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:
- Ensure that every page has a title and a description.
- Include the key phrase in the title and in the description of the page.
- Keep the title shorter than 74 characters and the description shorter tan 156 characters
- Has one and only one <h1> header on the page and include the key phrase in this header
- Use other headers <h2>, <h3> etc.
- First paragraph is the most important (and determines whether visitors read on)
- Keep sentences short and descriptive
- Use bullet points where necessary
- Incorporate all key terms, variations and related terms
- 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.
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.