A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand

The beauty of working with an international market is the connections you make. The information you gather is priceless and the only way to really make a difference for your project is to listen to the people in the trenches.

We’ve been working globally for over 15 years. Whether creating a complete content strategy or diving into a multinational SEO audit, we’re always learning something new. Too bad we can’t blame our understanding of cultural relevance in search to a crystal ball or direct line to Matt Cutts, but honestly, it’s due to mistakes, research and a direct connection to some amazing SEO consultants around the world.

We’ve gathered a few of our global partners and asked them a simple question:

What are the 3 things you would tell a client from (country) to do if they wanted to go global?

photoGabriella Sannino; Universal Global

Keep in mind, this is not standard or God forbid, a cookie cutter solution -however it’s what I consider best practice.

  1. Now, for the most basic, I’ve found using multilingual markup tags to be a good start. The hreflang tag is a simple tag that will allow the Webmaster to specify the different language(s) and the intended audience of that country.
  2. When dealing with multiple countries set up a Webmaster account for each specific country. Some people may have content located on subdomains, subdirectories, or even a ccTLD. No matter… once you’ve set up each account, you can set up the geo-targeting rules. The way to go about this is to locate the Site Configuration, then Settings. Last, but not least, select the appropriate country in the drop down menu for that Geographic area.
  3. My third suggestion has to be (I have Sante to thank for this) use geo-specific schema tags. If you’re not familiar with Schema.org it’s a wonderful place where code monkeys can find a collection of tags used to mark up things like content elements with structured data. The good news is that Google, Yahoo! and Bing have all jumped on board and use these tags in order to understand the intent of the content. Granted there are many geo-specific schema tags you can leverage to strengthen the signals including company names, phone numbers, addresses & of course geo-coordinates, etc.

Gabriella Sannino is an international SEO consultant, and the managing partner at Level343.  You can find her on Twitter @SEOcopy or follow her on and stay tuned to her many Google Hangouts

monchitoRamon Eijkemans; The Netherlands

The three things I would tell are not ‘new’ or out of the ordinary. I know however, that they are extra-super important if you’re planning to go multinational.

  1. It’s paradoxical, but for a site to go multinational, it should be very local. The very setup and architecture of the website should be targeted to a specific country, or even make a distinction between languages within a country (like in Belgium, where the speak Dutch, French, and in some parts, even German). The first thing to think about is the TLD: a .nl for Holland, a .be for Belgium, etc. But it doesn’t stop there. I could go on for quite some time, but the idea is clear: don’t think that One Site To Rule Them All will cut it. It won’t.
  2. Content should be written by and for native speakers. Austrians typically don’t buy stuff from German sites, even though the language is (mostly) the same. The same goes for French people that don’t buy anything that are English.
  3. The third idea is a very positive one. Due to having multiple websites in several different, but to some degree very comparable, countries, you’re profiting from scale and from having your own laboratory. The best websites to compare your own website with are other versions of your website. For instance: a test of a new feature could first be implemented in a less important market: see how it goes, and then roll it out to all sites.

Ramon is one of our global partners based in the Netherlands. You can find him on Google + or talk him on Twitter @monchito.

Jonathan SchikowskiJonathan Schikowski; Germany

  1. If possible, set up country-level or language-level top-level domains: .de for German, .com for English, .fr for French, etc.
  2. Make sure the copy on these sites is truly localized: well written and relevant to the local market.
  3. Make contacts with local industry people and influencers who can help you get the word out about your business and get your website mentioned! (technical, etc.)

Jonathan Schikowski is best known for his SEO tool Browseo. He is based in Germany and India. You can find him on Google + or follow him on Twitter @schikowski.

WISSWissam Dandan; The Middle East

  1. Study the culture. There are many variations and this is an extremely important factor that too many people forget about.
  2. Know The Laws and Regulation. Each Middle Eastern country has it’s own rules and regulations, don’t be misinformed.
  3. Geotargeting can be costly. Things like content creation, translation, web design, promotion, support, domains, photography etc.

Wissam Dandan is our Middle Eastern partner. You can find him on Twitter as @WissamDandan or just circle him on Google+.

MelnelsonMel Nelson; Malaysia

  1. Learn who the customer is i.e. customs, taboos, and preferences
  2. Have you website or brochures prepared by a native English speaker (or other language, remembering that sometimes regional differences are great
  3. Last one – work with someone who is familiar with the business practices in your targeted country

Mel Nelson is a long time SEO who enjoys discussions about all things SEO. He is a self confessed Google addict and dreams about key words. You can find him on LinkedIn or on his Google+ profile.

sante-achilles-200Sante J. Achille; Italy

  1. It is typical for Italians to think that English is the international language and it will get you into any country.
  2. They need to entirely review their website for it to be LOCALIZED in the language, look and feel.
  3. Many are not prepared to invest in a structured multilingual campaign and believe is it a matter of getting someone to translate their pages in that language and they are done – They do not understand the costs involved in the ever-growing complexities of the web.

Sante is one of our European partners based in Italy. You can follow his Twitter feed @sjachille or find him on Google+.

Doc SheldonDoc Sheldon; Latin America

  1. If you want to be seen and accepted as a global supplier, you also need to adjust your online marketing to establish your presence in the universal search results, not only localized. This can be partially addressed by where you establish yourself in the Knowledge Graph.
  2. Global suppliers nearly always present themselves in English, as it is the most common language. As is the case with any language, it’s important that grammar and spelling are correct. Pages in alternate languages must be prepared by someone that is intimately familiar with the local language, customs and preferences.
  3. Having mention of various countries and regions in your site’s content can help establish relevance to those areas, as well. That doesn’t mean simply listing 100 different countries… think in terms of context. If you’re based in New York, but sell worldwide, some individual pages to a few selected high-volume countries, with content specifically targeting those countries can build geo-relevance. The bottom line is, you need to laser-focus on each local market, without forgetting to present yourself as a global supplier.

Doc Sheldon is one of our Latin America partners based in Mexico. You can stalk him on Twitter @DocSheldon or follow his weekly HOA’s on Google+.

KlausKlaus Junginger; São Paulo, Brazil

1. Get your folks speaking more than half a language. Qualification, qualification, qualification.
2. Leave the pro-work to the pros.
3. It is your company but not your business; revenue is not a matter of style.

Klaus Junginger is another one of Level343 partners and works with us as an SEO Consultant and journalist based out of São Paulo, Brazil. You can find him on Twitter by following @computerklaus  or you can find him on Google+