How to improve your local SEO rank in Ireland – SEO Ireland

Some basic SEO tips for sites Ireland

When someone carries out a search in Ireland for a product that you sell, the purpose of your website is to attract the persons attention so that they engage with you and ultimately you make the sale. There are three main component needed to make this happen, namely you website, your ranking on the search engine (i.e. does your result show up on the first page of the search results?) and your call to action (what you want people to do on the site once they get there).

It is like the classic sales funnel for the web. Your site is at the top and exposes your products or services to everyone on the web. Next your search ranking (SEO) for Ireland brings visitors to the site and finally your calls to action engage with the visitors and turns them into paying customers. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Your Website (the starting point)

Your website is your voice on the web. The web is a big place and websites are visible not only in your target location but (almost) anywhere on the web. You may not want to target the entire world with your site, you may only want to target clients in one geographic location. This article provides some of the basics of optimising your website for a target location (Ireland in this case).

This article assumes that you have already own a website and that you want to get your website to work for you, for your business or for your club. For the purpose of this article lets suppose that you have a website that advertises umbrellas which you stock in your store in Dublin, Ireland. Lets also assume that your website is relatively new and that a search on Google for ‘Umbrella shop Dublin’ does not show your business on Google’s first page of the search results. Finally lets assume that you want to attract clients primarily from anywhere in Ireland.

This scenario highlights the need to optimise your website for Ireland and to tell Google all about your business the products you offer in Ireland. In other words you need some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Ireland.

Improve your Ranking (Search Engine Optimisation – SEO)

There are number of consultancies that offer SEO in Ireland but SEO can be expensive because the iterative process of optimisation can be quite time consuming and consultants usually charge by the hour. So why not start by getting the basic SEO right before you call on a consultant?

Getting the SEO right for your infrastructure

Your target clients are based in Ireland and therefore, you may want your products to rank in Ireland. Your website is likely to be hosted by a provider in Ireland therefore, your IP address of your site then should be in Ireland and this lets Google know where your site is physically located. Here you have an advantage over the major stores who may be hosted outside Ireland as they are targeting a number of locations. Next, if you have a domain that is registered with the Irish domain registrar and ends with .ie then this is a further marker for Google. On the other hand, if you have a .com or dot-something-else then this is not the end of the world, but you will need to work on the other other SEO Ireland markers in order to rank well.

Make sure that your contact details are included on the site. Have a contact page and include your full address including ‘Ireland’ in the address. If you have an Eircode, then include this and if you list a phone number, then include the Irish code (+353) in the number. All of these are further markers for Google. I believe that it is a good idea to include a telephone number in the header and the footer of the site, not only does this assist with localising your site, but as many searched are now done on mobile phones, your logo and telephone number will always be the first thing that your visitors see when visiting the site.

Also, it is important to register your company with Google Business where you can include your business location on a map, a phone number and a written address for your business.

The content on your pages

This in itself is a big topic, so we will stay with the very basic concepts.

Think of your website as consisting of a number of distinct silos. In our example, ‘Umbrellas’ would be a silo and if we also sell ‘Wax Jackets’ then this too could be defined as another silo. All the pages on your site (apart from the home page and the contact page) should fit into one of the silos that you defined. While there is no limit on the number of silos that you can have, try to keep this number a low as possible. A small to medium sized business will probably need no more than 3 to 5 silos.

Next decide on the search phrases that people are most likely to use when searching on the web for your products. Ask other people what they would type to find your products and combine these phrases with your own. Rationalise this list to between 4 and 8 key phrases for each silo. Phrases should not be single words, they should be phrases. For example ‘umbrellas’ would not be a good search term, better terms would be ‘printed umbrellas dublin’ or ‘coloured golf umbrellas’.

