21/06/17 o

21 Key Insights From Search Leeds 2017

21 key insights from search leeds 2017 banner

Search Leeds is one of the UK’s biggest industry events of the year – so we sent along some digital experts to find out about the hottest trends in search.

It’s a one-day event held in one of the North’s most vibrant cities, bringing together the search industry’s biggest and brightest. Though 21 Digital has a team of experienced in-house search specialists, we’re always keen to keep our minds open to digital marketing strategies and techniques. We sent a couple of our SEO experts to see what’s buzzing in the search industry at the moment – here are our key insights, categorised into three useful headings:

Content and Link Building

SEO and Social



Content And Link Building

A content blueprint to drive serious SEO success.

Speaker: Danny Blackburn, Stickyeyes

Talk Summary:

Danny introduced his audience to the idea of ‘micro-moments’ – those points in time when people turn to their smartphone in a time of need. This can be to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something.

It’s up to companies to make sure that, when these moments happen, their site is poised to deliver exactly what people are searching for, maximising conversions and future visits.

Key insights:

#1. Know your audience

  • Who they are
  • Where they’re active
  • What their interests are
  • When they’re online
  • What they want from you

#2. SEO performance is driven by five key areas:

  • Relevancy
  • Authority and trust
  • User experience
  • User engagement
  • Technical proficiency

We don’t go online, we live online.

Speaker: Stephen Power, Google

Talk Summary:

As the maxim goes – it all starts with a search. Delving further into the idea of micro-moments, Stephen expanded even more fully onto the mentality of customers, and how they think, behave and react in these micro-moments. As a business, he says, you have to be ready with the information and experience they need.

You’ve got to be useful (in your ability to connect them with what they’re looking for) and quick (your site must be quick-loading, with a smooth user experience), or they’ll get bored and quickly go elsewhere.

Key insights:

#3. Consider how to communicate with your audience in ‘micro-moments’.

  • Be there.
  • Be useful.
  • Be quick.

Links as a metric in 2017 – are they still relevant, and how do we ensure value?

Speaker: Paul Madden, Kerboo

Talk Summary:

Historically, links building is one of the techniques that have been implemented by SEO specialists to help improve rankings of a website. However, there are mixed opinions about the impact of links, as well as a fear surrounding possible penalties.

Google now claims its algorithms are more intelligent than ever, and knows where to devalue or demote them. Paul gave us a further insight into how links play a part in SEO today.

Key insights:

#4. Links are still definitely important for rankings and SEO, but it’s still about quality over quantity.

How link building can work for everyone.

Speaker: Paddy Moogan, Aira

Talk Summary:

Neatly tying into the subject of the previous talk from Paul regarding links, Paddy spoke about why all companies need to consider links for their SEO strategy, no matter the size of their organisation – from SMEs all the way up to billion-dollar companies.

Key insights:

#5. Don’t view budget as the key to success when it comes to link building (i.e. most expensive campaigns aren’t necessarily most successful).

#6. 1500 stories could appear on a person’s Facebook feed each time they log in, so in order to succeed your content needs to:

  • Tell a story.
  • Add value to your reader.
  • Be executed well.

Is content really still king?

Speaker: Toby Brown, Response One

Talk Summary:

‘Content is king’ is another years-old maxim that many marketers and SEOs still live by. Content marketing is a key element of successful SEO, and Google is getting ever more adept at picking up on poorly written, inaccurate or misleading content. Though other factors in SEO are also evolving, Toby told his audience that we still needed to pay attention to producing quality content.

Key insights:

#7. Above all else, what matters most is quality content. That means keeping it relevant and informative, and ultimately giving value to the reader.

#8. Pay attention to video marketing – it will soon account for 80% of search. (We are – it’s one of our New Year’s resolutions here at 21 Digital).

SEO and Social

How SEO and social work together at a large publisher.

Speaker: James Carson, the Telegraph

Talk Summary:

Working at one of the UK’s leading newspapers, James Carson’s job is to effectively co-ordinate SEO and social strategies in order to maximise the reach and readership of the Telegraph’s articles.

He gave us some tips on how the two complement each other, and discussed the various types of content (breaking news, event planning and evergreen). James also talked about how to write good headlines, and the relationship between headlines and copy.

Key insights:

#9. Don’t underestimate the importance of headlines and titles. A badly written or inaccurate headline might contribute to a low click-through rate on even a quality piece of content.

Turning SEO audit recommendations into business gains.

