Tuesday 05 November, 2013
Chances are, the world’s growing markets are not in your backyard. This means that you need to focus your SEO efforts on reaching them in whatever far-flung corner of the world they might be. If any part of your customer base is overseas, international SEO needs to be part of your strategy.
More Than a Language Barrier
In order to reach them, you need to understand their culture. It’s not enough to just translate your regular content into their language. People have vastly different ways of thinking about things and you need to translate your message so that they understand it culturally and not just linguistically.
Focus on the Country
When choosing keywords and developing your marketing strategy, always focus on the target country, not the target language. We don’t know exactly how Google’s algorithms work, but it’s common knowledge among SEO experts who have focused on international markets that Google seems to favor country targeting over language targeting.
You should use the country’s name in domain names, subdomains, subfolders and meta tags. These are all signals to the search engines that your site should be found in their local area. Use Google’s webmaster tools to target a specific country.
You may want to get hosting in the target country, or you may not. There’s no easy answer to this. Using local hosting has SEO advantages but there could be major disadvantages as well. In some countries, hosting services are slow and customer service may be bad. Try to shoot for local hosting but if there are problems that prevent visitors from using your site, use something more international.
Country considerations should go into backlinking as well as on-page SEO. Get inbound links from websites within the target country whenever possible. This is good for search engine traffic and it just makes good sense. For example, use a Latin America-based forum for backlinking if you’re targeting Mexico.
International Content Creation
As I said earlier, translate your message into the culture, not just the language. When it comes to content creation, this can be difficult and require a great deal of cross-cultural understanding. Every population on earth has slightly different problems and attitudes toward these problems. Address the concerns and problems of the target country’s population. If a language other than English is used in the target country, hire a native speaker of that language to create your content or help you create it.
Beyond all of the above tips, follow the same rules for SEO that you would domestically. Most importantly, keep an eye on your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not. Whenever you venture into another culture, it’s always a learning experience. Use the learning you’ll do to perfect your international SEO.