Meeting SEOs in Sweden – Interview with Johannes Eriksson
Jo Turnbull has been traveling Europe this summer doing interviews for State of Search in her Euro 2012 SEO Roadshow. The trip was a success and Jo agreed to stay on doing more interviews with SEOs around the globe for State of Search. Today you can find her first talk after the trip.
When I was in Sweden last month, I interviewed Johannes Eriksson, SEO Manager at Jajja Communications in central Stockholm. I wanted to find out what the search market was like in Sweden and asked Johannes a few questions about SEO in his native country for State of Search.
1) What is the search market like in Sweden?
The market is growing now and it is more competitive today than it was a few years ago, but still nothing compared to the UK and US. It also seems like Google does not show .se SERP much attention, spam and black hat often survive a lot longer here than in the US and in the UK SERPs.
2) Do you often have to optimise your sites for English and Swedish?
For some of our clients, we optimize their sites in English and Swedish. However most of our clients have websites in Swedish and therefore we optimise for the Swedish search market. We target small and mid-sized companies and a lot of them do not conduct any business with English speaking countries.
3) Do you work much with the Danish and Norwegian market?
Yes, we have 2,000 clients in total of which the vast majority are Swedish and the rest Danish and Norwegian. The Danish market is a little bit more competitive. They are a bit more ahead of Norway when it comes to link building and SEO in general but the search volumes are about the same as Norway.
4) Are there many SEO events in Sweden?
There is SMX every October which we sponsored in 2011. There is also a monthly meet up that we go to and we are looking at hosting a networking event in the near future. We also try to visit the annual PubCon conference in Las Vegas.
5) What link building do you do and do you conduct this in English or Swedish or both?
Since our main business is a pay-for-performance based product we rarely disclose the link building we actually do to our clients. They pay for the results and not the actual links. We want to have 100% control of all the links that we build to our clients, meaning we do it through sites and resources that we either own ourselves or are partnered up with in a way that let us control the actual links and content on the site. Our link building is in Swedish for our Swedish clients, Danish for our Danish clients and so on.
I worked 1.5 years for .SE, the foundation who handles the .SE domain names in Sweden. In early 2008 I moved to a hosting company called Crystone. Crystone was owned by Getupdated and I got into SEO when JustSearch, who is another company in the Getupdated group, wanted a platform to manage their link building. We had a lot of domains and therefore we set up a partnership with them and I was responsible for having the system built and taken into production. I was with Crystone/Getupdated until early 2011 when I joined Jajja.
7) Outside of the Scandinavian markets, do you work in other languages?
Jajja do not work with clients outside of the Scandinavian market. However, we are always looking at new opportunities in new countries. We do have some special projects that include SEO on other markets and languages.
8) Do you have any Swedish specific clients where you solely work in Swedish?
No, we mainly work in Swedish and most clients solely work in Swedish. It’s uncommon for clients to work in multiple languages.
9) Do you work much with the Danish and Norwegian market?
We have been looking at Finland, but we only deal with Denmark and Norway besides Sweden for now. Norwegians in general are more afraid of Google and believe that SEO can hurt them more than it will help them. This is what the Swedish search market was like 7 or 8 years ago. People even believed link building was something illegal, but now people realise they need link building for results.
10) What are the biggest differences between these countries.
Sweden is the most advanced, followed by Denmark and then Norway in terms of how developed the market is. It is harder to close a deal in Norway but then the results are easier to show. However, it can be harder to build links in Norway as they have a rule about domain buying. Only Norwegian companies can register a .no domain and it used to be capped at 20 per company. Now it is capped at 100.
11) What are specific tactics that work in Sweden?
Traditional on-page optimisation with tactical off-page work in terms of link building is what’s working here as in any other country. We also see some really messy SERPs after the Penguin update, sites that should be ranking are not there and sites that shouldn’t be ranking are doing well. My guess is that we will see a lot happening in the near future regarding this.
12) If you were to put Sweden on a timeline and the US is “2012”, the UK “2011” and France for example “2010”, where would Sweden be?
Sweden is about 2 or 3 years behind the US market, so that would put us at 2009 or 2010.
13) What does your company specialize in?
Our main business model is 100% performance based. We price every keyword in a quote individually based on its competition and our client would then pay per day that keyword is on the first result page in Google. We are a big SEO agency, almost 100 employees and we do almost only SEO. This means that we need to deliver results in order to make a profit and it also means it is easier for us to sell since a client knows he or she will only have to pay if we actually deliver. We’ve been in the SEO business since 2000, before Google even launched in Sweden, so we have been through every Google update there is.
14) Were you affected by the Google updates?
We were not affected too much from the Panda update because our clients at Jajja Communications are not affiliate sites. We have adapted our link building strategies after the Penguin update and changed a lot of things like number of links built, quality of links, keyword spread in each link campaign and so on. When working with a third party like Google it’s very important to have an organization that can adapt quickly to any updates they roll out.
G+ local, former Google places, is interesting for us as we had agreements with clients to only charge in top 10. But with local searches, some of our agreements had to be changed so that we can also charge a client if they rank no 11 since they still are on the first page.
15) Do you do any SEO or online marketing outside of work?
I have my own company, Wired Equity, where I invest in domain names using dropcatching. I buy three type of domain names, traffic, generic and SEO domain names. The traffic names are parked with Google ads and I earn money on the traffic, the generic names are turned into affiliate sites since they are easy to rank with their exact keyword spelling. The SEO domain names (typically high PageRank names with nice backlinks) are used for link networks, used right they are a great resource. I also do consultancy work for other companies and assist them in buying specific names or portfolios.
16) What do you like about SEO the most?
I like and hate the fact that you are dependent on Google. One Google update can result in your site doing really well. But you cannot rely on this, you have to constantly adapt to the algorithm. It is fun to try and get to the top, to beat Google.
17) What is the future of SEO in Sweden?
I would look at US and UK market and from this predict what will happen in the Swedish market in a couple of years. We can see that the market is growing every year but we are still behind both US and UK when it comes to the percentage of the marketing budget being spent on SEO.