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Indian Central Bank’s Research Arm will Launch a Blockchain Platform

The research arm of India’s central bank is developing a new blockchain platform for multiple banking applications in the country.

Established by the central bank, the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) is the Indian central bank’s research arm and the foremost banking research institute in the country.

As  earlier this year, the research institute has been studying blockchain technology for over two years. In a whitepaper published at the time, a team of researchers from the institute bullishly claimed “we recommend that the time is ripe for its adoption in India.” Indeed, such was the central bank institute’s enthusiasm that it has determined that blockchain technology had already “matured enough” to enable the digitization of India’s fiat currency, the rupee.

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When Choosing A Domain Name, Readability Matters More Than Size

Choosing a  for your business, or even your personal hobby, is important. Once chosen and implemented it’s often a costly exercise to change. It takes time to deal with the technical issues involved and it can even cost in lower search engine rankings and lost business.

It has been considered that a shorter domain name is best. But this isn’t necessarily so. Recently the operator of the Dutch country code .nl published a  that questioned the wisdom of choosing a shorter domain name. The blog post from SIDN said that having a “readable” domain name is more important.

Sure, a short domain name is easier to type and remember. And it’s the short .com domain names that regularly sell for high six-figure, and even seven-figure sums. But does say zf.ie make any sense to people searching for your business name is Blacknight?

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3 Ways IoT is Going to Change in 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a term tossed around since it was first suggested by technologist Kevin Ashton back in 1999. In the last two decades, it has been used to describe all kinds of devices, most of which connect to the Internet to collect data for interested users. While the IoT sector has lost some of its hype due to challenges with creating widespread adoption, it continues to grow in the background and is poised to experience major growth in 2017 due to significant advancements in both software and device technologies.

Data from Statista shows that the global wearables market is likely to grow to over $53 billion, demonstrating that consumers are ready for new connected devices. While these kinds of devices have been the primary drivers of innovation in the IoT sphere, enterprise solutions are likely to be the next wave of IoT success.

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Ireland's economy says goodbye to the 'lost decade'

Ireland's lost economic decade is over, according to a new economic forecast, but sluggish economic figures in the UK put this country's momentum at risk.

Goodbody Stockbrokers projects the economy will reach full employment by the end of next year, fuelled by growth in construction and consumer spending. But a slowdown in consumer spending in the UK poses risks to our exporters, on top of the potential for tariffs to be imposed when the UK leaves the EU.

"We have to be aware that the UK growth outlook is going to be a headwind for Ireland over the next 12 to 18 months, and probably beyond then in 2019," Goodbody's chief economist Dermot O'Leary told the Irish Independent.

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SME Advice: Firms must innovate and act now to get ready for Brexit

The triggering of Article 50 on March 29, was a watershed moment for Irish companies and represents one of the largest structural changes in the global marketplace.

For Ireland, the impact of Brexit could be profound. More than 37pc of the exports of Enterprise Ireland-backed companies go to the UK and the exposure in certain sectors - such as food, construction and timber - is significant.

It is essential for Irish companies to use the period of the negotiations to prepare for the new world order, post Brexit.

If we wait until the new trading arrangements become known, we risk losing hard-won global market positions.

SBCI lends over €0.5 billion to SMEs

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland has advanced €544m in loans to small and medium enterprises here since its inception in March 2015.

Figures published by the SBCI today show 12,590 loans have been advanced with an average value of €43,200.

The SBCI said the loans were drawn down by a wide range of industry sectors, with agricultural SMEs showing the highest takeup of 22%. Wholesale and retail trade SMEs accounted for a further 18%.

Most of the SBCI loans were taken out by companies for investment purposes, while 11% borrowed for working capital purposes and 5% refinanced loans from banks leaving the Irish market.

During the year, the SBCI said it started a new business line as it got involved in risk-sharing arrangements for the first time with the launch of the Agricultural Cash Flow Support Scheme.

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Why social media marketing is important for an SME

75 per cent of business owners are put off engaging with a small business because of its lack of social media presence.

With over 270 million Twitter users and 1.2 billion Facebook users, there is hard evidence that social media is a powerful tool for business owners, however many SMEs are still reluctant to build an online following.

However, on the contrary, social media is a business savvy tool that should be harnessed into any businesses marketing strategy. Here are the benefits:

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SME satisfaction with Government remains negative

Small and medium enterprises (SME’s) overall satisfaction with the Government has risen in the three months to 30 June, the second overall improvement this year.

However, it continues to be in negative territory, declining to -7pc from -9pc in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest survey from ISME, the independent representative association for SMEs.

