The Ultimate Guide to International SEO
If you are well aware that a substantial amount of web traffic is from a country other than where you’re currently located, then know that this is the time to make some significant changes. It also applies when a large number of your website visitors speak different languages. Yes, make some changes to offer a better experience to your website visitors, and for the same, you have to develop a robust international SEO strategy. Now, what this international SEO means?
International SEO is the process in which you optimize your search presence to become easier for search engines to identify the countries you want to target. It also facilitates search engines for easy identification of languages that you want to use for your business to flourish further. At a glance, this may appear to you like an alien concept. However, it is pretty much familiar because with over 4.66 billion active internet users, reaching international customers through search engines makes complete sense.
Just think of this kind of SEO as geotargeting with the sole difference that instead of optimizing your website to get traffic from your geolocation which can be a zip code, city, state, or region, here the focus remains in optimizing for different nations and languages.
Significance of International SEO
If you don’t invest in international SEO, your business can have the same fate as that experience by Target, the 8th largest retailer in the United States. In 2013, it entered the Canadian market with much fanfare as per its rapid expansion policy but had to exit the Canadian market in 2015. It was surprising for people not know international SEOstrategies.
Target failed to tailor its website for each nation because whenever Canadians try to order something, they came across empty shelves. As a dedicated website for them, they could have seen the products available for them in their nation and could have easily ordered the same.
Top 6 Tips for Developing International SEO strategy
Let’s embark on a journey of discovering the ultimate tips to develop a robust international SEO strategy.
- Estimate your international SEO potential
- Analyze the competitive landscape
- Do international keyword research
- Make your website multilingual
- Implement HrefLang Tags
- Pay attention to your website structure
Estimate Your International SEO Potential
Find out the ranking of your website in your target countries where you want to expand your business. For the same, visit your Google Analytics account and go to the audience. Now go to Geo and then to language or location. You can then have a view of the number of sessions from your selected country.
You can use the free site overview tool from Alexa to check the countries driving visitors to your website. If you find many visitors from any particular country, you have to consider optimizing your website for that specific country. Also, take a look at the keywords to check whether they are relevant to your industry or not.
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Analyze the Competitive Landscape
Before going into the international market, it is best to analyze the competitive landscape. You may be aware of your competitors in your country, but you may not know the new market. You can use the SEO experts’ services at Shrusti to run a quick competitor analysis and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Once you know your bitter competitors, you can devise a more successful international SEO strategy to taste success. What are their primary sources of traffic? Which keywords are providing them with the bulk of their traffic?
Remember, without a complete analysis of the competitive landscape, and you cannot create a competitive advantage. Now, unless you make the same, your business can never be successful in uncharted territories. No matter how much your website is beautifully designed or you have the best products or services to offer, your competitors will capture all your potential clients or customers.
It is vital not to depend solely on Google while conducting the competitor research as there might be other search engines that are popular in some particular countries. For example, Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, Bing in the US, and Naver in Korea.
Do International Keyword Research
Whenever a company runs a global campaign to promote its products or services, it always conducts international keyword research. See, it happens that the handful of keywords for which you are getting traffic in your country may not work in other countries. So, it is
essential to conduct international keyword research in the relevant language and location (country). Shrusti has more than a decade of experience helping businesses have a strong foothold in other nations with its SEO services.
Many businesses just translate their existing keywords in their target countries’ languages and think that the work is done. Companies having a shoestring budget do this. However, this move does not yield any positive results because keyword translations come with their limitations.
For example, suppose you target a keyword “loyalty card” in the US market as it is ranking well and now translating the same into German to target Germany. In that case, you will get ‘Treuekarte’ where ‘treue’ means loyalty and ‘karte’ implies card. Now, the problem lies in the fact that although the translation is not inaccurate, you fail to check that whether this keyword has any search volume in your target country or not.
Now, take the help of the SEO services of an experienced digital marketing company. You will find that ‘Bonuskarte’ means bonus card, and ‘Kundenkarte’ means customer card will fetch far more traffic in Germany.
Similarly, if you target the keyword ‘football boots’ in the UK, it may not prove useful in the US as American consumers looking for the same kind of boots will likely type ‘soccer cleats.’ Football is commonly referred to as soccer, and football boots as cleats in the US. So, you have to consider the local search preferences when you conduct international keyword research.
