e-Celtic SEO Blog
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October 5, 2012 - Posted by Niamh Darcy under Blog

Just over 200 people gathered on Friday, the 21st of September, for the inaugural Dublin SEO Summit organised by e-Celtic SEO and sponsored by SEOmoz. A mix of digital marketing managers, business owners and SEOs gathered to hear from four leading industry speakers; Brian Martin of e-Celtic SEO, Joanne Casey, GlowMetrics, Niall Harbison, Simply Zesty and Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. The Morrison Hotel played host to the gathering for the afternoon before the after party in The Church.

The event brought together a crowd focused on improving their visibility and leads from search, specifically organic search including several overseas attendees from Germany, UK, Spain and Italy. Not bad for a free event organised in less than one month! Watch this space as we’ll be turning this into a regular event pending co-sponsorship or ticket sales (which we hope not to do).

 

Brian Martin

Title: Ireland & Beyond: International SEO

Brian’s talk started by giving an example of how any business can benefit from going international and that no business is too small. Chain Reaction Cycles started as a small village bike shop before turning into an international success story exporting to countries worldwide with over 100 million euro turnover generated online, selling bikes. Cautioning this advice of thinking big, was a reminder that if you can’t get the basics right here in the Irish market then you’re spreading yourself too thin if you’re expanding too quickly.

Citing one of the most successful Irish online successes Daft.ie, this was a site that could have gone international years ago when it already achieved market saturation as other cities were left (some still are) without a decent property search portal.

For such a small country, Ireland is ranked 17th in the world in the number of SEOs per user on LinkedIn. Although Brian admitted LinkedIn was a crude metric of accuracy, it did show that we should use these skills to work internationally. While there are over 2.2 billion Internet users, just 3.1 million of these are Irish with a 66% internet adoption rate.

After making the business case of targeting international growth, the next step is finding where the opportunities are and how to spot them. Martin said that “the complexities of working in foreign markets shouldn’t stop you from doing the basics that work in every market, title tags, sitemaps, site architecture…” and that it isn’t reinventing the wheel but adapting to local cultures and languages.

Google has given a great gift in Google Translate but it’s also not 100% reliable in the accuracy of it’s translations. While translation errors in meta tags might not be as serious as a printed product with incorrect translation, it can still hurt your potential to rank according to Brian.

If you’re not sure on the meaning of a word or if Google has translated correctly, use image search to see the visual interpretation of that word. Further keyword opportunities can be identified by researching the competition’s target keywords. Brian warned to evaluate these and not to copy directly since your business may differ or that company mightn’t have done their own research correctly.

Google global market finder is one of the first tools Brian pointed out for discovering competition for keywords and their average bid value.

Another keyword research tool is ÜberSuggest to give ideas for keywords to optimise for but also content to write.

SEM Rush is another keyword tool that pulls in data from paid channels to give you a good idea on competition strength for keywords.

The related keywords at the bottom of a search results page usually displays phrases or keywords that are associated with the search you’ve performed. Again, they may give ideas of targeting or content.

Next Brian pulled some interesting graphs on search behavior in Germany, US, Ireland and South Africa. The Germans and Saffers both like to get their search done in the evening but the Americans and Irish only peak around 10:30. Brian mentioned that there’s a number of reasons why this is, most likely cultural, and access to the Internet at work.

Before configuring your site set up, the first thing you need to think of is if your existing brand name or URL will translate internationally. If it doesn’t then setting up a new URL and brand may be the easiest solution.

The big question for brands looking to register in foreign territories is how to do it. Do they go with sub domains, sub folders (also known as sub directories), or go for ccTLD (country code top level domains). Brian argued for ccTLDs as the cleanest and best way to go despite it diluting the strength of your web presence across several domains. The ccTLD communicates local trust, allowing for complete separation from other country presences and is a clear sign of trust. The disadvantages are that is resource heavy and usually the most expensive way to go. The case for the sub folders and subdirectories is mostly centred on the fact that there’s one central TLD to work from and allows for easier management. The downside of course is that the entire site is not specific to that country. A Google help page identifies more information for users interested.

