A closer look at SEO in Ireland – The Good, the Spammy, and the Leprechauns…
Ireland is somewhat unique in the context of Digital Marketing. The population is small (just 4 million +), the economy is recovering from the end of the celtic tiger boom, and the internet infrastructure is on-par with the fast, affordable internet speeds of the United Kingdom. In talking to local businesses and clients there’s a renewed sense of confidence in marketing, and Irish marketers are looking to invest in digital with ROI in mind.
The quality standard of SME/small business websites on the emerald isle is in a state of emergence. And this leaves Google.ie, as a search engine in a strange middle ground fighting between search-algorithm features seemingly not entirely adopted from Google.com / Google.co.uk, and a mediocre standard of websites to index. In this article I detail issues from a digital marketing perspective that are currently being exploited by various local Irish businesses purporting to do SEO. And this is written for the benefit of you, so any decision made regarding search marketing is a wiser one.
Exact Domain Match Penalty Gone Missing?
One of the first SEO tactics of old, is that you’ll rank better on search results pages for a specific keyword if it features in your domain name. With that in mind, you might consider building your online business based on [product A].com [product B].ie [product C].co.uk – say for example you were an insurance company and wanted to get all that lovely organic traffic for BackPackerTravelInsurance, AnnualTravelInsurance CarHireExcess etc. …Yikes!
It’s actually easier, and far more sustainable to prove to Google that your 1 domain has search authority for a selection of topics or keywords; instead of 20+ domains for a finer selection of keywords.
That said it is just like us SEO’s to squeeze every opportunity and in Ireland there’s still plenty of evidence that the EDM ‘penalty’ isn’t as effective as it is elsewhere. Having a search on Google.ie provides some prime examples:
SEOIreland.net – SEOIreland.org – expertSEO.ie – and then ProSEO.ie
If you haven’t already suspected as much, these websites are relatively underwhelming. My opinion aside, feel free to search for the head term of SEO on Google.co.uk / Google.com – The results differ greatly – you’ll find a plethora of useful, and worthy results in comparison. In the same context, for Google.ie there are also fewer .ie TLD websites to pick from for a given search query. This means keywords in the domain on Google.ie for now, still have a bigger impact than in other locations.
The reality is the real ‘players’ in Ireland in the context of digital marketing and white hat sustainable SEO companies are none of the ones I’ve mentioned above. But surely if these other players were in the same ballpark wouldn’t they be gaming our favourite search engine for ‘SEO’ as well? Right?
Clearly there’s more to this than just the domain name?
Below I call-out the following for unsustainable SEO tactics. Not to point the finger solely at the names named. But to help you identify what’s good for your SEO, and better judge a potential SEO agency.
Looking through SEOIreland.net’s back-links presents a two-trick pony. The first, is a whole bunch of site-wide footer back-links from all their client websites for very manipulative/basic anchor terms such as SEO or eCommerce SEO.
The second tactic is one that all businesses need to be aware of when choosing an SEO agency – Comment Spam. The below example can be found on: http://www.goddesswithinone.com/?p=3809&cpage=1
It’s rubbish. It’s exploitive. It’s against Google Webmaster Guidelines. It’s worthy of a penguin slap, and worst of all – If they do it for their own site, can you imagine how your back-link profile is going to end up?
It’s also important this is not just black-hat SEO, it’s old-hat SEO. And, unfortunately Google.ie search results pages are littered with it.
Well this post on the ever popular local forum Boards.ie says it all. There’s no point creating threads and spamming forums with keyword links to game search engines. Especially if the locals are as switched on as they are in this instance:
Looks grim! But, where is an example of a better approach:
Following on from Matt Cutts’ favourite response to almost every SEO question or problem: ‘Great Content‘.
|The reality is the best approach is one that combines the most organic mix of off-page popularity signals available for your keyword niche. An analysis of the website’s that occupy the 1st positions of Google typically reveals a broad variety of back-links from social, blog, forum, directory and related websites.|
The reality for online businesses looking for an SEO provider is to ascertain with confidence that the agency or freelancer understands the bigger picture. Avoid one-trick ponies, because Google is far more complicated and smart (for a robot) to rely on single minded tactics. Anyone purporting to be an SEO expert will not focus on on-page optimisation and site health audits alone. Nor will they rely on directory submission as the only means to increase your off-page popularity. And example of the bigger SEO picture is provided below:
What else is there to look out for when choosing an SEO provider in Ireland?
The scare-campaign. Link Research Tools do a good job of selling the scare-campaign based on their Link Detox product (or shall I say concept). Anyone in a situation where rankings have plummeted due to awful off-page SEO like the examples above need to understand that Google is not particularly forgiving. As a business you have some serious decisions to make. Depending on the damage, and you really should ascertain just how bad the damage is, you may be better off starting again with a fresh domain, and a fresh approach. The following article details some issues pertaining to Google penguin penalties and Google’s less than forgiving ways.
If your business website has simply dropped from page 1 to page 2 of Google.ie, you probably just need a handful of good quality, relevant back-links instead of any kind of “link detox”, or “penguin recovery”. There are Irish SEO businesses leveraging scare campaign style approaches when selling SEO. Don’t be sold on the scare campaign if you’ve experienced a small drop in keyword ranking positions. If you haven’t been actively promoting your content and your site externally it is actually common place.
By way of example:
The Link Research Tools Hard Sell (via email): “… It is highly recommended to start regular Link Detox Reports at least once a month to avoid negative SEO attacks and get rid of bad links before they harm your ranking (in order to be prepared for the next Google update).”
Forget scare campaigns: you get what you pay for.
$199 SEO isn’t going to cover the time and resources that go into whitehat, sustainable, relevant SEO. Not the on-page expertise, not the time auditing your website and solving development flaws, not the prospecting, not the outreach emails, not the quality content creation, and not the the recipe book owned by a quality SEO provider.