Now you can write content specific to each phrase or you can adjust the content that you already have for a phrase. Be careful not to optimise any single page for more than 2 of your phrases. Some guidelines for your content:

  1. Ensure that every page has a title and a description.
  2. Include the key phrase in the title and in the description of the page.
  3. Keep the title shorter than 74 characters and the description shorter tan 156 characters
  4. Has one and only one <h1> header on the page and include the key phrase in this header
  5. Use other headers <h2>, <h3> etc.
  6. First paragraph is the most important (and determines whether visitors read on)
  7. Keep sentences short and descriptive
  8. Use bullet points where necessary
  9. Incorporate all key terms, variations and related terms
  10. Think information rather than sales pitch / discount, then go back and add the sales pitch

Measure and Improve

Measure your performance for your key phrases by looking at your ranking on Google.ie over a period of time and adjust the content if necessary. Also, look at the sites that rank in the top positions to get ideas on how to improve your ranking. Al the clues as to how they got to the top are on their page for you to see, but never copy their content because you will be penalised by Google if you have the same wording as that used on another site.

Be patient!

Call to Action (Engage with Visitors)

Search engines can help to drive people to your site, but thereafter, it is up to you and your site to engage with the visitors. There are two things that you want to achieve namely

  • Keep visitors on your site once they get there (if they don’t see what they need on the page that they land on direct them to another page) and
  • Get the users to either buy something or to contact you.

You may have a Big Orange Button (BOB) that just has to be pressed or something very visual that gets the visitor to look further. There is no simple guideline for engaging with visitors, but generally, visitors do not like cluttered page or pages covered in garish colours. A simple well designed page that speaks for itself is usually much more effective for getting visitors to stay and ultimately to become paying customers.

Adwords or Organic Marketing

Organic Search is here to stay

There are people that advocate that the only reliable way to market your website is through Paid Adverts (PPC). These same people then come up with ridiculous phrases like: ‘Free traffic goes bye-bye‘ or ‘The savviest marketers know how to BUY advertising real estate better than their competitors. Squatters will always get evicted eventually‘. I don’t buy any of this and have deliberately not included a citation against these quotes because the people that come up with this nonsense do not deserve a back-link or any publicity from this post.

Both Organic Ranking and PPC have a place in Search

Google’s success is driven by the accuracy and quality of their organic search results. Paid search does not fall into this category, it is merit by quantity of available funds and not quality of content. Clearly Paid search ranking does have a purpose, it funds Google to do more of the good work and grows the Google share value.

Google are well aware of all this and the day that they push paid search above organic search is the day that you should very quickly sell any shares in Google (before they become worthless).

I would go so far as to say that Organic Search and PPC rely on each other and have a symbiotic relationship. Take away Organic and people will move to other search engines; Take away PPC and Google will no longer have the funding to justify search development.

Organic-Search and Pay-Per-Click will continue to live in harmony for the foreseeable future

CreatorSEO™

 

SEO in Ireland

Traditionally, business in Ireland relied largely on word-of-mouth and their private network for their success. Who you know and who they know was vital to the growth of your business. When you needed a service or a product, your ‘search engine’ was likely to be the advice of a neighbour, friend or family member and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in Ireland involved growing your network and getting to know the right people who then would share information and refer you to other and others to you.

Traditionally, business in Ireland has relied mainly on word-of-mouth and ‘the network’. Who you know and who they know was vital to your business success.

The growth of the internet and the accessibility of information has touched just about every aspect of society and business. Ireland is no exception to this. The internet has become a vital part of the fabric of business and search engines have become as important as who you know (if not more important). Word of mouth still plays a big part but the advice may now be which site to look at rather than who to go to. Search engines are consulted more often than neighbours, friends or family and if you supply a product or service, then SEO in Ireland is more about being found on the web than relying on others to recommend you.

SEO in Ireland has shifted from growing your (people) network to being found on the internet.

