Elevate Brighton talks recap

Why didn’t Google invite Bill Clinton’s former vice president to their disco? Because they don’t like Al Gore’s-rhythm…….

That was just one of the many questionable SEO jokes cracked at last weeks Elevate Brighton (Don’t worry, we laughed so you didn’t have to 😉).

Once we’d all recovered from our undying need to honour the venue of Komedia, we had some amazing talks and insights from some awesome speakers. We even zhuzhed up the event with some very fancy balloons…

We’ve written up all the talks below, complete with slides…

Why you should power your entire business with search

Sam Silverwood-Cope

Kicking off the day, Pi Datametrics CMO, Sam Silverwood Cope made a sterling case for why search intelligence is fast becoming tantamount to the success of entire businesses.

Collectively, we go online to locate information 3.5bn times a day.

That’s 3.5bn potential doorways to our brand, and 3.5bn insights into our customer’s mind.

While a search doesn’t instantly mean a sale, what we look for online tends to lead us to something we want to purchase.

It therefore makes sense that our brand’s presence in search is pivotal to its commercial success.

And Sam reminds us, as SEOs, we are sitting on a goldmine of intelligence. But he also states that, if we want to get this value across to others in the business succinctly and coherently, we need to ‘Package SEO up right’.

And this means talking the right language to the right people, and conducting a bit of ‘Internal marketing’.

Sam suggests opting for ‘Search intelligence’ over ‘SEO’ to describe the insight proffered by this channel, to make it more accessible.

Focussing on how search can shed light on topics that resonate with different departments can go a long way to increasing the influence of search across the business.

Just take a look below for examples…

Sam Silverwood Cope - Elevate Brighton April 2019 - Using search across the business

Informing Brand teams with search intelligence

When sharing search data with the Brand team, Sam recommends focussing on indicators of brand performance, and buttressing your insight with complementary datasets.

In the example below, Pi Datametrics search intelligence shows huge uplift in the performance of UK Ecommerce Fashion Retailer ‘I Saw It First’. Turning to social intelligence helps to reinforce the validity of both sources, as this body of data tells a congruent story.

Presenting bonafide intelligence can go a long way to cementing the authority of search in the Brand team and across the business, as it can inform forecasting, success formulas and future strategy.

Sam Silverwood Cope - Elevate Brighton April 2019 - Search, and brand performance indications - I Saw It First

Using search as an equity indicator

Sam revealed the astonishing fact that 5% of all traffic last year came from Hedge Funds scouring the web for investment insight.

That may seem minimal, but it’s a sign that search is being taken more seriously as an indication of business value.

Sam Silverwood Cope - Elevate Brighton April 2019 - Search, stocks and shares

To further prove to you that search means big business, Sam showed a textbook example of a Major UK fashion retailer losing visibility online drastically in May 2018.

And guess what? 2 months later, its share price sank too. This share of voice line represents the brands trended performance across thousands of highly converting fashion searches – the majority of which turn into digital traffic.

Our experts at Pi were tracking this retailer at the time, and noticed that a technical SEO mistake had blocked the whole site from Google. Also, important content had been removed, likely for Design and Brand purposes, leaving the pages very copy-light.

If this doesn’t prove how valuable search is to the entire business, we don’t know what does!

Search, Mergers and Acquisitions

Providing even more evidence, Sam demonstrated how customers LeoVegas used search intelligence to expand into the most lucrative market for Mobile Gaming.

By studying the online market, comprising of thousands of the most valuable searches, LeoVegas used search intelligence extensively to purchase the UK’s largest holding company – RocketX – comprising 18 mobile gaming brands.

As a result, LeoVegas gained €4m in revenue and a 13% increase in overall market share.

The rise of the aggregators and the implications for search marketing

Lawrence Hunt

One thing is made very clear before Lawrence starts – this is a ‘Brexit free’ presentation – they’ll be no mention from anyone, or else…

When Lawrence first got involved in digital in 1996/7, Yahoo was primarily being used, but then Google came in and took the market by storm.

Why did Google dominate this space? Lawence explains they did 100 things 1% better – it wasn’t just branding (although theirs was very good), it was also their focus on the customer and user experience, and the fact that their algorithm was probably the best.

In the present, Bing is their only real rival, trying innovative features to differentiate themselves from Google rather than just play catch up.

