By Laia Cardona, on 09 August 2016
Wading out into the waters of international markets is a big step for any brand.
If this is what your company is facing, well then congratulations! You have a very exciting, though complex, journey ahead of you. There are a lot of factors that will determine the success or failure of a digital marketing strategy in another country.
Today I would like to focus on clarifying on of the most important ones to begin establishing your online presence: International SEO.
In this guide you will find some of the best step by step tips to positioning your company in other markets.
This is assuming of course, that your website in its original language is already fully optimized to be positioned on search engines, but if not, I would recommend you get started by taking a look at this article about SEO marketing strategies.
1) Study your market
Before you even start thinking about your SEO position, you need to run a deep analysis of the country or countries you are planning on targeting.
To start off, you need to ask how your products or services fit in there.
It may be that you would consider adding special features, or on the other hand it may even be that part of your catalogue or website may not even make sense outside of your country.
Culture and local tastes and preferences are another very important factor to take into account.
If you run an ecommerce, there are logistic details that must also be considered before launching sales options in another country, such as payment methods (the more you accept, greater will be the chances of conversion), exchange rates (it is always best to display prices in the local currency) or even international legislation in terms of exportations and product sales.
Considering we are dealing with international web positioning, there are essential technical aspects to be studied.
The most important thing to know is which search engine or engines to aim for, because, surprise!: there is more to life than Google. In Russia, for example, Yandex reigns, and in Japan, Yahoo.
Each one of these has their own SEO position regulations that you will have to study and adapt to. To know the market quota of each of these search engine in your target country, you can refer to reports made by companies such as Experian or Forrester Research.
Last of all, you must also not forget to study digital consumption habits in the countries you are targeting: the internet penetration percentage, what kinds of devices are most frequently used to connect, how acceptable online shopping is, etc.
2) Translate, adapt and locate your international SEO
The time has come to address the touchy subject of language. According to your expansion strategy, you can find yourself in two different situations:
- The countries you are targeting share one same language. If an American company decides to target the British or Australian market, for example. This means you can save yourself the whole hassle of translating, but you must still adapt your content to each country’s interests and take different forms of the language into account (American english vs. British English, for example) .
- The countries you are targeting have different languages. In this case you have no choice but to translate all your content into another language… and as tempting as it may be, do not do it using an automatic translator or you will lose a good share of business opportunities before you even get started.
No matter which of these two situations you find yourself in, I recommend finding an expert in multilingual SEO who can help you create highly efficient content in your target market.
They will be able to evaluate your specific situation, but you will at least have to address these following aspects:
- Investigate appropriate keywords in each language and destination. There is no point in translating everything word-for-word as the keywords you need are the keywords that are actually sought after in each country. To give you some sort of idea, you can use tools such as Google Adwords’’ keyword planner.
- Translate all of your website’s content, while respecting keyword density. In the marketing world, good translations tend to be quite different from literal ones, as they must adapt to the locals’ culture and expressions. There are some companies who even change their product’s name due to it sounding inappropriate or wrong when translated. Get advice from experts!
- Translate all non visible SEO elements: plugins, H1 and H2 type tags, the title and your images ALT text, the anchor text for your links, and so on. All of these lines of text should be translated into the other language, and respect that keyword strategy defined for that market.
3) Organize your website’s technical aspects
We have reached what is quite possibly the most delicate part of dealing with your international SEO position: the technical aspects of your website.
Here are just a few of the things you must take into account:
Architecture and domains
The first thing you need to know is that there are two main types of domains:
- Top Level Domains (TLD) are those that are not associated to any given country, like .net, .com or .org.
- Regional domains are those that are tied to a country, like .co.uk, .es or .fr. These domains may increase your chances of positioning in that country, but will decrease them anywhere else in the world.
Once that is clear, you will have to choose from one of the following strategies:
- Domains or subdomains by language: misitio.fr, misitio.en, misitio.de or even fr.misitio.com, en.misitio.com, de.misitio.com… The is the easiest strategy in the short term. Each domain is indexed independently and you can have different servers in each country. The great inconvenience here, especially with separate domains, is that the original website’s authority is not automatically transferred to the new ones. This means that we have to start from zero all over again whenever we enter a new country and work on the linkbuilding strategy.
