How To SEO For International Markets
Take care of the simple but important challenges before launching:
The most important challenge for international SEO is that you need to strategically adapt your brand for different cultures, all who have their own unique complexities.
Make sure to conduct market research in order to understand your international customers needs and desires. You can do this through keyword research and using social media like Twitter or Reddit to grasp a better understanding of what these customer’s problems are and what questions they are asking.
Research your local competitors, research what strategies your competitors have been using and analyse the gaps between you. Use these gaps to boost your growth into the international market.
Study the infrastructure of your targeted countries, although Google seems like the go-to norm, the preferred search engine may be different in your target countries. So don’t waste time on Google ads if your new customers aren’t going to see them! For example, in China, the most popular search engine is Baidu.
Should I target a language or a country with my website?
There are pros and cons to each option:
Targeting a language: this allows you to target people who live in different countries but speak the same language, additionally you don’t need to optimise it for any specific culture. However, you need to be aware that you’ll be using a ‘broad brush’ approach for a language where some countries may use different keywords/language when searching for services.
Targeting a country: alternatively, you can build your brand presence from scratch; not only translating your content but optimising it for that specific culture and customer preferences.
Which website structure should you choose for your domain?
This question follows on from the previous. Choosing your domain depends on whether you are targeting a language or a country.
If you are targeting a language, you don’t necessarily need to launch a completely new website, but rather you choose a subdomain or subdirectory which will host the translation of your original website. This requires less work to set up and less money to host.
On the flip-side, if you are targeting a country you may have to launch a country code top-level domain in order to gain higher authority in search engines and higher trust in potential customers. However, you will need to build your website popularity and authority from scratch.
How should business localise content on new site?
The main challenge of localising content is that simply translating a few of your pages into the target language won’t cut it. You need a well rounded and extensive understanding of your potential clientele in order to make your content effective.
Identify your keywords in a new language: unfortunately, translating your keywords word by word isn’t an efficient or viable use of your time. Additionally, some words have different meanings in different languages and can rely heavily on context, while local dialect can also play an important role in translating, as your customers may be using completely different terms.
So how can you conduct keyword research?
Investigate your competitors: research your competitors in the local market, investigate what keywords they are using and compare them to yours in order to find common phrases.
Hire help from a professional: hire someone who speaks the target language to look over your keywords, they can help you determine if you are using the right keywords for the language and customers you want to target.
Adapt your content to the new target market: your website is going to be your customers first point of call when they research your services/products and weigh up if they want to purchase from you. Therefore, it is extremely important that your website copy is up to a high standard. It’s not enough to simply translate, you need to optimise and adapt your copy to your target market.
These key elements of your website also require localisation:
Image titles and alt texts
How can you avoid duplicate content issues?
Google may identify any new version of your website as a duplicate of the original. You can prevent this by using hreflang tags- this tag informs Google that some of your website’s pages have the same content, but they are aimed for different customers and therefore unique.
What is the best international link-building strategy?
In order to build visibility and local authority, you need to ensure you have local links to your website. You can achieve this through:
Writing for the local media. This will allow you to gain exposure by offering advice and sharing your expertise. You could even start doing this before launching your international site. But remember; when writing for foreign websites, ensure you hire a local writer to make sure that your copy meets the standards.
Find and use broken link building. Find broken links and ask permission from the websites’ owners to redirect them to your content, (if it is suitable for the website of course).
What off-site activities can impact your online visibility?
On-site SEO is a vital process of building your brand’s local visibility but there are other techniques to take into consideration as well.
Guest posting: posting on local websites is a relatively inexpensive way to raise brand awareness.
Social media marketing: make sure aside some time to invest in creating social media profiles on the networks that are popular in your targeted countries.
Attend local events: this is one of the best ways to connect with relevant influencers in person, you can introduce your brand and start building a relationship with them straight away.
How does a global brand’s social media presence impact its search results?
The impact of social media on search engines continues to be debated. Google clearly states that social media presence has no impact on how it ranks pages. However, we know that social media presence can affect rankings in certain areas.
Brand awareness: A strong social media presence will help increase the awareness around your brand or product.
Links: Amplifying your content on social media can result in more links and citations back to your website. Which will in turn build your popularity and local authority.
Faster indexing: Social media shares can significantly increase the speed at which your new content gets indexed.
Improved topics targeting: Engaging with your new pool of customers on social media may inform how and what content you create for them.
What are the best tools for optimising international SEO?
Whatever aspect of international SEO you are focusing on, we have put together a handy list of some tools to help you optimise your website and content.
For understanding your new audience:
Google’s Consumer Barometer: can help you understand how people use the Internet in your target countries.
Connected Life: publishes an annual report which you can use to gain insight into your potential customers’ behavior in a number of locations, e.g. Brazil, China, Germany, Singapore and South Africa.
For general analysis:
Google Search Console – can identify your current search status in your new target location. With the Search Console you can monitor international queries, impressions, and CTRs.
For international keyword ideas: