Judges


The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of industry leaders and experts, the judging is a rigorous two-stage process including pre-scoring to determine shortlists and a judging meeting where entries are discussed and evaluated in detail to decide the winning entries.

From a transparency perspective, we may video aspects of the judging session to show on the evening and give entrants an insight into why a winning entry was chosen.

Become a Judge Previous Judges

Head judges

David Edmundson-Bird | Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing | Manchester Metropolitan University

David is Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he leads a team of specialist digital marketing academics and runs a number of digital communications programmes. He is co-author of 7th edition of Digital Business & E-commerce Management with Dave Chaffey and Tanya Hemphill. David is Chair of Global Judging Standards for Don’t Panic. His role is to ensure objectivity, transparency and consistency across the judging panels for all Don’t Panic assets, and to provide a quality assurance process in the judging process. He set up Manchester Met’s first part-time MSc in Digital Marketing in 2007, their first full-time MSc Digital Marketing Communications in 2016 and Manchester Met’s Global E-Learning MSc in Digital Marketing. David founded Manchester Met’s Agency Life programme in 2012 to enable students to experience live work skills in the workplace very early in their course. He has enjoyed several spells in academia as well as senior management roles in the digital sector, helped to set up Manchester’s second web design agency back in 1995, He sits on the Board FutureEverything and is a trustee of The Education Trust.

Judges

Areej Abuali | SEO Consultant |

Based in the UK, Areej is an SEO Consultant who focuses on all things technical and on-site SEO. She’s worked client-side and agency-side across the property, health, fashion and travel industry. She is the founder of the Women in Tech SEO community which is a global community aimed for women in the Technical SEO field. She has been in the industry for the past 8 years and has spoken in industry events such as SMX, MozCon and BrightonSEO.

LinkedIn profile

Lukas Adamec | Performance Marketing Manager | Zendesk

Lukas Adamec has been working within Paid Digital for 11+ years, during which he transitioned from an employee to a freelancer & CEO of Abadam Marketing. In the last 5 years Lukas has focused on Consultancy - working with established agencies to deliver client growth. His focus is particularly on international paid opportunities, from Google to Yandex, from Naver to Baidu, from Yahoo JP to Seznam. Lukas is a firm believer in knowledge sharing and enjoys discussing experiences with established online marketers as well as providing training to new colleagues. During his time off, Lukas recharges his energy by being disconnected from online influences and instead spends his time on wildlife photography.

Jim Banks | CEO | Spades Media |

Jim has over 18 years of digital advertising experience. Since then he’s spent in excess of £220 million buying traffic for over 1000 companies. Jim is a keynote speaker invited to speak at industry events around the world, including Pubcon, Retail Global, Marketing Festival, Friends Of Search, Hitpath Masters Conference, a4uexpo, SES, SMX and Affiliate Summit. Jim has been a regular fixture on the judging panel at the UK, European, MENA and US Search awards for the past four years and is a returning judge for this years UK Search Awards. Never one to shy away from giving an opinion or pulling punches, Jim enjoys critiquing entries at the Awards and seeing what the search community thinks is worthy of winning.

Michael Bonfils | Managing Director | SEM International

Michael Bonfils is the Founder and CEO of SEM International. Which is an award winning global digital marketing management firm with 32 worldwide offices specializing in multilingual PPC, SEO, Social Media, Global eCommerce, Content and Localization. His company’s services are tailored to assist global advertising agencies and multinational corporations with their digital marketing strategies around the world. He has been in the industry since 1997, has been a frequent speaker at global conferences, is a recognized industry award judge and past/present board member for a number of digital marketing organizations.

Laurent Bourrelly | SEO Consultant | LAURENT BOURELLY S.L.U

In 1994, Laurent started working in marketing and branding. Laurent discovered the wonders of SEO in 2004, by entering a SEO contest. After three months of 24/7 SERP battling in this international competition, he got it. He knew exactly how and what to feed Google in order to help any web page rank at the top of Google SERP. It’s no miracle. If you put in the time and education over thousands of hours, you’ll eventually figure it out just as Laurent has. Like many others, Laurent cut his teeth mastering both black and white hat SEO techniques, adapting and evolving during each google algorithm update to keep himself at the bleeding edge of best practices right up to this very day. Bringing back his knowledge about branding and marketing into the SEO mix became obvious around 2010. Today, Laurent is one of the very few who can go from high-class Content Marketing to Black Hat SEO while building a strong Semantic SEO main pillar. He took out of the equation all the question marks, leaving only one single question « do you have the means to reach your goals ? » Some other notable achievements include his dozens of industry speeches including TEDx and SMX as well as his positions on as a Head Judge of the European Search Awards, and regular judged for many others. His thought leadership within the SEO community is well renowned from co-forming the notorious 'DarkSEOTeam' back in his black hat days, to being awarded third place for ‘All Time Best SEO in France’. The latest adventure is called SEO Conspiracy, which you can find on all the good places Online. It’s all about debunking SEO myths and Google Propaganda, but also helping out by sharing the right strategies to deliver results in SEO and Digital Marketing. Laurent now focuses his time mainly on consulting and has trained numerous SEO professionals, amongst the best in their fields.

