Different strokes for David Coats

“Neil, what’s the SEO market like over in Sydney and how does it compare to the UK?” I hear you ask.

Good question and I’m glad you asked.

Well who better to ask than David Coats, a man who has run leading SEO teams both in Sydney and the UK? The former Natural Search Director of iCrossing in the UK moved over here nearly four years ago and is now the SEO Director of Reprise Media in Australia.

David Coats

So what differences has he noticed between the two markets?

Agencies tend to be smaller here, which means that processes can be implanted with more speed and agility. “In my opinion, the markets are both strong” remarks David “The UK is a great market for chasing the algorithm but Australia is a great market for strategy.” This is down to a combination of client appetite and the nimbleness that comes with being smaller.

According to David, a lot of the challenges in the SEO market are the same. Algorithmic changes are the same globally, so the demands in the market are the same.  Rollouts tend to start in the US and then the UK before coming to Australia. It doesn’t make too much difference and the time delay isn’t really sufficient for a competitive advantage.

As in the UK, content is king and SEO almost considered a by-product of smart marketing and content development. Mobilising content in real time is the main challenge at the moment, much like in the UK. The same barriers exist with creative partners prioritising the glamour/award-worthy creative work over sharable content for SEO purposes, and turnaround times are an issue as well as cost.

Whilst I’ve spent a good deal of my time here defending the progressiveness of the Australian market, it’s pretty safe to say that a large chunk of the ecommerce market is along way behind the UK, and it’s partly due to the landmass/population ratio.

Thanks to this ratio, one of the key differences with the UK market is that many of the leading retailers in Australia operate on a franchise model, where retail branches are privately owned, and franchise owners are responsible for running P&L, setting prices etc.  This means that ecommerce is a threat.

So why is that?

There’s no doubting that ecommerce trade cannibalises retail footfall trade, but when it’s all part of the same P&L, does it really matter? If your brand is made up of franchises, yes it does.

Retailers have a duty to protect the franchisers, and this creates some pretty strange solutions – for example prices are often hidden until you sign in or submit your details at checkout stage. The site will then allocate the appropriate prices according to your nearest franchise. Not amazing for usability and one of the main reasons that ecommerce is not being pushed in the Australian market. The market is deliberately not embracing digital. There are definite signs of this changing, with major global retailers (including ASOS) making a concerted push in the Australian market. Outside interest is likely to pave the way for change and greater investment.

Aside from this, the main difference between the UK and Australia is the lack of senior talent – the history just isn’t here in digital compared to the UK. This is the same at every level – David’s team of 11 currently comprises of 5 Englishmen, 2 Australians, 2 Irishmen, an Indonesian and a Scotsman (and there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere).