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What small businesses can learn from this year’s SearchLove

By Alexandra Gavril - October 31, 2016

There are many excellent conferences in the world of digital marketing, but SearchLove stands out every year because it brings together some of the most knowledgeable speakers from the UK and abroad who cover ground-breaking topics. This year’s line-up included names like Moz’s Rand Fishkin, Wordstream’s founder Larry Kim and Distilled’s Will Critchlow, plus other great speakers from across the marketing spectrum.

While this two-day conference can get quite technical in terms of where search engine optimisation (SEO) goes next, it’s also a great source of knowledge and actionable advice for small business owners.

Following are our top takeaways from this year’s SearchLove conference…

Lisa Myers – ‘The mindset of successful Outreach’

Lisa’s talk was inspirational. She shared some great insights into the process of successful outreach and how to earn website links from creative campaigns. Her top advice: think about ideas and concepts, and not about backlinks. Because it’s ideas that will make you stand out.


So, whenever you’re putting together a campaign, your focus shouldn’t be on what you’ll gain (mentions, backlinks) but on the message that you’re sharing with your audience. If your message is unique and remarkable, you should have no trouble getting results, be they backlinks, mentions, social media talk and even media coverage.

Want some examples? Here are three really good campaigns to get your inspiration from:

  1. Expedia

Travel company Expedia created a campaign called “Unknown Tourism” where they shared a series of vintage-style images as a tribute to some of the creatures we’ll never get to see during our travels.


The idea was so unique that it quickly went viral, earning links from huge players like The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Huffington post and more. It was even featured in printed magazines.


Key takeaway: Campaigns don’t have to be specifically about your business or products, but about your customers and their interests. If you manage to appeal to their emotional side, you can never go wrong.

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy

“Guardians of the Galaxy” was named “the deadliest movie ever”, and this intriguing tag line earned the movie lots of coverage. 200 pieces in just one week, to be exact.



Key takeaway: A tag line can make or break your campaign so don’t rush it. Spend as much time as you need researching, testing and coming up with a catchy tag line that’ll make your campaign difficult to ignore.

  1. “GoCompare billionaires”

Insurance company GoCompare came up with the idea of examining the post-school education of people appearing in the top 100 billionaire rich list by Forbes magazine over the past 20 years. By sharing this interesting data, they managed to earn links from big online publishers – like BBC, The Telegraph, Entrepreneur, The Sun – that they weren’t able to reach until then.



Key takeaway: If you’re an expert in your niche and have access to great data, don’t keep it to yourself. Find an interesting angle and turn all that data into an appealing, easy-to-digest story. Not only can this help you build authority and show off your expertise, but you can also earn lots of links from reputable sources.

Amy Harrison — ‘Stand out to YOUR crowd: A framework for customer-driven copywriting’ 

Amy has been writing copy since 2008, and is particularly passionate about creating stories that convey value and keep prospective customers interested. But how does she achieve these things? Her philosophy is to always write for your users and to focus on how you’re different and on what’s in it for them if they choose to buy from you.

So – does your content stand out from the crowd? Or is it using the same boring marketing language as your other competitors?


If you want to attract more customers, stop using those “umbrella terms” that everyone else in your industry is using. No one is impressed with these generic terms. Plus, they don’t say anything about your product or business.

Here’s what you can do instead: write your copy using the words and terms that your customers actually use when talking about your business.

Check out these examples to get a better understanding of what “umbrella terms” are and how you can replace them:


Key takeaway: Users see the same marketing messages over and over again, across multiple sites and platforms. So of course their brains get accustomed to those messages and start to ignore them. By using different copy to describe your products (which includes terms that your customers actually use to describe your products), you can stand out from the crowd and get potential customers to notice you.

Bas van den Beld — The Secrets of Storytelling

Bas van den Beld is the founder of State of Digital and a professional speaker, trainer and digital marketing strategist. But most importantly, he’s a storyteller. So his presentation focused on the importance of creating a compelling story, and how combining storytelling with marketing is the only way to go.

So why are stories so important? Stories stick! They affect minds and change the perspective of those who listen or read the story. And they also do something else that’s really important: stories help you to build trust in your business.


Now, while storytelling is fun and can be very powerful when used right, many don’t know how to take advantage of it.

Bas van den Beld also said that marketing content is the enemy of storytelling. That’s because too many focus too little on crafting a compelling story that sells. So, make sure you take the time to research and come up with a story that will resonate with your audience. Use sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers and other similar platforms to see what questions your audience has when it comes to your business and industry. Then use these questions and conversations to craft your story.