Michael Costanzo | Head of SEO | Internet Fusion Group

Michael is the Head of SEO at Internet Fusion Group, a fast-growing e-commerce company based in the UK that specialises in gear and lifestyle products across surf, skate, snow and equestrian, as well as premium street and outdoor fashion. IFG’s portfolio includes popular online stores like Surfdome, Country Attire, Ride-Away and DirtBikeBitz, as well as some of the world’s top action sports magazines including Whitelines Snowboarding, Outdoors Magic and many more. Before this, Michael was Senior SEO Manager at Trainline, the world’s leading train and coach ticket app, where he was responsible for driving the international growth strategy reaching millions of new customers from across the globe. Michael has also spent the earlier part of his career agency-side, working across an extensive range of verticals including retail, FMCG, e-commerce, B2B, finance and more for some of the world’s biggest brands such as Johnson & Johnson, GE, Tiffany & Co. and many more.

Halide Ebcinoglu | SEO & SEM Consultant

Halide is a digital marketer with over 15 years of experience in SEO, SEM & Project Management. She has successfully managed large-scale digital projects from ideation to completion. Halide worked at Google Dublin before she has co-founded her own agency, Kubix Digital, an international search-focused Digital Marketing Agency based in Berlin. She is occasionally speaking at conferences, like Brighton SEO, Hallo.Digital, Contentixx and many more. Halide is principled in her work and personal life when it comes to living green and empowering people in need; contributing to a more sustainable world is her lifelong goal.

Ellie England | Sales Director | Microsoft

Passionate about digital, women in technology and making a lasting impact, Ellie began her career in sales working in an inner city secondary school 'selling' the importance of modern languages to disaffected teenagers. She got in to the world of digital advertising working for Google for 6 years, before eventually relocating to Manchester and joining Microsoft. As a Sales Director for Microsoft Advertising, for the past 5 years. Ellie has been spearheading the continued investment in the North of the UK and beyond, leading a growing team of Account Managers and Directors and juggling life as a proud mother of two pre-schoolers.

Bill Hartzer | SEO CONSULTANT

Bill Hartzer is an independent SEO Consultant. He relies on his 20 years of direct SEO experience to provide technical SEO audits of websites, as well as technical link audits and link cleanups of websites. Mr. Hartzer is known worldwide for his research on the topic of search engine optimization and the New gTLD domain names, as well as Dot Brand domain names. He provides research and marketing of white papers and case studies related to the New gTLDs, as well as consulting related to domain migrations.

Simon Heseltine | VP OF AUDIENCE GROWTH | TRADER INTERACTIVE |

Simon Heseltine is the VP of Audience Growth at Trader Interactive in Norfolk, VA. His team is responsible for all traffic channels for industry leading sites such as Cycle Trader, RV Trader, Equipment Trader and Commercial Truck Trader, winning the Global Search Award team of the Year for 2020. Simon has led US Search Award winning teams at ForRent (2017) and AOL (2014), also working in-house at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and for several years on the agency side. Simon taught digital marketing for 5 years at Georgetown University, and was on the board of SEMPO for 4 years, 2 as VP of Education. Pre-pandemic, Simon was a frequent speaker / trainer / moderator at conferences around the world on a variety of online marketing topics. He has a BA (Hons) from the University of Humberside, and a Masters in IT from Virginia Tech

Jennifer Hoffman | VP of Marketing | Banked

Jennifer is an enthusiastic and passionate Marketing Director with over 15 years of experience in brand building and strategic marketing, with an impressive track record of developing key partner relationships and driving business growth. Fascinated by all things impacting the customer journey; brand experience, user experience and customer experience. Hyper curious about new tech, innovation and startup culture!

Motoko Hunt | President | AJPR

Since establishing AJPR in 1998, Motoko Hunt has been providing online marketing services to various companies around the world. Her extensive knowledge of Asia and Japanese markets proves to be highly valuable as her consulting services have made a significant impact on global marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most popular multinational brands. Besides being published in industry websites and printed media, Motoko is a frequent speaker at global search marketing conferences, giving seminars and training about topics on International Search Marketing.

