‘Brilliant’ Search Leeds reflects sector’s evolution

Two lucky so-and-sos from Door4 sneaked off to Search Leeds 2019 without me and all I got was this lousy interview... actually, great context on how search is evolving.

Sean (our Director of Operations) and Kevin (Audience Performance Manager) had a day out at Search Leeds, a gathering of people sharing knowledge around all things search so we can get better. 2019 was its third year. And it’s massive, and inspiring. Here, our chaps put what they saw and heard into context for the rest of us.

The biggest takeaway for me is that agencies really have to keep up.

Sean: I love this event because search has changed so much and as a sector we all need to keep pace. Our clients need this knowledge to thrive. And as a sector, we need to improve search’s reputation. Sadly, there’s still confusion in our sector about good practice.

Kevin: No more smoke and mirrors, yes to transparency and clarity of purpose.

Sean: Door4 is moving away from the usual standardised process of just ticking boxes for clients and reporting on the same things month in, month out. We believe search has to become more creative. However, potential for creativity makes it more difficult to determine how we can achieve success for clients. It’s almost the antithesis of how the industry has been approaching it so far. Search has changed.

Kevin: Success in search is a lot more competitive now. And it’s not about the ridiculousness of trying to ‘beat’ Google or game Google; it’s all about going along with Google.

Sean: And Bing, of course.

Kevin: Of course.

Kevin and Sean go to Search Leeds 2019

Sean: Ten years ago, you’d go to the client with an SEO plan, talk about it being a slow burn. This was correct, this was right. But that was ten years ago. Now, search is more about test and learn, adapting and moving forward.

Kevin: And it’s more performance led. But get this, Google’s webmaster guidelines have been the same for 20 years. Quality and success are still valued measured against users over search engine algorithms. This is more relevant now than ever.

Sean: Pages have to be built for the user. There is no other way now if you want search success. There has to be trust – there’s a lasting influence from Your Money or Your Life. This wasn’t brought up at Search Leeds, but contextual relevance was a core theme.

Kevin: Google’s algorithms are more sophisticated and understand context much better, as with Your Money or Your Life. The technology is here now. In Google’s eyes, context is essential for users. So, it’s essential for everyone to build good pages.

Now, search is more about test and learn, adapting and moving forward.

Sean: What Search Leeds did for me was to talk about these things within the context of what users will do with this information. We’re used to talking about the intent of users, and Google’s ‘See Think Do Care’ philosophy.

Kevin: But now, it’s become apparent that this philosophy is being mapped by agencies on a wide scale – which is very positive.

Sean: ‘See Think Do Care’ is not a new framework, it’s a re-brand of AIDA. Devised in 1898, ADIA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) is far older than Google. This is a positive thing – it has a heritage, it’s not some newfangled idea we need to get on board with. It’s got history. We know it works in a traditional marketing landscape. Now we are embracing it into the modern digital psyche

Kevin: Back to the conference though – I thought the how-tos and the practical presentations were the best.

Those who can be agile will succeed.

Sean: Yes. There were three speakers I particularly liked. Stephen Kenwright (Rise at Seven) – he delivered some good insight (Content marketing frameworks that will get you paid more). I also liked Rory Truesdale (WeWork/Conductor) who did a nifty SERPs reverse engineering piece (Intent optimisation: Why it matters and how it can improve your SEO results).

Kevin: And Tanesha Stafford (Armchair Marketing) who did a piece on micro search (Land Grab: How to win business from your competitors with Google PPC). She used an interesting example of restricting Paid Search campaigns to the boundaries of competing car showrooms, targeting people who see a car they like and then use Google to benchmark the price.

Sean: The biggest takeaway for me is that agencies really have to keep up. Competitiveness will keep our sector healthy – something to look forward to! But this year we’ll see a real difference in how agencies tackle search, rapid developments, evolution. Those who can be agile will succeed.

Kevin: I’d also like to say that it was great to go to a northern search event. And it was a brilliant event. 1,500 people attended, 36 keynote speakers, it was free, and it was so good, well worth a day out of the office.

Sean: I agree with Kev – it was an honour to be there among our peers, sharing space with homegrown talent. Leeds is very buoyant as a digital city, like Manchester. Both these cities have cemented themselves as digital hubs. It felt more like a rock concert than an educational day out, with an exciting but, at the same time, quite laid back attitude.

Kevin: The dry ice though.

Sean: It was a big production.

Kevin: Let’s take more people next year.

Sean: Let’s be on stage next year.

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