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If you are interested in growing your business, then it is vital that you are ready to explore fresh markets. This could include global audiences and marketing your products to countless countries around the world. In the new era of globalization, an expansion like this can be a highly lucrative opportunity. However, to find success, you must ensure that any new audience is able to discover your brand, your website, and your business. For this, you will require an effective international SEO strategy.
What Is International SEO?
There are more than 8 billion people across the world today, and close to 5 billion have internet access. In the world of business, this translates to a tremendous opportunity – assuming that you can reach that audience.
Search Engine Optimization is the process marketers use to put brands, businesses, and websites on the map. With SEO, you can ensure that your website is discoverable and appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a large audience.
International SEO is a continual process that you can use to ensure that you are growing your organic online presence for international audiences. This could include specific countries, regions, continents, or cultural groups.
Importance Of International SEO
If you aren’t already using an international SEO strategy, it’s unlikely that your business is high in the organic rankings for audiences from other countries. There are several reasons for this, content is king, and most content doesn’t travel well. This is particularly true for countries where English is not the native language. Even where the language is the same – as is the case for Britain and US – there are still cultural differences at play here. Even the wrong spelling for certain words can impact your ranking. This is why it’s important to use one of the best international SEO strategies for your business.
Let’s look at an example to understand the importance of international SEO.
You may be running a packaging company and already selling your products to businesses across the US. Your brand is successful, and you receive a lot of demand from a local audience. After this local success, you are ready to sell your packaging to companies in Canada. However, there are already at least ten major companies dominating this industry in the country. There’s also a different work culture at play. Audience members could also have questions that need answers before they are ready to commit to a purchase.
This is why using the best international SEO strategy is crucial. You need to prepare to compete with successful companies and ensure that your business appeals to the new audience.
It’s often assumed that the international playing field is only suitable for large corporations and industry leaders like Apple or Disney. This isn’t true. Small companies can compete as long as they utilize the right SEO tactics and understand their target audience.
When Should You Optimize for International SEO?
There’s one question that you need to ask here. Should your business expand internationally? If you are already experiencing significant success locally or you are reaching barriers in terms of growing demand with a local audience, the answer will be yes.
There are certainly advantages to taking a risk and growing your business into new companies. Overall, the global e-commerce market is consistently expanding, with countries like India expected to experience a 25% growth over the next few years. For a small or medium-sized business, this means big opportunities.
If it’s time to expand your business and explore audiences in other countries, then it’s time for a winning international SEO strategy. Without the right strategy in place, your business will be dead in the water.
You should also consider an SEO strategy if analytics have revealed that international audience members are already visiting your site. This is a possibility. B2B clients, in particular, will often search far and wide for companies with the right reputation and services or products available at the right price. This is evidence that your business already appeals to an international audience. SEO for international markets will simply ensure that you are expanding your reach and maximizing your potential.
Benefits of International SEO
Once you tap into the right international SEO strategy and explore new target markets for your online business, you’ll discover countless benefits for your brand. International SEO will have an impact on your business in both the long and short term.
Greater Global Visibility
First, international SEO will always increase the visibility of your brand and help you reach global audiences. Industry leaders don’t just rely on local audiences to fuel the success of their brands. Instead, they focus on ensuring brand awareness on a global scale. An international optimization strategy will help you achieve the same types of results. This will result in increased revenue, higher profit margins, and even greater opportunities for business growth in the future. It can ensure that your brand is more valuable and dramatically boost long-term prospects for your company.
Strong Brand Identity Worldwide
A strong brand identity is integral to your business’s success. The aim here is to ensure that your brand is immediately recognizable by the logo, the name, or even the type of content, products, and services that you offer. Once you have a strong identity, it becomes easier to gain new customers and secure the loyalty of existing clients. It also helps to mitigate levels of risk when exploring new avenues, markets, and products in your business model. International SEO improves your brand identity on a global level.
Better Connection With New Audiences And Markets
Any marketer will tell you that getting a customer to buy once is not enough. Constantly relying on new customers is an inefficient business process. Instead, you need to build brand loyalty and ensure that customers return for repeat purchases. This will only occur if they develop the right connection to your company. Connections can form due to the promise of value, consistent quality, or audience understanding. International SEO combined with the right content strategy is a fantastic way to demonstrate to new audiences that you understand:
- Who they are
- What are their problems (pain points)
- The solutions they need
It can also help ensure that you are viewed as a market leader with the necessary expertise and experience.
The challenges of international SEO
There are a staggering number of reasons to explore international SEO and pursue a global audience with your brand. However, there are also challenges. It’s important to understand the hurdles that lie ahead and the right steps you must take.
Cultural And Language Barriers
As already mentioned, there are always going to be language barriers and cultural differences when you are exploring marketing your business to an audience in a new country. For instance, you may need to translate any content that you create. It’s important that you don’t cut corners here. You should not rely on a standard translating tool that you can find online. This could lead to a poor translation that will immediately damage the perception of your brand. In the long term, it’s far more effective to hire professional translators or use outsourcing services that you can trust.
Cultural differences are another challenge. To understand this, we can explore Mcdonald’s. The menus listed online for Mcdonald’s around the world are unique and appeal to specific cultures as well as key demographics. Similarly, their content is shaped around these specific cultures as well. Again, this is about understanding the intent of your target audience.