Kristal Ireland | Digital Director and Speaker

Previously voted as one of the UK's Top 30 Women in Digital Under 30, Kristal Ireland is a specialist in digital transformation and digital brand strategy. An award winning, strategic and experienced digital marketing expert, Kristal is the Director of Digital for the national charity UK Coaching. A regular digital conference speaker and industry commentator Kristal has worked in digital for over a fifteen years developing digital solutions for some of the UK’s biggest brands.

Lada Kalashnikova | Head of SEO | CopyBet EU Ltd

Lada has worked in digital marketing since 2003. She specializes in all aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), with a focus on technical SEO, multilingual search and mobile optimization. Her clients have included Starco, Action-MCFR, and Artec 3D. Lada worked as a Global Head of SEO in Acronis, then she was a Head of SEO at SEMRush. Lada now works as the Head of SEO/ASO in CopyBet EU Ltd, the first social betting platform founded in 2015. CopyBet is a fast-growing tech company, focused on providing the best experience for their customers while following the principles of Transparency and Fair Trade. Lada enjoys lifetime studying; most recently on topics around data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. Her favorite tools are Excel, GWT, GA, Yandex Metrica and brains. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling, yoga, and Japanese Art. Definitely a cat person.

Richard Keenan-Heard | Head of SEO | Trainline |

Richard leads Trainline’s in-house SEO and engineering team, focusing on scaling growth through product and UX improvements at scale in markets across the world. With a growth mindset and a passion for trains matched only by his determination to help customers find the best options for sustainable travel, Richard has assembled the team from the ground up. Before joining Trainline, Richard spent five years working at Wavemaker (formerly MEC) delivering scaled, enterprise level SEO for global brands including GE, Tiffany, Michelin, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. As a result of his agency and in-house experience, Richard has a diverse background in SEO and Product bringing a wealth of experience to the judges’ panel.

LinkedIn profile

Mike Kirwan | Managing Director | RMS

Since 2018, Mike has been MD of creative communications agency, RMS in Altrincham. Prior to this, he was the longstanding Commercial Director at digital marketing agency Latitude for 11 years where he worked with a number of high profile brands such as bet365, Tesco, Post Office and Brewdog. He is also an experienced troubleshooter and board advisor for brands. Before digital, he worked for over a decade in advertising agencies including Yellow M, BJL and Gyro International. He has an award-winning and innovative approach to business strategy - keeping it simple, being creative and ensuring real focus from his team.

Judith Lewis | Founder | DeCabbit Consultancy |

Judith is a renowned international speaker, writer, trainer, blogger and digital media consultant specialising in applying strategic understanding of digital technologies to help businesses innovate and optimise their effectiveness within the new, networked communications environment. She is a regular speaker around the world on SEO, content strategy, link building, paid media, and digital strategy, and has been recognised by her peers as one of the most influential people in the UK digital industry. Judith judges the industry leading Search Awards around the world, and has every year since their inception. She has worked with market-leading global businesses including Google, NatWest/RBS, National Gallery, Fidelity, GalaCoral, NBC Universal, Readers Digest, Bayer, Family Search, Amadeus, AMD, AmEx , Virgin.com, Virgin Startup & more. She has over 23 years of experience, predating Google in her entry into the market, and now runs her own consultancy. She has worked both in-house and agency-side. Judith also blogs about chocolate, has contributed to the book “Pimp My Site” and the Econsultancy guide to Paid Search and rewrote the large foundational Econsultancy Best Practice Guide to SEO.

Jason Meininger | Technical SEO Manager | Totaljobs Group|Stepstone Atlantic

Jason has been online since before browsers had graphics, and a 20+ year career in both enterprise and startup environments spans web design, development, marketing, and project management. For well over a decade he has been a core part of the SEO programme at Totaljobs Group (now part of StepStone Atlantic), supporting both on-and off-site SEO initiatives with a primary focus on scalable, data-led technical optimisation to improve reach, drive organic traffic, and maximise engagement across a transcontinental portfolio of online recruitment classified sites. Also a MENA Search Awards judge, he is an avid traveller, a competitive archer, and maintains a parallel career in London as a theatrical producer and lighting designer.

Dudi Nakdimon | Advisor – Marketing & Growth | Freelance

Dudi Nakdimon is an SEO Consultant with 10+ years of expertise on online marketing and digital experience. In the past 6 years he was the Head of SEO at Ladbrokes Coral. As part of his job at LCG, Dudi was responsible for building an in-house team of SEO - SEO managers, content writers and technical specialists, while collaborating with SEO agencies. His experience working for a large corporation with various departments has taught Dudi that the best to achieve SEO results is by educating colleagues throughout organizations on the importance of SEO, working close mainly with Product, Dev, Creative, Legal and Compliance departments. “SEO is more than just work. It’s my hobby and a passion!”