Brian recommended implementing Google Webmaster tools geotargeting and using the HREFLANG tag: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=189077 to avoid duplicate content issues.

Hosting is another thing that international sites need to be aware of. While not strictly an SEO signal, hosting can affect site speed. Brian mentioned China as an example where Baidu one of the dominant search engines there, struggles to index and rank content hosted outside of China.

As of today, there are 188 versions of Google. Know which one your market uses.

As already mentioned Baidu, Yandex, Bing, Yahoo Japan, Seznam, and Naver are all popular in China, Russia, US, Japan, Czech Republic and South Korea respectively.

A clever link building tactic Brian shared was using search commands such as inurl: and site: and related: to find very specific results that can yield opportunities to gain links.

While it was only launching at the time of the talk, Google have announced a power search certificate: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/landing/powersearching.html

Press releases are often thought of as the most boring ways to promote a site but not for StatCounter. They achieved 100,000 hits from 100 different countries from one of their press releases.

If you’re currently using infographics or have used them in the past, why not repurpose them in a different language. Usually they are quite visual so once it’s relevant to the local market, their shouldn’t be too much work in developing the content, although the work in finding the initial audience to seed the content to shouldn’t over overlooked.

Failing any clever PR tactics, you can always revert to the Michael O’ Leary brand of PR using controversy as your catalyst for headlines and traffic to your site although this won’t work for every brand. Brian mentioned PaddyPower as a company that can get away with this tactic too.

Building a resource that stands the test of time, sometimes known as evergreen content is something that can bring back recurring links, tweets, likes and traffic. SEOmoz’s algorithm change history is an example of this. The information is available in sites scattered across the web but one central and more comprehensive resource will triumph the original multiple sources most times.

Brian gave an example of what it takes to go viral internationally with the audio clip of President Michael D. Higgins having a go at the member of the Tea party. Apart from the compelling content, the well written headline highlighted the importance of copy writing leaving a curiosity gap in the reader’s mind. Brian suggested this skill can also be used in meta descriptions.

Risk and trust are key concepts in any language online with users looking for reasons not to trust you. Using security certification symbols such as Symantec and displaying your contact information can bring easy wins in conversion rates.

One thing Brian mentioned he glossed over was the cultural understanding of your market and positioning of your website in it. Social media is one area where this can go badly wrong like what happened with Starbucks Ireland when they tweeted “Show us what makes you proud to be British”. Design can also be part of culture so copying your own design directly for another market won’t necessarily work. Although popular Chinese sites such as QQ.com would be a case study in bad web design in Ireland, in China it’s so successful as users prefer browsing than searching, they feel they need to have as much information as possible at their finger tips and many more complex reasons than immediately visible.

Getting outside of the technical aspects of international SEO, Brian emphasized not to forgot real company stuff such as: partnerships with local companies, running events for your target market, hosting competitions, writing whitepapers, commissioning surveys, and interacting with your community to foster engagement.

Also in echoing other speaker’s sentiments, Brian suggested not to silo SEO. Looking at each country individually may illustrate differences and patterns too.

SEOmoz also released a promo code for Dublin SEO Summit, which is: DublinSEO. Using this will give you an extended 45 day trial.

Joanne Casey

 

Title: SEO & Analytics: Leveraging the power of analytics to fuel your SEO strategy

When you say the word ‘analytics’ most people react in the same way, they’re scared and frightened. When you log in to see your Web Analytics most people will just look at the 10 stats on the dashboard and not at the story behind them. It’s important to looking at the story behind the stats and this information is what you can use to fuel your SEO strategy.

It’s not as scary as it seems, which people learn once they get into it. While some experience is needed to identify what the data is trying to tell you, after time things will pop out at you that will help you fuel your web marketing strategy. Web analytics is also great for online marketing campaigns. With the web analytics you can map all the data together is see if your offline marketing generating traffic and sales to your website.

Good web analytics is like a smartphone…once you see how beneficial it is to you you’ll never go back to what you had before!

