It’s a great time to be an SEO consultant in N.Ireland

Posted on April 30, 2007 under General

I just read 6 reasons why ‘I’d hate to be an SEO’ by Gavin over at IrelandSEOMarketing and it got me thinking.

On the contrary I’d love to be a full time SEO consultant. I’ve spent the last eight years promoting websites and although certainly not an expert by any stretch of the imagination I do have a good deal of knowledge and an interest when it comes to ranking in Google. There are no great hidden secrets to becoming fairly proficient in SEO. Google sets out the guidelines for webmasters and like many things on the net there’s plenty of support out there from people who know better and are willing to share. If you’re willing to work incredibly hard (I’m writing this article at 5.00 am on a Monday morning before I start client work) and have a passion for what you do then the benefits definitely out do the negatives.

Making cleanly coded crawlable sites, that have been researched against their competition and analysed for their keywords, with good content and backlinks are the backbone basics to helping a website perform.

Dealing with clients is part and parcel of any job. Always set out the parameters and make sure the client has realistic expectations. Personally I would underplay what can be achieved rather than oversell it. If they want guarantees they can buy a link or banner ad.

In the North a lot of companies particularly web design companies offer SEO as a standard buzzword. Though if you do a bit of research it’s pretty easy to work out that there is very little real commitment to putting this into practice even for their own company websites. The market is ripe for a company in the North to lead the way. There’s also plenty of regional keyword pickings to be had.

If you can deliver then you can set your own professional price provided it’s within reason. Being an SEO consultant is well paid and if you get good clients and provide quality work then you’ll be worth your wait in gold.

The more successful campaigns you put together then the more word will spread and the more job offers you’ll get. It’s the same for the cowboys, the more disgruntled clients they have the more people will hopefully be aware to avoid them like the plague.

Every professional has client problems, pricing issues and competitors. Solely based on the lack of competition it’s a great time to be an SEO consultant in N.Ireland. The market is definitely growing with website owners becoming more and more aware of what search engine marketing is and how their site has been poorly promoted in the past.


PayPal Sandbox Testing

Posted on April 21, 2007 under General

I’ve spent the last week working on what should be a fairly straightforward booking system using PayPal as the payment provider. I’ve been using the PayPal Sandbox to test the code and I’ve encountered very strange and confusing results.
There doesn’t seem to be any logic to what happens when the payment is completed and I’m returned to the confirmation page.

If I’ve selected ‘UK’ as the country I get a ‘the parameter is incorrect’ and if I select ‘Aruba’ as the country and enter the same details except I enter ‘Not sure’ for the state rather than Antrim then the confirmation page shows the correct message i.e. ‘Thank you for booking’.

If anyone can explain this then I’d be very glad to hear from you. I’ve posted this issue on the pdncommunity forum and am still waiting for a proper explanation.


Sell your house quickly

Posted on April 16, 2007 under General

Today I’ve completed the initial design for HouseBuyers365 and the site has gone live.

If you’d like to sell your house quickly in the UK HouseBuyers365 are keen to purchase it no matter what condition it’s in.

In relation to the site any constructive criticism is always welcome. The next step is to push the site on the net, get it ranking well for it’s keywords in the search engines and get as many qualities backlinks as possible.

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SEO checklist

Posted on March 31, 2007 under General

Here’s a nice little checklist I came across for the best and worst SEO practices

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Search Marketing World 2007

Posted on March 23, 2007 under General

After some nightmare traffic chaos in Dublin that added an extra 11/2 hours on to my journey I managed to arrive at SMW 2007 about 20 or so minutes late and stumbled into Danny Sullivan’s basic introduction into Search Engine Marketing. Fairly straightforward and nothing new.

Danny touched on the long tail concept and the importance of ‘less important’ keyword terms. He also discussed how crawlers work, Google being the most important browser, the importance of the title tag, design layout, link analysis, age of the site, clickthroughs and the neighbourhood your site is in.

Danny also discussed the Nike website which underperforms compared to less known brands suchs as Zappos. He used the Nike site to emphasize the importance of avoiding splash pages, flash and euphemisms. Some of his information was a little dated, might have been nice if he had had more current and up-to-date stats. Somehow I got the feeling that he had done this talk before!

One other thing, if you want guarantees then buy an ad. That’s a line I must remember for my customers.

After that talk I headed to grab some breakfast and managed to arrive late again to the talk on ‘Writing Search Engine Optimised Content’, which meant standing at the back of the room and being unable to see the speaker Chris Sherman. Again there was nothing revolutionary, but it did reinforce the important of using unique title tags and dispelled a few myths that you might see on one or two forum postings. SEO does need some effort and thought and sloppiness won’t be rewarded.

