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SearchLove 2017 Event Recap – Part 2

SEO industry event - SearchLove conference recap

The 16th and 17th of October saw the return of the one and only SearchLove, a favourite amongst Search Marketers worldwide. We were delighted to be exhibiting, to be sponsors, and frankly; to be there! Distilled’s Will Critchlow, Lynsey Little, Leonie Wharton & everyone involved did an incredible job bringing the stage & the sound to life. And let’s not forget Rob Ousbey & Niralee Thanki, for their constantly witty entertainment as hosts!

I would also like to give kudos to the brilliant Phil Nottingham for memorialising the event with incredible photos, which are embedded throughout this post.


Jes Scholz


the new era of visual marketing


Jes Scholz – CMO of Ringier – kicked off her session with an overview of image search, how it’s evolved and how we’re yet to tap into its full potential as SEOs.


  • We live in an age where this is a reality; Recognising visual content to return information i.e. visual search
  • Image search text based query has been upgraded to visual search image based query
  • One picture is worth a thousand keywords, as images get a lot more reach
  • Many search functionalities for mobile are limited to mobile (which makes sense) so if you’re working off desktop for this (which you shouldn’t) you’ll be behind and have less options
  • From related images (2013) collections
  • Images in web results
  • Product details on images
  • But where it really got interesting is Similar Items (April 2017) then Style Ideas (flip side of the former) which cumulated with Image badges (aug 2017)


  • Google is making a play to turn image search into product discovery (AKA like Pinterest)
  • Google is moving away from search (for images) to discovery
  • TIP: early adopters will benefit from this greatly, as 11% of images have search boxes
  • Google is educating us to begin to shop on its platforms


LABELLING IMAGES: encourages more clicks, especially for eCommerce (e.g. price product brand availability), Jes saw a 25% lift with this within 30 days!
DON’T: de-prioritise image SEO for page level SEO because it can now deliver for those API’s
DO: have high resolution, clear pictures that aren’t obfuscated, have structured markup to improve how you’re seen in SERPs, go for label badges
CHECK: your structured data using Google’s tool
SUBMIT: an XML sitemap, do a site:query, do your site:queries on a mobile phone to see the functionality like your users, don’t take a laptop selfie people!
THINK NEW ERA: snap to act, searchers see something, and snap pics to get information or buy with an app i.e. I see I snap I convert.

This is the direction visual search is heading in, taking offline experiences and delivering them online. This will allow for people to take a photo and for it to deep link them to that product, which will have serious implications for brick and mortars. Make sure you have this functionality so your competitors don’t beat you, by literally buying the shirt off someones back by snapping someones outfit.

Human outfits are literally marketing opportunities (kinda scary), as cameras become the search query. For Jes, the website as the primary point of conversion is coming to an end.


Signing exclusive partnerships with Pinterest like Bixby and Amazon have done.
Amazon spark – social discovery network (like if amazon tried to do Instagram) everything on the visual search is immediately stoppable.
REPRIORITISE: your keyword focus, and prepare for when the camera becomes the primary search box.
BUILD: a minimal viable product to share with your c-levels to get that buy in. They won’t understand what you’re trying to do unless you show it to them.
LEVERAGE: pre trained image classifiers (like amazon recognition) or train your own
MIND YOUR COMPETITORS: Letgo is doing things their competitor EBAY isn’t doing which means they’re stealing ebay’s customers!
IMAGE RECOGNITION: becomes the eyes of smart speakers, tap into it with skills. AKA image recognition can get real creepy real fast (think back to the video Jes shared!)
-85% of all social images don’t contain any text brand mention – visual recognition can pull logos like Coca Cola and know to tag them in pictures where they appear by image, but aren’t written about through visual listening.
-This is great for tweets where the brand isn’t tagged, and for leveraging user-generated content, as it recognises logos and products
TIP: start using logo recognition, because visitors who engage with UGC are 2x more likely to convert! It acts as visual product reviews.
-Check out brandwatch and logograb to turn selfies into sales.


david levin


Social Content masterclass: platform specificity


David Levin – Creative Director of That Lot and tweeter extraordinaire – gave us quality examples of how to speak and engage with your audience in language that resonates with them. Oh, and he also made me laugh for pretty much a solid hour.

