European-search-awards-Alex Fenton and Aleksej Heinze Salford Business School

Alex Fenton and Aleksej Heinze at the European Search Awards

Back in blighty, my head is spinning from everything that just happened in the last 24 hours. It all started when my colleague at Salford Uni, Dr.Aleksej Heinze asked me if I wanted to get involved as tech lead for a project Salford Business School were working on called Passport to Trade 2.0. It sounded like a really cool project, researching business and social media culture in Europe and producing a website for with text, images, animations and videos with the results aimed at helping people to do business in different countries.

Search and Social Media Marketing

Aside from the commercial work we do, Aleksej and I both teach Search and Social Media Marketing for Salford Business School and I run a digital agency called EDinteractive. Aleksej started an incredible digital marketing network and Search Social Media CPD course a few years ago, which helped to shape our programmes. We have guest speakers each week, some of the best guys and gals in the digital industry. We’ve learned a lot from them and we’ve been able to help a lot of people from all walks of life with their digital marketing efforts. The feedback is incredible on the courses and it’s so satisfying to be able to learn from the best and help facilitate that knowledge.

Reykjavik sun voyager viking ship

Reykjavik – Sun voyager Viking ship

For Passport to Trade 2.0 – we put into practice everything that we know about Search, SEO, Social Media and Inbound content marketing. The content was great and the team that had been assembled from around Europe and locally was spot on. When we put the content up in October 2013, we were excited by what would happen. In no time at all, the site started to get well over a thousand visitors a day through using organic search optimisation and great content and it continued to grow to over 1800 visitors a day.

Search Awards

When we heard the European Search Awards were in Reykjavik in 2014, we had a chat and thought it would be worth submitting the project. A few weeks later, we were really excited to hear our project had been short-listed. These awards are some of the most prestigious in the industry, with hundreds of entries from the best companies, organisations and projects on the planet. We booked our flights.

That’s why Dads go to Iceland

European Search Awards 2014 - Salford Business School

European Search Awards 2014 – Salford Business School

Reykjavik is one of my favourite cities– it’s a truly unique place. We checked-in to the Grand Hotel and there was already a real buzz of excitement building in the hotel foyer with huge ceilings, stained glass and water features running throughout. A few years ago, they drilled a massive hole beneath the hotel, filled it with copper and tapped into Iceland’s geo-thermal energy making it totally unique and eco-friendly. Yes, the water smells a bit eggy with all the sulphur on this volcanic island on top of shifting tectonic plates – but you can forgive that with geo-thermally heated lagoons and showers with the power of Gulfoss waterfall itself.

So, after meeting some top digital marketing guys over a couple of Viking beers, we headed into the Gala Dinner. None other than Andy Crane, one of my childhood heroes was presenting the awards #win. We got seated on table 18 with a great agency from Leeds, Sticky Eyes, who were nominated for several awards, and on the other side, one of our Uni alumni who are doing some great things in search also. It was a fun table to be on and with the champagne flying; we started our trip with a bang!

European-search-awards-Table 18 with Salford Business School

European-search-awards-Table 18 with Salford Business School

When our category, best use of search in the third sector came up – we held our breath. We couldn’t believe it when our project was read out by Andy. We had not dared to even think about what we might say had we won, but ever the quick thinker, Aleksej told the room about the Joint European Masters in Search and Social Media that we are developing at the moment. Then the party really started. The European Search Personality of the year (and top guy) Kristjan Mar Hauksson took to the stage with his band and played some fantastic tunes for us and the room was swinging.

Biking around Reykjavik

In the morning, the hotel had a couple of bikes, so we took a bit of a punt and hired them out for a ride around Reykjavik. We headed up to the Perlan observation deck. This is a good place to start as you can see a 360 degree view over the city and surrounding areas. After a bit of off road over lava rocks, we headed down town for The Church of Hallgrímskirkja. The son of Iceland Leifur Eiriksson stands proud in

hallgrimskirkja church Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja church Reykjavik

the grounds. He was the first European to discover America over a thousand years ago. Casting his legendary eye over this magnificent church and city you get a feel of the spirit of Reykjavik. The imposing church towers above the city, you can see it from everywhere as a point of reference with its volcanic spire and curves framing the picturesque city and snow capped mountains.

Inside the church, a 25 tonne gigantic organ is belting out an incredible sound, filling the minimal and impressive interior. We get the lift up to the top of the tower. Wow, in true Icelandic style, we are inside the clock tower. Four of the most amazing pieces of translucent art adorn each clock face. Looking through the photographs, you can see right across Iceland. Going up the steps even further to the top is a sight to behold in

Reykjavik from Perlan observation tower with-bikes

Reykjavik from Perlan observation tower with-bikes

every direction.

We got back on our bikes and rode down to the impressive harbour and opera house with its bee-hive glass design rising from the water. After a couple of photos, we ride along the sea front to find the Viking ship sculpture ‘Sun Craft’. It’s a modern sculpture in stainless steel, gleaming in the spring sunshine and framed with clear blue water and snowy mountains. What more could you want?

Cycling around the harbour and Reykjavik-opera house

Cycling around the harbour and Reykjavik-opera house

After cycling to the lake and parliament, the fresh clean air is giving us an appetite, so we cycle back up the hill to browse the shops and bars of this bohemian and creative city. After randomly bumping into a new gallery shop opening, we find a quirky café to eat falafel, mozzarella and some teas. Time is ticking on now, so we set off back to the hotel ready for the airport bus. Riding back through the streets of Reykjavik gives me a moment to try and reflect on everything that just happened. It’s been an incredible trip – but we’ve only scratched the surface here on what Iceland and the world of digital marketing has to offer. I can’t wait!

  • There are some more images below and some more on Flickr.
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[acx_slideshow name=”European Search Awards”]


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