Luis Navarrete Gomez | Global Head of eCommerce Marketing | The LEGO Group

Luis is Head of Global B2B eCommerce Marketing at The LEGO Group and leads eCommerce marketing activity globally for the iconic toy company. On these years in the company, Luis has shape the digital shopper experiences in a global organization that reaches both children and parents with engaging content in more than 140 markets. He is a regular writer and speaker about Digital Marketing and business leadership and plays an active role in the search community. He is a fellow member of the Marketing Society, member of the advisory board of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and participates actively at conferences and specilized publications. He is also member of the judging panels of industry leading awards, as the DMA Awards, the UK and US Search Awards, The Drum and The Biddable Media awards. Luis has a technical background on computer science and has more than 18 years' experience in Digital Marketing with cross-functional expertise in technology and business management and leadership.

Plamen Popov | Head of Global SEO | Acronis Global

Plamen Popov is an experienced digital marketer & SEO Expert with history of working for internationally renowned brands. He currently is working as Senior SEO Lead in Acronis, world leader in cyber protection & data security company. Plamen joined last year from the marketing team of Management Financial Group, where he lead global marketing strategies for various fintech brands inside the holding. Plamen has a genuine interest in marketing and technology and that drives his experience throughout consulting start up companies and leading teams in enterprise brands exploring various aspects of marketing activities including PPC, Social Media, Display, Programmatic, App Marketing and SEO. His passion for Search Marketing & SEO always drives him to learn and explore new possibilities of creating better user experiences and results.

Abi Ravichandiran | Global Media Search Lead | Reckitt

Abi currently works as the Global search Lead for Reckitt, where she’s responsible for the in-housing of search across a few core markets to drive improved performance and efficiency. She also supports the marketing excellence team as a consultant on best practice, playbooks, governance and strategy with local markets - a bit of a hybrid role! Abi’s experience started agency-side where she previously led a European paid search team on the agency’s largest billing client and had successfully overseen a transformation of the search strategy across multiple top-tier markets, resulting in 125% YoY revenue growth. Relentless in her drive to ensure that her team are at the forefront of paid search innovation whilst her meticulous attention to detail ensures best practise is always at the foundation. Within her team Abi fosters a culture of openness and her tenacity ensures that she gets the best out of people whilst supporting their growth and development. One of her recent accomplishments was making the Campaign Female Frontier Awards Honorees list.

Ric Rodriguez | Search Director | Vashi

Ric Rodriguez is an experienced digital marketer, with a background that stretches across agency, brand and vendor-side. Ric is the Search Director at Vashi, the bespoke fine jewellery brand, where he currently leads the performance team. He joined from NYSE-listed technology company Yext, where he was the European search marketing expert. Prior to this, Ric led teams at well-known agencies, most notably within iProspect, where he grew online market share for two high street finance brands - and at Croud, where he oversaw all SEO activity for a well-known B2B business across over 100 markets. He was also a part of iCrossing’s, multi-award winning L'Oreal team. Ric is co-author of the Amazon bestselling book "Mastering In-House SEO" and often speaks at marketing conferences.

Farhaad Saleh | Head of Organic Performance | WorldFirst

Farhaad is the Head of Organic Performance at WorldFirst, previously he was the Head of SEO for Rightmove and Boohoo. With over 10 year’s experience in SEO he has worked in many verticals from property, fashion, finance, aviation etc working both client side and agency. His approach is to focus on holistic growth leveraging all marketing channels, not just organic. The best strategies are always the simple ones executed well.

Grant Simmons | Vice President of Performance Marketing | Homes.com

Grant leads the Performance Marketing team at Homes.com, helping drive brand awareness, search traffic, affiliate traffic, and lead optimization for one of America’s top real estate sites. Grant has over 27 years of agency & brand experience serving industry-leading organizations such as; Paramount Studios, Red Bull, M&M/Mars, Disney, Napster, Warner Bros., UPS, Move.com, YPO, GE, Amgen & Fox Sports. Grant is a popular speaker at search & real estate industry events worldwide, including; SMX, SES, SIS, Pubcon, Brighton SEO, Chiang Mai SEO, UCLA Anderson School of Business, eMarCom, C3, Social Shakeup, Multifamily Brainstorming, R3, Digital Elite, DMA, LRTCon, and has written for or been quoted in Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine News, Forbes, Fox Business, MSN, Media Post, Yahoo & other national & international publications. Described as an online marketing strategist, motivator, ideator, entrepreneur, asker-of-tough-questions, and “proud American with a funny accent”, he prefers; father, sailor, search marketer & expat Brit – though not necessarily in that order when there’s a fair wind.

