Takeaways from the European Search Conference 2018 in Liverpool

Liverpool is hot!! Both from the outside temperature and the presentations on stage at the European Search Conference I just came back from.

Liverpool is home to wonderful Beatles statues, to the Ferry cross the Mersey, to seagulls and Liver birds.

Liverpool was also host the the European Search Conference 2018 earlier this week. A one-day conference with a great line-up I was happy to be part of.

Chaired by Jim Banks, the one-day conference had several good friends speaking: Aleyda Solis, Lukasz Zelezny, Pierre Far and Dawn Anderson and then some new friends Zbigniew Nowicki from Bluerank, Matt Vignieri from Kenshoo, Vicke Cheung from Distilled.  I can not do everyone justice in this post. Rob Weatherhead, Michelle Wilding, Dewi Nawasari.

A Jim Banks quote is in place:

“It feels like they have picked all the speakers with names that are impossible to pronounce”.

Aleyda as always impressive with solid advice on web migration, Pierre Far going deep into GDPR and providing a tracking solution, Blockmetry, that supports it, Dawn Anderson showing us where Voice search is going.


Lukasz Zelezny did a great little presentation on Social Media: “things you can do tonight”. Hey Lukasz, I know you are tracking mentions, so I am sure you will find this post ūüėČ I love your tools and tricks on Automation, Social Media and brand monitoring. I too have fallen in love with IFTTT (although I later adopted Zapier) and with Sotrender for Social media monitoring.

I really enjoyed the fact that Lukasz was talking so much about Automation because it was one of the major trends I was going to address later on in my own presentation.

Machine Learning and AI

Zbigniew Nowicki from Bluerank presented a case study for their client Rainbow. I didn’t know Zbigniew before the conference but I knew his company Bluerank very well as they were a double winner at this year’s European Search Awards and also one of the companies I referenced in my own presentation. The case study was about the user journey and attribution in the Travel sector where bluerank have applied a machine learning approach to finding the most important step in the user journey. Fascinating research. Machine learning and AI is a major trend in digital marketing and it was great seeing this addressed from someone else than the big masters of AI, the Gafa, Microsoft and IBM who are traditionally dominant in the field.

 The importance of Research

Vicke Cheung from Distilled, presented the 10 Commandments for the Creative process and what I really liked about her presentation was the emphasis she laid on the Research process. There was a nice quote from Ogilvy about how Research can be boring but that it is extremely important. I found another one which I hadn’t heard before:

Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.

David Ogilvy

I was so into the research phase that I didn’t take down her 10 commandments on paper but I clearly remember the most important message about Ideation: “ideas come from dialogue”, confront them, present them, challenge them.

Of course, agencies doing more research for digital marketing is one of the major trends from my own presentation, which I why I find it so important to stress…

Understanding the User journey

Matt Vignieri from Kenshoo told us a story of his own user journey in the last online purchase he made. He clearly illustrated how you are using different moments, different channels and how you state of mind is different from one step to the next in that journey towards a purchase or a conversion.

Kenshoo is a technology provider that allows you to track user exposure and engagement at various stages of the user journey and I was really happy he emphasized this as he was precisely on one of the major trends as well.

What are the best digital marketers doing that maybe you are not?

My own presentation was named Major trends in Paid Search and was based on research I have done into the best “PPC” entries in this years European Search Awards. In the presentation linked to on slideshare, I am providing a good view of just that.

However, the parts of the presentation I have not put on Slideshare were asking a slightly different question. What are the most advanced digital marketers doing? Well, you have some of the answers in the titles used in this post and some of them in the presentation. From the 24 PPC case studies I analyzed, the pattern that I could see was one of digital marketers constantly adapting to change, research for insights, trying to understand the user journey, trying new things, testing, raising the bar on what they already master by introducing processes, automation and machine learning. For the full story, come to my next conference but for a nice take on it, here is a tweet I liked from AgencyPedro summing it up:

My presentation can be found on slideshare here:

The European Search Conference 2018 was a great experience and I was really happy to get the opportunity to speak there and to discover the  great city of Liverpool.

If you like the content, please follow me on twitter for updates @soanders. It is likely that I push further on this research and publish more insights in the future and I will use Twitter to announce and share.



To do a little more justice, please find below 3 other presentations on Slideshare:

The SEO guide for successful web migrations by Aleyda Solis: https://www.slideshare.net/aleydasolis/the-seo-guide-for-successful-web-migrations-eusearchcon

10 Commandments to demystifying the creative process by Vicke: https://www.slideshare.net/VickeCheung/the-10-commandments-to-demystifying-the-creative-process-103496955

Voice search and conversation – Challenges and opportunities by Dawn Anderson: https://www.slideshare.net/DawnFitton/voice-search-and-conversation-action-assistive-systems-challenges-opportunities

Web analytics and EU regulations by Pierre Far:

Major Trends in Paid Search by Anders Hjorth: https://www.slideshare.net/secret/KnlwWEmoEkyvdI


Write-up from Kanuka Digital: https://www.kanukadigital.com/2018/07/european-search-conference/



SMX London 2018: Artificial Intelligence, Privacy, Niche-focus for SEO and the importance of Speed

SMX London 2018 was a great edition. I am just back from the event and still have my head full of all the things we discussed on the closing panel I was part of.

