Search Leeds – Live Updates & Roundups

Welcome to the live roundup of Search Leeds 2016 Conference – where the Digital Allies team will be bringing you the action as it happens (or as fast as our fingers can type!) from the Royal Armouries in Leeds, the UK’s SEO capital.

Keep checking back here for all the key takeaways from each of the talks, hosted by a range of dignified luminaries such as Jono Alderson, Matthew Barby, Dixon Jones, Tim Grice and many many more!

Also, stay tuned on our Twitter account @DigitalAllies, and we will also be using the official #SearchLeeds hashtag – we apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – but speed is indeed of the essence!

09:30 – Introduction to Search Leeds – Mike Jeffs (Branded3) (Track One)

First up is Mike Jeffs (@Mikerjeffs) kicking off the day’s proceedings with a keynote talk:

  • I’ll be honest, I know absolutely nothing about Mike Jeffs, consider me a blank canvas
  • A bit of Paul Van Dyke as entrance music … kudos to you sir!
  • Single turn up on his jeans … nice sartorial touch … SEOs should dress better!

09:35 – The future is already here: Think you’re ready? – Jono Alderson (Linkdex) (Track Two)

Yes, we are Jono (@jonoalderson)… yes we are!

I remember seeing Jono do a talk at SearchLove a couple of years ago, really looking forward to seeing what he has to say this time – I already have this one earmarked as one of my favourite talks of the whole day (you can see Jono’s slides from his presentation here):

  • Always a good start when someone mentions the hierarchy of needs!
  • Talking about behavioural patterns to predict consumer needs, referencing Waterstones & GAME
  • Don’t just chase conversions, chase consumers
  • Focus on (Customer Life Time Value) CLTV and not Conversion Rate
  • Uber is a data company. Not a taxi service! Their secret weapons:
    • Liquidity* (In the same way as AirBNB)
    • Algorithm
    • Utilisation
    • API
  • Anything that can be put in a box, Amazon want to be able to deliver it to you within the hour:
  • Millions of new entrepreneurs are coming online across the globe that have the ability to disrupt our industries – making marketplace websites the new marketplaces!
  • There is a massive scramble for platforms such as Facebook etc. to incentivize adoption
  • There are no more traditional USPs – The best products and services win!
  • Your competitive advantage is your USP
  • Connected fridges ordering your food for you is complete nonsense
  • Google Home is the key hub for Internet of Things devices; they allow them to all communicate to each other
  • New interfaces rely on APIs, sensors and hubs
  • High-end products are increasingly becoming gateways to cloud-connected services
  • Technology Murders Capitalism (
  • Hub devices become search engines for search engine solutions
  • We are at the beginning of the experience age
  • Ad blocking continues to rise, and is inevitable – bad people & bad ads will always exist
    • No clear solution to this as yet
    • Facebook is the real solution – as you are always logged into your account
    • They have a comprehensive understanding of YOU through Unique Identifier Hashing UID
    • Any day, Facebook will reinvent themselves as an ad platform – all they need is your data
  • You cannot afford to create friction – How will you earn engagement, technically, logistically and experientially?
  • Marketing is about creating demand & advertising is about demand fulfilment!
  • Be the best brand you can possibly be to avoid getting absorbed or steamrollered!

Next up is Hannah Thorpe … my fingers are tired already … in case you were wondering!

10:05 – How to GSD (Get Stuff Done) – Hannah Thorpe ( (Track Two)

Next up is Hannah Thorpe (@hannahjthorpe) talking about Getting Stuff Done …or GSD … she’s already used salty language already, but we’re all adults here so it is cool – she has opted for a Madras Stripe shirt (excellent sartorial choice for July):

  • There is no ROI in a list of instructions … ever!
  • Who actually wants to read an audit.
  • How to actually get things done in six simple steps
    1. Define the why:
      • remove broken links … because you will rank higher
      • Explain the whole process
    2. Quantify everything!
      • Task, Time & Complexity, & Priority to implement (based on impact, not ease of implementation)
      • Clients like stickers and star charts!
    3. Individual Tasks vs. Milestone Tasks
      • Individual tasks won’t hold anything up
      • Milestone tasks prevent other things being done if they aren’t completed
    4. Understand your Stakeholders
    5. Ask for forgiveness, not permission!
    6. Make good choices!
  • If things go wrong, state: why you did it? provide an alternative option? how are you going to fix it?
    • Apologise in the same personality groups – playfuls, precises, powerfuls & peacefuls

That is all wrapped up for Hannah, thoroughly impressed with her personality and her content, well worth following her on Twitter!

10:35 – 5 Things to Remember for a Smooth Migration – Jon Earnshaw (Pi-DataMetrics) (Track Two)

Jon Earnshaw (@jonearnshaw) up next talking about site migration – he’s opted for what looks to be a chambray shirt … style points for Jon! Correction, on closer inspection, it looks like a standard Oxford button down – still a good choice! He also sounds a bit like Murray Walker!


