Whether operating overseas or planning to expand your business into new regions, International SEO plays an integral role in establishing your brand as an industry leader in terms of relevant product and service line keywords. In this post, we explore the main ingredients for a successful International SEO strategy.
IS THERE AN AUDIENCE OVERSEAS FOR MY BUSINESS?
As a the digital landscape evolves, new channels and regions are made available to businesses to drive new business. Unless it’s irrelevant and your business is 100% committed to a specific location (i.e city, suburb), your potential audience continuously increases and international marketing might become a necessity to sustain your business in the long run.
First and foremost, research is paramount and you should determine if there is demand for your products/services. One of the most important steps is researching your target keywords in a specific language and country using a keywords tool such as the one provided by Google AdWords.
Another recommendation is to analyse your website traffic to identify users’ search volumes overseas. Once this due diligence is completed and there is demand for your offering in a foreign market meaning you can differentiate yourself from the competition, you can start looking at the technical aspects of the strategy.
INTERNATIONAL SEO VS LOCAL SEO
On the surface the two might appear different but in reality the two strategies have a lot in common. Similar to local SEO, you optimise your website to attract traffic from a specific geo-target area. The main difference with international SEO is that you’re optimising the website for different languages and countries.
One of the most common initial mistakes is assuming you can simply create a duplicate content country code top level domain, subfolder or subdomain on the current website domain and expect it to achieve similar rankings as you local strategy. Although this is an important step, and you would need to choose between the different options: ccTLD (domain.fr), subdomain (fr.domain), subdirectory (domain.com/fr/), gTLD with language parameters (domain.com/?lang=fr) ; there are many other elements to take into consideration including but not limited to:
Language: you should use the country language not only to rank on the foreign target keywords but also to enhance the user’s experience. Never expect everyone can read english.
Off-page SEO strategy dedicated for each target country (for example, listing your business on local foreign directories, yellow pages France).
Hreflang attributes set to the intended language or regional URL.
Correct use of canonical tags where applicable.
Make your international web structure indexable and easy to navigate.
Use a local IP address to host your site if possible.
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