The main topics were of course Privacy and GDPR on one hand and then Automation and Artificial Intelligence on the other. In the conference programme, various topics touched on AI: Automation for PPC and Voice Search being the most prominent ones. But GDPR was discussed in every break, over every drink and in most of the questions asked during the individual sessions.


The conference addressed some really interesting questions this year:

  • Should you use Ranking factor studies to guide the way you do SEO or simply use for inspiration?
  • What are your options when organic reach in Facebook and other social media is dropping?
  • Is AMP for mobile rendering or or just a temporary patch to a problem of speed?
  • Should we be worried as marketers with the arrival of AI in the optimization interfaces?

Overall, there was a lot of discussion of Speed. Speed as a ranking factor – not time to first byte but time to full page render as Marcela de Vivo from Semrush stressed. There were session on AMP which are in essence a way to speed up pages.

At the beginning of the year, my prediction was that AI would be big but that it would be more of a hype effect than a reality for the Digital Marketer this year. Well, it looks like AI is more prominent than that. Frederick Valleys from Optymzr reminded us that the Quality score was the first Machine learning functionality in Adwords and has been around since the beginning of Paid Search. And we have seen new ML driven functionalities enter the scene little by little. The Smart bidding options (Target PPC, Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks and Maximise conversions) are all part of this, as Brad Geddes reminded us. And in a separate session, Ann Stanley showed an example of smart bidding for shopping campaigns involving remarketing: Optimize by Goals which you can find here.

What we won’t see is perhaps the shift from Machine Learning (ML) into Artificial Intelligence (AI) for these functionalities.

Voice search is another area where Artificial Intelligence has a big role to play. It was covered in the keynote by Beshad Bezhadi but also at a more concete level in a very popular session by Pete Campbell:

As is often the case, I met some wonderful people in the networking around the event ‚Äď and also had some of the more interesting discussions off the record.

  • Changes in the Google algorithm favouring niche approaches
  • The need to constantly renew ourselves in this industry of constant change
  • The need of business in other industries to learn from our experience as they will soon be facing the same challenges of constant change that we have for 20 years due to major technological, organisation and behavioural disruption across all business sectors.

Soon it will be time for SMX Paris – the programme is very different and there is no real speaker overlap so it will be another exciting conference on Search, Social, Analytics and Digital marketing overall.

Major trends in Paid Search #EUSearchCon

What is going on in Paid Search these days? What strategies and tactics are being used? What new functionalities in Google Adwords are Search marketers using for themselves or for their clients?

I have analyzed 25 of the best entries in the European Search Awards in order to identify the major trends in Paid Search. I will be presenting the results on the European Search Conference in Liverpool next month.

Paid search was such a powerful marketing tool at its inception. In the early 2000s, Search Marketing would be a challenger to all media and communication budgets as it could drive volumes, drive conversions and even prove its value. Since then, Paid Search has become a bit more humble and opened up to the marketing mix and it is fascinating to see how Paid Search integrates with other channels; Social media, of course, but also Shopping engines, email and even offline.

Strategies, tactics, functionalities and hacks

I have structured the analysis around 4 different categories:

Strategies: for many years a Search Strategy would be built on 3 elements: Granularity, Expansion and Optimisation. We still see this approach in entries in 2018 but the more advanced strategies are looking at the wider user journey and are pulling data or inspiration from outside of the Search channel.

Tactics: it is at the tactical level that most of the trends are visible. The spectrum of tactics used seems to be expanding quite a bit. We see several tactics deployed within one entry.

Functionalities: the search engines are adding a lot of functionalities and Paid Search has become a complex beast. It was never really ¬ę¬†15 minutes and a credit card¬†¬Ľ as Google originally announced on the Adwords entry page. Extensions are some of the most adopted functionalities and we also see mentions of machine learning.

Hacks: some of the entries are using innovative techniques. I am hoping to be able to share some of these hacks in my presentation but can’t reveal anything at this stage.

I have been a Judge on the European Search Awards for the past 4-5 years. That has given me the priviledge to see some of the best work in Search Marketing carried out across Europe. The judging experience is very rich but also time-consuming and I believe these awards are doing a wonderful job of compensating excellent work and also of making a whole industry aim for excellence.

The Awards ceremony is a great celebration but there is no time available for celebrating the content of individual entries. Each year we see new ideas emerge and each year we see quality improve.

This presentation is an aim to share some of that experience so that the industry can build upon an even stronger foundation for coming years.

I hope to see you there.