In the same way that Irish people have always understood the importance of ‘the network’, more and more Irish Businesses now understand the importance that achieving good ranking on the major search engines (like Google and Bing) can have on the success of their business. The most proactive businesses even have taken this a step further by realising the potential of using these electronic networks to extend their horizons and sell in countries outside of Ireland. This in turn extends their network of who they know and who to refer on.

Of course there still are the more parochial companies in Ireland that rely solely on word-of-mouth and don’t see any value in a website or the need for SEO to promote their services or products. These tend to be older companies where services and products are offered mainly to people located in the same area or visiting the area. These companies survive in the belief that there would be no value to their clients of looking on the Internet for the services or products that they offer. Only 10 years ago many of the now vacant shops in the malls would have thought this way, only to lose business to the on-line traders like Amazon who can offer a wider range at much cheaper prices. If only these shops had set up a web presence and used SEO to extend their reach and rank well. Being physically located in Ireland, they would have had an advantage over the general on-line stores and could have competed and possibly survived the changes.

Then there are the companies that pay for a website and expect business to roll-in; or companies that hope to get rich only by setting up an online store. Neither case is likely, unless the site or online store ranks well on Google (and/or Bing) for search terms that are likely to drive traffic to the store. Consequently, competition is fierce for the top ranking spots and it is important for these companies to invest some money and employ an SEO specialist in Ireland to optimise their web site and to achieve the best possible ranking.

Competition is fierce for the top ranking spots, there can be only one number 1 at any give time

While word-of-mouth will always be important in Ireland and a lot of business will continue to be passed through the ‘network’, more word-of-mouth is in the form of testimonials on a website and people are likely still to get a second opinion from an unbiased friend like Google.

About CreatorSEO™

CreatorSEO are one of the leading Search Engine Otimisation (SEO) companies in Ireland. Since 2008 we have helped many companies throughout Ireland with their SEO and are on the Enterprise Ireland panel of ICT/eBusiness Trainers and Advisors. We present on SEO at the regular Enterprise Ireland road-shows which are held throughout Ireland. We also have served as mentors to companies to help clients create a successful on-line presence in Ireland, the United States or the United Kingdom.

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WordPress Maintenance Ireland

In a previous article on WordPress Maintenance, we discussed importance of keeping your WordPress system up to date with the latest plugins and the latest version of the WordPress software (CMS). Our experience with clients in Ireland shows that in the vast majority of cases plugins, themes and the CMS are not kept up to date and the software may even be a number of versions out of date. This opens the client to significant risk from malicious hackers.

But why would anyone want to hack my site?

Clients often say that there is nothing special about their website and that they can see no reason why anyone would want to hack their site. Our response is that there are any number of reasons why sites are hacked, including:

  • Just to prove that they can hack the site;
  • To deface your website for some reason;
  • To include hidden links or unsolicited links back to their own site (to improve their ranking and the traffic to their site);
  • To access your address book in order to steal email lists;
  • To hijack your payment system (if you have one) and trick users into making payments to their the hackers account or to steal credit card information.

Hacking of WordPress sites occurs everywhere and Ireland is no exception. Malicious hackers do not care about where the site is located or who owns the site, their only goal usually is to access as many vulnerable sites as possible and cause as much damage as they can or drive as much benefit to to themselves as they can from your site.

WordPress being the most used CMS in the world, is a big target to hackers because the number of potential targets is so big whenever a vulnerability is identified. This is why there is so much effort by WordPress developers to identify and remove any vulnerabilities before they are discovered by malicious hackers.

There is no such thing as a secure site, every site can be hacked some are just more difficult than others

Every site can be hacked but some are just more difficult to hack than others. The most vulnerable sites are those that are not kept up to date. Therefore, your best defense as a site owner is to trust that the WordPress developers provide updates for good reason, and to keep your WordPress CMS, plugins and themes up to date at all times by implementing changes as these are released.