Moving on to the new challenges facing search today, he explains that paid search and organic search are both extremely important; paid accounts for 77% of all clicks, and organic 23%.

However, he began to notice some changes last year – using charts he shows how organic search queries seem to be in decline. Google have even stopped releasing their industry data recently…could this be why?

Whilst organic search may be in decline, CPC is growing – most likely due to less clicks driving the price up.

What Lawrence really believes is happening, is people are using their phones more for searching and are finding Google clunky and so are favouring aggregator sites; for example, when searching for a flight on your phone, you’ll most likely go straight to Skyscanner.

Another large aggregator site, Amazon, has 6% global ad spend that we just don’t hear about. There is a fundamental shift to aggregator sites and away from search engines for advertising. Whether you are client side or agency side, this is an important change to be aware of.

The fact that Amazon are not profit led means their ad prices have stayed relatively level, whereas Google’s has been increasing each year. So there’s a huge opportunity for marketers on Amazon due to lower costs, and search intent being much more relevant. This is true of many aggregator apps.

Why spend money on Amazon? The conversion is higher. Conversion rates are the holy grail for anyone trying to sell on the internet and Lawence believes aggregator apps will be much better ‘hunting ground’ for brands to grow market share and build customer loyalty.


Don’t hide your (search) light under a bushel

Zoe Ashford 

As metrics and charts are what BrightonSEO is all about, Zoe explains that she’ll leave that to the other speakers and instead share her experience and some takeaways that she’s learnt along the way.

With an impressive background in digital marketing, Zoe has worked at Coast, Debenhams, John Lewis and Lipsy, to name a few. When she began, she admits, she knew nothing about digital marketing, there were no conferences, talks or digital networks – ‘we were the weirdo’s in the corner’.

She’s seen the shift from store led marketing to online marketing first hand, and fought hard for search to be heard and understood by the wider business.

Using some Star Trek inspired slides Zoe outlines what she’s learnt:

  1. Assess your environment

What are your challenges? Not just yours individually as a search marketer, but what is the wider business goal? Try and align to that.

2. Build a team for culture and skill

Do you want a Spoc? Or do you want a Captain Kirk? Whilst some people may have amazing skills, do they fit into your team? Don’t alienate yourself with the technical, having that emotional, human aspect is really important, especially at an enterprise level. Your team need to be able to talk to people and explain the importance of digital.

When hiring, ask yourself ‘are they better than me?’ – that way you can learn, and also bring the best furniture into your house.

3. Integrate your own team first

Before trying to talk to other teams, get your own team in order. Does your natural search team talk to your paid search team? Have you integrated your CRM team? Have you shared all the data and insights throughout your digital department?

4. Inform strategy with search

Use search for your own planning, your teams planning and the businesses planning. This data can have a huge impact on the commercials of the business. This is your teams main task – how can we harness the business in search? Not trying to change the business, but changing to be the business.

5. Be patient to educate and repeat

How many times has it felt like you are banging your head against a wall? Even when you have the figures to show, it can regularly not be heard. So you put some training in place and train client teams and the wider business….come 6 months later, you are asked to do the training again…and then again and again. We need to accept that we are going to be training people about search for our entire careers. Be proactive about it, the more we educate and share knowledge, the more likely we are going to change the world.

6. Proactive beats begin reactive

There are always fires to fight, but you can be proactive. Talk about strategy in meetings and gain their trust. People will begin to see what an asset you are.

It can be hard to be proactive as search is constantly changing, but thats what makes it exciting! But having that trust to communicate that change is essential.

7. Make your dashboard meaningful

Ensure you are speaking the right language when trying to communicate the importance of search data, make it meaningful for others in the business. We need to talk about ROI and commercials in organic search and not just paid search.

8. Be the brand and trading lynchpin

We can be both trading and brand marketers, lets bring them together and commercialise brand activity – think creatively to get that one customer journey.

9. Be ready to adapt

Things change fast but we’ve got the technical expertise and the experience to adapt.

If you focus, get the business on board, integrate your team and iterate continuously, you can change your business and make a huge difference. 


You can donate to Zoe’s charity ‘Pedal People’ here.

Create value led content for your ecosystem

Jon Earnshaw

Catch Jon’s talk write up here.