- Subdirectories by language (with one single domain and 301 redirections): misitio.com/es, misitio.com/fr, misitio.com/de… In this case you are focusing on building up one singles domain’s authority, so any new languages will benefit from previous work. The main drawback here is that it may slow down your loading times.
- Subfolders by language: one single domains and territorial domains in the form of microsites. It is more complex and difficult to maintain, and therefore not the most recommendable of options.
- Different domain names for each language or country. The most “radical” solution would be to create totally different and independent websites. This might be right for your company if you are looking to blend in as much as possible into the local markets, and for your different teams to work separately.
Hosting and IPs
Next question: where should I hire the host from? The origin of your IP can improve your results by 0.7 to 1 position, so it is something worth looking into.
In general, the IP should be in your main market’s country. For example, if you are selling products in the UK and Australia but most of your clients are american, then your IP should be based in the United States.
Nevertheless, my advice is to not obsess over this detail, as having a fast server is more important in terms of position.
Related to this topic, do not forget to consider your content’s geolocation, as search engines generally tend to favor local results.
Very important: the hreflang attribute
For your international SEO strategy to work, you need Google to “realize” that it is dealing with the same website, just in different languages (or adapted to different countries where variations of the same language is spoken).
For this to happen, it is essential for you to use the hreflang attribute, linking each language’s URL to each website’s homepage.
Multilingual SEO Plugins
To finish off, I would like to recommend two multi language SEO plugins for Wordpress, that will even solve the hreflang issue easily:
- qTranslate: dynamic content management in several languages. Rated 4.9 by users.
- WPML: a simple but powerful payed plugin to build and maintain multilinguistic websites.
4) Linkbuilding and International Content Marketing
So now you have your website up and running in all your target countries - congratulations!
But, as you already know, SEO is a long term investment and requires continuous input of effort and time even after its launch.
If you want you international SEO strategy to succeed, you need quality links from different countries and languages that are not only in different languages, but that completely adapt to the local culture and interests.
Strategies for success with SEO Marketing
Want to improve your SEO Marketing strategy but feel overwhelmed by all the information that’s out there? That’s a good sign, because it means you’re out there exploring! And here’s the good news: You just got to the right place. Our team of SEO experts have worked on this article in order to provide you with the most useful tips when it comes to creating your SEO strategies, making your website easy for both users and search engines to understand.
First of all, you need to understand what keywords your potential customers are using when looking for your services and products. In order to find the best performing ones, you have different options. The first option would be using a Keyword research tool, such as Google Keyword planner, SEMrush, etc. Another step is analyzing your website to find out which keywords are already performing well and also check out those that your competitors are targeting. Long tail keywords are also very important, since natural language search is becoming more popular and persuasive.
Once you know the keywords that will allow your potential customers to find you, get that content ready! Having a list of keywords ready is important but you must also market your content properly. Search technology relies also on relevance and importance metrics, and they measure them by tracking how people react to your content by linking to it, sharing it, etc. this means your content should have some characteristics that make it shareable, linkable and traffic-friendly. You want to offer high quality content that includes all those keywords that we previously mentioned, but you don’t want to bore your potential customers. The sweet spot length of content seems to be 2,250-2,500 words long according to Hubspot.
You content is not the only crucial aspect of your SEO strategy, but also your On-Page SEO management is incredibly important in order to get your online presence aligned with your business goals. Make sure your web structure follows a method that allows you to track the different on-page SEO elements, such as URLs, page titles and meta descriptions. Using a template to control all these different elements will make your life easier and your management more effective. Once you’re done optimizing your site, don’t forget about it! Always keep in mind what you’ve learned and changed when you create new page titles, add new topics or edit your site’s content.
- Optimize for conversions
If your main objective is to increase the amount of leads and subscribers who could potentially become customers, you can’t forget to optimize the way you want them to become so. Each page of your website should represent a conversion opportunity, so make sure you include calls to actions for different stages of your buying funnel.
- Analyze the results
You need to set up your analytics package of choice in order to get insights about how your strategy is performing. This will also let you know what is working and what isn’t, so that you can make all the necessary changes in order to achieve your goals. Google Analytics tends to be the most popular choice in terms of analytics packages and Google Search Console is essential if you’re serious about wanting your website to rank in Google. It gives you insights about how Google sees your website, links that point to your site, popular keywords, click through rates, etc.
