International SEO – A Brief Introduction

If you have been following my blog, you must have read a lot of SEO articles here.

I have talked about the basics of SEO.

I have covered topics like YouTube SEO vs. Google SEO.

Now I’m digging a little deeper.

This article focuses entirely on International SEO.

So if you want to go global with your SEO strategy, read on.

First, let’s bury a narrow definition that dictates that any SEO strategy that focuses on the non-English or non-U.S. audience is international SEO.

Instead, it’s about any SEO strategy that targets an audience outside one’s native language or country.

This means that if you have an SEO agency in New Zealand, and you are expanding your SEO reach to Australia, you are practicing international SEO. The same definition holds if you are in the US and creating an SEO campaign for Canada.

So we can’t put all English-speaking countries in one basket. It will miss many cultural nuances.

Imagine if you are living in a non-English speaking country. You will likely come across sites that are not native to the region. Some of them probably don’t even offer services there.

But if you are living in the US, it rarely happens. How many times have you come across a website that doesn’t offer services in your state? Not many times. Well, that’s because US businesses are all over the internet.

Now let’s get into the things you should consider when dealing with international SEO.​

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Search Engines

Let’s talk about search engines. We all know the importance of Google. When we use the word search engine, Google is the first thing that comes to our minds. After all, it’s is the biggest search engine in the world.

But it’s not the only search engine out there. For example, Yandex is famous in Russia. Baidu is huge in China. Naver is well-known in South Korea.

So if you want to target these areas, you must learn how to optimize for these search engines. Learning how the local searchers use these engines is also a part of the process.

You have to consider one more thing: Google is a pretty good search engine. It has all these cool features like RankBrain. Plus, it’s updated from time to  time.

But other search engines might not be as good as Google. With less advanced algorithms, it can be difficult to deal with spell checks or long  non-specific searches. Sometimes, font size and image usages can affect your rankings as well.​

Keywords

Before you start working on your SEO strategy, find a native speaker. Even if it’s a different language or a different geographic location, you want to work with a native speaker. This is important.

Don’t consider Google Translate. This tool can be fun sometimes, but it’s nowhere close to a native speaker. And if you use it, it will get you into awkward situations with native speakers.

In addition, if you want to target some other English-speaking region, don’t modify words on your own. No matter how much you understand British words, you can’t replicate their way of speaking.

So if you want to succeed at a localized search user experience, find an actual native speaker. You can use sites like Fiverr or Upwork for this purpose.

They will help you understand the appropriate and inappropriate cultural references of the area. The native speakers will let you know what slang words are acceptable and what keywords people can use to search about your business on a search engine.

You also need to make sure that the images that you use on your website are related to your target audience. For example, if an image is considered appropriate in the US, it might be considered taboo in Japan.

So you have to research the culture and the kind of language your audience uses. After that, you can get into SEO with proper keywords.​

Links

Google is not clear if local links help you rank internationally or not. But here’s my take on this one:

Links are a sign of authority. So if other websites don’t link to your website, will people trust you? Will they think that your products can solve their problem? Will they trust your content?

That was just the authority. Links also send you traffic which means they can bring in more customers. Or at least, it will help people remember your name.

So I would suggest that apart from focusing on getting links in your region, you should also go for links in the country you want to target.

This can be done by creating awesome content that is relevant to that country.

You should also join that country’s media channels.​

International SEO

Mobile

Like other parts of SEO, mobile is important here as well. We all know that a major number of internet users access the internet from mobile devices.

On top of that, there are mobile-first and mobile-only economies. That increases the importance of mobile tenfold.

Think about it: if you are targeting an area where almost all users access the internet from mobile devices, you won’t be able to ignore mobile.

For these mobile users, make sure that your webpages are lightweight, and that your unique offer is clear and upfront on the small screens.

The main idea is to become more user-friendly.​

Final Words on International SEO

International SEO is not a priority of many marketers. But no matter what your focus is, you probably are getting some traffic from outside your target area.

So why not give those foreigners a user-friendly experience and turn them into repeat visitors? Here are a few more suggestions for that:

  • The first thing you should do is to verify your website on the webmaster tools for all global search engines, not just Google or Bing.
  • Your web analytics dashboard can help you find a page that’s getting international interest. You can then create a page for those international visitors considering relevant keywords or cultural needs.
  • Keep looking for link opportunities outside your target market.

Technical aspects are important as well. But for starters, you should present your website in the most optimized way to international users.

Do you get a lot of traffic from foreign countries? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below.

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