The Edit Blog

SearchLeeds Stage 3 Live Blog

ARTICLE BY Michelle Roberts
READ TIME: 11 mins
12th June 2017


Time for a beer!

Well, after a long day of blogging the search news and events relayed to me from the experts of Stage 3, it’s time this blog drew to a close.

If you have any questions around any of the topics discussed today, you can tweet us here:


Or contact us through our website.

Thank you for following along with the events of SearchLeeds today. I hope you received some actionable insights to take home.


Read SEMrush’s full study here


“Optimise your page load speed time to less than 3 seconds”

Users are more likely to bounce if they’re made to wait for content.


“Number of visits matters for high volume keywords”

Bounce rate is also a signal Google is picking up on, which is less noisy than other user experience signals. Essentially, if users are leaving the site straight away, chances are they haven’t enjoyed the time they’ve spent there.


“Pages ranking for long-tail terms are not the same pages that rank for short-tail terms.”

Create new pages to target those long-tail terms.


“The sites in position 1 have around twice as many referring domains compared to the sites in position 10.”

Links are still a thing, in case you’ve forgotten.


600,000 keywords

That’s the dataset we’re working with here.

Key takeaway:

HTTPS – 65% of top ranking domains (positions 1-3) are already secure.

“You can’t rank for high volume keywords if you aren’t on HTTPS.”


And now for my final talk…

Olga Andrienko from SEMrush is bringing the day to a close, as she discusses her ranking factors study.


“I would like to see someone who is schooled in sales, who can control the situation”

Answering the question of: who should pitch from an agency?

As well as a strategist, and one other person.

According to Martin, 3 is the magic number.


“Don’t undermine the client’s budget”

£3,000 a month might be the most they’ve ever spent.


“Don’t bring out the A-Team”

Send people to pitch who will actually be working on the account. It’s fine for them to be supported by directors, but clients don’t want to see all the directors pitch.



“Always coordinate”

Always make sure your in-house teams are all on the same page and are communicating the same message.


“Don’t ignore what’s important to the client”

You might want to increase search traffic for your KPIs, but always take into consideration what the client wants as well.


“Give us real takeaways”

Clients want actionable insights, and the reasoning behind them, even at the pitching stage.

Also, consider sharing presentation notes rather than sending over slides upon slides of stuff.


“Be the Usain Bolt of email responding”

Clients like agencies to respond as fast as it’s feasibly possible.


The shortlist

How fast can you react to client communication, even at the pitching stage?

Did you respond to the brief?

Did you include the KPIs in your pitch?

Were you hospitable?


“We know you’re good”

Martin says that agencies just need to sell themselves to clients, and that pitches are all scored using a shortlist (which includes beer and hospitality).


“Are you still pitching yourselves as search agencies?”

Don’t forget to mention advertising and PR, if those are your other services, too.


Stage 3 reconvenes now

Back on for the last session of the day before beer o’clock, kicking things off with:

15:45 – Martin McGarry

Time to learn what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a pitch.


If you’re good enough to attract people away from Will Critchlow, well, you must be pretty good.

I’ve definitely not mentioned Stage 2 enough today:


Social round-up time

It’s all kicking off on stage 1:

Here’s Chelsea in action on Stage 3: 

Dive into the social chat with WebCertain:


Chelsea’s 3 key takeaways are

  1. Ensure your content matches your business goals
  2. Set yourselves up fairly and report on the right metrics
  3. Make your content so good that people can’t ignore it


Create emotional content that portrays your brand as more than just a brand.

Incorporate video content, case studies, and basically go to town on your content hubs. Don’t just fill them up with articles that are walls of text.


“Create content in a style that aligns with your audience”

Don’t give the young folk an eBook that they’re unlikely to want to read.


Cheap four-bedroom house in Mayfair isn’t really going to work”

Don’t be spammy and over-optimise your content.


Chelsea Blacker from BlueGlass is up now

The content talks continue!


“Find influencers on Twitter who talked about content like yours before”

Consider outreaching to people to get your content talked about.


“Find sites that previously linked to similar content”

You can find this data on BuzzSumo.

Chances are that, if they linked to content like this before, they might be more likely to link to yours.


“Analyse the types of sites that rank for the keywords you want to target”

From this, you can work out how competitive the SERPs are, allowing you to find out whether you’re likely to be able to rank for particular keywords.


“High quality content does not necessarily equal traffic and links”

You need to find a topic that will resonate with your audience.

You need to research the most linkable types of content.


Alex Tachalova is on Stage 3 now

… helping you understand why no one might care about your content.



“Be authentic, helpful, and human”

Create content that people can relate to.

And with that last nugget of content gold, Toby’s time is up.

Alexandra is up next.


“Always track and optimise your content”

Check the data once your content is live to see how its performing.


