So, it’s been exactly one week since the team at Colewood left the comforts of our office in Stockton for one day to attend the north’s largest search conference, Search Leeds.
Armed with notepads, pens and a readiness to learn, the team arrived for the event last Thursday along with more than 2000 other marketers, just as it began to drizzle. We entered the First Direct Arena in the heart of Leeds excited, if a little wet, but it certainly didn’t dampen our spirits.
As a second-time attendee, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the event had grown since the previous year. This time a fourth stage was added to the mix, giving more than 40 industry experts the chance to share their insights on all manner of subjects including SEO, PPC, Social Media, PR and more.
Proudly brandishing the tote bags we were given on arrival and clutching our free tea and coffee provided by the Search Laboratory, the team dispersed to the four stages to make sure we didn’t miss a thing! The talks kicked off at 9:30 am and continued until 5:00 pm, giving us a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from some of the finest minds in digital marketing.
One thing’s for sure, Search Leeds 2019 did not disappoint. So, here is our pick of the talks from the day and what the key takeaways were for us.
My day began with a talk from Kirsty Hulse at the main stage. She got things rolling with a lively talk about how we can improve our creative thinking in order to cut through the saturated market of content and how we can get journalists to like our ideas.
I found this talk particularly inspiring because it included some pretty compelling evidence that suggests creativity is not something which you either possess or do not possess, but it is a skill that can be developed. You can train your brain to be more creative. There were some unquestionably useful tips for how to get more creative for your clients that we have taken back to Colewood headquarters. Not to mention a few well-timed jokes to keep the audience entertained.
“Usually, web crawlers are used from a technical SEO perspective to assess how search engine-friendly a website is, and this talk showed you how you could gather data for CRO changes as well as crawl competitor’s websites to see what they were doing to be successful.
“Both of these concepts are really powerful because having the data to back up your CRO changes means they are more likely to become a reality. It allows you to assess the impact of changes at scale. Crawling competitor’s websites to get data on their products and services isn’t a usual activity, but given the examples, I can see how this would be really powerful data to use to get ahead of the competition.”
Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist at Moz gave an enlightening talk which dived into the potential of machine learning in our industry. There were some brilliant examples of how machine learning can solve SEO tasks, including an amusing demonstration of a tool that predicts words based on what you show it through your camera, which ended with Britney bravely giving her laptop to the audience to play with.
It was undoubtedly a buzzed-about talk, with Britney having made the trip from the US to speak. She discussed well how machine learning can help us take SEO to the next level with things like automated transcriptions, automated image optimisation, and even automated meta descriptions. Wouldn’t that save us a lot of time? Fascinating stuff. Also, Britney, we hope you got your laptop back!
As a multi-faceted digital marketing agency, we were happy to see a straight-forward talk that highlighted how your Google Analytics data cannot always be trusted. It explored how organic traffic can masquerade as direct, how internal UTM codes corrupt sources, and how some referral traffic can get too much credit.
This is something which is paramount to ensuring the insights you get from your data are accurate and based on truth because this allows you to drive more focused and reliable improvements to your marketing campaigns. Helen Pollitt’s insights on this subject were, without doubt, useful to us.
For some of our team, an afternoon highlight was a talk given by Lukasz Zelezny. It was obvious Lukasz was an extremely experienced conference speaker, as his talk was not only extremely to-the-point and insightful but also super entertaining. Waking the audience up from the post-lunch lull in the day, he talked about some simple and sure-fire SEO changes to improve organic traffic and revenue.
In a world where people want results for their websites quickly, it was useful to explore how you can immediately boost your SEO performance and leverage limited resources for the best results.
Amongst all the talks of the day, a stand-out part was the Women in Digital panels which took place on stage four. These panels made a statement in the normally male-dominated space and brought to the table topics like work-life balance, confidence and the industry as a whole and how women and minority groups are represented. It was great to see so many strong women discuss their struggles and how they cope with them in their lives.
There was a lot to take in at Search Leeds this year and overall, a lot to take away. Find a full list of slides from the event below. We’re looking forward to the next!
Kirsty Hulse – Manyminds
Bastian Grimm – Peak Ace
Jon Myers – Ascending Media
Jennifer Hoffman – DeepCrawl
Gary Arnold – Edit
Matthew Howells-Barby – HubSpot
Samantha Noble – Biddable Moments
Sarah Barker – Stickyeyes
Britney Muller – Moz
Stephen Kenwright – Rise at seven
Barry Adams – Polemic Digital
Sam Marsden – DeepCrawl
Alexandre Sigoigne – Myposeo
Luke Monaghan – Fetch
Laura Bartlett – House of Coco Magazine
Sophie Coley – answerthepublic.com
Will Hobson – Edit
Shannon McGuirk – Aira
Beth Nunnington – Journey Further
Oliver Brett – Screaming Frog
Jill Quick – The Coloring in Department
Andy Duke – Stickyeyes
Angus Hamilton – Search Laboratory
Helen Pollitt – Avenue Digital
Nichola Stott – Erudite
Emily Potter, Distilled
Rory Truesdale – WeWork / Conductor
Jon Greenhalgh – Edit
Puneet Vaghela & Sal Mohammed – Adzooma
Tanesha Stafford – Armchair Marketing
Hannah Perry – Manchester Airports Group
Owen Gill – Pendragon
Luke Carthy – Mayflex
Rob Smith – DQ&A
Fabrizio Ballarini – TransferWise
Polly Pospelova – Delete
Laura Hogan, Milo’s Mail/JellyBean
Matt Holmes – Thomas Cook Airlines