digital elite 2019

Digital Elite Day 2019 Takeaways

This year, Search Elite joined forces with Conversion Elite, to host a one of a kind Digital Elite Day on the 6th June 2019 in London. Digital Elite Day was not just another SEO conference. Since the first ever Search Elite event a few years ago, they have without question been one of the most advanced and information rich conferences I’ve attended, being an event for Search professionals, by Search professionals.

If you’re new to SEO you might struggle to catch up, but if you have been in the industry for a few years you can be sure to walk out with a plethora of actionable ideas, different perspectives, greater knowledge, wider pictures and fantastic conversations.

The event was divided in between two rooms – one where talks were focused on Search, and one with talks on CRO.

Dividing to conquer, Ben and I managed to cover both tracks of the event, and have compiled our favourite takeaways from Digital Elite Day 2019!

Search Elite 2019 Conference Takeaways

Our favourite talks:

  1. PWA’S SEO: OPTIMISING FOR THE FUTURE OF THE WEB, by Aleyda Solis, from Orainti
  4. FUTUREPROOF-ISH LINK BUILDING, from Stacey Macnaught
  5. MERGING SEO, CRO & UX TO BUILD BEAUTIFUL ONSITE EXPERIENCES, from – the crazy but brilliant duo – Izzy Smith at Sixt Rent a Car & Nils Kattau from The Digital Family
  6. HOW SEO FOR NEWS SITES CAN HELP ALL WEBSITES, by Barry Adams from Polemic Digital
  7. GAMIFICATION: HOW TO LEVEL UP YOUR LINK BUILDING, by Becky Simms from Reflect Digital


1. PWA’s SEO: Optimising For The Future Of The Web

Aleyda Solis at Digital Elite Day

Aleyda highlighted how App Store search is currently broken and too easy to manipulate. Yet, we all love apps as they are easier than websites to access through your phone’s home screen.

Sadly, a lot of mobile responsive websites still offer a relatively poor mobile experience, are harder to access from your phone, and require an internet connection.

This got us to the conclusion that websites have a far bigger reach, yet engagement is much higher with apps…and here is the lightbulb moment!

High engagement with apps + huge reach of websites = massive opportunity !!

In fact, PWAs provides the benefits of apps and then reach of websites, hereby closing the gap between websites and apps.

This is why PWA’s definitely look like the future of the web, especially for mobile. PWA’s are now supported by all major browsers and can also run on desktop, and offer of a quicker load speed, much better usability and allows users to add websites to their phone home screen like they would for an app!

Her go to person when it comes to PWAs was Maximiliano Firtman! Follow him on Twitter @firt




2. The Nature of Intent: How to Nurture and Measure Throughout the Customer Journey

colouring in department at Digital Elite Day

During the ‘Nature of Intent’ talk, Jill and Aiden highlighted something most will forget too often; time on page in GA would be of 0 if a user doesn’t click through to another page – yes, even if they have spent 4 minutes on the page! In order for GA to account for the time spent on the landing page, the user would have to click through to another page, so make sure to keep that in mind when trying to evaluate your content, it’s quality and how much users engage with it.

Another one of their tips was to set up content grouping on analytics (such as for brands, product categories, products by gender etc which you can easily set it up with rules), for which you can have up to five groups per GA property. They also recommend to set these up based on your website’s hierarchy.

You can then get clever by building rules based on stages of awareness, to use your data to understand how people are shifting through different types of content and find new opportunities to take advantage of that.

In fact, you’ll then be able to use this as a secondary dimensions in reports.

A great way to then measure how your content impacts conversions is to have a look at  assisted conversions, and change the primary dimension to Landing page URL (through “other”) to see how content has assisted in conversions!

Follow Jill @jillquick and Aiden @Aiden__Carroll ‏


3. How To Make Your Content Marketing Drive £ Note Links

Kevin Gibbons at Digital Elite Day

Kevin’s first piece of advice was to think content marketing strategy not campaigns.

Links are of course a goal of creating content, but ultimately, going a step further, you hierarchy of KPIs should look like this:

content KPIs Hierarchy


He then highlighted that in order to drive revenue from your content rather than just links, you need to:

  • Have a clear strategy & goals
  • Be creative and produce content that stands out and is newsworthy
  • Think about the promotion and how you will get publishers excited  

It is crucial to identify whether your goal is awareness, consideration or conversion, and if it is a brand campaign or a tactical campaign.

If  you are going for a brand campaign, then topic relevance is hugely important.

If a tactical campaign, then identify your specific target urls to influence keywords that make you money.

