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Key Takeaways of SearchLeeds 2018

It’s been a week since so many industry experts graced the stage at the First Direct Arena for SearchLeeds 2018. As a first-time attendee, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but boy were we all in for a treat (and I don’t just mean all the free stuff).

This was the 3rd SearchLeeds event, which is organised by digital agency Branded3. This year, it was held across three main stages – The Main Stage, The Sistrix Stage, and The Search Laboratory Stage – each featuring a variety of talks from the industry’s cream of the crop. Being able to flit in and out of the stages meant you could listen to a wide selection of topics, whether you were looking for SEO, PPC, or technical talks. In the end, I was only disappointed I couldn’t catch more!

Naturally, as an SEO, I was more interested in all things content. Looking back on the event a week later and thinking about what the team and I have taken away, there are many highlights and little flashes of inspiration that have stuck with us.

Here are just a few of the talks that Colewood Internet enjoyed and what the key takeaways were for us.


‘How to SEO the S**t Out of Your Internal Site Search’ by Luke Carthy, Mayflex

It was easy to enjoy the interesting talk delivered by Luke Carthy. As such a last-minute speaker, we were impressed with the amount of insight we gained about internal site search and his SEO deep dives. He said: “Left to its own devices, internal search can go wild; generating millions of unnecessary URLs, poor organic landing pages and can severely dilute a site’s link equity.”

His talk was packed with advice on how to improve a website’s SEO, backed up by relevant examples and statistics you can’t argue with. A fantastic highlight of the afternoon!

Key Insights:

  • Categories have 75% fewer URLs than search, but yields almost 3x more in revenue
  • Internal search SEO is essential as it can generate countless new URLs, cause keyword cannibalisation and it impacts conversions/UX (plus many other reasons!)
  • To improve SEO, you must first size up your search URL issue and follow the steps outlined in these slides

When asked about the event, Luke said: “Search Leeds ‘18 was my first time attending (and speaking) at the hugely popular event. Part conference, part expo; Search Leeds turns a concert venue in to a space brimmed to the roof with digital talent. A mix of experts and players all with a huge thirst to colab and learn.”

Follow Luke on Twitter @MrLukeCarthy


‘Content Marketing Tips That Won’t Break the Bank’ by Kirsty Hulse, Manyminds

Another highlight of the day was the talk from Kirsty Hulse who told us about how you can create engaging and exciting content marketing campaigns without spending a hefty penny. The examples she gave of tools you can use to create great content for free, were a brilliant help.

Key Insights:

  • Ideas, not assets are everything
  • Don’t be afraid to know a brand and lead with it
  • Get other companies to create content for you!

She said: “I’m the founder and MD of Manyminds Digital, which is a digital agency made up entirely of freelance resource.

“I love speaking at SearchLeeds and saw some incredibly insightful and inspiring talks. The Branded3 team have absolutely smashed it putting such a world-class conference together!”

Follow Kirsty on Twitter @Kirsty_Hulse



‘Three Practical (and inventive) Ways of Pinching Keyword Insight from Your Competitors’ by Kelvin Newman, Rough Agenda

I was really looking forward to the talk from Kelvin Newman, the man behind BrightonSEO (one of the largest SEO conferences in the world). His talk gave us many new ideas and practical ways you can pinch new keywords from your competitors.

A great look at how you can think outside of the box to generate new keywords to target. Enlightening, solid, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Key Insights:

  • Say ‘search queries’ instead of ‘keywords’ to remind you that searchers are always asking a question
  • Image search generates keywords suggestions
  • To do better SEO, often you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just do a few things better than you used to

We spoke to Kelvin after his talk to find out more about his time at the event. He said: “SearchLeeds continues to be one of the most ambitious events in search marketing. What I love about the event is the breadth of topics covered and the variety of speakers. You know it’s been a good event when you wish you could clone yourself so you could be in more than one place at once.”

Follow Kelvin on Twitter @kelvinnewman


‘What Happens When a Werewolf Bites a Goldfish?’ by Hannah Smith, Verve Search

Hannah Smith, the Head of Creative at Verve Search, shared her industry experience which looked at creating content that journalists will want to cover. She spoke about some of her successes, which helped to illustrate how you can produce both successful and creative campaigns.

She also answered the difficult question that many of us want to know: “where do you get your ideas?”.

Key Insights:

  • Provide journalists with something that allows them to write stories that they want to tell
  • If you’re not getting any coverage, try changing your pitch
  • It is always important to understand the media landscape

Hannah has also shared her thoughts on the SearchLeeds event and what her personal highlights were. She said: “this was my first time at SearchLeeds and I was really impressed. The event was impeccably organised, the audience were friendly and engaged, and the speaker line up was ace.

“Highlights for me were talks from Andraz Stalec, Kirsty Hulse, Kristal Ireland, and Lexi Mills.”

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannah_bo_banna


‘Advanced Integrated Influence Strategy and Tactics’ by Lexi Mills, Shift 6

Lexi Mills gave a very thought-provoking talk on how we can create influential content as search professionals, both now and in the future. She shared enlightening advice on how to get clients to sign things off, and how marketers can use their resources to influence the future of search.

A wonderful insight into how we can adapt our marketing techniques to influence the search industry positively by challenging stereotypes.

Key Insights:

  • Don’t be afraid to go for silver when warming up a client
  • An old idea done better is often safer than a completely new idea
  • The future of search will be emotionally intelligent

Follow Lexi on Twitter @leximills


All in all, there was a lot to be taken away from this event. There was a lot to be learnt but we picked up some very useful and handy search marketing tips while we were there. We enjoyed it that much that we can’t wait to find out more about the next SearchLeeds event.


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