Nowadays, every business wants to expand into newer ventures outside their geographical area. Thanks to the advent of digital platforms, brands today can create relationships with customers far outside of their geographical borders in foreign countries. When it comes to getting high visibility on the global front, International SEO is what you need.

With over 3 billion searches on Google every day, it’s no overstatement in claiming that the search engine is a goldmine for capturing leads and churning out conversions. But what makes your local SEO campaigns successful may not necessarily be a recipe for success in foreign markets. This is where International SEO steps in. International SEO helps you to drive high-quality, global traffic to your site.

International SEO Practices

International SEO is different from your local SEO campaigns. Your keyword selection strategy and market analysis will tremendously differ when it comes to international SEO. As a marketer or content creator, if you’re looking to expand your reach into foreign markets, you should know the basics of international SEO that’ll help you get high visibility and an influx of foreign traffic.

  • Use Popular Search Engines in Target Location

Google is the most used search engine worldwide. It has a market share of 90%, which means that optimizing for Google alone would help you reach your prospects in most countries. Second, comes Bing, with a much smaller market.

However, countries like China and Russia rely on their local search engines, namely Baidu and Yandex, respectively. Targeting the local populace through their local search engine is required to engage your target audience on foreign soil.

Analyze the foreign market data and identify which search engine is mostly used by the local populace there. You don’t have to tweak your SEO know-how regarding these search engines; most of them will have a similarity with Google, giving preference to user experience and relevant content. Other factors, however, may differ.

You may also need to set up a website on the domain and server of that country to get visibility on foreign search engines.

  • Hire a Native Speaker for Keyword Research

Expanding into non-English markets requires you to market your content in that foreign language. Your search strategy has to tap into the local populace by sending them a message in their native language.

The need for a native speaker to carry out keyword research arises as you’d want to give your prospects the best user experience possible. That means talking to them in their language and not using translation services, which is almost always redundant in delivering the right message to non-English speaking audiences. A native speaker can also help you navigate through cultural barriers, beliefs, and practices of the people in that country. You need someone who doesn’t just speak the language fluently but also understands that country’s cultural, social, and political landscape.

Ensure that your keyword research strategy includes finding region-specific phrases and not just high-volume keywords. Also, incorporate general and long-tail keywords in your content. Other factors may also change when you’re dealing with international SEO, like currencies, time zones, audience interactions, etc.

  • Modify Site Structure for International Visitors

International SEO requires you to set up your website in a way that captures the attention of your foreign visitors. And there are more than one ways to go about it.

If you’re an e-commerce website with varying offers for different countries, cresting country-specific unique domains may be the best way forward. However, this model only works for well-established businesses that don’t require domain integration. That means each domain created in a foreign country will start from scratch in terms of SEO. So if you’re a small business or don’t have widespread recognition, this model isn’t the best solution.

As a small or medium-sized business, creating sub-folders from the primary domain could work well for you. You can easily manage content in the sub-domain while having all the power and authority from the primary domain. It also makes it easier to add other countries in the subdomains when you further expand into newer areas.

For a URL structure, you can either host content in the foreign language on a different site but the same domain or create a sub-directory on the domain to act as a separate section in your site for a foreign language.

  • Identify International Competitors

When you’re entering the bullpen, you should know the biggest bully there is. Similarly, establishing a presence in a foreign market requires identifying your competitors in that local market and who holds the most shares.

Once you’ve analyzed your primary keywords, look for the local players who dominate in the local SERPs for those phrases. The idea is to have a fair understanding of the local and international competition you’d be facing overseas.

Look at their online marketing strategy and how they publish their content on search engines. As you understand their content strategy, you’ll know what messages will work on the local population.

  • Tailor your Brand Message as per Local Opinions

Suppose your business has standardized products or services that are similar across geographies. In that case, you can translate them into the local language and craft your marketing message, but is it the best way going forward?

International SEO gives you a lot of options to optimize your content in unique ways. When you’re creating content to showcase your product line, try to appeal to the local flavors of the area to gain a strong foothold in that market. Creating customized content strategies for different geographies will help you gain more leads and conversions.

Native speakers can also assist you in creating content as per the local interests and preferences. Locals of the area know best as to the local needs of the people and how they want to be marketed.

E.g., in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, people expect to be treated with respect that aligns with their culture. You need to tread carefully with their beliefs, culture, and heritage to not offend the local population in any way.