European Search Conference 2018
27 June, 2018, Liverpool International Business Festival
Discount code: ESC20SP

European Search Awards 2018 – enter before 16/02

The European Search Awards celebrate the best of the Search Marketing industry. I have had the priviledge to be one of the judges for a number of years and the quality of the entries seems to increase for each year. It is a great pleasure to be part of the 2018 Judging team also and we are looking forward to your entry!

There are 29 different categories and I am convinced that most agencies, in-house teams and software editors will have at least 1 outstanding client story to submit.

Building and submitting a case study in itself can be an enriching experience and it also allows you to benchmark your organisation against the market. Will you make the shortlist? Could you win one of the trophees?

Shortlists are due to be published on the 23rd or March. And all the excitement will culminate in an amazing Event ceremony which will be held in Prague on 16 May.

You can submit your entry here: European Search Awards

Speaking on SMX Paris 2015


smxpar15_125_spkrTime flies, SMX Paris is already next week (8-9 June 2015). I will be speaking together with François Houste on the subject of Content Marketing. We will be talking about the importance of Ideas, the mechanics of Distribution, the many ways in which you can Amplify your message through Paid Media.

Ideation, Viralisation, Brand Content, Native Advertising. I think it will be a lot of fun.

Hope to see you there!






So Anders will be speaking on RIMC 2014


The Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference takes place on 28 March and has a great line-up of speakers from Big brands like Heineken, Geox, Nokia, Dell, Lenovo and more. I have been invited to the Wrap-up session at 16.00 about Big Brands online from the marketers perspective.

HearMeSpeak RIMC14Details here: Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference 2014

This will be my first time to Iceland and I am really looking forward to this. I will combine a great looking RIMC conference with the European Search Awards and additionally I will take an extra day to discover this amazing country I have been wanting to visit for many years.

Iceland, here we come!

SMX Stockholm 2013 will have a “Nordics” track

I will be the chair of SMX Stockholm 2013 on 14-15 October together with Jens Hård, the CEO of Outrider Sweden. With a Danish-Swedish tandem in charge of the program it is obvious that we will aim to further broaden the scope and we are setting up an Advisory board including representatives from all the markets.

We are launching something new called the Nordics track. This track which is on the second day of the conference will focus on the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic markets seen as a whole and from the outside.

There will be a focus on Ranking factors specific for the Nordics. What? Different ranking factors in different countries? Well as keyword morphology and backlink profiles are very different from one market to the next, ranking factors differ. Marcus Tober founder of SearchMetrics is aiming to do dedicated research on this for the conference.

In paid search, there are obvious differences also and I have convinced Sean Malseed from SEMrush to also do some dedicated research for this conference. He will be looking more specifically on the ecommerce sector and compare across the Nordic markets.

We are also planning to address the topic of “the Nordics as ONE market”. Adding the 5 populations together you reach some 25 million inhabitants. From a global marketers perspective that may not seem much but the market has some fascinating characteristics in terms of buying power, internet penetration, standard of living. Remains therefore the challenge of managing Search campaigns across 4-5 languages of which at least 3 are very close but not the same.

There will be plenty of reasons for coming to SMX Stockholm this year and catching the early bird AND an early flight booking can even make it quite affordable. Oh, and we will be aiming to do some SMX After Dark as well…

I will do some more updates on this event as we progress towards the final program and speaker line-up!

Search Marketing Day in Poznan


I am announced to speak on the Search Marketing Day in Poznan 27-28 June 2013

SEO Hero¬Ľ RTB: From Search Marketing over Display Remarketing into Display Acquisition

This will be the second time I speak in Poland but my first time in Poznan. The presentation will go into depth on the mechanics of Display RTB & Remarketing for a Performance-driven client of BDBL MEDIA.  

Lovely French Words for the International Search Summit

I will be speaking on the International Search Summit in London tomorrow on the subject of Search Marketing in France. I have done quite some research both through searches for content, image searches and interviews with Industry Experts who have experience with the French market.

I found the “Lovely French words” on a “Franchophile” blog named My Melange. The author suggested some of them and the community added the rest. My contribution was to sort them, give them weight and then throw them into Wordle.net. This is not scientific research but it does give us a nice cloud.

For those attending you will also see input from interviews I did with a handful of Search Marketing Industry Experts. Big thanks for their contributions to:

  • Alan Boughen (Havas)
  • David Towers (MEC)
  • Marc Poirier (Acquisio)
  • David Szetela (Vizion)
  • Shahid Awan (Cheapflights)
  • David Henry (Monster)
  • David Carralon (British Council)

For those not attending ISS tomorrow, I hope to be able to provide the research in one form or the other at a later stage. I will make sure to announce that via twitter @soanders.

For those attending, you will get a chance to hear my own opinions as well – see you tomorrow ūüôā




SMX London 2013


15-16 May 2013 – Search Marketing Expo London

I will be presenting a case study from BDBL MEDIA and also moderate several sessions:
¬Ľ Ready, Aim, Fire‚Ķ Then Retarget!