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Brexit: Small businesses may escape worst of impact

Brexit may be a major concern for some businesses, but many small businesses feel they may escape the worst of it, a new survey by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (Isme) association has found. Conversely, many smaller businesses also feel they will not see much benefit from Brexit.

Some 77 per cent of people surveyed said Brexit would have no impact on staffing levels, with only 17 per cent predicting a decline. Almost half said there would be no change.

Some 11 per cent said their turnover would increase as a result of Britain’s plans to exit the EU, while the remainder were split almost evenly between no change and a fall in turnover.

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European SMEs can lead the world in the IoT revolution

Hassan Triqui is the CEO of Secure-IC, a French tech start-up.

We are in the midst of a revolution: the revolution of the Internet of Things (IoT). This will transform the planet, with 75.4 billion connected devices expected to generate annual economic benefits of $11 trillion globally by 2025. This will create countless jobs in innovative companies both big and small who build the technologies and apps that will power this new paradigm.

Europe could benefit greatly. We have excellent universities and research institutes and a deep culture of innovation. Our Achilles heel is our inability to commercialise our knowledge and expertise by creating the right service ecosystem for innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to thrive. In order to do that, we must build the right framework to succeed – or we will miss out to competitors in Asia, the United States and elsewhere.

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The SSL certificate explained

Part of the process of is finding a way to secure the experience for your shoppers. You want your potential customers to feel safe, of course, and to know that their data isn’t going to fall into the wrong hands.

If you’re new to eCommerce, you might have heard some chatter about SSL certificates or HTTPS as part of this security process. And you might be utterly confused by it. Relax — that’s normal, and we can help.

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How do Irish companies prepare for Brexit?

If you are an Irish business how on earth do you plan for Brexit? For a small retailer the questions may go no further than whether the price of biscuits arriving from the UK might go up. But for others – anyone trading on any kind of scale with the UK – the question is whether to incur the considerable cost of planning and preparing for a hard Brexit or whether to just carry on and hope it all works out reasonably smoothly.

The stakes are high. The Tax Strategy Group, a group of senior public servants which sets out the options for the government before the budget, is not known for its hyperbole. In its report ahead of this year’s budget, published this week, it warned that if there was a hard Brexit and Britain leaves the EU without a deal on future trading arrangements then “the impact on traders and hauliers would be huge”.

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Irish small firms still unaware of dangers posed by Brexit

Many Irish small- and medium-sized businesses are still unaware of the dangers posed to them by Brexit, according to a new report which calls for a nationwide campaign to highlight the risks, and of an “early warning system” to identify threatened sectors.

The report, which comes from the Joint Committee on Jobs, , also calls for increased funding for enterprise agencies such as the IDA and to mitigate the effects of Brexit, and it urges the Government to seek changes to EU fiscal rules to allow for more capital investment.

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AIB scraps plans to offshore IT roles to India

AIB has changed its mind on offshoring certain IT functions to India as part of its five-year outsourcing arrangement with Wipro. It is understood that the bank decided that such a move was too risky in the current environment.

The bank confirmed to The Irish Times it no longer planned to offshore roles in its IT Operations unit, where 129 staff were outsourced to Wipro more than two years ago.

In a statement, the bank said: “On an ongoing basis we review our IT operating model to ensure we are delivering to our changing customer needs. In 2015, AIB outsourced some IT operations to multiple partners, including Wipro.

“As part of our agreement with Wipro, we recently considered offshoring a small number of IT operations roles. Following an evaluation, AIB has decided not to offshore these particular roles at this point in time.”

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Bitcoin, Gold and the Risks of Bum Comparisons

One simple chart is creating a lot of buzz in markets. It shows that for the first time in history, one bitcoin is worth more than one troy ounce of gold. Despite the flurry of discussion this factoid has generated, many are stupefied, not quite knowing what to do with this information or how to trade on it. Maybe it’s because they have little to do with each other.

In fact, gold and bitcoin don’t even represent the same asset class. Comparing them is not like apples and oranges (both fruit). Better said, it’s akin to comparing the prices of soybean futures and Intel stock.

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Total cost of Women’s Rugby World Cup expected to be €4m

The IRFU will spend €1.5 million to deliver the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August bringing total spend on women’s representative rugby to over €3.6m. The union will be hoping that it’s a precursor for winning the rights to hosts the 2023 men’s equivalent, a decision that will be announced in November.

The total cost of the Women’s Rugby World Cup is expected to come in just over €4 million with supplementary funding being provided by World Rugby, the Irish Government and council funding, partnerships, ticket revenues and sponsorship.