Speaker: Barry Adams, Polemic Digital

Talk Summary:

Barry Adams gave a great, down-to-earth talk about his 50 enterprise SEO audits, and the main lessons he learned from them. His range of topics was quite broad; amongst those he covered were how the Google Web Crawler and Indexer works, as well as how to factor in the technical aspects of websites like sitemaps. He also covered some emerging trends in search (like voice search), and the effect of Javascript on SEO.

Key insights:

#10. Rich snippets and structured data play a bigger part than ever in SEO

#11. Voice search will account for half of search by 2020

Lessons From SEO Split Testing.

Speaker: Will Critchlow, Distilled

Talk Summary:

Another fantastic talk that covered how SEO has changed over the years. Will also covered one of the most fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) aspects of the SEO industry; since Google dominate the playing field, they have free reign to change the rules as they go along. And each new algorithm often does!
Will used engaging demonstrations to illustrated how SEO often literally is a guessing game, reiterating the importance of split-testing.

Key insights:

#12. Split testing is crucial; Google is always evolving, so up to a point it’s still almost impossible to tell what works from a glance. You need to test, test, and test again.

#13. An SEO strategy that works for one business might not necessarily work for another.

Mobile First Indexing.

Speaker: Jon Myers, DeepCrawl

Talk Summary:

For some time, Google has been planning to release a Mobile First index, to reflect the changing browsing habits of its users. It’s predicted to have a big impact on the way webpages are indexed, and how they’ll be ranked in the SERPS. Obviously, this is likely to have a profound effect on clients’ websites and traffic, so John put forward a few insights on how to prepare for this change.

Key insights:

#14. Mobile First index is due to appear in Q2 18.

#15. Responsive sites are the safest way to ensure the transition to Mobile First is seamless, so it’s more important than ever for your site to be geared for mobile.

#16. Google have added support to AMP for accepting payments via Android Pay, which is massive for eCommerce.


Too much choice for too little space and budget – SEO and Choice Theory.

Speaker: Dawn Anderson, Move It Marketing

Talk Summary:

Believe it or not, Dawn told us, too much choice can be a negative thing. While customers like to have a couple of options to choose from when buying products and service, too many variables can make them uncertain or impatient, and put them off buying.

The modern consumer has a notoriously short attention span (on average, less than ten seconds), which means website owners have to find a balance between offering them options while not overcomplicating things.

Key insights:

#17. Don’t give too many options – keep things simple and don’t make your site overly complicated, as you can put off customers at the buying stage.

Winning conversion-driven eCommerce SEO.

Speaker: Aleyda Solis, Orainti

Talk Summary:

Aleyda’s detailed talk was first and foremost about eCommerce sites, and how organic traffic contributes significantly to revenue. The user experience is key to customer loyalty – visitors attempting to navigate an excessively slow or broken site are unlikely to follow through with successful conversions. She reiterated the importance of understanding your traffic, highlighted rich snippets, and emphasised use of schema markup to boost your site’s rankings, and attract buyers.

Key insights:

#18. Voice search needs to be taken into consideration, as 20% of mobile queries are now voice searches – and this trend is set to grow massively in the near future.

#19. Sites need to be continuously maintained: conversions frequently depend on factors like user experience and site speed.

How to be Amazon (and beat Google at search).

Speaker: Stephen Kenwright, Branded3

Talk Summary:

Following on with the topic of eCommerce, Stephen’s presentation mainly dealt with the importance of effectively managing your site’s search function. By essentially building your own search engine within your website, you can avoid being ‘screwed’ by Google (in his own words).

Key insights:

#20. Improve your website’s site search functionality – especially for eCommerce – as 70% of eCommerce site visitors use the search function.

#21. Track site search in Analytics, to see what people are trying to find on your own website – and build your own search engine.

Let Us Put Our SEO Expertise To Good Use!

Now that we’re all clued up on the latest from Search Leeds, we’re keen to put our sharpened SEO skills to good use in delivering outstanding digital services to you, our customers. We have a long history of successful SEO stories – why not find out how your website can benefit by checking our SEO service page, or browse our case studies to see how we’ve already helped businesses just like yours!

Give us a call on 01254 660 560, or email us at hello@21digital.agency to find out how we can help you make it on the web. We may be small, but we’ve got big ideas!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @21Digital_Ltd


Give us a call on 01254 660 560, or email us on hello@21digital.agency and let’s talk!

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