Key takeaway: The story you create shouldn’t be about your business but about your customers. So it should resonate with your audience’s experience, culture and feelings. Bottom line: make sure you learn as much as you can about your audience before you craft your story.

Jessica Gioglio — Make your marketing memorable with visual storytelling

Digital & Social Strategist and Author, Jessica Gioglio talked about visual storytelling and how to make the most of it.

Did you know that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual? Or that our brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text alone?


Along with these interesting facts, Jessica also shared many practical tips on how to engage with customers using visual content.

One important thing to consider is how you choose which images to use. Not any stock image can do the trick, so make sure you go with images that add to the story about what makes your company unique.


Also, always keep your target audience in mind when choosing which visuals to use. The right ones can bring your story to life, spark conversation and can also help you to deliver a memorable customer experience.


If you really want to stand out, keep an eye on new types of visuals that pop up, such as cinemagraphs. These can help drive attention to a focal point on your website.

Key takeaway: With attention span decreasing, you’ll need better visuals if you want to tell a memorable story and get people’s attention. Remember to personalise your visuals based on your audience as this can help provide a better experience to your audience.

Jes Stiles – ‘WhatsAppening with Messenger App Marketing’

CMO of emerging markets at Ringier, Jes talked about chat apps and how businesses can take advantage of apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik to talk to their customers.

With so many people using chat apps, it makes it easy to communicate with your customers on the platforms they’re already using, instead of having them come to your site to get in touch with you. So, do some research to find out which apps your audience is using and then use it yourself to engage with them.


As a small business, this is a fantastic way to reduce costs as you can use chat-bots to provide support to your customers. Just make sure a human is on hand to help where necessary.


When you’ve decided on the apps you’d like to use, take some time to understand how each works and how people use them. Also, instead of waiting for them to message you, why not start the conversation?

Here’s an example of how H&M uses apps to ask questions and learn more about its customers:


Just make sure you keep an eye on the chats between your users and the bots to ensure the chat bot can reply with a useful answer.


Key takeaway: If you’re thinking about developing a mobile app for your business instead of using an existing one, think again. Will users really download yet another app that they rarely use?Probably not. So if you want to use an app to engage with your audience, go with an existing one that your customers are already using.

Lea Pica – Get Their Attention: Extreme Data Viz Makeovers for Maximum Presentation Impact

Lea is the Director of Data Visualization and Storytelling for Search Discovery. Her presentation taught us that it’s not enough to be great at what you’re doing; you also have to be great at presenting your work to others.

Keeping presentations interesting is not an easy job as people get so easily distracted and bored. So following are Lea’s tips on how to maintain attention and be memorable.

To start with, make sure you present your data and information in a way that your audience can easily understand and digest.


While there is a plethora of tools that you can use to get data and to organise it in pie charts and graphs, don’t overdo it.


Use images as they stir emotion and help tell your story. And when it comes to text, she recommends using one bullet point per page. Add more and they will end up distracting your audience from the message.


Use simple, minimalist charts with few colours to help emphasise the important data.


Key takeaway: While many are guilty of boring their audiences with their presentations, you can use these useful tips and try to do better. Just make sure to think about your audience and create a presentation that’s not only interesting but also filled with valuable information that’s easy to understand.

Wil Reynolds – Why People Buy. Remembering the People Behind the Clicks.

Founder and director of strategy at Seer Interactive, Wil talked about the role that words play in marketing.

With 50-60% of titles and descriptions not being keyword focused anymore, we can notice a shift in marketing towards people rather than search engines.


That’s why Wil urges everyone to study words. According to Wil, data and facts mean nothing as it’s words that have the power to instil emotions in our users.


When you’re testing to see which words work best for your audience, measure your success by traffic and sales, and not rankings. If your rankings haven’t improved, that does not mean the test has failed.


If you want to get results, you need to understand what your audience wants, and then offer them that in the search engine results page. This is as easy as running a simple search and looking at Google’s suggestions. These suggestions are the terms and phrases that people search for on Google, so they’re very useful:


Key takeaway: “Ranking is not enough to drive success,” said Wil. There are many factors that impact conversions, and doing some keyword research won’t help that much. Instead, find ways to learn more about your audience’s needs, their questions and concerns, and then use this information to create content that provides a solution, that answers their questions and puts their worries at ease.

Wrapping up

We hope you find these tips and advice useful, and you put them to good use to create compelling stories and great campaigns that make your business stand out and earn you lots of links. We also hope that you’ll take advantage of new visual formats to tell a memorable story. And if you’re preparing to give a presentation, you now have all the information you need to make a great impression. For more advice on how to be successful online, keep reading our blog.