I met Daniel Norin, a partner in a tyre and rim company www.nordendack.se when I was in Stockholm last month.
Instead of going to a typical Swedish restaurant for lunch, we went to one of Daniel’s favourite Thai restaurants and spoke about the search market in Sweden.
How did you get into search and what is the search market like in Sweden?
I used to work at Getupdated for nearly 5 years. I learnt a lot about the market, what the competitors were doing, the kind of service there were in the market, but I also found the search market and the agencies in Sweden were under developed.
I also worked on a content management system, well before the wordpress plugins were as advanced as they are today. We developed the technical side of the CMS with the SEO areas that were needed. We started to automate the tasks within the CMS so that the publisher did not have to worry about optimizing their content for SEO. We got really good reviews from one of our main competitors in the SEO field.
Now I work for an ecommerce site and we understand SEO is very important as it is a low cost channel if done correctly. However, many companies do not see the value of SEO because they do not have the knowledge of online marketing and how it all fits together. A lot of the marketing professionals within the companies in Sweden do not have a good understanding of SEO and PPC.
Do you often have to optimise your sites for English and Swedish?
Yes we sell tyres within Sweden, we will send to the UK, we also distribute to Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands and therefore we optimize in all these languages. The English site will be live in 3 months time.
Do you work much with the Danish and Norwegian market?
Yes and we have content writers in each country where we have a site. I tried translation companies previously but they often did not translate correctly, missing out the colloquial terms for certain phrases. It is important to have translators in each country they are translating into as they know the local phrases. You can build up loyal and trustful content writers, which we didn’t experience with the translation companies. We always do small quality checks to assure the level is what need.
Are there many SEO events in Sweden?
There is an SEO meetup every month, which a company called Pineberry started. SEO meetup is normally in a very relaxed environment such as a pub over drinks. It is a good way to network and also find out about SEO case studies. There are about 30 people at the SEO meetups so many of us know one another well.
There is also SMX with people from the US and UK and that is interesting as they are from the more mature search markets.
What link building do you do and do you conduct this in English or Swedish or both?
I am not the biggest fan nowadays of traditional link building as the scene will change with the social media. We buy links to a certain extent but we try to develop techniques of getting natural responses to our content. I am not a hard core believer in having all these different content networks. I think it is important that there is a real human being behind the sharing facility. This is why I really hope for the social platforms to be a huge impact of the seo results. In Sweden, there are too many traditional agencies. I wonder when these companies will become more PR companies but with a strict SEO focus.
Have you been affected by the Google updates?
No, we have not been affected by Penguin and that is good. Some of our competitors were really affected by the Penguin and they have suffered financially.
Do you have any Swedish specific clients where you solely work in Swedish?
We used to work with agencies but now we do not and we work with freelance consultants instead. For us it is a better way of working as they put more care and attention into it as they are relying on the work. We do not get the same amount of attention when we use agencies.
What are the biggest differences between the Nordic countries, Denmark, Sweden and Norway?
Sweden is the hardest country to rank for “Tyres” within the Nordic countries. Finland is an interesting market as they differ in the buying pattern compared with Sweden. Germany and Netherlands are of course very competitive but we don’t have our main focus there yet until we feel comfortable with the Nordic markets.
What are the specific tactics that work in Sweden?
There is not a lot of competition in Sweden. For example in my market, there are only 6 companies in Sweden selling tyres and rims. Therefore any link building or marketing tactic you use in Sweden will work. SEO is our biggest source of business, more than PPC. Our next most important aspect of online marketing is to increase the referral traffic from a mixture of relevant sites.
Since I joined the company 8 months ago we have raised the overall traffic by around 50%. It takes time to increase traffic but building a stable framework for marketing has been the key. The biggest difference we see is the conversion rate but that number will be a secret.
If you would put Sweden on a timeline and the US is “2012”, the UK “2011” and France for example “2010”, where would Sweden be?
There are more SEO companies in Sweden widening their views on the subject with the knowledge from countries like the US or UK. I would say Sweden is about 3 years behind UK and USA for various reasons.
How big is the search market in Sweden, is it growing?
The Swedish search market is growing, more money is being put into digital marketing because it is easy to measure. However, the level of in-depth knowledge of the market in Sweden is very low. Better education would be a key factor but we don’t have really the good training centres for SEO, PPC in Sweden.
What is interesting over the past year is that many large SEO companies in Sweden have suffered a high turn over of staff. Either the staff has gone to a different ecommerce site, they have moved to a different agency or they have started their own SEO company.
What do you like the least about SEO?
I do not like the fact that SEO is very time consuming. It takes a lot of analyzing and I’m not a fan of content writing so I normally outsource that.
What do you like the most about SEO?
What I really like about SEO is to create a well thought of strategy, implementing it and seeing the fantastic results.
Something I really love with SEO is to run experiments:
I run two photo studios, and I also set up a model agency to help the photo business. However, the agency was an SEO experiment. Within 3 months of setting up the model agency website and without any link building, (for a brand new domain), we were ranking number 6 for “model agency in Sweden”.
The SEO impact is now normalised and we will continue the experiment going forward. The content were photos of models which went viral, they were shared and tweeted. The best part about the site is that the model agency will soon be launched in the UK and we hope to see the continued success in the UK.
What do see as the future of SEO in Sweden?
There will be losers and winners. The winners will adopt their technology and working process to focus on content and really understand the client’s business. Once they understand the client’s product/service, they can then develop great link bait (link baiting is very rare in Swedish SEO companies) to achieve natural links and create a long term impact through social media.
I hope we will see “real SEO”, in the future, which are gadgets that interact with the different social platforms on a site. These gadgets can also be through your mobile.
I have seen one experiment with a very good outcome. It involved photography, but the message was clear, it really generated social impact wherever it was used. The device and the process is still under development and the inventor wants to keep it a secret. We are following up this with SEO analysis to keep in the records.