You absolutely need a clear strategy, for which you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your position in the market?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • Who’s winning? Why?
  • What are the keywords and topics driving organic traffic?
  • What type of content are your competitors creating?
  • What are the top publishers for your topic and niche?What publishers are you targeting?


4. Futureproof-ish Link Building

stacey mcnaught at Digital Elite Day

Stacey shared with us something she has already tried and tested. She created a really helpful piece of content which she then published on Facebook. Why? Here’s the reasoning behind it.

    • Journalists will sit on social media waiting for something about to go viral (few 1000s shares).
    • So why not make your content about to go viral! Boost the post on Facebook with just £5!
    • The ‘viral’ content piece will then attract numerous links from journalists!

This is how Facebook can be a great place for link building!

She also recommended to do a Publisher Analysis over a Competitor Analysis by scraping a list of the most recent articles on the sites you want to be published on and then identify

      • what content do they publish?
      • what links do they include?
      • which sites do they link too?

Stacey also recommend looking at journo requests site to identify trends and what journalists are looking for!

One last piece of advice from Stacey:

Value content over years not weeks!


5. Merging CRO + SEO + UX

Izzi and Nils at Digital Elite Day

The best part of this talk… the formidable duo! Izzi and Nils are a pair you won’t forget any time soon! Nor their t-shirts!

On a more serious note…

The overall takeaway of their talk was that SEO has now become SEXO! (Search Engine Experience Optimisation)

You can no longer ignore or partially dismiss user experience when thinking about SEO, but need to look at the overall search experience.

Hence, they advocated merging CRO, SEO & UX to create beautiful onsite experiences for users by merging tactics to maximise traffic and conversions. In order to do that effectively they recommended utilising easy to source content (such as USP’s for your services, questions asked on Google profile for FAQ’s, user generated content, product specifications etc).

They also showed through some testing results how Google can measure and use time on site, bounce rate (back to SERPs), and other result clicks as well as query refinements on a large scale to factor ranking positions!

Follow Izzi @izzionfire & Nils @nilskattau.


6. How SEO for News Sites Can Help All Websites

Barry Adams at Digital Elite Day

Barry highlighted how news SEO is much closer to real time. In fact, you can see the numbers go up and down daily!

Although Google news doesn’t generate much traffic at all – if any – top stories do!

Top stories, which are approved by Google News (sites need to apply) are the only thing publishers really care about and only tend to stay there for 48 hours –  you need to be featured straight away if you want to grasp traffic!

Barry also said that with Google News, crawling and first stage of indexing (HTML) is actually the same process rather than separate processes like for normal SEO. This means that:

  • Google News only relies on HTML (not rendering)
  • 2nd stage (rendering) will eventually happen but doesn’t feed into google news.
  • Hence your code needs to be clean!

Despite not being the biggest fan of AMPs, Barry still tried to remain objective by emphasising the importance of AMPs for news traffic:

    • Top stories carousel on mobile are ALL AMPs, which means that you won’t be featured if you don’t have AMP’s.
    • For news sites, over 70% of searches will be mobile, hence, if you don’t have AMPS you’ll drop to 10%, at which point, good luck!


7. Gamification: How to Level up Your Link Building

Becky Simms at Digital Elite Day

Becky and her team conducted a survey on 2,000 UK consumers, from which they found that:

    • 58% of survey respondents said that online ads and marketing have little or no influence on their buying behaviour
    • 27% said they were somewhat influenced
    • 5% said they were extremely
    • Young people admitted to being influenced (most influenced are 16-24)

Indeed, trust in brands and ads is at an all time low.

Consumers are becoming numb to online tactics, which means that brands need to identify the importance of multiple touch-points in the decision journey and build relationships more than ever!

Respondents had nonetheless a very positive response to gamification in terms of it influencing their behaviours and making them more likely to buy from a brand they engaged in a game with.

In August 2017, Becky and her team launched a game as an experiment. Turned out they got links from top publications thanks to it, and the game also went viral on Twitter. HOW?

This is what they got right:

  • Right demographic
  • Addictive game
  • Challenging game
  • Length of game
  • Solid Outreach strategy
  • No sales messaging
  • Created a community effect
  • Used Forums
  • Listened to and engaged/took part in Social conversations


Following their very successful experiment, some of Becky’s recommendations were to:

  • Make the game link worthy,
  • Consider your audience & link building opportunities,
  • Sense check with journalists,
  • Consider influencers,
  • Do your competitor research,
  • Do more research & test,
  • Think about user motivation,
  • Make it competitive,
  • Consider all devices and a series of games!