Data is Powering the Digital Age

  1. Data aids understanding
  2. Fuels realisation
  3. Drives confidence
  4. Brings accountability
  5. Yields growth

Breaking down the barriers: Data helps you see beyond how many clicks you received onto your site from Google Adwords or from Facebook Ads. It gives you the 3D view and lets you view everything your visitors did once on your site.

An interesting fact on Google Analytics is that 78% of Irish sites use Google Analytics.

The first thing before you start web analytics is to know what your site objectives are. They can be; sales, time spent on site, site engagement, signing up for newsletters, contact us forms, downloads of PDFs, pages per visit and so on. It’s important to know your site objectives to get the most out of your web analytics.

  • Inform your Keyword Research (Don’t just stick to using the Google Keyword Tool)
  • Investigate what keywords are working well in PPC. Look at what goals were reached through the keywords to see how many conversions you got for your goal. It’s about quality over quantity. Incorporate these keywords into your SEO.
  • Investigate the Match Search Query for PPC keywords
  • Use Google Insights for Search

67% of online search users are driven to search for information about a particular company, product, service or slogan by an offline channel

  • 37% TV
  • 30% Print
  • 20% Billboard
  • 39% Radio
  • 40% Word of mouth
  • Get the Full Story with Webmaster Tools Integration. Webmaster Tools shows how Google navigates through your site. This is now incorporated into Google Analytics.

How often is your listing appearing and what’s the CTR? Under Webmaster on Google Analytics you can see your click through rate and identify which terms are and aren’t working for you.

  • Advise your Meta Data Writing

Use PPC and CTR to incorporate best Ad messages in Metadata.

  • Advise your Content Strategy

Which current organically listed pages have a high bounce rate?

What keywords are pages currently ranking against?

  • Guide your Linking Strategy

Investigate inbound links and optimise them for better visibility and user experience.

  • Test your site against Speedy Gonzales

Check Page Loading Times Per Page. If a page is taking more than 3 seconds to download see what you can cut down on in your page to increase the download speed.  For every second you can knock off the time it takes for your page to load the better impact you’ll have on keeping your users on the site.

  • Get the Full Story with Attribution

Data powers in-channel attribution. Older analytics used to go by the last interaction so everything else that had driven the person to your site was lost. You can now view all the steps to see where your SEO campaign is working for you.

How did Organic Search contribute to sales or conversions? View your top conversion paths to see where you were making the most conversions.

  • Use Appropriate Measurements of Success

Don’t just focus on position. Just because you’ve made it to the top of Google search page doesn’t mean that you have increased the traffic or sales to your site. Focus on the full story to see how successful your SEO campaign is.

Investigate the incremental traffic from SEO listings and as a result, the increase in Goals or Ecommerce Transactions and Investigate increase in the number of organic keywords used to get to the site.

SEO Tactics don’t work in a silo – this was mentioned by a few of the speakers. Spend time looking at what the data is trying to tell you get the best out of your SEO campaign to get a holistic view.

To sum it up:

In the absence of good analytics, people concentrate on: The Process, ticking off every step as they go along and not going any further.

In the presence of good analytics, people concentrate on: Reaping Actionable Insights to inform their strategy. Good analytics is like magic dust, it fuels your SEO campaign. Those who get the most out of web analytics are those that are open to change.

When you’re looking at your report keep asking yourself ‘So What?’ until you can’t anymore, this will give you an actionable insight, the story behind the trend. Use this to power your SEO and the next month when you are doing another SEO campaign, this information will make it more informed and more powerful. It’s not just about the visibility; it’s about conversion of your traffic or sales goals as a result of your SEO campaign.

So to sum up:

  • Embrace your web analytics data
  • Reap Actionable insights from the data and use it to empower your SEO strategy
  • Set SEO success measurements based on incremental traffics/goals/sales
  • Watch your ROI flourish

Niall Harbison
Title: SEO Is Dead – Long Live SEO
Although social is Niall’s passion, he said that the truth is that SEO is not dead, social media and SEO feed into each other.

Starting up, when working on a boat (Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s yacht) with a lot of time on his hands, he started messing around with the web and looked into SEO, but he found it too technical. He moved on to social media networks such as Facebook and YouTube and learned everything he could about them.