As laughing and dictation aren’t natural bedfellows, this one’s gonna be straight up bullet points. Not to worry Greg Gifford, *no kittens were killed* during the creation of this event recap. If at this point you’re lost, check out the tweet below…It’s a bit of an ongoing local SEO ‘inside joke!’

The man @GregGifford got em all open jawed catching flies with minds blown. And bullet points kill kittens. @Bullet_Kitty

— Damon Gochneaur (@DamonGochneaur) September 23, 2016

But anyway, back to Dave!

  • He has done some seriously SWEET tweets for The Dolphin pub & Adidas
  • Advocates the value of tone of voice and how far that can take you on twitter (this!)
  • He took over the voice UK’s social media, which broke BBC’s previous records!!!!
  • Tweet as if you’re a fan of the show that happens to be where you’re working
  • Credited as UK’s first professional tweeter
  • The speed at which you act on twitter is almost – if not more – important than the content
  • The more personality it has the more relatable it is, and the better it does
  • Twitter’s UK user base has grown by 11% in the last 18months to 23.4 million!
  • This means there are now more people on twitter than LIVE in Australia
  • Tweets with under a hundred characters see much higher engagement
  • Use multiple images
  • Be platform specific
  • It’s less about jokes and more about being human
  • 250 million Instagram users use Instagram stories everyday
  • Make use of Facebook canvases and Instagram carousels/stories and Instagrid to chop up and combine photos to make ‘one’ picture
  • Askeeart
  • Play with cool visuals and time line invasions that go across multiple tweets
  • Remember that not everyone (AKA your dad) understands the platforms they’re on
  • Reactive listening on twitter yields MAD results
  • Infographics with illustrations do really well
  • Play with formats like! Think: “Want to feel old? This is what BLANK looks like now” (and other types of joke format that just work)
  • Facebook/Instagram live are a good shout
  • Always Be topical.

ross simmonds


content distribution: how to give your content more life


Ross Simmonds – Digital Marketing Strategist at Foundation Marketing – opened his talk about a networking conversation which got overthrown by a neighbouring conversation about butter, AKA distraction is real. What happened to shift his focus onto a different conversation is: The Cocktail Party Effect. This happens when we hear something more interesting or appealing to us, and we gravitate towards that, or the brain focusing on particular sounds over others in a sea of noise. On the internet, we see this happening the loudest.

So, how do we stand out from the crowd? Especially, in an age in which (for many, like Ross) Content isn’t King.


CREAM CONTENT: rules everything around us.
DON’T: rely on the idea that if we create content people will find us.
UNDERSTAND THAT: Content is quickly becoming a commodity.
STOP BEING BASIC: Bragging that you create great content is like bragging that you’re raising your kids. Thats what you’re supposed to do.

Bragging you create great content is like bragging you’re raising your kids…It’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do! @TheCoolestCool #searchlove

— DeepCrawl (@DeepCrawl) October 16, 2017

DISCOVER: the interests of your audience and leverage some relevancy.
SOME: Dads don’t like good beer.
DIVE INTO: ‘audience insights’ to speak to targeted audiences.
DISTRIBUTE: relevant messages.
CUSTOM AUDIENCES: Email marketing as this increases the relevancy and the likelihood that you’re going to get people’s clips.
USE: top posts to gain insight into what content will work; repurpose and turn successful posts into videos!
SHARE CONTENT WITH: subreddit focused advertising; to serve people with what they actually want
FIND: great slack communities (we should do this for our community! Search on slack list for SEO)
TIP: Medium is the new guest blogging, mind shift; it’s not just about SEO! Discover medium publications you can also contribute to!


emily grossman


from website to web-app: fantastic optimisations and where to find them


Emily Grossman – Director of App Strategy of Mobile Moxie – laid down the web-app LAW, with mountainfuls of practical tips for web optimisation, and then some.

Looking forward to Fantastic Optimisations and Where to Find them at #SearchLove today! p.s. @goutaste, great to finally meetya in person ?