Not everyone has the time or the expertise to check and update their WordPress system every week (or more regularly). If you fall into this category then you should consider a WordPress Maintenance Service offered by us or by some other company that offers this update service. These services are not expensive and price of a maintenance contract is minimal in comparison with the cost of recreating a website that has been exploited. Also, maintenance contracts sometimes include other useful services like backups, security scans etc.

Contact us if you would like more information or if we can be of further assistance.

 

WordPress Maintenance

WordPress is the leading Content Management System

WordPress is without dispute the leading Content Management System (CMS) chosen for websites worldwide. It is known to be used by more than 60% of all websites on the Internet 1. Like most successful products on the web, this success makes WordPress a target for malicious hackers and spammers. WordPress counters this through the dedicated work of the WordPress teams and through support from the WordPress community, who are quick to identify and fix any threats. WordPress then provides regular updates which contain these fixes making WordPress one of the most secure Content Management Systems available – for those sites where the updates are applied regularly.

The Golden Rule for WordPress

Hackers are continually trying new things and looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit. The online world changes quickly and the same is true of security. Good security is about minimizing risk.

Security Concerns?

If WordPress is one of the most secure Content Management Systems, then why is security one of the major concerns with WordPress? Statistics show that the big problem is that only 11% of the WordPress installations are actually kept up to date 2 and this explains why so many sites are compromised. In other words, the problem is not with the CMS, it is due to owners who do not not keep their websites up to date (in addition to the number of hackers continually trying to compromise WordPress sites).

Keeping the CMS up to date is not optional if you want your data to remain secure

Fixing a hacked website, or in the worst case, having to completely restore of a website, coupled with the potential lost of business resulting from a malicious attack on the site is expensive, time consuming and frustrating to website owners. Therefore, every site owner should have a maintenance process in place to prevent their WordPress site being compromised.

The solution

A preventative maintenance process may be as simple as, visiting the administration panel of the site regularly to make sure that all recent updates are applied. WordPress makes this easy for site owners and at the click of a button or two, updates are applied. There sometimes is a concern that updates may cause the site to crash and lead to a WSOD (White Screen of Death) but this is unlikely unless updates are skipped. Also, for more peace of mind, site owners should make sure that they have a full backup of the site in case the worst should happen. Finally, site owners should install security software and malware scanning to prevents hacking and spammers from getting access to the site.

The Golden Rule is to keep the CMS, the themes and all plugins up to date at all times

For those people that are not technical or for those who have the resources, there are a number of companies who offer ongoing Wordpress maintenance. These maintenance services are relatively inexpensive and worth the peace of mind that they provide to site owners.

CreatorSEO, Ireland’s leading Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company, offers a range of WordPress Maintenance Support packages to meet your requirements and your budget. Our WordPress support service can include CMS and plugin updates, backup and restoration, security and malware scanning and monitoring of WordPress Sites. For more details please visit our WordPress Support page or give us a call on 061 513267.

References

  1. http://w3techs.com/
  2. https://wordpress.org/

Building Links

What are some effective techniques for building links?

Watch this video from Google with Matt Cutts. The methods covered are:

  1. Great content leads to links Controversy – write controversial articles and uncork a good rant once in a while;
  2. Participate in the community
  3. Answer questions – add value
  4. Original research – use a scientific approach to get good data and put this on a blog
  5. Newsletters to drive people to your website
  6. Social media – participate on the sites where people spend their time
  7. Lists – create article like 50 ways to…
  8. Get a blog and establish yourself
  9. Post images or things of interest
  10. Write how-to’s and tutorials
  11. Develop a service or a product and release it for free / open source
  12. Improve site architecture – can the site be crawled? can URL’s be bookmarked? can Google get to all the pages on the site?
  13. Make videos

SEO a Brief Overview of the Basics

Audience, Elevator pitch and Marketing message

Before you begin any SEO / Internet marketing campaign you must select your keywords / phrases. Sounds simple, so what do you need to do? Follow this process as a guide to getting your Keywords right and beat your Competition.

