An International SEO Strategy To Expand Beyond Borders
Online retailers have more opportunities than ever before to tap into emerging markets and connect with consumers around the world. While your business has the ability to reach a global community, you will need to implement international SEO strategies to get found, build trust, and increase revenue.
Image Source: https://www.emarketer.com/content/global-ecommerce-2019
Consumers in different locations and cultures search, find and purchase products and services differently. However, while people in different cultures consume content differently, you will need to follow some basic rules to ensure search engines and people interact with your content to drive more conversions.
Here are 5 sure-fire ways to implement an international SEO marketing strategy if your business is looking to reach customers in other countries!
1. Focus On Cultural Differences & Expectations
Your website content, product pages, and blog posts need to be created and optimized with your international audience’s cultural expectations in-mind.
You already plan your content marketing around user behavior, and you need to continue this practice when designing your website, choosing color palettes, and other considerations on the international stage.
For example, you will want to design your e-commerce store with a minimalist and clean design if you are trying to engage a U.S. audience. However, you will need to adjust that website design for a Chinese audience by adding more visual elements and inserting more links to the content.
This is because U.S. consumers tend to associate minimalist design with luxury. In contrast, Chinese consumers believe that a store’s selection is based on the amount of product it displays.
2. Localize Your Website Content For Each Country
No matter your industry or the market you serve, how you present a message is just as important as the message you deliver to your customers.
Many companies fail with international SEO because they do not localize content but instead translate content between languages.
- Content Translation: This is the simple act of rendering words and text from one language to another.
- Content Localization: This comprehensive process is similar to a translation, but it addresses cultural and non-textual nuances that are important for specific cultures in a given locale.
Content localization takes additional time and resources compared to simple translations, but this process is invaluable when it comes to online content. Content localization will help build trust with your customers, increase conversions, and ultimately boost your bottom line.
As your customers become increasingly sophisticated and global competition grows, it is no longer acceptable to merely translate existing content into a new language.
Image Source: unbabel.com
Your content needs to speak to your target audience, and your international SEO strategy needs to go beyond words and start focusing on the individuals you will communicate with. Be sure to at least translate your content to the target audience, but content localization is the best option if you have the time and resources available.
3. Conduct Localized Keyword Research
As we discussed in the previous section, it is vital to make your content accurate and relevant based on your target audience’s unique needs. Not only should your content be localized to read well, but you will also need to use keyword research based on the local trends of your audience.
People in different cultures may use different phrases keywords when looking for similar products in their respective countries. You can use a tool like Ahrefs to search keyword volume, estimated clicks, and even the value of keywords to help plan out content.
As you build out your international SEO strategy, you will need to implement strategic keyword research based on search volume and competition of specific terms in a geo-target area.
Take time to optimize your content around how your target audience engages with your content to boost your online visibility and drive more qualified traffic to your international stores.
4. Implement A Strategic Domain Structure
Your domain name is one of the first things that your customers notice when searching for your online content. How you choose to structure your website will have a significant impact on how people perceive your content and how search engines index your content.
You will have three options when building a website for an international market to choose from country-coded top-level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains, and subdirectories.
Old brands like Amazon and Home Depot have country-code top-level domains but everything is changing now and new brands are trying to stay within the same domain. Here are some points to consider if you want to set up a ccTLD for a new business opportunity:
- ccTLDs provide strong geo-targeted signals to build trust and recognition with customers in a specific area.
- ccTLDs carry a strong signal to search engines about the intended people you are trying to reach.
- This route can be expensive as you will need to buy additional domains, and build GEO specific international SEO teams that must execute a local link building to get links within that country that want to rank.
If you’re not interested or able to take on the extra work and cost associated with unique ccTLDs for your website then you should consider either implementing subfolders or subdomains for each language. The subfolder option is a less expensive since all your pages will stay within the same domain compare to ccTLDs, but it will be harder to manage all these pages within the same domain. Another option is to set up a subdomain for each language and manage everything on the subdomain level.
The subdomains and subfolders options are less expensive and will offer more SEO benefits since everything will stay within the same domain.
5. Implement Hreflang Tags On Respective Domains
Last but not least, you will need to think about technical SEO strategies to reach a global audience. Implementing hreflang tags on your websites (whether ccTLDs, subfolders, or subdomains) is one of the first aspects of international SEO that you will need to think about.
While this is a highly-technical component of SEO, and hreflang tag tells a search engine about the intended audience of the content on a specific page.
Even if this content is nearly identical to other web content, the hreflang tag indicates that the content is unique because it is meant to be read by different language speakers.
Hreflang tags are vital for international SEO marketing because this snippet of code tells search engines that the content is made for a specific geographic region. Not only does this code give context to search engines, but it also spoon feeds search engines the information they need to deliver the right version of your page to an audience based on their preferred language.
Extend Your Reach With International SEO Today!
Stepping out to the global stage can be an exciting time for your business! Not only does international SEO help you get found by customers in emerging markets, but it also gives your business the upper-hand when it comes to revenue generation and brand development.
Be sure to remember that your international SEO strategy needs to start with technical SEO and content marketing to get found and engage the right audience.
Test out the above 5 international SEO tips if you are ready to expand past your border and boost your customer base today!