Image Credit

Website Migration Tips from Jon Earnshaw

  • Migration is potentially one of the most dangerous online marketing adventures
  • SEO is not pixie dust you can sprinkle onto a migrated site at the end
  • Jon is busting out some horror stories of migrations gone wrong now … always fun to look at!
  • The old ‘migration myth’:
  • Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.39.51
  • Site migration is a great opportunity, not a threat!
  • Here are the promised five steps:
    1. Involve SEO from the very start
    2. Sort your redirects and your mapping
      • crawl your site
      • check for old subdomains and orphan pages
      • create a detailed redirect map
      • every page matters
    3. Utilise DATA
      • Data is your damage mitigation tool
      • Benchmark current visibility early on (including conversions)
      • How are we performing
      • Look for opportunities and feedback
      • Determine current extent of conflict
      • Who’s doing better and why?
    4. Make sure there’s an owner
      • Give one person responsibility to run the migration
      • Involve them throughout the project so they grasp the site architecture and its quirks
    5. Keep the stage from getting out
      1. Remember that robots.txt only blocks crawling, NOT indexing
      2. Use IP whitelisting
      3. Require a login
      4. Noindex meta
  • Jon’s top tip for new domain name migration – get your 301s absolutely spot on!

11:15 – Content Confusion: What is the point of your content marketing? – Ian Harris (Search Laboratory) (Track Two)

Ok. Break over with – we have had some caffeine and a couple of chocolate bourbon biscuits, and we are ready to kick off part two of SearchLeeds – next up is Ian Harris (@Ian_M_Harris) from Search Laboratory talking about content marketing – stay tuned!

In case you were wondering, Ian appears to have taken a more formal approach; opting for a two-piece suit in a fetching shade of blue – he has omitted his tie though … very rakish!

  • A few technical difficulties delaying proceedings – I wonder if they have tried turning it off and on again?
  • Emergency improvisations now as the trusty extension socket has been rolled out … it’s one of those sturdy ones that workmen have! It looks muscular and compact … like corned beef!
  • Ian Harris disagrees with the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of CM
  • We’re doing more content than ever, but 46% of people think it’s ineffective or distinctly average
  • Most sites used content to become an authority/content hub or the go-to site in their industry, but this is easier said than done
  • Different types of content categories:
    • Ranking – Content that ranks for certain KWs
    • Customer Engagement – Normally thought of as content marketing
    • Viral – – Normally thought of as content marketing
  • Customer Engagement Content:
    • Engages at various stages of the buying cycle
    • Create something that interests your target customer
    • Aims:
      • Relevant traffic
      • Sign ups
      • Brand recall
      • Cookie drop – Visitors -> Cookie -> Retargeting
      • Links
    • Measures:
      • Traffic
      • Links
      • Social Shares
      • Comments
      • Conversions
    • Viral Content:
    • Content that aims to engage with a large audience (not necessarily your own)
    • What will hit the nerve of the general public rather than a niche
    • Aims:
      • Diverse backlink profile
    • Measures:
      • Links
      • Social Shares
    • “Don’t mix customer engagement content with viral content”
    • “Conversions from content are scarce. Conversions from search are plenty
    • Very backlink heavy focus on from SearchLabs – content is apparently all about backlinks – not sure we agree with that!
    • Ian is definitely getting some tough questions from the rest of the speakers at today’s Search Leeds, primarily on the use of the term ‘viral’!

11:40 – How to choose and use SEO tools as efficiently as possible – Alex Tachalova (Consultant) (Track Two)

Alex (@AlexTachalova) is quote “super excited” to be here today, and she is talking about choosing the best SEO tools from the wide range available – she has also opted for a strong monochromatic look today (very on-trend!):

How to choose and use tools as efficiently as possible from Alexandra Tachalova

  • Alex has more than 200 tools in her personal list – but she only uses five!
  • Steve Jobs had an amazing ability to frame the problem in an amazing way
  • 3 Step Process:
    • Tools people use now
    • Who will be using tools
    • Identify the problems
      • If you only had one hour to save the world, spend 55 minutes defining the problem then 5 minutes finding the solution
  • Use Google Forms to find answers to the questions above
    • What is the most consuming in your work and why?
    • What is the most difficult task in your work and why?
    • What routine do you do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
  • You need problems, not solutions:
    • All in one or many tools?
    • Data quality?
    • Tool stability?
    • Differences between tools?
  • Having your own backend means:
    • Programming Team – Management & Hiring
    • Data Storage – Infrastructure & Tech
    • Data Scraping – Technology & Up-to-date
    • Research Team – Management & Hiring
  • “With third-party data providers, you can’t control the process fully.”

12:05 – The trope factory – Kelvin Newman (Rough Agenda) (Track Two)

Looking forward to hearing@KelvinNewman talk next … I really enjoyed his talk at SearchLove a couple of years ago – wonder if he has brought his McGuffin with him?


