I recently had a coffee with a developer friend of mine (yes developers can have friends). We had an interesting conversation about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). During our conversation, it dawned on me that SEO Ireland today is not the SEO I grew up on.
It involves so much more. It is not just the case of building links. You must deliver the total package to your customers from both an offsite and onsite perspective.
For many Irish organisations, this means a rethink of how their marketing team is structured. The magic will happen when branding, PR, development, social media and content teams all strike the same chord together.
SEO cannot exist in isolation anymore.
Background – SEO for Ireland in 2020
The rules of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) game has changed. No longer can SEO stand on its own. No longer does just buying links, or making your website really fast work in isolation.
More is required and everybody across your organisation must pitch in.
If you have any SEO questions please drop us a line.
SEO Ireland: How your Brand Function Must Change
Brand teams need to understand that the actions people take after exposure to Above The Line (ATL) activity influences rankings in search engines. This needs to become part of their brand strategy.
It also means that Brand KPIs must include SEO rankings as a component. You may be surprised to find out that your brand spend is actually more effective than you think.
SEO Ireland: How Should Your Development Approach Change
The department with the highest average IQ in your organisation needs to accept that the user is the most important component in the equation for a successful website. Load times and UX trump all.
Releases should be phased in and tested so that these important SEO KPIs are not destroyed by a new release.
So, what I am saying is, that SEO approval needs to become part of the release cycle.
SEO Ireland: How Your Design Team Should Change
Your Design Team should focus on user KPIs. They should fully buy into the “test and scale” approach and focus on moving the needle on UX KPIs by testing multiple variations of their designs.
Expert design knowledge is massively important. However, all new designs should be tested against the current version to prove their effectiveness from a UX standpoint.
Yes, it does mean slower design cycles but in the long run, you will have a tested and verified site from a UX and SEO perspective.
In truth, the new reality for SEO is that it requires a multidisciplinary team. This now involves people across several teams and departments.
In Ireland, many medium to large companies should have the resources in-house. However, for smaller businesses to compete they should discuss the best approach with their external marketing partner.
What Actually is SEO in 2020?
From a top-level view, SEO today can be boiled down to the following:
Awareness + Usability = SEO Results
Awareness is the new link building. This includes sponsorships and site partnerships. It also covers brand search volume. As a result, in Ireland, you must focus on both brand awareness and a digital PR strategy.
SEO and Your Sector
The reality is that although the overarching principles of SEO remain the same there are different approaches particularly to technical SEO for each sector.
For example, technical SEO for a financial services company will be different in a number of ways to an e-commerce site.
There is not one blanket approach to SEO both from a technical/on-page and an outreach/off-page perspective.
Product and category landing pages, pagination, canonical rules, title and description rules, pricing and structured data are all essential for e-commerce SEO. Furthermore, properly implemented OpenGraph and Twitter cards are necessary to maximise the impact of social sharing.
Large sites with thousands of products serve their own challenges for technical SEO. It’s important to focus on the user and conversion as well as making your site understandable and indexable for search engines.
You have several key objectives that you need to focus on.
- Generic terms relating to your store
- Brand names you sell
- Specific products
In other words, organic search optimisation should align with your business goals.
Structured Data for E-commerce
Structured data plays an important role in e-commerce.
You can use the following to enhance your SERP:
- Stock Levels
See what structured data is on a competitors site by using the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google.
Stock Management and SEO
An often-overlooked element of SEO is stock management. This includes two key decisions.
Firstly, how you are going to handle out of stock products and how you can include stock levels into structured data (JSON-LD or Microdata). Google recommends JSON-LD.
You should keep out of stock products up with an out of stock notification and the buy button disabled. You should also include an email capture to notify the user when the product is back in stock.
The biggest mistake you can make is taking the product page down thereby serving a 401. As a result, make sure SEO is front and centre.
In conclusion, many websites miss out on great organic rankings by poor website stock management processes.