A native speaker can help you overcome these cultural barriers and speak to your target audience in their language.

  • Incorporate ‘hreflang’ Tags on Foreign Pages

Earlier, we spoke about having a URL structure unique to each geographical area in that language. If you’ve got sites with the foreign language as content, you need to inform Google with a ‘hreflang’ tag. These tags help Google understand that the site and content are intended for a foreign market.

These tags become necessary when the language is spoken in more than one country. Hreflang tag tells Google that the content is specifically crafted for people in one specific country, rather than all the speakers of that language. Google also recognizes the relation between your web pages and the order of presentation before your target audience.

You can either add the tags to your site’s HTML, include them in your sitemap file or in the HTTP header. However, you wish to integrate the tag in your pages, ensure to link the pages appropriately with each other so that they point users towards the relevant page with their native language.

You can easily manage tags and your pages on Google Search Console.

  • Other Aspects

Various other elements also come into play for your International SEO campaign. International SEO has great potential to complement your business expansion into foreign markets and attract new customers in that geographical location.

Give your visitors the option to view content in the language they prefer. Some of them may want to browse your content in English, as opposed to their native language. For a superior user experience and boosting conversions, it’s also essential that you incorporate the design elements which can be culturally relatable to the people of that region.

Depending upon the foreign market where you’re venturing into, create a multilingual site (sites with multiple languages) or multi-regional sites (sites that target users in multiple regions). For e.g., if you’re expanding your business into Spain, you would want a multi-regional site for targeting users in Catalonia and the Basque Country. But if you’re expanding into Nordic nations, a multilingual site is what you’ll need.

Use canonical tags as well so that Google can identify the primary site to be displayed on its SERP. You can set any site as your default page that shows up on SERPs, while the other versions are linked to the primary one.

Enhance your Global Presence with International SEO

SEO, whether conducted in a local region or internationally, intends to create high visibility for your business and capture prospects who otherwise don’t know about your brand. Without the benefit of more visibility, SEO would be rendered futile.

Having a robust knowledge of international SEO will help you to create high-quality content with relevant keywords across geographical locations.

Brampton Web Design Agency is proficient in local as well as international SEO for brands that are looking to grow or scale up in size. Our SEO experts look into the local language, customs, and trends to boost engagement and improve your search engine results in your target area.

Contact us today to maximize the impact of your international SEO campaigns.

As SEO professionals, we’ve all come across the point where we don’t rank for our focus keywords. You may have a great content strategy in place, and after optimizing all the elements that Google asks for, you’re expecting to see your website slowly crawl up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Your rankings have improved after your continuous efforts, but you’re still far off from Google’s first page.

Don’t understand what’s going on?

SEO is the practice of targeting relevant keywords and phrases to attract traffic online. However, there are many parameters to consider in SEO, and it’s common to make elementary mistakes as a beginner in the industry.

From small businesses to large corporations, there are a few common SEO mistakes made by every site owner. But fret not; in just a few tweaks, you will start getting the results that you need to get your rankings up and increase web traffic.

Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

So as an SEO expert, you need to have time and patience on your side before you can even think of getting to Google’s first page. There could be many things that may have escaped your attention, and correcting as you move along is the only way to learn and implement the best SEO practices.

Here are some of the most common mistakes made in SEO:

Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Targeting the right set of keywords is the first and basic rule of SEO. These keywords are an indicator on which you base your content to attract genuinely interested traffic in the information provided therein.

The thumb rule for targeting keywords is to use phrases with high search volume and low competition, but there’s more to it. Your niche plays a big role in keyword selection.

E.g., you may be a local business with customers confined to a geographical area, but you’re targeting global keywords, which is a fruitless endeavor. Similarly, targeting generic or broad keywords will also not bear any substantial result for your business, as they may have high competition or will attract users who aren’t interested in your content or products/services.

Therefore, it’s best to target long-tail and specific keywords related to your niche. Targeting generic keywords may also improve your rankings, but specific keywords will fetch results for you more quickly.

Ideally, there are four factors to keep in mind for targeting keywords, which are:

i) Search Volume

The average search volume in a month for a specific keyword.

ii) Cost-Per-Click

The cost of every click for a keyword for paid ads.

iii) Search Difficulty

The difficulty of ranking on organic search results for a particular term.

iv) Paid Difficulty

Difficulty to rank a keyword in PPC advertising.