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Inside view of Ireland’s digital technology revolution

Since the opening of Digital Equipment Corporation in Galway in 1971 its legacy — now in the guise of Hewlett Packard Enterprise — is still as strong as ever, writes Dr Chris Coughlan.

Although officially opened in 1973 by the then Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) began manufacturing in Galway in 1971. This marked the beginning of Ireland’s Information Technology Industry and Smart Economy.

Now 46 years onwards is an opportune time to assess the significant role of ‘the Digital Legacy’ that has contributed and continues to contribute both today and in the future not only to Galway but to Ireland.

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Amazon sets up electricity unit in Dublin as it plans $1bn data centre

Internet giant Amazon is establishing an electricity trading unit in Dublin as it continues to expand its footprint in Ireland and plans a €1bn data centre complex in the capital.

It's not clear what type of electricity trading the Amazon Web Services unit, called Amazon Energy Eoraip, will engage in, but it's clearly linked to the large electricity consumption of its data centres.

The scale of power usage by data centres has become a bone of contention for objectors to plans by both Amazon and Apple for huge data centre campuses in Ireland.

Companies have favoured Ireland for data centres because the temperate climate helps to lower running costs by aiding cooling of the buildings.

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Dublin Tech Summit kicks off tomorrow

Dublin Tech Summit will kick off its first event tomorrow in the city's Convention Centre. Organisers say more than 10,000 attendees will take part in the two-day tech summit.

Looking to fill the Web Summit-shaped hole left in the city after Paddy Cosgrave took his venture to Lisbon, Dublin Tech Summit has a host of big names from around the world taking to the various stages. Some of the speakers include Gary Vaynerchuk, Jimmy Chamberlin, Cindy Gallop, Matthew Luhn and Robo Thespian.

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Broadband delay predicated on fears of another Moriarty

Fresh doubts have emerged about the delivery of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) following another apparent shift in the Government’s timeline for delivery.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten last week indicated he doesn’t expect the first homes to be connected until at least 2019, a year later than previously flagged and five years since the project was first mooted by the then communications minister Pat Rabbitte.

This is because the department, rather mysteriously, seems to want to wait for Eir, a privately owned telecoms business, to complete a separate project involving 300,000 rural homes and businesses, which is being done on a commercial basis.

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'Petya' cyber attack: Chernobyl's radiation monitoring system hit by worldwide hack

The monitoring systems at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have beenbroken by a worldwide hack.

Systems usually used to monitor the area around the power station – which is still an active and dangerous area following the disaster in 1986 – are not working because of the cyber attack, Ukrainian authorities said. Those areas must now be monitored manually, according to a statement.

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SME lending up 5pc but cost of credit still much higher than European average

Lending to SMEs is increasing, rising by more than 5pc over the summer months last year compared with the same period in 2015, new data shows.


The cost of credit remains much higher than the European average, although the average rate has fallen from 5.9pc to 5.5pc, according to the figures from the Central Bank. Lending growth is highest in the manufacturing, hotels and restaurants and construction sectors, although declines were recorded in the wholesale, retail and services sectors.

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Property-related SME loans declined 11% in Q1

Property-related loans to Irish SMEs declined by 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to new figures from the Central Bank.

The Trends in Business Credit and Deposits: Q1 2017 report also shows SMEs in the sector repaid €2.9 billion more than was drawn down in new borrowings.

Gross new lending reached €1.3 billion over the past twelve months, which was €353 million higher than the previous reporting period.

In the first three months of this year, draw downs totalled €290 million, or almost one quarter of total gross lending.

Repayments of bank-related lending by the SME sector remains elevated, although it was lower than previous years. Property-related SMEs accounted for almost one-third of repayments during the period, with €440 million repaid in property-related debt.

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Irish online spending on groceries rises by a quarter to €140m

The figure far outstrips overall online spending growth here of 18pc, the study by online business body Ecommerce Europe says. "Food will be the future of ecommerce," Ecommerce Europe policy advisor Luca Cassetti told a Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) event in Dublin on Thursday.

The change in consumer habits presents challenges for traditional retailers as consumer habits change. Food companies here, such as Kerry Group and Glanbia, have been teaming up with internet sellers as consumers buy more food online.

