Daniel Wood, SEO Director at GA Agency, explores what makes an effective international SEO strategy
When you’re trying to reach a global or new target market, search engine optimisation (SEO) has a vital role to play. International SEO is key to enabling you to connect and engage with that audience.
Used effectively, it can increase the exposure of your company or product or service in those particular markets. The more people that see your offerings, the more likely they are to buy from you, which is always the ultimate goal of any business.
What is International SEO?
International SEO allows search engines in other countries to quickly find your website. You can also signal the languages that you’re using to target global audiences or native speakers.
An international SEO strategy focuses on creating content that is relevant and meaningful to local markets. It also requires you to develop a website structure that makes it easy for search engines to find and deliver the web pages that the customer is looking for.
How Can You Improve International SEO?
There are multiple different factors that affect international SEO. They include customer reviews, mobile responsiveness and link building, among others.
The key objective of international SEO is to increase your website’s organic traffic from a variety of geographical regions and linguistic groups. So, let’s consider some of the key ways in which you can improve your international SEO:
First, you need to know who your target market is and to understand their needs. That’s particularly important when you are trying to reach a new market you are unfamiliar with, to see what the demand is like for your goods. It also requires looking for territory-specific keywords and studying the local competition.
The customer is the one who is going to be searching for your product or service, so you need to make sure that you deliver them the best possible user experience possible. To achieve that, you need to invest in and develop your interface, site navigation, speed, imagery, trust building and value proposition.
Then it’s time to think about ensuring your website is correctly set up so that it is being found easily. A core component of that when dealing with global markets is whether to target customers by language or region, or both. Many brands use solely geotargeting (locale-specific versions of their website), but there are other alternatives that can make international targeting easier. These include subdirectories, subdomains or language parameters.
Content is central to a successful international SEO strategy. It can be greatly improved by working with local professional writers to develop a site that is relevant, responsive and error-free, thus avoiding any embarrassing spelling mistakes or cultural misunderstandings, as can often be the case when companies try to do their own translation.
Not all search engines recognise the same language targeting tools. For example, the most popular search engines favour hreflang tags for identifying localised versions of a site available in another language, while others use meta language tags. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that you are set up for that particular type of tagging.
Backlinks essentially link from another website to your website. By being linked to a credible website, you can quickly establish yourself as a trusted expert source and your website will be recognised as such by search engines. The best way to achieve this is to produce valuable content that positions you as an authority on a particular subject area.
Technical SEO is at the heart of everything. It makes your site easier for search engines to crawl and index. On an international scale, that means using localised URLs and optimising images for your intended market.
All of this will be in vain, however, unless you analyse how your international SEO strategy is working. There are all sorts of important details that you can capture from your website, such as who is using it, where they have come from, what they’re looking at, how long they stay and where they go next. This information can be used to help you to improve your website and user experience.
International SEO should be top of your agenda if you are targeting new markets. Done well, it can open up a wealth of opportunities and enable you to win new business moving forward in your push towards global expansion.
Daniel Wood is a highly experienced organic marketer who has been helping businesses improve their SEO strategy for more than 10 years. He is SEO Director at GA Agency, an independent digital agency based in London, specialising in international expansion, with an in-house team delivering SEO & Paid Media in over 15 languages.