— DeepCrawl (@DeepCrawl) October 17, 2017


  • HASHING IS DEAD: Death of the hash and hashing
  • BEST PRACTICE: Use the history API to change URLs in the address bar without reloading the whole page
  • CANONICALS: Make sure your canonicals are consistent and link to them everywhere
  • THAT RENDER GAME: Let’s talk about rendering! Esp important for any website based on JavaScript

#searchlove @goutaste Googlebot might be willing to wait 4-5 seconds for JS to render, but many other search engines don’t yet support JS

— David Iwanow (@davidiwanow) October 17, 2017

SHADE: Google tried to introduce the ‘render’ thing, but Google glossed over this. The development community took this pretty seriously. We’ve got nothing to worry about, we don’t have to worry about them (Google) looking at the source code and rendering the JavaScript…BUT good luck with that! 99 PROBLEMS & THIS MENTALITY IS ONE: Other Search Engines’s aren’t rendering vanilla JavaScript at all, forget about JavaScript frameworks!
WHAT COULD YOU DO INSTEAD?: Here are a couple of other options that are better: 1. try ‘rendering’ before google has to 2. Client side v server side rendering which means your server can deliver something to your browser which doesn’t require the rendering step! This also makes things look a little bit more like we’re used to. Server-rendered content is the way to go (Jeff Shelley),
-But do you lose the benefit of a single page app? Maybe.

1.a ‘isomorphic javascript’ JS code that can run on both the client and the server. Lifehack! Or devhack 🙂

The app-like web: PWA = so users can launch apps outside of the app itself and yet it STILL FEELS like an app experience, and these can work offline! Pretty useful for those tube journeys eh? But it doesn’t have to be identical offline as it is online. With PWAs you can make these different if you like, as The Guardian has done and continued to drive engagement.

Basic PWA technical requirements
1. You need an APP manifest (a JSON file you link to in the head of your website like so)
2. You need a service worker (they sorta run the show of web requests and they never have to hit the server, even sans internet)
3. You need a HTTPS mobile friendly website (you need to be a secure site)


You don’t need to be a SPA or use a JS framework, a normal site with vanilla JS can become a PWA but NOTE your service worker DOES need to be written in JS Use Lighthouse to check if things are working. You can access it outside of Chrome Dev Tools Performance optimisation = there are GREAT gains to be made through speed (check for a million case studies on the bennys of this).

Service workers can speed up sites on repeat views, these can reduce our load times as we’re loading directly from cache! To set this up you could cache your entire app’s ‘shell’ or set them up to cache o specific user interactions Time to Interactive is HIGHLY correlated with conversion rates.

Make it useable faster; break up existing JS into smaller chunks AKA code splitting (optimising for JS routes), following the PRPL pattern is also helpful.

Heres the BIGGIE: recommend using Link Rel=Preload as it allows you to find critical assets and move the start download time closer to the original request (hey browser this is something you’ll need later on in the waterfall but lets preload now instead of waiting till later which makes for a more seamless experience).

  • If you know something is gonna take 2+ seconds to load you could consider a progress bar (but test this out first!)
  • Page speed – use vebpaagetest! It has useful feedback, or use simulated lab testing in chromedevtools, what we should really be doing more of is using our own user data which you can use a performance observer for (e.g. separating out mobile & desktop which you could do on DeepCrawl).
  • If you’re using a PWA then measure your user downloads or ‘installs’ and measure ‘launches’ (add a tracking parameter to your start URL in the app manifest to see how many people are finding it via google versus your homepage or anywhere else!), also, measure push notifications.
  • There is potential and potential issues of PWAs bear them in mind!
  • Use Dataminer to save time with xpath scraping to find scripts that people have created and shared for various things, so you don’t have to!
  • Googlebot is rendering JS as chrome41, check out Bartosz’s moz post on this!
  • Check out Mousedown and touchstart or things that make sites appear faster to users as they preload links/content predictively but don’t actually make pages faster

cheri percy


digital witness: tales from the charity frontlines


Cheri Percy – Account Director at Nonsense London – talked to us about change. How you can affect it, and contribute to the impact you want see. Like David Nevin earlier in the day, Cheri instilled an appreciation in us about speaking to our clients, customers or donors in a language they understand. Breaking the rules, and enticing people with edgy, fresh content and the power of creative collaborations, like featuring comedians in campaigns 🙂

As a self-professed digital do-gooder, she shared several successful campaigns, for causes worth looking in to.

Here are a few:


How do we position what we’re working on as the cause people should promote?
-Aim at root causes; not symptoms.
-Build collective responses not individual solutions. Use clever wording to grab attention like; fundraise-however-the-hell-you-want.
-Transform attitudes with the power of collaboration.
-Making viral mass fundraising phenomena shows that calling on millennial mindsets inspires people across generations.