The best course of action for the same may be to find some native speakers of the countries that you want to target for guidance. Keep in mind to pay attention to the regional nuances of local languages to achieve your goals.
Make Your Website Multilingual
Do you know the primary language spoken in India? Over 520 million people speak Hindi, but most businesses have their content in the English language. The reason is the perception that many people in India can read and speak English. Similarly, in the US, close to 37 million people speak Spanish. Probably, they can also speak English. However, businesses targeting the US market seldom pay heed to attract this staggering population of 37 million. As they don’t have their web content in multiple languages, they substantially lose a big chunk of their potential customers or clients. In short, by translating your website content into different languages, you can increase your organic traffic!
You might think that translating your entire website content will be an arduous task demanding enormous effort and time. Yes, it will take your time and effort, as only translating a few key pages will not yield desired outcomes. You have to translate your entire web content into multiple languages of your target countries for a consistent user experience. You can use Weglot to translate your web content in a hassle-free manner completely.
Pay special attention to the translation of your metadata (meta title and meta description), as these are often the most crucial aspects of your international SEO strategy. These immensely help the search engines to understand your web page content. They consider the metadata as key pieces of information during indexing your website or web pages.
Implement HrefLang Tags
This is a technical aspect of your international SEO, ensuring that your target users in each country are getting the right language version of your website or web content. So, any incorrect implementation of these tags can do great harm to your international SEO strategy and overall user experience. For a quick generation of hreflang tags, you can think about using the Hreflang Tags Generator Tool. Let’s have a look at an example of this hreflang tag.
link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”en-us” />
Google introduced these tags in 2011 to let search engines know the availability of your web pages in different lagunages and the language of users’ making a search query.
Insert hreflang tags to your page’s head section to tell Google about your website’s specific language version. For example, if you want to target all people who speak Spanish, implement the following code.
es” href=”example.com/es” />
Similarly, if your intention to target all English-speaking people regardless of their country location, consider the following code.
en” href=”example.com/en” />
Still, if you feel that the implementation of these tags is too technical and you could not do the same yourself without any help from SEO experts, consider getting in touch with the SEO experts at Shrusti who have vast experience in the implementation of these tags for SEO international.
However, remember to implement these tags not only in the head section but also in a sitemap. Currently, only Google and Yandex support these hreflang tags. Since now mobile-first indexing is the norm, implementation of these tags has become all the tougher. Always keep in your mind that these tags consist of two parts-country and language.
Pay Attention to Your Website Structure
It is essential to understand that your website structure also matters a lot when it comes to SEO international. Define your goal before doing the same. For example, clarify whether you want to target some specific languages or some particular countries to go global. It can also happen that you want to target the countries that share the same language, such as all countries with a significant English-speaking population. There is a lot of debate around what could be the best website structure for the best SEO result.
According to Google Webmaster Tools, there are four ways of structuring a website to target multiple languages, and these are as follows:
- gTLDs with sub-domains
- gTLDs with sub-folders
- URL parameters
Here, ccTLDs stands for country-code top-level domains, and gTLDs stands for generic top-level domains.
If you aim to target some specific country, first try to find out whether your top competitors are using ccTLDs or not. If this is not the case, you can consider using geolocalized subdirectories. Still, things are not that simple as it appears and you need experts at your side to find out the best course of action.
Sometimes, merely taking advantage of an existing domain to expand to a new country may not be the best idea, even if that domain is very successful in your country. For example, creating restaurant.co.uk/de to target people in Germany may not prove useful at all if you already have a successful restaurant chain with the domain name restaurant.co.uk in the UK market. This is because Germans can possibly perceive it just like a German-language version of a UK restaurant website which is of no use for them in Germany.
Are You Ready to Deal With Internation Market?
In short, go global as this can present an excellent opportunity to expand and reach new markets. If you are unsure how to perform the steps yourself or hire an international SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to contact SEO experts at Shrusti. We are one of the best digital marketing companies that offer a range of SEO-related services to let your business grow like never before. We will find you the right solution to drive more traffic to your website and generate more leads.