Remember getting high rankings on the search engines is all about knowing what your competitors are doing and then for you to do better!

Lets get stated, bfore you even consider looking for the right keywords you need to make sure that you know your organisation’s marketing message and marketing pitch (elevator pitch). If not correctly known, you may optimize the wrong content and keywords!

Audience

The first step in your SEO strategy should be to define your target audience – see our previous article – SEO Strategy – Define your Audience.

Elevator pitch

Can you define your marketing messages?

In 2 sentences, describe/sell the service/product that you are offering to potential customers.

An elevator pitch is often a single and key part of your marketing program. It should be both succinct and compelling. An effective elevator pitch could include:

  • A description of your offering and why it is needed (benefits)
  • An explanation to why you are the right supplier (key differentiators and skills)
  • And a hook to generate interest

Marketing message

Are your marketing messages clearly communicated on your website?

Your potential customers need to clearly get your marketing message(s) from your website. Your site (meta title, meta description, keywords and phrases, content, and so on) need to be consistent and support your elevator pitch.

Great, you now know your elevator pitch and marketing message. You can now start looking at the core terms that are relevant to the page or pages you want to optimise.

SEO | Where am I now?

You need to assess your landing pages and ensure that they meet the criteria for On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The key basic areas to assess are:

  • Domain Name
  • Document Title
  • Document Description
  • Document Keywords
  • External CSS References
  • Header Tags
  • Body Text
  • Images
  • Links and
  • Document Type Definition | HTML Code Check

A good SEO Tools package will give you an analysis summary for the appropriate landing pages and highlight the areas that need to be reviewed.

Ranking for each search phrase:

Where does your site rank now for your defined search words/ phrases?

Place all your keywords/ phrases into an appropriate set of SEO Tools. Get a ranking against each keyword/ phrase and store these for future comparisons. Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools will have a tracking facility that will manage this for you.

SEO | Competitive Rankings

Now that you have identified the real competition; you need to get a base line. Run a ranking check for each search engine for all of your applicable search terms: your SEO keywords and phrases for competitive research.

You would typically check the rankings for the competition in Google, Bing and Yahoo, and maybe some engines which are used specifically in your country or industry.

See the CreatorSEO Process Guides for more information on what to do next…

SEO Strategy – Define your Audience

So, how do most people go about their SEO?

A lot of people jump straight in to optimizing their websites by:

  • adding content,
  • choosing the right keywords and
  • getting as many links as possible

Then they usually find that they are not getting the hits (visits) they expect or the profile of customers that they were expected! To fix this you need to have a clear SEO strategy.

The first step in your SEO strategy should be to define your target audience.

Your target audience is defined as the group of people you are trying to reach. Your target audience can be companies/people from specific:

  • geographical areas,
  • industry groups,
  • areas of expertise,
  • age groups,
  • gender profiles,
  • marital status, and so on…

Discovering and profiling the right target audience is one of the most important stages in marketing. Incorrectly defining your target audience, usually results in expensive campaigns with minimal return.

Great, you now know your target audience. What are their needs and wants? Once you know these you can look at supplying the solutions your customers are looking for. Knowing these needs and your appropriate solutions, you can now start thinking about your

  • Content strategy,
  • Keyword strategy and
  • Link building strategy

Knowing these things will help us better define a content strategy and prioritize content to bring to the forefront.

Content strategy

You can only generate conversions (Sales, join a group, membership and so on) by ensuring that to bring traffic to your site. To do this, you need to provide on your site the content and or tools your customers are looking for. You need to make sure that the customer needs are covered adequately in your content and should be prioritized.

Having a great site with content optimized is a waste of time unless you are optimizing the right content: the content your customers want! It sounds simple but so many companies and people get this wrong.