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The Biggest Issue Facing European eCommerce Isn't Brexit

2018 will be a pivotal year for many e-retailers because of more than just Brexit negotiations and European data policies changing. Greg Ashton, Senior Director & Retail Analyst, eTail believes more technological ground shaking is about to happen; "[Most retailers are poor at] conversational commerce. Now that Amazon Echo lives in our home and messaging apps such as Whatsapp eclipse social networks in terms of monthly active users, retailers must change the way they talk to consumers. The very best brands are already using voice and chat services to interact with their customers, and translate their unique needs into repeat purchases."  Ashton misses out one crucial point - control.  Amazon, Google (and now Apple with 'HomePod') now have direct control over what is first offered up by the box in the corner of the room.  The problem?  What Alexa chooses first might not ever be your brand. Voice isn't the only concern for the eCommerce community though, I asked several of the speakers from eTail Europe - who are facing disruption from a number of fronts - what issues they were facing and looking to solve in 2018:

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Online shopping surged by 15% last month but shop sales suffered

THE IRISH ECOMMERCE sector is thriving but face-to-face sales are declining, it has been warned.

Overall spending rose by 3.6% year-on-year in December but this increase was the weakest registered since the consumer spending index began in 2014.

The report by Visa found that online spending is growing at “a substantial pace”, registering a rise of 15.4%. Shop sales dropped by 0.3%.

According to the report, the clothing and footwear sector continues to struggle, with expenditure declining for the fifth month running.

While the overall rate of consumer spending has continued to slow, December was a positive month for most sectors.

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Web Summit event move to Dublin ‘nothing to do with departure of Kenny’

The company behind the Web Summit is to relocate one of its subsidiary conferences to Dublin from Madrid next year

It denied the timing of the announcement had anything to do with the departure of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

The Web Summit left Dublin for Lisbon in 2016, and its departure was marked by considerable rancour between co-founder and chief executive Paddy Cosgrave and the Taoiseach’s office.

However, the company has now said it will relocate Moneyconf, its financial technology conference to the city from Madrid next summer.

The event is not as big as the Web Summit, and about 1,000 delegates are likely to attend Moneyconf this week in the Spanish capital.

While the numbers may be smaller, Web Summit does point out that many of the big players in international finance are represented at the event - including Goldman Sachs, Visa and Alipay.

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The Past, Present, and Future of SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is something you can't go to three websites without hearing about these days, but it wasn't always that way. The art of ranking on Google and other search engines is a fairly young beast, but it's still got teeth. Where did it come from, where is it, and most importantly, where is it going?

Today we're going to look at the timeline of SEO. Knowing where it came from is important, but we'll also go to look at how it's evolved and how you can prepare for the present and the future all at once.

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Chaos as global IT failure takes out all British Airways flights out of London

British Airways has a problem. Its new IT system has completely crashed five times inside a year, and today it added a sixth global crash to the roster. All flights from Heathrow and Gatwick have been cancelled until at least 6pm in London tonight, affecting all BA flights globally. The airline is asking passengers not to come to the airports. The system failure also took out the BA website for two hours.

Travellers at airports serviced by BA are predictably flooding the company’s Twitter account with complaints.

The airline has said it has found no evidence of a cyber attack, despite some reports of BA staff telling passengers this. It’s highly unlikely to be a cyber attack at this point, but let’s keep our minds open.

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Google Penguin is Now Part of Google's Core Search Algorithm

What is Google Penguin?

Launched way back in April 2012, the Penguin update was designed to help reduce the number of sites who were spamming the search results - specifically those who were buying links or getting them through spam link networks. This 'Black Hat' technique is now a known no-go for SEOs, but some sites still get caught out. If your site is getting a lot of links from low quality or spammy sites, don't expect to rank highly in Google search results any time soon. 

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Ireland to host two tech conferences in coming weeks

Ireland will host two technology focused events in the coming weeks, one in Dublin and the other in Belfast.

First up is TechConnect Live, at Dublin’s RDS, with an expected attendance of 3,000 technology and business executive as well as start-ups and investors.

The free event on May 31st will hear from a number of high-profile speakers including Louise Phelan, a vice president of online payments system PayPal; Amanda Kelly, Ireland’s managing director for Just Eat, an online food ordering company; and Paul Byrne, chief executive of Irish-based fintech firm CurrencyFair.

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Can SEOs make local search great again in 2017?

The road ahead looks rough for local SEO practitioners and agencies, but is there hope? Columnist Andrew Shotland takes a look at what recent trends mean for those who serve local search clients.

It was bad enough that Prince, Leonard Cohen and Mrs. Brady checked out in 2016, but then I had to go and read David Mihm’s excellent 2017 Local Marketing Predictions, and I couldn’t find a cocktail fast enough to drown my misery.