Once you’re done with the steps we’ve just covered, don’t forget about your site’s SEO! You need to treat your SEO strategy as a living being, since it will grow, evolve and behave in different ways depending on the constant changes of digital marketing. This volatility requires digital marketers to be frequently adapting to the newest trends and guidelines of the search engines and their algorithms. Some actions and tactics that used to work wonders some months ago don’t perform that well anymore, and search engines have gotten better at detecting bad content, so some old school SEO tactics such as building lots of pages, focusing only on links, amount of words and filling the title tag with keywords don’t work anymore.
Investing in your SEO strategy, implementing new ideas and following up are all necessary for achieving your goals and digital marketing success. You should also work on techniques that will keep your content alive longer, such as working on evergreen content that won’t become out of date easily, enrich your content with mixed media, optimize it for sharing, repurpose older content and re-share it on your social platforms!
Simplifying SEO To Help Your Business Succeed
The realm of digital marketing continues to change faster than most can keep up with, but it has become clear that the best way to establish and grow a business’ brand is to have a strong online presence. Strong online presences are most often associated with good search engine optimization so that the most efficient clients are targeted for your business. The problem with effective search engine optimization is that it can be quite daunting to everyone involved, even those team members who are most experienced can have difficulties understanding the scale of search engine optimization.
Effective search engine optimization has become an important tool for businesses to use, as it helps to dictate and report where the business is going online. The only problem is that those reports from SEO can often feel overwhelming, and elude to a sinking sensation without finding a life raft to hold onto. Search engine optimization tools that are available to companies on a real-time basis are things like conversions, rankings, click-through rates, cost per click volumes, peak click times, etc. It is easy to see how even the most experienced SEO experts will say that search engine optimization was complex a decade ago, let alone how it continues to evolve with each passing day. So the question remains, how do you and your team simplify SEO to help your business succeed, without getting overwhelmed in the daunting digital marketing realm?
Figure Out The Goal
Every business or company is different in terms of what they are hoping to accomplish online. Some businesses want to have better communication, provide a resource to consumers, or develop their brand and increase awareness. The best way to simplify SEO is to understand what the goal is. There are a few basic questions that can be answered quite simply by you and your team, to make sure everyone is on the same page. First, what is the purpose of the website?
Understanding the purpose of the website helps to align the tactical plan to roll out effective search engine optimization techniques. If you and your team don’t understand the goal and purpose of your website, then it is impossible to simplify SEO to succeed. Answering this first question will also help you to determine what you are hoping to achieve through the SEO efforts.
The second question that should be answered by you and your team is what measurements you will use to determine if your SEO efforts are successful? As previously mentioned above, there are hundreds of reports that are available through SEO tools, but that doesn’t mean you and your team have to use them. Success through SEO efforts can be as simple as increased traffic, better click-through rates, increased conversions/sales, higher revenues, or longer length of visits on the website. Understanding how you will measure your efforts will help to develop the SEO techniques you will use so that you don’t have conflicting strategies.
The last question you should consider with your team is based on your competitors. What are your competitors doing? Analyze the competitors in the field you will be facing. Are they doing something well, are you and your team hoping to differentiate yourself, is there something you can learn from their past mistakes? Answering this question is important because you can identify windows of opportunity that you and your team might have overlooked previously.
To figure out how to simplify SEO, you need to answer these questions:
- Purpose of the Website?
- What Measurements Will Be Used?
- Competitor Analysis?
Build An Effective Strategy And Set It Into Motion
Once you have the questions above answered, you and your team can start building an SEO campaign that will properly align with the strategy needed for your website. Understanding where to begin will make it so that you don’t have to retrace your steps like so many others already do within the digital marketing industry.
Once you’ve carefully outlined your strategy, and taken the time to review it to make sure that it aligns properly, then you can go ahead to set it into motion. It’s important to note that once you set the ball rolling down the hill, it’s harder to course correct than before it begins. It doesn’t mean it can’t course correct at all, however.
Make Adjustments When Necessary and Be Proactive
As with any digital marketing campaign, course corrections will need to occur as the marketing world changes. It is important to make sure that when a bump in the road occurs, that you are willing and able to course correct your SEO strategy without having to go back to step zero.
In summation, simplifying search engine optimization campaigns are possible even though it can seem too complex to grasp. Simplifying your SEO campaign boils down to understanding the direction in which you wish to move with your SEO efforts, a solid strategy that can carry out the direction, and adjustments that can be made without sacrificing all the work beforehand.