Although SEO isn’t Niall’s forte, he knew this much:

  1. Links are good
  2. Links from big reputable sites are especially good
  3. Keywords on pages in specific places help you rank well for stuff
  4. About 75% of traffic to all websites I’ve worked with comes from Google

Niall set up the company, an agency, in his spare bedroom with 1 computer and it grew over 3 years with the help of SEO.

What worked for Simply Zesty was a combination of: Content + SEO + Hard work

At the start Niall went out to as many networking events as possible to try make connections and used telesales and cold calling to try drum up business. After about 2 or 3 months he got fed up with doing this.

He looked at all the other successful agencies and saw they mentioned their awards and client list quite prominently. That was something Niall couldn’t compete with initially so decided to put the blog front and centre on the home page. As basic as it sounds, Niall learned early on that if you give people information that they want/need, they’ll keep coming back.

Through the blog tons of organic links started coming in.

They changed the business plan to: Blog post – SEO – Website visitors – Enquiry – Client – Revenue

While 99% of visitors will take the tips and go off to use them on their own, 1% will look at what we’ve done and contact us about becoming a client. This is the business model we’re still using, no more networking events and cold calling!

The best month was earlier this year when they reached 1 million visitors in a month.

People are coming back to the blog everyday to read updates from all over the world. This has in turn lead them to acquiring clients from all over the world.

Although starting out with very little capital, Niall recognised SEO was important. He hired someone to do SEO for a couple of thousand to set up the blog to have best practice SEO implement on new blog posts.

Content that is useful will be shared and spread around the internet. A recent post about the 50 most creative brands on Facebook lead to Simply Zesty being contacted by the digital marketing director with Samsung Mobile USA looking to get a mention.

When looking at the traffic to their blog you can see that Google is where most of the traffic comes from. Social Media does not generate as much traffic to your site, this is because people don’t like leaving the social media sites, like Facebook, when they’re on them to go to outside websites. It’s best used for a brand building tool, not for generating traffic/sales.

You can, however, plug your social media into your websites, people will share posts from your site straight to social media sites. Place the emphasis on social media on it working from your own website.

Email marketing might not seem very new and sexy but it works very well for generating new sales.

Niall’s new business strategy is: SEO + Social Media + Email = New Business

Writing the blogs takes a lot of time and effort but you can reap the rewards afterwards. It’s something you have to be prepared to invest in. Invest in a few people spending hours each day to write quality blog posts to get the best quality content possible.

5 SEO Tips:

  1. Utilise the 2nd biggest search engine, YouTube. A short video we did on tips and trick for the iPad ranked at number two and got ¼ million viewers. YouTube is wide open and easier to get up to the top.
  2. Journalists are lazy, create great/cool content and they’ll want to cover it, creating links back to your site. Create content in mind for other blogs to cover, and you’ll get more links back from them.
  3. Link to others with relevant posts at the end of your blog. This builds trust with other websites and they’ll be happier to do the same for you in future.
  4. Create blogs about Google Plus, it’s popular with people who love Google and will get you more links.
  5. Don’t just write about yourself – nobody cares! Write stuff that people will find useful for themselves as people as selfish with how they spend their time online. Think of what value you can offer to your readers.

SEO Disruption: Mark Zuckerburg talked recently about search engines. The way forward is to be able to ask a specific question. For example, if looking for a Sushi restaurant in your town, you should be able to see the places your friends have been to recently and liked. Zuckerburg says that they are working on that kind of search tool at the moment and it will happen in the future.

Apps are very popular these days with more and more people having smart phones. However, they are not very SEO friendly. Siri with the iPhone, a search engine controlled by your voice, wasn’t very good at the start but it is improving regularly. Now Siri is faster for finding information than typing keywords into Google!

Google v Apple: At the moment, Apple have removed YouTube and Google Maps from the iPhone, and it looks like they are trying to get rid of Google apps bit by bit from their phones to replace with their own software. This could be a worry for Google. Nobody can provide a search engine like Google however, and they are fighting back by building their own hardware with Android for smart phones and Nexus tablets.

Google are still dominate in driving traffic to websites, but this could change with Facebook search, Apps like Siri and Apple kicking Google off their smart phones.

