Marketing your website overseas is different than marketing domestically. All the hard work to improve your domestic site’s SEO won’t necessarily convert the same with a simple translation of articles. Essentially, international SEO takes you back to the basics in a brand new way.
Back to the Basics
First, review the fundamentals of your website. Determine a domain structure that’s right for you and your company. There are two options to choose from:
-ccTLD: Domains with a country specific extension, like .us
-gTLD: General domains, like .com
Differentiating country specific pages on a gTLD can take several forms:
-Subdomains, like us.site.com
-Subdirectories, like site.com/us
-URL variables, such as site.com/?lang-en-us*
*URL variables are not recommended, as Google warns they can’t be geotargeted.
Once you’ve decided how to structure the website URL, there are a few other basic tricks to use. If your new international pages are using a ccTLD, use local hosting services to improve local ranking. If you have a physical store local to the area, make sure you register that address with Google and include it on your site. While these tactics may have less effect than the overall URL structure, they will still help search engine results. With high competition, every little bit counts.
Research is the bread and butter of SEO in any location. Start by researching the local search engines and their popularity in the area. While Google is common in most places, there are still some countries Google has little presence. Be sure your SEO is optimized for the right search engine.
After determining the local search engine, search for your new local competitors. Find out what keywords they are ranking under, what social media is most used for your target market, and study what methods they are using. At this point, it might be helpful to hire a translator or cultural advisor to assist with this process. A translator can help with keyword research as well, since your domestic keywords may not perform as well when simply translated.
Along with generating relevant content to the new region, you’ll want relevant links as well. Using local sources and supporting links will help search engine crawlers better index your site locally, improving your page rank. Be sure to sniff out reliable sources, though, to protect your brand’s authority.
Links to your own pages can be managed with Hreflang tags, which are HTML code attached to href links. Basically, the tags provide details about the page, like language or location, without requiring it to be crawled first. This helps by making the process faster for crawlers to analyze the page, and more likely to show up on results pages.
Branching out to international marketing is essentially like starting over in a new area. With the foundation of your domestic business and website, international SEO can be an amazing opportunity to expand your brand worldwide. Just remember the first step internationally is always the hardest; once you’ve got the process solidified, each new location will get a little easier. In fact, the most challenging part may one day be simply deciding what area to expand to next!