Rebecca Todd | SEO CONSULTANT & SPEAKER

Rebecca is an independent SEO Consultant based in the UK. She has been working with brands all over the world since 2014, including Ryman, MyProtein, Wix, Glade, Sacla', and more. As well as being an advocate of women in tech, Rebecca is passionate about making SEO more accessible. So, her published articles and conference talks are all about encouraging web owners, marketers, and junior SEOs to grow their websites and their confidence quickly and easily. She is also fascinated by the psychology and semantics of search, which are the foundations of her work as an SEO consultant.

Juliette van Rooyen | HEAD OF SEO | VR SQUARED

Juliette is an SEO Specialist with more than 14 years experience in both client-side and agency environments in London & Cape Town. Starting as a developer, she was lured to the dark side of SEO with the promise of being more creative. After getting a taste for SEO, she moved to London and spent 6 years working for various agencies. Her clients included Nintendo, Samsung, COI & Shell. She returned to Cape Town where she worked on the gambling industry on the client-side, spearheading multi-region and multi-language strategies for global casino brands. After 6 years of working in that arena, Juliette returned to London in 2018 to lead UK SEO for a multinational ecommerce brand.

Thomas Vosper | Founder | Aisle3

With over 12 years in ecommerce Thomas has a long record of delivering growth for many of the largest names online. During over six years at Amazon, he led strategic seller acquisitions; executed new category launches; and delivered cutting-edge merchant services. After moving to Tesco, he tripled their marketplace business in twelve months. He founded online marketplace Aisle3 in March 2020. Thomas has a detailed insight on strategy, performance marketing and operations across thousands of eCommerce sites, high street stores, and digital marketing agencies

Michelle Wilding-Baker | HEAD OF DIGITAL & CONTENT | FREESAT

Michelle is a globally award-winning digital marketer who specialises in data-first customer acquisition (owned/paid/earned), SEO and content strategy. She graduated with First Class Honours in Communication Studies (Journalism) and is armed with more than a decade of marketing and editorial experience across international, SME and start-up brands in highly competitive FinTech, Insurance, Travel, Beauty, eCommerce and publishing industries. Now leading the digital marketing, eCommerce, editorial, content and social strategy remit at Freesat and consulting on a project-basis for Oh Mishy, she previously completed 2.5 years as Head of SEO & Content at The Telegraph Media Group where she hired and led the ‘Best Brand SEO Team’ of 2019. Michelle regularly judges industry marketing and eCommerce awards, guest speaks at events and co-organises the ‘Take It Offline' Digital Marketing Roundtable in London and Europe.

Murat Yatagan | VP OF GROWTH | BRAINLY

Murat has led marketing, growth, and analytics at companies such as Brainly, Global Savings Group, and Google. Currently, Murat is the VP of Growth at Brainly, building and scaling a high-performing growth team to acquire users globally. Previously, he was a Director, SEO for GSG, overseeing 80+ platforms' organic traffic performance. Prior to that, he led webspam policy enforcement for EMEA markets at Google. Prior to joining Google, he worked as a Research Assistant in the Computer Science Faculty of IUE. He is an executive advisor of 2 startups and invested in 3 startups in the early stage. He is a brand ambassador of OnCrawl, an award-winning search marketing intelligence tool. He has been a Head Judge for Global Search and US Search Awards, and a Judge for European, UK, and MENA Search Awards.

Lukasz Zelezny | SEO Consultant |

Lukasz Zelezny, UK Search Awards judge, Top10 UK Social Media influencer and former director of organic performance at uSwitch / Zoopla. Currently is working as an independent SEO Consultant helping in organic traffic acquisition, technical SEO and content marketing. Lukasz started his career in 2005 and has since been responsible for the organic performance of a number of companies including HomeAway, Thomson Reuters, The Digital Property Group, Fleetway Travel, uSwitch, Zoopla. Each year Lukasz is speaking at many SEO and social media conferences. He was a speaker at ClickZ Shanghai China, ClickZ Jakarta Indonesia, SiMGA Malta, SES London as well as Marketing Festival in Brno, Brighton SEO in Brighton and UnGagged in London. Every year he is actively participating in 10 to 20 events as an SEO/Social Media keynote speaker. Additionally, he organizes workshops and meetups where he is sharing tips around SEO, Social Media and Analytics. To get in touch with Lukasz simply search “Lukasz Zelezny” or visit https://Zelezny.uk

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