What can you do?

Have a strategy – An SEO strategy, with a content strategy forming part of that.

Keywords – Know what your users are searching for, and don’t ignore long-tail.

Prioritise quality – Quality not quantity, always.

Have a clear purpose – Attach KPIs to content.

Build trust before you sell – Engage first, sell later.

Proofread it – Then proofread again.

Internal links – Create relationships between your content.

Be proud and distribute – Shout about your content.

Repurpose content – Produce text, slides, and video even.

Engage communities – Make sure you’re social listening.


“Add an element of story-telling to your content”


King content is nothing without several things

You also need


and more, to support your content creation.


Key stat

“People’s attention spans have decreased from 12 to 8 seconds since 2005.”


“Without content there’s no SEO”

Spoiler: Yes, content is still king.


Is content really still king?

Toby Brown is on now – head to Stage 3 to catch is talk.


We’re back

After that cheeky 2-hour lunch, we’re back in action, ready to kick off an afternoon of talks, starting with three separate ones on the subject of content marketing.

Here’s the agenda:

14:05 – Is content really still king?

Branded3’s compadres, Response One, talk through the old ‘content is king’ phrase, with a new twist however. Toby Brown takes to the floor in all but five minutes.

14:30 – Why no one cares about my content (including Google)

Despite the brutal title, Alexandra Tachalova from Digital Olympus will certainly provide some useful content insights here.

14:55 – How to get amazing content marketing results (and measure it)

Chelsea Blacker from BlueGlass rounds up the trio of content talks this afternoon. Looking forward to it!


Lunch time!

Arianne wraps it up and sends everyone off on their lunch break, including myself. Back in a bit.

But before I go, time to give a shout out to Branded3’s Mike Jeffs, who is doing a great job of introducing the speakers and generally keeping everything flowing!


The war ends amicably

Arianne recommends using both PPC and SEO – they are both important.

Doesn’t everyone love a happy ending?


PPC can offer flexibility

Google is minimizing organic results.

PPC offers unique qualities like shopping ads and map ads.

PPC allows you to choose your audience, and choose what you show to them.


Time to check social and…

no comment.


The housing market analogy

Got everything:

Rents, mortgages, properties etc.

House = our website – the most valuable thing

Renting = pouring money down the drain? Renting = PPC. Stop paying money, and you can’t be there.

Buying = long-term investment. SEO is also a long-term investment.

House prices determine affordability and how big a deposit you need to pay. House prices = algorithm.

You need to be working upfront on your SEO. Desposit (SEO) = initial work.

Home equity = rankings. This is what we’re looking to gain.

Market crash = major algorithmic change.

Mortgage payments = on-going SEO.

Maintenance = maintenance. Yep – you need to maintain both your house and your website.

Landlord = Google.

Phew. Well, Arianne’s slides should be available later on, in case my interpretation here wasn’t quite up to scratch…


SEM = housing market?

Interesting analogy on the way…


“Why is SEO better?”

Knowledge graph
Immune to ad-blockers
Often results in a better conversion rate
And free traffic, obvs


Handing over to Arianne

It’s time to wage war. It’s



Key takeaways

Vikas tells us, as brands or agencies, to always remember why people are searching. They’re not searching because they want to be hit with advertising.

And also, strive to be different and unique.


Be different!

It’s good to stand out from your competitors, says Vikas.

Reminds of an old adage from B3’s very own Stephen Kenwright, who says “best practice is really just standard practice, and if everyone follows standard practice, then nobody wins.”


Overcoming technical glitches

Vikas talks us through a video that unfortunately refused to play, which was met by a smattering of applause and a few charitable laughs.


Story time

Vikas tells us his son got put in detention for changing all the school computers’ default search engines to Bing.

What a guy.


“The graveyard of search is past page 3”

Interesting stuff.

When asked, only two people in the room admitted to ever looking beyond page 3 for an answer in search.

While Vikas was met with some stern looks and a couple of murmurs, it’s undoubtedly a harsh truth.


Why do we search?

Vikas poses the question.

It’s because we want answers or information. And for brands, it’s critical to understand this.


The psychology of search

Handing over to Vikas now.


Stage 3 is where it’s at!

Come to Stage 3 – we have comfy seats!


“50% of searches will be voice by 2020”

In line with current trends, this is what Bing predicts.

But how can you optimise for voice search?

“Make your content personal and make sure you’re appearing in answer boxes”, says Ellie.


“Conversations as a platform”

People are spending more and more time in messaging apps. Brands can meet consumers here, digitally.

“Artificial intelligence could well be the next user interface.”


“The future of search is predictive”

Digital assistants are able to predict what you’re searching for, i.e. they can provide data on your daily commute.


“Browsing will eventually be largely screenless”

We’re working towards a world where voice search is evermore popular, useful, and functional. And because of those factors, it offers a better experience.