A question was raised at the end of the talk as to the importance of keywords in your domain name, Chris suggested that on the whole they were beneficial and certainly wouldn’t do any harm. In my experience I’d have to agree with that, and if you can get a keyword or two naturally into your domain then go for it.

Next I ended up in the great hall for the talk on the future of search. “The mobile internet will be the next big thing in 2-5 years”, as long as the killer application comes along. So in short the mobile internet will be big when the killer application comes along. Anyone got any ideas as to what the killer app will be?

I was looking forward to the Google Adwords talks, though I was somewhat disappointed that the talks were almost the same apart from maybe 5 mins or so of content. The advanced talk didn’t really go that far, and for those even fairly acquainted with Adwords it was a case of nothing really new. Tightly themed keywords, repeat your keywords in the text and calls to action were the order of the day. Include special offers, prices, locations and specifics that set expectations.

Improving your quality score would result in paying less for your ads and raise your ad up the listings against your competitors. One other thing mentioned was to run split tests on ad campaigns. The two talks were fairly standard stuff that you would find mentioned on most marketing boards.

Next it was Keywords with RingJohn, and again nothing new. John was very dubious as to the quality and number of searches alot of these keyword suggestion tool counted. His theory was that to test the number of searches for your possible keywords, it was best to get the credit card out and run an adwords campaign. That would let you know in no uncertain terms and hopefully not break the piggybank.

Finally after a long day I decided to relax a bit in the Click Fraud talk. That was rather interesting, one of the speakers suggested that Click Fraud wasn’t that big an issue, but he had all the Google Badges and no doubt makes a handsome sum from Google advertising so I’ll take his comments with a pinch of salt.

Ghosemajumder from Google assured the listeners that Click Fraud was under control and that Google took proactive steps to lessen the impact by discounting ‘invalid clicks’ and leveling everything out. Not too sure about that but he did seem very confident and competent to his credit. Would have been nice to hear from Yahoo and their efforts to tackle the issue.

After that it was back to the bus station and back to Belfast. It was a long day that had begun in the very early hours. The traffic jam chaos had thrown me off course and next time I’ll probably learn from that and get down the night before. Neverthess it was very enjoyable, nothing grounding breaking but well worth the time and effort invested. Just to say that the venue was superb and well done to the organisers.

Oh and to the taxi man that told me the internet was shite and Irish websites were crap because he couldn’t find a spare part for his car, well he provided the entertainment!


Web Design Belfast

Posted on March 13, 2007 under General

Just got a Google Alert through this morning and it provided some interesting reading. an Australian web development company are working on the seo strategy for a web design company ‘Inspired eBusiness’ based in Belfast.

It’ll be interesting to see how they do as ‘web design Belfast‘ is the key phrase I’ve targeted for my business. I might have to get the finger out!

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4NI listings

Posted on March 12, 2007 under General

4NI appear to be now offering a sponsored link option. I’m not sure how they can justify this based on the already expensive cost to advertise on their site. I think it’s around £200 per year.

Must find out how much it is and post it.


Where are the web companies from the North

Posted on March 7, 2007 under General

I was just looking at the list of delegates attending Search Marketing World 2007 from the North @ and was surprised that some of the big development companies from Belfast and N.Ireland weren’t listed.

Then again maybe I wasn’t surprised. Perhaps they’ve all been to the recent Search Engine Strategies event in London, or maybe they’ve got it all covered.

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2 days of Web confusion

Posted on February 28, 2007 under General

2 days aftering opening a Web Fusion account and 3 calls later to technical support account I still can’t access the control panel of the new account or ftp into the server.

I’m not hopeful either that this will be sorted out today. Support claim it’s a known issue and is affecting other account holders which doesn’t ease the pain.

In the past I’ve settled with an American hosting company DiscountASP.NET who in terms of hosting features, support and cost are hard to beat. Downtime has been virtually non-existant. This experience doesn’t exactly convince me of British hosting.

Hopefully the account can get set-up correctly today though I’m not holding my breath.

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Wordtracker Belfast and Escorts

Posted on February 23, 2007 under General

Yesterday was spent doing a bit of keyword research and analysis for a client.

After I’d finished the work and logged the time spent, I decided to have a nosey about what people searching for Belfast wanted. I guess it didn’t come as much of a surprise that Belfast and escorts must have alot in common!! Yes indeed a very popular keyword search with a predicted 125 searches for the day.

One other gold nugget that Wordtracker threw up was that content management Belfast was more or less up for grabs and had predicted searches of 37 the same number as Belfast City Airport. Lets see how targeting this keyphrase goes over time.

Wordtracker was definitely worth the spend and keyword analysis is a subject that I’m looking forward to learning more about at Search Marketing World.

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Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced SEO based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own SEO Agency.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 923383 or use the contact form.

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