PCs are started to be outdated, for the majority of the public the web won’t be viewed from just PCs anymore but will be from a variety of different sources like; smart phones, their television, iPads and tablets, and even the upcoming Google glasses!

For people in SEO there are two main options:

  1. Bet your business on disruption and win big, try to find the SEO solution for smart phones and you’ll be winning big.
  2. Focus on pure SEO. There are still small to medium business that will need SEO to generate their business, and there is still money to be made from that.

Rand Fishkin

Title: Choose Tall Women (and short men)

While content marketing might be the hottest topic in online marketing, Rand realized that it’s not all that new a concept. Giving the example of the Guinness Book of Records as an early example of content marketing that helped grow the brand internationally despite them not having a Twitter and Facebook.

Rand shared fascinating insights from the dating site Ok Cupid and the irrational bias that people have. Basically tall women have a low range of choice since they’re only considering tall partners and men are limiting themselves by not approaching taller women. Simply put, if you can remove your irrational bias about height, you can get all the other criteria you’re looking for in a partner fulfilled. Taking this example, Rand wanted to demonstrate how rejecting bias in marketing can benefit your inbound marketing.

The first bias or misconception that people have, is that your keyword ranking is all that matters. If you can rank number one all your problems are solved. The conventional wisdom is that there is a linear decrease of CTR (Click through rate) as you go from 1 to 10 in the rankings. The truth is that position isn’t the only influencing factor in the CTR.

Star ratings, reviews & price, Videos, Author Profiles and publication dates displaying the SERPs affect the click through rate. Focus on trying to get this mark up on your content. This is as important if not more important than what you do with Adwords. Rand recommended using the Rich Snippets tool to preview each URL. Profile pics will give a boost to your CTR. Using this author guide will help you get your markup.

If you’re producing video content or thinking about producing it for your website then ensure you’ve got a video xml sitemap. Here’s some a video seo guide from Wistia.

Rich snippets can work very successfully in certain niches. Food bloggers should note that recipes are ideal to markup.

The second bias is that SEO is all about ranking for the “money” keywords, the very competitive head terms. Rand suggested ranking for ‘fastest wordpress hosting’ will probably bring better quality leads than just the term ‘web hosting’. Not only is the chunky middle and long tail amazing in conversion rates when compared with the head term, they’re a whole lot easier to rank for.

Google is also laying claim to the head terms with a huge amount of the page’s real estate consumed by ads. One search taken by rand for “care hire Dublin” left him with just one organic non Google result above the fold out of seven.

Rand’s formula for long tail success = regular content + User generated content. A great way to measure your long tail performance is to check the number of different keywords people have visited you through and compare month on month.

This concept has also reflected in the how SEO activities have provided a scaled ROI over time. Creating content people want to consume and share was a lowly priority for most SEOs pre 2009 but given updates in Panda and Penguin, that’s refocused priorities where now that activity is delivering arguably the highest return. On the other hand tactics such as building links to individual URLs for higher rankings has plummeted in the return it delivers.

The third bias introduced to the audience was that Adwords is the only keyword research you need. Rand mentioned Google search suggest to get ideas on what is being searched at the moment related to the terms you’re searching for. Like Briand did earlier, he also recommended Ubersuggest as a great way to grab more data on suggest.

A clever tactic for finding what keywords will be searched heavily in the next few days is to check in Google news for top stories and see what terms are being mentioned in the headlines. These will be searched over the coming 1-5 days so being able to produce quality content to match those searches is a good way of attempting to achieve rankings for those terms.

Another source of content to view what topics are being discussed on social media and what’s trending. Using what keywords are popular here can tie in with your content strategy. http://search.popurls.com/ and http://topsy.com/s?q=dublin are two good sites for searching popular content.

The fourth bias is that SEOs tend to think that the only place to do SEO is on their own website. Wrong. What SEOs should realise is that there are a bunch of other results below your brand name that you should be ranking for too. It’s not just about getting first position but dominating the SERPs with your brand. Slideshare is a great example of being able to put content there and it ranks quite quickly, often more quickly than if you put it on your own site.