It’s advisable to target keywords with a high search volume and a search difficulty of less than 40.

Having Generic Meta Tags & Descriptions

One of the most common beginner SEO mistakes is having the same title tags and meta descriptions on every web page. But this practice is harmful and will surely be detrimental to your search engine rankings.

Each and every page on your website should have a unique title and meta description. The reader should be able to infer the topic of the contents of a web page from the title and meta description. After all, this title and description appear on SERPs and social media shares, making it pivotal to have a unique and descriptive title tag.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to let go of your company name on titles. One of the most effective ways to write a good title is to include your business name after the title of the content on your page.

For example, if you’ve to include a category of mobile phones on your eCommerce website, the page can have a title like ‘Mobile Phones & Accessories- (your business name).

Thus, you can include your business name on every page of your website while including keywords related to the specific page.

While the title helps users and search engines decipher your web page’s topic, the meta description is also important as it sheds additional light on what they should expect from your page. Meta descriptions have a 160-character limit, which means you have to summarize the contents of your page within those bounds.

The meta descriptions shouldn’t just be unique; they should also be persuasive in compelling the user to click on your website and go through your content.

In a nutshell, each title tag and meta description on your website should be unique and customized to the related web page. There are online tools available to help you identify pages with duplicate title tags and meta descriptions.

Writing Low-Quality Content

Content drives search engines to return users with genuine and relevant information. It’s the foremost factor contributing to your SEO effort, largely impacting your ranking.

Simply incorporating keywords and phrases in your content won’t do any good. You must consider the impact of your content on readers; will it be of interest to them? Is it engaging enough for them to read it through? Does it satisfy their search intent?

These are the basic elements of high-quality content. Writing plagiarized or invaluable content will lead your target audience to gradually lose trust in you and ultimately translate into lower rankings on SERPs. >

So it’s imperative to publish original, relevant, and informative content on your website to provide value to the reader and increase your chance of conversions. High-quality content also results in more links to your website by external parties.

Poor Link Building

Linking your content to external sources is an integral part of your SEO campaigns. Amongst its three main variables, Google considers linking an important parameter in ranking websites, other than content and user experience.

When it comes to link building, the idea is to emphasize the quality of links over quantity. To build quality links for your site, incorporate links relevant to your industry without too many outbound links to them. A single link from an authoritative site will do you more good than ten irrelevant links from sites with inferior content.

Quality links are an indicator that tells search engines about the trust factor of your business in what you’re delivering to the audience. You can also use various online tools to ascertain the health of a domain and the inbound links to that page.

Neglecting Analytics to Back your Campaign Strategy

It’s common to get excited when you achieve ranking on Google’s first page with increased traffic to your site, but that’s not all there is about SEO. SEO campaigns are all about heating up your conversion rate with more web traffic at the end of the day.

So what to do when all the hard work you’ve put into your SEO campaign doesn’t yield the desired result? This is where analytics come in as a handy tool to measure, track and optimize your SEO strategy.

Online tracking tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, ahrefs, Moz, etc., offer analytical services which you can use to optimize your keyword targeting strategy and other measures for improved SEO performance, which lead to higher conversions.

Not Focusing on Local SEO

If you have a local business or are targeting customers in a certain geographical area, it’s essential to practice local SEO. In one of its many updates, Google elaborated on the importance it places on local search results, something that can immensely benefit a local business.

With local SEO, you need to adjust your keyword strategy a bit from your international SEO campaigns. Include region-specific keywords, not just in your content but also in the title tags and meta descriptions of your web pages.

Google also creates a snapshot of your business information on its search result page, so it’s wise to include a local address and contact number on your website. Also, try and include your business in local directories and services for increased regional outreach.

Expertise Takes Time

To err is divine!

Like any other discipline, being an expert in SEO will take time. These are some of the most common mistakes beginners and small businesses make in SEO. And what’s more, is that it’s common.

There are over 200 factors that Google considers in ranking sites, and so it’s only natural to find yourself lagging in one aspect or the other. But these points above are a good inclusion to your checklist of common mistakes to avoid in SEO as a beginner.

For starters, it’s a great learning curve when you implement strategies and analyze them to identify mistakes in your SEO efforts. However, with due process and in due time, you can become an expert in the domain with experience to back on.