Keyword strategy

Ideally you carry out your keyword research once you know and understand your customer needs. Most people look at their existing site and decide to optimize the current content. They add additional content/keywords to ensure you meet your customer needs. After optimizing your existing site you need to review have all the right keywords been covered and are in line with your customer needs. The ideal scenario is for you to do your keyword research first and then write the content.
Make sure the keywords/phrases used and expected by your customers are highly visible on your site.

Link building strategy

Remember getting links is important for two reasons, firstly it helps your SEO rating and secondly (often forgotten) it drives traffic to your site. Inbound links to your site demonstrate that your site is an authority in a particular area, the more site relevant sites that link to you the better for SEO.

Try and get links from sites that have a good page rank but who could also drive visitors to your site. For example, you run a small taxi company, getting the local hotels to put a link on their sites to yours will help your SEO but will also drive business: you are making it easy for potential customers to find you.

Clicks, clicks, clicks…

Selections / Clicks for a typical Search Engine Query

Every day, millions of people use search engines like Google and Bing to find information. They type into the search query box ‘keywords/phrases’: what they are looking for and select “Search.” They then read down the page until they find a result that looks like it might contain the information they are looking for. Most people rarely go beyond the first page of their search results (usually 10 results). So for all companies, getting their offering on the first page of the search results for the selected search terms is critical.

The table below shows the percentage of selections/clicks for a typical search engine query way back in 2008 (source AOL, 2008: based on AOL-data.tgz):

Rank Number  Selections/Clicks
1 42.30%
2 11.92%
3 8.44%
4 6.03%
5 4.86%
6 3.99%
7 3.37%
8 2.98%
9 2.83%
10 2.97%
11 0.66%
12 0.66%
13 0.52%
14 0.48%
15 0.47%
16 0.39%
17 0.36%
18 0.34%
19 0.32%
20 0.30%
Other 5.81%

Other 5.81%

Your SEO objective should be to rank number 1 on SERP, as this receives 42.3% of all click throughs. The number 2 ranking only receives 11.92% of all click (that is about one quaryter of ranking number 1). Attaining the number position on a particular seach phrase results in nearly 4 times more traffic thanranking number 2.

As you move down the rankings for any search, the percentage of click throughs also falls. There is a slight increase however for ranking number 10, this is most probably due to users looking at the last ranking aswell as the top rankings.

Remember your SEO objective is:
Click Crowth for Revenue

Click Through Rates

The aim of SEO and internet marketing is to make sure that particular companies/websites rank highly on a search for specific key words/phrases on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and so on. The better they rank, the more visitors/traffic they will have. The more traffic, the more sales they will have!

Click Through Rates Modelled

SEO experts should be grateful to Google…

Why does Google continually change the face of SEO? This makes the SEO field very difficult to master, so why should SEO experts be grateful?

Why would Google want to continually change the face of SEO? Surely it is in Googles interest to be transparent and to let people know what to do to get to the top.

Google have an interest in providing high quality search results (i.e. good relevant search results). However, Google don’t do this because they are nice people (though I am sure that they are). Google is a company, a business, an enterprise and their primary interest like any other business is to make money for shareholders.

Google’s main revenue stream is paid for advertising and they make an enormous amout of money out of this advertising!  Therefore, Google continually strives to increase the revenue from advertising and Google search is the primary vehicle with which to achieve this.

Search Engine Optimisation - SEO Google

As long as there is a secret element to the Google algorithm and as long as this Google algorithm changes, Google have the control they need to be able to sell more adverts. This will always be the case.

This approach also keeps good SEO experts in business because the only way to keep up with changes is to do this as a full time, dedicated occupation and there is a huge amount of work just keeping up and rolling out the changes. Site owners therefore have little option other than to pay for adverts or employ a competent SEO person if they want to be found on the web.

The roll out of the Panda update was a clear example of Google flexing its muscles and changing the SEO space. Also, the strong suggestion that agility to change is key and that site owners need to keep up with the continual changes Google is making proves that change is here to stay and there will never be a ‘perfect algorithm’ (even if it was possible).

Clinton Dickerson