Image Credit

The Trope Factory #SearchLeeds – Why your content should be less original from Kelvin Newman

  • Not even sure what a ‘trope’ is, to be honest? Let’s hope we find out:
  • Kelvin is setting his stall out early by telling us about what his presentation isn’t!
  • “The Jar-Jar Binks Hypothesis – Nobody sets out to make something awful, but sometimes it happens!”
  • The rewards go to the excellent, not the average!
  • Three approaches to content:
    • Play in the tail – High Frequency, Low Cost, Low Marginal Return, High Aggregate Value
    • Die in the middle – Medium Frequency, average cost, low marginal return, ow aggregate value
    • Swing for the fences – Low frequency, High cost, high marginal return, low aggregate value
  • Plot all the content you do on a quality/cost combination matrix – look for low cost high quality
  • Go from average, and improve from there
  • Trope – Noun – A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
  • There are motifs and patterns in all works of art that appeal to something innate in us all
  • “Understanding these patterns shorten the odds of content success”
  • “Think of tropes as building blocks for you to construct content with”
  • You need to understand the Tropes in your sector’s content!:
    • B2B: “Our audience is risk averse, so prefer articles about avoiding disaster than achieving success”
    • Our readers like to show-off in front of their friends
  • When you get back to the office:
    • Cover all sensible suggestions from
    • Word-Cloud the most socially popular phrases and look for the tropes
    • Have a play with my Google Doc “The Trope Factory” –
    • Use the Seven Whys to understand successful content
    • The Bad Artists Imitate, The Great Artists Steal
  • Here’s a link to Kelvin’s slides if anyone wants them:

14:05 – Content Strategy for Rankings – Tim Grice (Branded3) (Track One)

So, we’re back after a hearty lunch (sandwiches, pasta & pastries in case you were wondering) … and first up on the afternoon agenda is Tim Grice (@Tim_Grice) from Branded3 discussing content strategy for rankings … let’s see what he has to say:

Tim, sporting some boxfresh trainers this afternoon that would give Tony Pulis a run for his money:


  • Back on topic, Tim is talking about Google’s quality rater guidelines:
    • Expertise (Quality)
    • Authority (Qualifications)
    • Trustworthiness (Reputation)
  • “If your page is just to make money instead of being helpful they won’t rank you”
  • At the last time of checking, there were 4,500 quality raters – that number is expected to have tripled or even quadrupled!
  • Content is scored on a lowest – highest rating
  • What is Quality?
  • What is helpful:
    • Topical Information
    • Social/media forums
    • Experience/Opinion
    • Selling products
  • What is unhelpful:
    • Lack of editorial control
    • Purpose of page not clear
    • Poor grammar/spelling
    • Technically poor
    • Duplication
    • Distracting ads
    • Basic Information/Content overkill
  • What Makes You Qualified?
  • Google’s Website Detectives
  • Google will read your ‘about us’ pages, bios, awards & certification that backs up your ability to talk about a certain topic 
  • For Ecommerce – detailed contact information, payment policies, exchange & return details, reviews & customer feedback
    • Have you delivered to your users?
    • “A poor reputation in itself is enough to warrant the lowest score”
  • Supplementary Content:
    • Should add value/enhance the purpose
    • Should be intention based
    • Without it a ‘medium’ rating is the best you can hope for
  • “Your job is to make the good stuff accessible and the bad stuff disappear”

14:30 – The Content Wars: The Real Power of UGC – Danny Denhard (Just Giving) (Track One)

Next, is Danny Denhard (@dannydenhard) talking about User Generated Content (UGC), a bit of a technical hiccup so Tim Grice is having to do an impromptu Q&A … it’s a bit like a long drawn-out version of Take Me Out – let the powerpoint see the presentation!


Seems like it’s an unfixable issue, so we’ve had a bit of a switch around … and we’ve now shifted to the CMA panel! We’ll come back to this one!

My laptop died before Danny made it back on to the stage, but we have embedded a copy of his slides for anyone that didn’t get chance to check it out yesterday:

The content wars the real power of UGC #searchleeds from Danny Denhard

14:35 – CMA Panel – (Track One)

  • Content is a word that is often overused as a new term – content has been around forever and exists everywhere, it is media consumption that has changed!
  • Create content that caters to consumers.
  • Content is using the most appropriate way to tell the story you want to tell to your consumers
  •  Start with the goals & objectives, and then worry about resources needed in different areas

Well that about wraps it up for us at today’s inaugural Search Leeds conference. We had an absolute blast but we have a long drive ahead of us to get back to the North East, so we have to head off a tad early. We hope you enjoyed our unique take on the day’s events, this is us on the way back to the car park:


If you did, feel free to let us know on Twitter at @digitalalliesuk, or by dropping me an email craig at Even if you didn’t enjoy my take on it, feel free to let me know.



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