Build a network of digital champions across your organisation (charity starts at home!), make digital culture programmes to help your teams internally with writing for the web/social etc and ups killing people with the day-to-day processes they use. -Dissolving the role of the digital team is OK!

Think about what people are actually looking for and ask yourself, are you delivering that?

Get involved with influencers to get people involved with your cause e.g. via donations, raise awareness and drive traffic to your site which will influence your next year’s digital roadmap (especially if it goes well!)



justin briggs


Justin Briggs – Founder & CEO of Briggsby – shared countless practical steps we can take to use video to disproportionately great results in search.


  • Use a proxy for your video keyword research
  • Remember: video search is very exact match, so focus on bite size chunks for very specific questions
  • Structure videos for scale; spin content into granular videos for individual topics
  • Google is doing natural language processing and listening to your videos to find out when answers are given and drive the future of video search, youtube has automatic captions on 1 billion videos this is nuts!
    -The future of video indexing and mapping answers to actual minute marks, last year youtube improved their accuracy by 50%.
    -Basically google is closing in on understanding video like text. Everything thats happening with voice search is headed for video search, knowledge graphs in youtube have already begun, youtube as a search engine is really important to think about.
  • TL;DR – put the keyword in the title and watch time. Not number of views but WATCH TIME. Watch time is the primary metric for youtube SEO.


  • Watch time = impressions x ctr x retention x duration (AKA the magic equation)
  • Optimise watch time by keyword
  • Featured snippets
  • Don’t go too broad with your tags
  • Use playlists to target keywords
  • Hack cowatch behaviour for recommended views
  • Use playlists to drive cowatch
  • Use end screen for cowatch
  • Drive attention to hero content at launch by using featured video
  • Use programming strategies
  • Hack youtube internal links
  • The trending feature
  • Trending queries weight freshness
  • Leverage trending search and videos
  • Use tags for early cowatch

will critchlow


seeing the future: how to tell the impact of a change before you make it


Will Critchlow – Founder & CEO of Distilled – started off his talk by telling us that whilst split-testing over the last 18 months, he’s seen that common recommendations make no difference. In fact, they can be really, really bad. He admitted that even when we do recommend the right things, we can be a bit shotty on the deetz (preach!).

Will suggests we do less pointless things, and screw up less often. And make really, really effective recommendations 🙂


WE DON’T: have the right ways of thinking about internal links – we need to analyse these better
WE DO: have Data (or can get data) only for our own site
CASES: where the real ranking factor is a machine-learned proxy for the real thing
TA MADE A TOOL: Tools like SERP Turkey by TA can be useful to see what users think by measuring, great thing to consider before you make changes

Confirmed; @willcritchlow says we need to get better at analysing #internallinks. Also, shout out @TomAnthonySEO‘s SERP Turkey! #SearchLove

— DeepCrawl (@DeepCrawl) October 17, 2017

WHAT ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO QUALITY? Think about what quality content means/how you communicate it to bosses or clients/how you measure it or talk about it
DO: user testing + quality tests , there are so many benefits of running surveys such as removing brand bias!
CAPTURE: the data but also capture the human preference


Here are the factors we need to analyse better=internal links!* (here’s where we unashamedly geek out). Remember that everything looks like a graph, but almost nothing should ever be drawn as one (O’Reilly). Interactive visualisation sin Gephi are useful for discovery and diagnosis.
*For an excellent resource, check out Will’s blog post on internal links right here.


  • Internal link architecture – is there a better one? Is it always about a tradeoff?
  • Start gathering qualitative data and use it in your recommendations


Though the jury is out as to whether or not we did karaoke…

Deal with it Jono. If we hit up karaoke tonight, the game is on!!!!! ?

— DeepCrawl (@DeepCrawl) October 17, 2017

Karaoke last night was good

— Gerry White ⁉️ (@dergal) October 17, 2017

It’s safe to say we had a hell of a lot of fun.

BIG thanks again to all of the folks at Distilled, all of the incredible speakers, the spirited attendees, and Phil Nottingham for catching such brilliantly candid moments.

Kirsty, Jono & Emily


TA & Jess


Dee & Ore


Craig & Mark


Niralee & Ade





Avatar image for Alyssa Ordu
Alyssa Ordu

Alyssa is a keen traveller, cocktails & dad jokes enthusiast who does Marketing, in that order. A lover of outreach, connect with her for opportunities to collaborate, or exchange a pun or two.


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