How to do SEO International?
Well, your business has grown so big that it crosses borders, or you are probably in the process of starting a global business or service provider, then international SEO can help you.
So you had the idea of creating language or country specific versions of your website to drive users to new markets.
It’s a daunting task that will make you take a closer look at international markets. That’s why you should be well versed with international SEO!
A daunting task, I said, but actually not so daunting if you prepare and have a plan. So, let us go about things in the right order.
What is international SEO?
International SEO helps you deliver content in multiple languages to users (and search engines!) in multiple locations. It also ensures that specific content is displayed to users based on location or language spoken.
Although international and “normal” search engine optimization share the same fundamentals, they require different approaches and tactics. International search engine optimization requires a deeper understanding of all the technical aspects and requires some preparation.
Thus, an international SEO implementation plan may include the following steps:
1 Reach readiness
2 Identifying segmentation
3 Conduct international keyword research
4 Analysis of the competition
5 Editing the technical part
6 Locating the content
7 Building links
Evaluate your international readiness
A global focus requires a sufficient foundation. The same is true for international search engine optimization. So before you launch an international SEO campaign, you need to weigh your expectations and capabilities. This will give you a clear picture of what this move will cost you in terms of money, time and resources. To determine if your company is ready for this step, you should answer some questions:
Are you ready to create a different user experience, especially for users from different regions/languages?
Going global does not just mean translating your website into a new language. You need to create a specific user experience that takes into account the spoken language, culture and peculiarities of the target market.
Are you able to create, review, and maintain content that targets users from different regions/languages?
It is not enough to simply create content for each version of the website based on language/country. You need to be able to maintain it and keep it up to date. Are you able to manage this with your own resources? Most likely you will need additional staff. What would be best for you: Expanding your local team or deploying your own team in your target region?
Are you ready to support customers in a new region/language?
International expansion brings you more customers. It also brings the need to provide quality customer support. This means you need people on your support team who speak the appropriate languages and are available to customers from different time zones.
Answering these questions can give you a realistic picture of what to expect in terms of the investment required and the number of additional staff. It can also influence your choice of international SEO tools and tactics.
Identify potential target markets
Unless your business is targeting different regions of the world from the start, you should think about international search engine optimization if you have a sufficient influx of foreign customers. Analyzing this inflow will help you identify the potential target market.
There is a great tool that you can use to measure your traffic. I am talking about Google Analytics. It gives you the opportunity to analyze the general traffic your website receives from different countries.
You can also evaluate the traffic of each country from a business point of view by analyzing the number of transactions, revenue and other factors that can give you clues about the market potential.
Just open your Google Analytics account and go to Public > Geographic > Local or Language. Now you can analyze the data:
- Are there visits to your website from other countries?
- What languages do they speak?
- Is there one country that sends more visitors to your website than others?
- Which traffic from which country is already converting, etc.?
There is another way to search for potential markets, e.g. with tools like Google’s Market Finder.
Basically, this can be an additional tool to check opportunities and assess the general interest in your business or the services you offer.
All you have to do is enter your URL and let the tool analyze your website. It will then automatically pull the categories to your website – you can correct them – and show you the markets that might interest you
Conduct separate keyword searches for each version of the website
The main purpose of search engine optimization is to make your website appear in the SERP for the keywords you want. This is the basic element that “normal” and international SEO have in common.
So, in terms of keyword research mechanisms, there is not much difference. There is a great guide to keyword research that you can read for more details.
However, it is extremely important to do a separate keyword research for each country or website version based on the language. Here is why:
1 The translated keywords are not the search queries people use in real life. Of course, you can not just translate the list of target keywords into the main version of your website and use it to optimize your foreign language website. This is because the translated keywords can be very different from the actual search queries people use.
- Even the same language in different countries has its peculiarities. Although people living in different countries officially speak one language, they actually speak different variants of the same language. Thus, they can search for the same things using different queries.
Let us take the word “sneakers” for example. If we had to define sneakers in general terms, we would say that they are athletic shoes with a rubber sole. People love sneakers, they are very popular.
But in the UK, for example, people are looking for the same shoes with a rubber sole, calling them something different.
And if we look at how people search for these shoes in different countries, we see an interesting result that Google Trends, for example, shows.
Analyze the competition and take advantage of it
Now that you have defined the potential target markets, it’s time to take a second step and analyze the competitive landscape. No matter what strategy you choose for your international SEO campaign, you can not do without a thorough competitive analysis.
Important Tip. The biggest mistake you can make at this stage is to get the wrong picture by analyzing the wrong SERPs. You surely know that search results differ depending on the searcher’s location. For example, searchers in the UK and in the US will see different results for the same search query. Therefore, it is important to perform a competitive analysis and analyze the local SERPs in the right place.
1. gives a real picture of who you are competing with in the local search market.
