Best Practices for International SEO

In NYC, SEO companies optimize websites for better ranking.

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.