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Search Leeds 2018 took over the First Direct Arena for the third consecutive year on June 14th. The largest SEO conference in the north of the country, Search Leeds aims to bring together the very best of digital industry talent and share ideas, skills and stories.

Armed with our trademark enthusiasm, the Zelst team dived right into the mix, looking for a flash of inspiration to implement in our day-to-day workings.

Recurring Themes of Search Leeds 2018

There were some seriously prominent themes at this year’s conference that kept surfacing in many of the talks across Search Leeds’s three stages. These even cropped up in talks that were seemingly unrelated – highlighting just how interconnected this profession of ours really is.

That said, here’s a run-down of some of the things we noticed kept cropping up:

1. The Importance of Context

This is something that appeared in pretty much every talk throughout the day. In the talks focused on content creation and distribution, for instance, context was spoken about as integral to a piece of content being shared in relevant spheres and appealing the targeted audience.

In much the same way, ‘insights’ dominated client-relation discussions. The overall message gleamed from these could be summed up as “don’t do reports, do insights – figures and facts aren’t good enough!”

Considering these angles, layman terms are more important than ever for the SEO in 2018. An over-focus on jargon and overload of figures and data leads to client and audience mistrust through lack of coherent understanding. In a world of microfocus on data minutiae, succinctly presenting cause and effect for our clients, collaborators and audiences is integral for a more holistic SEO.

2. Collaborative Business Structures are the Way Forward

More holistic SEO doesn’t just refer to the output of our digital organisations and agencies, but also the internal workings. J Schwan of the St Ives Group discussed how the future of business doesn’t exist in silos; what this means is that traditionally-understood hierarchical business structures don’t allow for efficiency and productivity. Collaboration is the best way to succeed.

This sentiment was echoed throughout the day’s discussions, with many speakers dismissing the idea that digital marketing agencies see each other as competitors and instead as partners in shaping the digital landscape of the future.

3. AI is the Buzzword of the Moment

Everywhere you looked at Search Leeds, artificial intelligence (AI) was being banded around as both the thing that can save our industry from oversaturation and destroy its entire workforce. No-one really seems sure which way it’s going to go – so it will invariably be somewhere in the middle!

Virgin Trains East Coast’s Kristal Ireland spoke about the ethical and cultural impact that AI can have on the workforce, and it is this that we think is the conversation we should be having. It’s impossible to gauge the effect of AI at the consumer end, and so we should be focusing on its impact within what we can control – that is, our own organisations. For a comparison, who in 1995 could have guessed what the mobile phone would have become today?

Search Leeds 2018 gave us plenty of inspiration for the months ahead – although it may be a while before we integrate our robot overlords.