Conversion Elite 2019 Conference Takeaways

Our favourite talks were the following:

  3. BIO-ACTIVE: THE APPLIANCE OF BIOMETRIC SCIENCE by Ben Ambridge from Liverpool University


1. A Behavioural Economic Framework for Ideation – Cognitive Bias

digital elite day cognitive bias

On average a person will have to make 35,000 decisions in one day. Some of subconscious or without you realising you are making an active decision.

Anna then described a cognitive bias as an error in judgement(leading to come to false conclusions).

Hence, it is crucial for brands to make their message loud and clear on their sites without shouting about it, by ensuring that users are encouraged to make a set action(s) to meet the end goal you want to achieve.

She also recommends avoiding putting users into ‘choice paralysis’ but to however make sure you don’t go OTT on the CTAs.

Other common biases also exists, which we should be keeping in mind:

  • Negativity bias – one negative can un-do multiple positives
  • Pain of paying bias – we don’t want to buy online with the fear of a negative return

Anna also explained the foot in the door technique, which is where making a small commitment to a user, will lead to getting the commitment back. This is definitely something which can be suggested to your clients, through small rewards or discounts, and other non-financial alternatives.


2. Mobile Optimisation using Voice of Customer Data

digital elite day voice of customer

In 2018 mobile overtook desktop in terms of traffic, yet conversion rates are currently 40-50% lower on mobile, despite the Mobile Halo Effect, which is when from 2017 to 2019 mobile conversions increased from 10% to 19%. Hence mobile conversion rates are certain to keep growing dramatically in the next few years, with biometric payments expected to reach $50billion by 2020!

Therefore it is essential to understand your users/audiences. For example, younger users are more likely to shop on mobile devices than older users. This is why, now more than ever, mobile feedback data is so much more important than desktop, as mobile is the future!

Consequently, VoC (Voice of the Customer) needs to be the priority.

A good way of finding this out would obviously be to asking your customers directly. Yet if you want to survey your site’s users, make sure you are extremely clear on what your goals are. You can’t expect something to just appear, you need to be very clear on what it is exactly you are wanting to identify?

Once you have your answers, make sure to act on your learnings, and action something or at least instigate it being implemented by your client, as at the end of the day, what’s the point in a report if nothing gets done from it?

This is why, always make sure beforehand that the client is willing to invest in dev time to make changes. Too often agencies will spend considerable amount of time analysing, researching, suggesting changes which cannot be implemented.


3. Bio-Active: The Appliance of Biometric Science

digital elite day eye tracking

This talk really went into conversion optimisation, which was very interesting, to the point of pupil dilation. Although a lot of it probably cant be applied to small – medium sized clients, there was some great takeaways from it:

  • Pictures on a site are great, as users look harder but shorter
  • Any text that is displayed on picture heavy sites NEEDS to be significant
  • If you want to show something to be bigger and better, make sure the images are saturated (if a picture showed cake to be small, you’d question spending the money, but if the piece of cake looked huge you’d be a lot more likely to)
  • Don’t act like a users’ best friend when writing content, small doses of humour are okay but you don’t want to lower the intention of a purchase by being overly friendly.
  • Centre stage effect – on ASOS where on the screen do you look first? At the central image!
  • Targeting an Arab or Hebrew market? They read right to left so make sure to take that into account


From eye tracking experiments Ben and his team conducted, they found that the 4 things that attract users’ attention most are:

  1. Faces – an actual persons face
  2. Text – don’t think that just images work, you need small lines of text to make sure the message is there, as well as for SEO!
  3. Novelty – how many times do users get the same old thing? Make sure to try new things!
  4. Their own name – we are all ego maniacs, so if you name appears on a page your attention is immediately there!


4. How to Build a Top 1% Growth Team 3x Faster Than Your Competition

digital elite day cro speaker

The key takeaway from this talk was that we need to stop limiting ourselves to working exclusively within silos when it comes to approaching our clients marketing strategies. We should be aiming to work as part of the marketing teams of our clients, as well as any other agencies and devs! If we aren’t working together, how can all parties really be getting the best results?

A great quote was that lazy people find the quickest way to a solution, but smart people actually get it done.

He also highlighted how B2B doesn’t always think from a human perspective. Yet even though you aren’t targeting a specific person, a specific person needs to find you in the first place so remember to keep it relatively human.

Agencies should also allow time to actually learn what clients do, as well as making them understand what it is they do. The hours you will investment in this now will reap rewards later on when no explanation is needed.

Thanks again to the Digital Elite Day team for having us and organising and hosting such an exciting event, we are already looking forward to next year’s!