Needless to say, there can be a big difference between your offline and online competitors. You need to know the biggest players in your target market niche. But they do not necessarily have to be the same companies that act as your SEO competitors.
So finding out who is beating you on the SERPs for your target keywords can have a big impact on which tactics you prefer when it comes to SEO in that market.
2, It gives you a clearer idea of how people search for businesses or services like yours. Analyzing your competitors’ keyword rankings is a great SEO hack.
First, enrich your keyword list with great keywords that people in your target market use to search for things.
Second, by analyzing keyword difficulty scores and competition, you can prioritize which keywords to pursue.
And third, by analyzing your own positions for competitors’ keywords, you can determine that you are within an impressive distance of the first SERP. Then you will know for sure where to push.
3. it suggests the successful SEO tactics of your competitors. Once you know what works well, you can use it in your own SEO campaign. It actually saves a lot of time and resources. And it’s especially helpful if you are not sure where to focus your efforts.
Work on the technical part
International SEO requires a lot of technical work to be successful like website development. Most of the issues that impact international search engine optimization have to do with the technical part. So it’s critical to get things right. So let us take a look at what’s important here.
Choice of domain and website structure
URLs optimized for the language and region are one of the signals that search engines consider when ranking locally. Therefore, choosing the right domain is a crucial point in an international SEO campaign. There are several options, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. So you can choose the one that best suits your goals and opportunities.
Find your content
Almost the last thing, but not the least. The content of your website. Your most valuable asset that you want users to have access to. And you need to consider not only the language your users speak, but also cultural differences and market peculiarities in your internationally focused content.
So simply translating your website into the appropriate language is definitely not an option. Instead, you need to localize it with respect to the language and cultural peculiarities of your users.
In fact, localization can be very successful if you know the challenges you may face.
- Lack of local staff. There is some controversy about whether you really need a localization team in your target region. Well, the answer is: it depends. Expanding your team is an expensive option. So, if you have limited budget, you will tackle the problem with your own forces. However, local employees also have their advantages.
- They know the specifics of the market better and can make suggestions that work better, such as keywords, slogans, etc.
- They speak the same language as your target audience, while your internal staff, even if they speak a specific language, may not know all the minor variations and commonly used expressions.
- Inconsistency across all localized content. This is a common challenge that occurs when you have a distributed team working on-site. There may be terms that can be translated in different ways. And this can confuse users, which negatively impacts the user experience. Therefore, the best practice that has proven to be effective is to create a glossary of important terms and ask the localization team to stick to it.
- Insufficiently optimized content. The point is that even high-quality localized content can rank poorly for your target keywords if it is not optimized for them. Therefore, you need to set content optimization rules for your localization team to follow. And you can use content optimization platforms to ensure a creative and fruitful content optimization process.
Building high-quality backlinks
Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking signals. At the same time, link building is an often overlooked part of an international SEO strategy. This happens for a variety of reasons – from lack of resources to prioritizing other tactics, such as content optimization, etc.
But in reality, international SEO is a big, separate project that can not be left out if you want to succeed. So let us take a look at what link building tactics can drive an international SEO strategy.
Leverage your website’s main backlink profile. If your website is visited overseas, there’s a good chance that international links are pointing to your main website. Analyzing your backlink profile will help you define these links.
So, all you need to do is inform the website owners and ask them to link to their version of the website that is most relevant to their users. Basically, it’s a win-win situation as the website owners provide a better user experience and you get quality links.
Think beyond Google
Although Google is the most used search engine in the world, there are popular alternative search engines in different regions. Therefore, it would be very unwise to miss out on the opportunities they offer. So, let us take a look at which search engines are successful alongside Google in different regions of the world.
- Europe – Bing is the second most popular search engine in the world. And it is widely used in Europe, especially in the UK and France, where it has a market share of 4% and 2.8%, respectively.
- Russia and Russian-speaking countries – although Yandex reaches about 1% of the global search market, it outperforms Google in Russia and the Russian-speaking region. Yandex’s share of the Russian search market reaches 48%, while Google’s share is 47%.
- China – China has many search engines of its own, with Baidu as the market leader. Here, Google is the least popular option (and has in fact been banned from the Chinese market).
International SEO Completion
Thinking of international SEO as a general SEO side project is unlikely to lead to success. You are more likely to spend time and money on no results or very insignificant results.
So if you think it’s time to go global, make international search engine optimization a larger independent project that you are willing to invest money, time and resources in.
Review your readiness, determine what parts of the process your team will be responsible for and what you will assign to a local team. Create a plan and stick to it. Colors Agency, we guarantee much more than just an attractive look as well as a modern layout for your website. Our main focus is to provide effective solutions to businesses all over the world to generate visibility on the internet.
Our agency develops SEO strategies and brand positioning for multinational companies, large, medium, but also small, all projects are important for us.