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SearchLove London 2013

By Tess | 13th Nov 2013 | Posted in Marketing

SearchLove – a two day conference masterminded by Distilled – sees industry experts share their insights into all-things online marketing in London, Boston, and San Diego. Lucky enough to attend the London show, team Render were greeted by the charming bowler hat wearing staff at the venue that is The Brewery.

Day One

The first day’s proceedings were kicked off by Duncan Morris, and shortly followed up by the Italian bundle of energy that’s also known as Marco Montemagno. Having one of the broadest careers possible, Marco hopped from professional table tennis to law, before moving on to digital entrepreneur and TV hosting. Marco’s presentation; “15 Years of Unconventional Marketing: How to launch something new online at low/no budget” was full of inspirational tales of various success tactics.

Key takeaway?

When approaching someone for an interview (or similar) clearly explain what’s in it for them. Eg. not “Can I please trouble you for…”, but rather “I would love to help promote you and your work to … audience by …”


Second up was Amelia Showalter, who previously worked as the Director of Digital Analytics for Obama’s re-election campaign. Her fascinating talk “What Drives Action Online? Lessons from the Frontline of Testing” gave us insights into how the Obama 2012 campaign was won using seriously BIG data.

Key takeaway?

Short but imperative; split test EVERYTHING.


Next to the stage was Simon Penson; a former print editor turned digital marketing agency owner at Zazzle Media. His presentation “The New Rules of Big Content Promotion”  The age of low value content is over. Think BIG.

Key takeaway?

Always ask these questions at the outset of a content project:

– Who would be interested in this?

– Where do they hangout?

– How do I find the right sites?


Up next was Aleyda Solis, a trilingual technical search marketer, and Head of Digital Strategy at WooRank. Her knowledge of international SEO was enlightening, her presentation “From Unknown Foreigner to Local Star: How to Succeed at Real (not ideal) International SEO Scenarios” gave great simple nuggets of advice (such as always remember country and language are different – using the image of a Spanish flag to mean Spanish language will deter users in Mexico etc).

Key takeaway?

International SEO requires a localised approach, work with native speakers to get language and design appropriate.


Wil Reynolds speaking at SearchLove London

Next to the stage was the everso charismatic Wil Reynolds, founder of SEER interactive. Wil’s presentation “Google Approved Paid Links? Yes, There is Such a Thing” was an invaluable lesson he and his team had learnt in paying for content promotion over several months, at the cost of $10k.

Key takeaway?

Regardless of how great your content is, start with paid outreach/linking. The natural links will follow.


Up next, Abby Covert, Information Architect and self confessed ontology obsessive took to the stage. Her presentation, “Lessons From an Ontology Nerd” explored many ways in which ontology can improve the user experience of a website. Abby also clarified that there are only ever five ways to organise anything:

– Location

– Alphabetical

– Time

– Category

– Hierarchy

Key takeaway?

Remember that good user experience is built on a foundation of shared meaning. So always know what you mean when you say what you say!


The next presentation “You Don’t Need More Traffic: Learn to Leverage the 99% That Aren’t Customers” came courtesy of Craig Bradford, a consultant at Distilled. Craig made the very good point that we should stop obsessing over getting more traffic. Rather, what we should do, is use smart analytics and CRO principles to get the 99% of traffic that you already get but gain no value from.

Key takeaway?

Track people not sessions!! Do this with Google Universal Analytics.


Stacey Cavanagh, Head of Search at Tecmark, was next to the stage, with her presentation “36 Tricks, Tips, and Tools for Baiting Brand Signals Through Content”. Stacey talked us through a particularly successful content campaign she ran, and emphasised the brilliance of using surveys as a potentially low cost tool to gather interesting content.

Key takeaway?

Surveys are a great way to make noise, but they MUST tell an interesting story. Toluna QuickSurveys, Google Consumer Surveys, and OnePoll are all good survey tools.


Tom Anthony and Will Critchlow discussing the Future for Search

Last but most by no means least, Tom Anthony and Will Critchlow took to the stage. Will, Founder and CMO of Distilled, and Tom, a Digital Marketing Consultant, also at Distilled, between them discussed “The Future for Search”.

The discussion formed a fascinating look into (you guessed it…) the future of search, with ideas bouncing between the two of them. Amongst other thoughts, was the idea that the context of a search will be increasingly used to return more relevant results. The context could be what device or browser the user is using, what they’ve searched previously, what language they search in, their social connections, what time of day they search or the location they search from.

That concluded the first day at SearchLove London – and what a day it was!

Day Two

Following a brief introduction from Duncan Morris, the final day of SearchLove kicked off with Danny Scheinmann’s presentation “Telling Stories”. Danny explained and demonstrated the importance of making messages ‘sticky’ and therefore memorable.

Key takeaway?

Data doesn’t stick in people’s memories. Stories, on the other hand do. Always use:

– Simple

– Unexpected

– Concrete

– Credible

– Emotional

– Stories


The second speaker of the day was Nathalie Nahai; a Web Psychologist, author of Webs Of Influence, and blogger at Psychology Today. Nathalie’s presentation “Culturability: Are You Alienating Half Your Audience?” explored how online environments influence users’ attitudes and behaviours. Appreciating and understanding this enables us to modify one website to optimise it for the online culture in different countries.

Key takeaway?

The three secrets to online success:

– Know who you’re targeting

– Communicate persuasively

– Sell with integrity


Next to take the stage was Kelvin Newman who organises another of our favourite conferences – BrightonSEO. Kelvin’s presentation,

“Graph Theory: The Most Important Theory in Search That No one Talks About” got to grips with the theory that underpins how all search engines work.

Key takeaway?

If you’re in an industry where your data can be me marked-up, read, and delivered by Google (flights, hotels etc) you should look to diversify away from Google as Hummingbird and Graph Theory are looking to disintermediate you.


Bridget Randolph, a consultant at Distilled specialising in all things mobile, was next up. Bridget’s presentation “So, You Have a Mobile Friendly Website, What Now?” demonstrated the importance of understanding mobile. In her words: “There is no such thing as mobile for a user; it’s not a separate channel, it’s a technology”.

Key takeaway?

Ensure user experience is seamless and consistent across ALL devices.

Break time relaxation!

After a lunch break of great food and even free massages, Mark Borkowski; a publicist and strategist spoke. Discussing the reinvention of PR around collaborative conversations with traditional and new influencers, his presentation “Savage Creatures and Vile Passions: The Lessons of Communication by Contagion” shared a personal experience involving a dog.

Key takeaway?

Get grassroots approval for content before pursuing.


Chris Bennett, the CEO and Founder of Digital Marketing Agency 97thFloor was next to the stage. His presentation “How to Win Fans and Influence People” was full of fantastic content marketing tips and advice, including one great piece of advice to “think campaigns, not one-offs”.

Key takeaway?

A very actionable tip: slice up and infographic you make and add it to SlideShare. For 15 minutes work you can get tens of thousands of views!


Up next was Paul Madden, a UK based SEO. As a self confessed former spammer, Paul realised there was a need to change and his presentation “Goodbye Spam, Hello Data!” spoke of his experiences of changing his ways.

Key takeaway?

If you’ve received a partial or a site wide penalty by Google, accept that resolving it will take a long time. NEVER seek help from someone guaranteeing results.


The Founder of Markitekt, Peep Laja was next up. As a conversion optimisation pro, he’s an expert at what makes websites sell. Peep talked us through “5 Steps to Persuasive Web Design”;

a range of ways to increase visual engagement on a website.

Key takeaway?

When asking users for lots of information on your website, break the requests down on to smaller separate pages. This feels less overwhelming and results in a higher completion rate.


Closing the two day event was Will Critchlow once again. Discussing the importance of local search, his presentation “Making Your Mark Online: Local Business Edition” detailed how smaller brands can dominate. Their combination of agility, passion, and the fact that they are humans with deep expertise everywhere in the business.

Key takeaway?

Take the online offline, and vice versa. Make the most of your expertise, and keep it personal. You MUST have time or money. Use the one you do have to the max.

That concluded the two day conference. Full of new found knowledge and inspiration, we headed home (via Hawksmoor and the pub) raring to put into practice as much as possible the very next day.

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