Links are Important – Here’s how to Get Them
Links are an important ranking factor but you can’t just buy them like in yesteryear.
Here are some tactics that will help you get links legitimately.
- Build your social media following and post shareable content.
- Sponsor clubs, teams and societies (we have lots of these in Ireland)
- Create industry reports with lots of stats.
- Do market surveys – even better if you commission a polling/research agency.
- Speak at conferences – link in your bio
- Guess posts – link in your bio
Do not pay for links directly. Try to build awareness.
Essentially, link building is a result of building awareness of valuable and shareable content.
Technical SEO – What is it?
Technical SEO can be summed up as communicating what your webpages are about to search engines.
The first port of call is your xml sitemap and robots.txt file. However, your title tag and meta description are important not just for communicating with the search engine but also increasing Click Through Rate (CTR) which is a ranking factor.
Technical SEO – User Experience
Use experience is a major element in technical SEO.
The Main KPIs are as follows:
- Dwell Time
- Load Time
- CTR from SERPs
- Bounce Rate
In summary, improve the user experience on your website and improve your search ranking position.
Google Page Experience Update
UX is so important in search rankings now that Google has announced a “page experience update. The update will leverage key ranking factors already used such as the following.
- Mobile-Friendly Update
- Core Web Vitals
- Page Speed Update
- HTTPS – (Boost)
- Intrusive Interstitials (Penalty)
- Safe Browsing (Penalty)
At the end of the day, it’s pretty clear. User experience will play an ever-increasing role in your search rankings on Google. For instance, by thinking about the experience you give you customers you can stay one step ahead from an optimisation standpoint.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Google has announced that it will be removing the AMP requirement for top stories. This means that many sites who have essentially been maintaining two versions of the site will now not have to do so.
If you are a new site or have been looking into AMP in another sector. Then AMP may not the right choice for you right now.
However, the principle of AMP should still be kept. This is to make your site experience on mobile as fast and user-focused as possible. You can achieve this by following best practice on your “standard” site.
SEO Issues Unique to Ireland
Being a relatively small country, many long-tail search terms do not drive the traffic volumes that UK and USA campaigns do. However, the flip side is that building a social media following in Ireland is not as expensive as other jurisdictions.
Sponsorship and press are relatively easy to get for smaller local brands. Many organisations have a “sponsors” section of their website. This is a good opportunity to build brand awareness and generate links.
Sponsorship is different to link building where the anchor text is used.
The Role of Your SEO Manager
The role of SEO manager has evolved into a kind of Project Manager position.
- Managing development tasks through the agile process.
- Synchronising with ATL and sponsorship team
- Working with Design to ensure that UX KPIs are used to guide design practices.
- Managing content teams to deliver the right high-quality content to achieve the business objective.
- Reporting and attributing revenue.
Working across multiple teams from marketing to development is the key to getting your SEO strategy correct.
The core question that should drive your SEO strategy is –
How do we serve the people who are searching for the terms we want to rank for the best?
The answer to this question will guide your SEO Ireland strategy from planning to execution
SEO Ireland Frequently Asked Questions
How do I rank my site in Ireland if my site targets multiple jurisdictions?
Use a hreflang tag containing en-ie for a localised version of your site targeting Ireland. Focus on user experience from an Irish perspective including grammar and currency symbols.
Is link building bad in 2020?
If you build links through organic digital PR and brand awareness then link building is perfectly fine. If you use private blog networks and overtly pay for links (not a sponsorship or clear onsite advertising) you will be found out and penalised.
How much is SEO in Ireland?
This depends on the keywords you want to target. Generally, as a rule of thumb, you can gauge the cost of SEO relative to what your competitors are paying for PPC clicks. In competitive sectors, this will amount to tens of thousands of euro per year.
How can I justify SEO spend?
The best way to justify SEO spend is to allocate a fair market rate to the clicks you get for specific keywords by using PPC average cost per click. In some sectors clicks cost over €20. Therefore, 10 organic clicks would cost €200 if bought on Google Ads.