Consider SEO for your profiles on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, StumpleUpon, Reddit, Wikipedia, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Rand also suggested to use the same picture across all of your social networks, blog comments etc. so people can build up more familiarity with you.

Social sharing should not just be about posting and forgetting about it. What you say, when you say and how you say it matters, a lot. Statistics from Rand’s own Twitter feed suggest at the the highest point only 6.5% of his followers are online, which means only 4,514 of his 69,458 followers could possibly see a tweet. The 3.5% that are online at night are almost certainly not the same as the 6.7% online in the morning.

For Twitter updates, what’s working well for Rand in getting engagement is when he puts a link after the first couple of words in his tweet. Not using usernames or hashtags. That’s not to say don’t use hashtags or usernames.

Hashtags and usernames can get it in front of people following a hashtag. While mentioning someone directly will get their attention.

Moving on to Google+ where the snippet of the image matters a lot. Well it matters a lot too on Facebook but the point is that a poor image can kill your chances of people engaging with the post. 4:3 resolution works best for images.

Rand gave a shout out to Jennita, SEOmoz’s community manager, for a brilliant tactic she uses to maximize the potential of content posted on Facebook. When publishing a link there, Facebook automatically pulls in some pictures to use but often these can be formatted poorly or won’t display well. What Jennita does is screenshot a section of the page that has the best image and then uploads that separately pasting the link in and status update in.

The sixth bias is that SEO’s believe there is no simple way to generate traffic. Rand then went caveman on us  Caveman Rand likes a fast website. Caveman Rand has a mobile phone. Mobile phone has bad connection. Caveman Rand is like all other internet users. If you can fix this, bingo – you’ve just got caveman Rand to stay on your site. Not only that but site speed is a ranking factor and improving this will improve your crawl rate, rankings, traffic and even conversions. Further reading recommended from a presentation by Jonathon Colman.

More easy wins can be found by fixing broken stuff on your site and making it not broken! Google Webmaster Tools and SEOmoz Pro can help identify these.

Re-targeting has delivered an exceptionally high rate of return for SEOmoz in their campaigns and really has been an effective paid channel. More details here.

When sharing content. Why not share it on each network? This is such a simple 4 minute task to share on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Build it into your routine of social sharing. RSS feed adoption is going down so these social networks are the new RSS feeds. Maybe also get one or two other people from your company to do this also.

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September 20, 2012 - Posted by Mario Marchetti under Blog
Start Ups 2012

Start Ups 2012

The Sunday Business Post’s Entrepreneurs Conferences have been running for 4 years now and have gone from strength to strength over the years. Start Ups 2012 conference is Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs and small business event. It’s a get together for small business owners, entrepreneurs, investors and service providers to share ideas, keep up to date with new developments, get motivated, network with peers and discuss investments. All delegates leave inspired and motivated with a ‘can do’ attitude.

 

This cutting edge event will not only be an interactive sharing of ideas but also an excellent networking opportunity to learn from others. An impressive line-up of speakers, visionary leaders, national and international experts – all professionally involved in small business, entrepreneurship and exports. Keynote speakers will deliver succinct presentations, allowing time at the end of each session for an open forum to discuss the issues participants find most important.

 

Picture of Conference

Picture of Conference

There will be a Q & A at the end of each session for delegates to ask questions and get involved. There will also be four keynote presentations at the start of each session and Financing and Mentoring Panel Discussions.

 

Delegates to this conference will come away with a fresh outlook on business and export potential, a better understanding of the economy, a revitalized vision of how to succeed and most importantly, the motivation to go for it with a can-do attitude.

 

The list of speakers from the world of business will include; Eoghan Jennings of Startupbootcamp, Paul Hayes of Beachhutpr.ie and ex Havoc, Martin Kelly of IBM Venture Capital Group, Julie Sinnamon of Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland, Gerry Murray of Fort Technologies, Sean Killeen of Xintec, Gina Quin of The Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Colm Tracey of Eishtec, Brian Martin of e-Celtic and many more.

 

This truly exciting event kicks off at 9AM in the RDS Dublin on the 3rd of October.

 

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