Mihm’s piece is a sober look at how Google has been leading us all down the path to a single result and how SEO is going to get even tougher over the next year as Google culls the SERPs in favor of entities (aka Knowledge Panels, Local Packs and so on) and voice results. Kind of reminded me of this old sunshine and rainbows post.

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Big news, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is rejoining the company. Biz has anounced today he’s returning full-time to the company he he helped to create and scale.

“My top focus will be to guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling,” Stone wrote. “It’s important that everyone understands the whole story of Twitter and each of our roles in that story. I’ll shape the experience internally so it’s also felt outside the company.”

Biz left Twitter in 2011, recently sold his startup Jelly to Pinterest!

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Optimizing a Website 2017: The Key On-Page Must-Haves

Properly optimizing a website is a crucial SEO success factor for 2017. In the days of Penguin 4.0, SEOs who are overzealous with link building to a poorly optimized page aren’t going to see much return on investment.

For better SEO results, it’s time to put the hours in to make existing (and new) backlinks more effective. Focus on key on-page factors to create a stronger semantic connection between off-page authority and on-page relevancy.

Let’s cover some key on-page techniques to help you succeed as an online business in 2017.

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It was announced today that Wachsman PR has established its European headquarters in Dublin. 

The rapidly growing global fintech public relations agency opened its new office doors in Dublin today, further cementing Ireland’s rise as both a landing spot for disruptive fintech companies and a leading European innovator in emerging technology.
The agency has represented over 40 clients since inception, including publicly traded companies, entrepreneurs and some of the most disruptive and influential forces in fintech. 

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What Link Building Success Really Looks Like

A few weeks ago, a post was published entitled The SEO Myth of Going Viral. It referenced 8 pieces of content across 4 different sites that went viral and, most importantly for SEO, gained hundreds of linking root domains. I was the creative director on a lot of those campaigns while working as the VP of Creative at Distilled. Today, I’d like to add some important context and detail to the original post.

I actually agree with much of what it said. However, it's based on the assumption that one big viral piece of content would result in a visible jump in rankings across the domain within about 3 months of the content being released. There are a few challenges with this as a basis for measuring success.

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SMEs employ 7 out of every 10 Irish higher education graduates SMES EMPLOY 7 OUT OF EVERY 10 IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION GRADUATES

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employ 7 out of every 10 Irish higher education graduates in Ireland but most report that competing with larger employers for graduate talent is a real struggle.

This is according to figures released ahead of the launch of the Association of Higher Education Careers Services annual industry event. 

Considering SMEs make up 99% of all enterprise and generate over half of the State’s annual turnover, this competitive disadvantage when it comes to employing the best students is a real problem.

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5 Reasons to Consider Pumping the Brakes on Google AMP for Your Website

Google’s new AMP (accelerated mobile pages) feature has been marketed as a revolutionary tool for increasing the loading speed of your web pages on mobile devices and possibly even offer SEO benefits.

Google AMP is supposed to solve this common website problem: About40 percenof people abandon websites if they don’t load in three seconds or less.

On the positive side, Google AMP does do what it’s supposed to do. It makes pages load more quickly on mobile devices, and pretty much all websites that use AMP are seeing an increase in traffic on their AMP pages.

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Two new business innovation hubs for Co Kerry

Tralee and Dingle in Co Kerry have both seen the opening of business innovation hubs today, with one gigabit fibre broadband connections.

HQTralee is already home to 18 local businesses, supporting 50 jobs, with this number expected to double in the next three months.

It is being supported by a free, one gigabit, fibre broadband connection from Vodafone and SIRO, a joint venture between the telecoms company and the ESB.

Six towns are being awarded free gigabit connectivity by Vodafone and SIRO.

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Recent changes to organic sitelinks cause major drops in impressions in Google Search Console

Google released sitelink updates that caused impression and average position drops in Google Search Console. Merkle SEOs Melody Petulla and Kyle Blanchette dive into what happened, how to check your site and what it means for SEO.

Google recently made some under-the-radar changes to sitelinks in the organic search results. The first change removed small sitelinks from below regular organic blue links that render for high search volume queries (Google has since fixed this glitch). The second change adjusted the number of large sitelinks being displayed for branded searches (this is most likely a test).

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Almost 70pc of Irish workers believe SMEs and start-ups offer best office culture

Almost 70pc of Irish workers would like to work in a small to medium-size enterprise (SME) or a startup, research has found - with respondents believing that startups and SMEs offer the best office culture.

Younger workers are also following this trend, with close to half of those aged under 25 preferring to work in an SME, and a further 20pc saying they would like to work in a startup.

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