Technical SEO is another key challenge when exploring international optimization. One example would be landing pages. To appeal to different regional audiences, you must have specific landing pages for your product and service related to that region. So, you might have a landing page for France, Germany, the U.S., Canada, and Britain. All of these pages will be connected to your site or your brand. However, they still need to be unique enough that they are not seen by Google as duplicate content. This will damage your SEO score. You will also need to achieve a low bounce rate to gain a high ranking. That’s why it’s important to provide value to every audience you are targeting.
You will always have a finite level of resources that you can utilize when managing your business. This includes everything from your marketing budget to the time that you can spend on different tasks. International SEO involves a constant evolution of your brand strategy based on the latest data and industry changes. This is why it’s important to formulate a marketing plan that is suitable for your business specifically. The best international SEO services are scalable and can be molded around large and small businesses alike.
How To Successfully Implement International SEO Strategies
Now that you understand the benefits of an international SEO strategy and the challenges you will face, let’s dive into the steps that should be part of your marketing plan.
Research Your International SEO Strategy
If you don’t have an SEO strategy in place, you’re not alone. Research suggests 70% of businesses ignore this crucial step. However, without a strategy in place, you can only take steps based on guesses, hunches, and gambles. This will cause levels of risk to build and could lead to an inefficient expansion that doesn’t deliver the right results. Every dollar of your marketing budget should drive your business forward. Research could include:
- Finding the right keywords – they may not be the same as your local country
- Exploring the right type of content
- Completing a SWOT Analysis
- Completing Google searches in different regions using a VPN
A Google search is the easiest way to discover your main competition and the leaders in specific regions. The more research you conduct, the more likely it is that your campaign will be successful.
Prioritize Which Countries You Target
Next, you should think about which countries you should prioritize. No brand is universal. Your product or service won’t appeal to all countries around the world. This is another reason why research is crucial. You need to find countries where demand already exists or where there’s a potential to establish an audience.
Choose Your URL Structure
Next, you need to think about your URL structure. There are lots of options to consider here. You can set up a brand new domain for a specific international audience. This sends a strong message to search engines and increases the chance of your website ranking. But it does mean that you need to run a whole new website and potentially hire more staff. Your budget may not accommodate this possibility, even with an outsourcing solution.
A subdomain or subdirectory is more cost-effective and easier to manage, but it’s more difficult to gain the trust and interest of a specific regional audience. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your goals and your resources.
Understanding Cultural and Linguistic Differences
Every piece of content that you create impacts your brand identity. When setting up an international SEO strategy, this means that you must consider linguistic issues and cultural differences with every piece of content created or adapted. That includes any posts on social media, blogs on your website, landing pages, or videos. It’s another reason why you must know your audience before you pursue this endeavor.
Localization of Content
Localized content refers to content that appeals specifically to a local target audience. The simplest way to do this is to add regional identifiers to your keywords or phrases in the form of long-tail keywords. This can be effective, but it’s not as substantial as creating content for local audiences from the ground up. It should include references to local areas, identify and focus on the local audience and ideally feel as though it’s been written by someone with a deep understanding of the area. This requires more in-depth research, but it can lead to significant results and gains.
International Keyword Research
Another point to include on your international SEO checklist is keyword research. As already discussed, keywords won’t be the same in different regions. This is true even if two target audiences share the same languages. Think about differences like crisps and chips between America and Britain. Both refer to a product, but the terms mean the opposite depending on the country. Elements like this will crop up when you complete a full explorative keyword analysis. You will also be able to find out which keywords and terms are more competitive or more difficult to rank for. This is useful for both organic SEO and PPC campaign strategies.
Geotargeting and International Structured Data Markup
Without geotargeting and the right international structured data markup on your website, you will struggle to achieve a low bounce rate and keep the Google crawlers happy. This is a critical technical element that must be built into your overall strategy.
For instance, you need to make sure your site appears in the right language when it’s clicked on by a specific target audience member. If it doesn’t, then they will immediately click off in search of a site that is suitable for their needs. It’s all too easy to make mistakes with the technical elements here. It will often involve coding elements of your website. If you don’t have the relevant expertise, you will need to hire someone who does.
International Link Building
Keywords are far from the only piece of the puzzle. Any guide to international SEO is lacking if it doesn’t at least touch on international link building. Link building ensures that high domain authority websites link back to your site and use it as a source or to provide context for content. This ensures that your website is viewed as a trusted and reputable source by search engines as well as users. There are various link-building strategies that you can explore, including guest posting. When targeting a website for a guest post, it is vital that you check whether it has the right DA. Links from a low-quality website or a low-ranking source could damage your international SEO.
Monitor and Analyze Performance
Finally, it is important to constantly analyze the performance of your international SEO campaign strategy. Be aware that Google is always changing the rules. For instance, the latest update on the horizon will put more of a focus on speeds. If you are setting up a new website for an international audience, then it needs to hit the right technical SEO targets. You should also constantly assess whether your website is optimized for the right international keywords. An SEO audit of your site is the easiest way to do this. Completing an analytical process like this will provide a comprehensive, actionable report that you can use to effectively adjust and correct different optimization elements.
An international SEO strategy could be a highly lucrative choice for your business. This is true regardless of your audience, industry, or even the size of your business. International SEO will allow you to globalize your brand and reach fresh target audiences while expanding your reach.
To achieve the right results, you must plan a comprehensive strategy that includes all the key steps that we have discussed. Remember, this is a constant process that you need to continuously update. Respond to the data and complete the research. It is essential you know who your target audience is, what they want and ensure they find your business online.