International SEO involves making a website available to multiple markets in different countries or regions. Searchenginejournal has defined the term as any organic search campaign this is targeted outside one’s native language or country. Yes, by the process of international SEO you can target any country of any language.
Why Take International SEO?
Basically, everyone wants to expand globally, you cannot just randomly target every country across the world just to go global. Because you have to have sufficient resources or ammunition I prefer to say if you are firing blankly into the open space. But it’s not a smarter take for global expansion.
Now let’s say you sell best Mexican tacos in some part of California. Your local business is going great. But you know that if you expand just around the region you may not have much growth or profit, so you decide to target the Mexican country. Now, this where you can find some valuable help from International SEO.
If you know how geo-targeting works, this process runs the same way. Instead of targeting a particular start or city within your country, you will be focusing on entirely different country and language – international geo-targeting, it’s fair enough if the process is referred by that name, right?
Now, before you go start with the campaign, there are certain steps you should take and later on, you will be studying the procedures that need to be followed.
International SEO – Starting Off with an Effective PLAN
Previously I mentioned something about Mexico, that was the target market, but not every time you could be accurate about your target market, so to keep the whole process accurate, you need a plan.
A Good Research
The first thing, identify your international market and analyze how it can be a true potential for your business growth.You can use Google Analytics to understand your present international organic search visibility. There are few questions that you need to find answers. For instance,
- List of countries that are already providing organic visibility and traffic.
- What are the keywords and phrases that are attracting traffic?
- The volume and trend over time of the incoming organic search visibility.
- What’s the conversion rate of visitors who are coming from other international markets?
- Any specific conversion trend that is being followed in these international market?
Use the Google Analytics Tool; go to the audience section, you will find a subsection reading ‘Geo’; here you will find answers to all queries.
Now, this is vital, once you understand who you should target, you have to make plans to effectively reach them. A proper keyword strategy works great. Use Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, SuggestMtrx, and SimilarWeb, you have to select the country you want to target and check for keywords that work the most, learn about the organic traffic each keyword brings, and understand the level competitiveness the keywords for that country.
Some brands that are having the international market, reach the target or gain organic traffic either through targeting the countries or languages.
If you look into Amazon, they use countries to reach the audience, while Skype has used different language versions.
It can be either a country or language-focused targeting, but whatever you choose, it should complement your SEO efforts.
- If you are Targeting by country, then you have to use ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level Domain), sub-directories, and sub-domains.
- If you are Targeting by Language, you can use sub-directories (if you are lacking good volume of content and resources). Sub-domains (if you are to index more content).
TIP: This query should come to your mind. Which one to choose for country targeting or language targeting?
‘If your website has sufficient traffic and conversion potential to target each country, go with country targeting, if not go with language targeting.
Optimizing Your Website
You have your target country, you have even decided how you want to target, now you have to work on your website making it easily crawlable, indexable, which is nothing but making the website relevant to the Google bots and the audience.
- If you are planning to target multiple countries, they should be featured with different URL structures and avoid using scripts or cookies as they keep bots from indexing the website content.
- To make a website relevant to the international audience, it is necessary to translate (language) or localize (country) the different elements of your website.
- You have to localize keyword research for different search engines.
- Avoid automatically redirecting users to different versions, instead link between different country/language versions.
- Make use of rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” annotations in your HTML to specify the language or country of your website.
- Use the Meta content language in your HTML- to specify the language of your site content.
- It will be good if you host your website with a local IP address.
Understanding the Best Strategies for International SEO
- Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
- ccTLD is a two-letter internet top-level domains (TLDs) that tell users and search engines about where exactly a website is registered – the country, sovereign state, or some dependent territory.
- Usually, you will find it in the form of an extension. Let’s say you have a main site http://example.com, if you are to open country-specific websites, then you will have something like this.
- http://example.pl (Poland)
- http://example.uk (United Kingdom)
- http://example.fr (France)
- http://example.eu (European Union)
- Google will find it easier to differentiate websites for different countries. As for you, conducting target marketing will be an effortless job.
- Your main site http://example.com, if I create a sub-domain, the URL looks something like this fr.example.com (France). The sub-domain is recognized as a different site and it is best if the organization has a new product or new entity.
- Again let’s take your main site, http://example.com, if you are to use the subdirectory, then the URL structure looks something like this,
- http://example.com/cn (China). Everything will be kept under the umbrella of the main site.
- By using sub-directories you will maintain strong domain authority (DA), and translating content across web pages is much easier.
Your international SEO strategy will be successful if you have the perseverance to work through the long and complicated processes of keyword localization and URL structure.