SearchLeeds 2018! We’re about to kick off, you’re here with me, Steph Naylor, live blogging from Stage One.

If you’re following the conference here online, check out tweets from:


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