Search Leeds Part two

Part Two

Five things we learned at SearchLeeds - part two

25/07/2017 11:05:22
Last month, we hopped on the train to Leeds to attend Branded3’s annual SearchLeeds conference. It was a brilliant and educational day, and we blogged about some of our key takeaways afterwards, but found we still had lots to say. So it’s time to buckle up for ‘Five things we learned at SearchLeeds: Part Two’…

What’s the next big thing in digital?

Our day at SearchLeeds ended with Epiphany Search’s Malcolm Slade explaining the rise of ‘brand’ as a search engine ranking factor. We’ve known for some years now that keyword-based optimisation has increasingly limited applications: with Google’s ranking algorithms becoming ever smarter, SEOs can no longer game the system in the same way. The result is that high ranking positions now have to be earned through observing best practice, building easily-crawlable websites and following the Google Quality Rater Guidelines.

However, Malcolm has noticed that certain factors correlate with even higher ranking positions: those conveying reliability, trustworthiness, and all-round ‘brand sentiment’. These factors include contextual mentions from other reputable sources, positive customer reviews, and delivery of a good user experience – all of which must be earned through getting people to think, talk about, and search for your brand, rather than by simply popping some keywords into your image alt text. SEO’s about more than just quantitative figures these days, and Malcolm’s observations showed us just how much more.

‘Lightbulb moments’


We might not have expected to be immediately enlightened when the first speaker of the day at SearchLeeds stressed the importance of emotional connections aligned to digital marketing campaign planning. Yet that was precisely what actually happened when Branded 3 Communications Director Laura Crimmons took to the stage in the first session of the day and outlined the positive and negative emotions that most encourage content sharing.

Laura outlined the FOMO concept (Fear Of Missing Out) which lies at the heart of many a successful social media strategy. Be it positive (awe, excitement, amusement) or negative (anger or anxiety), it’s these types of emotions triggered which people don’t want to miss out on.


It’s fair to say that Google’s ‘micro-moments’ concept was one of the buzzwords of the day. It’s been around for a while, and it’s certainly been mentioned at the last two search conferences we’ve attended, but it only seemed to exist as an abstract concept: something digital marketers should be bearing in mind for content and search marketing, rather than a framework people were using already.

But something we noticed at SearchLeeds was that, this time, the practical applications of the micro-moments framework seemed to be much clearer to everyone. From Danny Blackburn’s examples of how informational and commercial search intent can be used to formulate useful and engaging content, to Google’s Stephen Power demonstrating how our permanent connectivity affects the kind of searches we make, micro-moments are becoming a primary consideration for digital marketers – and it’s easy to see why.

Funniest presentations


King, Queen and Duke

As PR and digital marketing professionals we'd bound to agree with the notion that ‘Content is King’. It was Bill Gates who first declared the impact of online content way back in 1995 before the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube even existed.

22 years later, the Head of Content at Response One, Toby Brown re-visited the royal family hierarchy and took things one stage further by declaring that the King of Content is nothing without the Queen of Distribution and the Duke of Data.

It’s hard to argue with that. And as Toby quite rightly pointed out, without content there’s no SEO and Google is obsessed with good content which is precisely why we attended SearchLeeds in the first place. 

SEO audits

If you’re a fan of talks about site audits delivered by an exceedingly sweary Dutchman (no, we didn’t know we were either), Barry Adams’ afternoon session was the ideal choice. Barry, the founder of Polemic Digital, gave a paper on turning SEO audit recommendations into business gains – practical advice gained from years of on-page SEO for clients.

Barry’s talk was very technical (excluding some useful insight into title tags and Google Search Console) but his relaxed presentation style, liberal use of the F word and evident enjoyment of his work made his talk genuinely fun – we never expected to find myself giggling about Rich Snippets, but there you go…

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