“The future of search is pervasive”

There are more and more connected devices everywhere.

“It’s all around us and is easily accessible”, says Ellie.


Personalisation – nothing new?

It’s nothing new, after all, when people search for ‘restaurants near them’, for example, those results will be specific to their location. It’s been that way for some time.

In future, digital assistants will get to know the user even better


“Search is personal”

And it’s getting even more personal…

“Search is predictive”

Search engines want to understand exactly what you’re searching for.


“The consumer has changed”

Search now helps brands connect with users on a personal level.


Ellie kicks off

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

Bing currently achieving “millions of searches every month”, says Ellie.

It’s not all about Google, you know.


Just 5 minutes to go…

All kicking off in less than 10 minutes over here on Stage 3. And the agenda until lunch is as follows:

11:15 – The Future of  Search

Bing is in the house!

Ellie England joins us from Microsoft’s search arm, with a talk ambiguously titled “The future of search”.

Expect voice search to be mentioned.

11:40 – The Psychology of Search

Vikas Arora, also of Bing, talks to us about the psychology of search. Interesting stuff, and a very original presentation.

12:05 – PPC vs. SEO & why you can’t ignore either

Got all your eggs in one, organic or paid, basket? Time to think about a multi-channel approach. Arianne Donoghue talks us thruogh this topic.


Signs are popular…

Seems our SearchLeeds big-lighty-stand-thing was worth the investment! Lots of tweets rolling in with it included.


Break time

As Mat answers a couple of questions and prepares to finish his set, it’s almost time to grab a drink. There’s a refreshments bar here at Stage 3 – pop down.

Time to catch up on some social media activity too – follow #SearchLeeds for the latest updates.


60% of users now searching on mobile

If you’re still ignoring mobile in 2017, you’re missing out on huge amounts of traffic.


You’ll see the results

Ensuring mobile users are landing on the right pages will result in, as you’d expect, a better bounce rate, more traffic, more time onsite – the works!


Mat shares a story…

He once asked a developer for a change to the website, and received the reply “do you want that on desktop or mobile?”



“Use Robots.txt to see if your site is crawlable on mobile”

Always check and test – don’t leave anything to chance.


More on responsive design

With Google imminently rolling out mobile SERPs, this is a very popular subject today, and in the industry as a whole.

Swat up on the whole mobile indexing debacle here:


Mat from Auto Trader is up now

Stage 3 is where it’s at!


“Invest in your content”

SEOs have been banging the content drum for years now, and even with voice search, that’s not going to become any less important.


“Be the most relevant answer”

Always consider the intent of the searcher, and match your content to that.


“Voice search devices are affordable”

Another key factor in why the ‘age of assistance’ could become the new norm.


“People hate waiting for information”

The Manning Gottlieb guys say this is key to voice search’s future success.


Manning Gottlieb take the stand

Handing over to Bex and Rom now.


Progressive webapps?

Go and read about them, says Jon.

“This is the future of the future.”Jon says: “Q2 next year for a progressive webapps rollout.”

Agree/disagree? Let us know on social:



“40% of sites are responsive”

In a study into 100,000 sites, just 40% are responsive…


If your site is desktop only…

You are f****d, according to Jon.


Mobile indexing

Massively important to offer a great mobile experience onsite. Mobile traffic overtook desktop in October 2016, says Jon Myers.

And we are off!

Stage 3 is kicking off as we speak.

Standing room only!


Make sure you pop by the foyer at some point

Loads of stands, awesome people, and a foosball table in the foyer. Go and grab some freebies!


Just 15 minutes until kick-off!

Just a handful of minutes to go until the first talk of the day from @JonDMyers.

Stage 3 is filling up nicely!


Here’s the main stage

Stage 1 is all lit up and ready to go.


We’re on Snapchat too

If you’d like to send us a snap, here’s how:


Taking photos?

Jump on Twitter and share them with us. You could even have the prestigious honour of me sharing them right here – the ultimate achievement in photography.


Stage 3 agenda


Jon Myers from DeepCrawl has got the honour of being the first speaker on Stage 3 today! No pressure…

He’s speaking about preparing your site for mobile indexing.


Then we have Rebecca Weeks and Romain Bonnet from Manning Gottlieb telling us all about the future of voice search.


And the last talk of the first session is from Mathew Court of Auto Trader, speaking about mobile first optimisation for non-responsive websites.

After that, it’s time to take a well-earned break.


Time to get registered

Registration for SearchLeeds has now opened!

Talks start at 9:30, so come in, get settled, and grab your popcorn.

*Disclaimer: there’s no popcorn.


Welcome to SearchLeeds, bright and early! You’re here with me, Matt Johnson, live blogging from Stage 3.

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