Marketing February 10, 2020 Last updated July 7th, 2020 1,568 Reads share

International SEO: Set-up & Optimize Your Site For Different Languages/ Countries

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You can’t regret that SEO is a boon for any business.

What if you target audiences from different parts of this world? The international SEO comes into rescue, the scalable solution to grow your business. Indeed, it must be the key to reach the target foreign market.

That’s great!

But what are the additional elements to add up in your typical SEO to tract foreign target market?

Indeed, implementing the international SEO strategy solely depends on your business goals, budget, and market place.

Multiple countries, multiple languages, and by the way, multiple languages within a specific country often make you bizarre to set up a strategy or take decisions.

So, how to target international customers? It merely needs a little planning and process for a significant ROI.

International SEO – A Quick Overview

International SEO is nothing but optimizing your web pages with which the search engines understand your target location, audience, specific content for different linguistic people, etc.

By the way, it is similar to the SEO tactics for small businesses that target multiple locations like cities, towns, or regions.

International SEO vs. Your Regular SEO

The very first thing, you should not have duplicate content on your multi-lingual sites. Every site version for individual countries should be distinct. You must offer personalized messages and content to your target audiences. And then, the user experience plays a greater role in attracting each country’s local audience.

While the content localization may not be the first thing to do, still it is highly crucial to remember always.

Regular SEO comes easy, optimizing your web pages for narrow audiences. But, when you take international SEO, you must be adequately watching each individual site’s performance.

For an instant, if your Canada site web page outranks and appears in the search results in Australia, but then you have a specially designed site for Australia.

Improper usage of canonical tags and hreflang tags leads your site non-indexed or duplicate indexing. you must get involved in some technical SEO gigs as well.

So, international SEO takes more attention than regular SEO.

Do you need an individual site for each country or language?

Earlier it was. You will have to have unique web pages for each individual language since user experience being the demanding factor.

But now, with abundant resources, you can build a single site that serves multi-lingual audiences with translation.

Again, if you believe that your target audiences tend to go with websites having local TLD’s (than .com), then you have no option. Go with different sites for every individual country or language with respective local TLD’s like .au, .de, etc.

Skype - International SEO

How to get started with International SEO?

Let’s run through the fundamental phenomena to kick off international SEO for your business.

Step-1: Research

Begin with market research to understand the potential of each market that you target, prioritize things, and set goals.

Get to know your current international search visibility, traffic, conversions analyzing your existing website using Google analytics.

Despite answering the questions below – you can evaluate it.

  • Which other countries are leading in consuming your website data providing high traffic?
  • What’s the search volume and trend from each country over time?
  • What are the keywords and pages that get more traffic for each of the identified international markets?
  • What are the organic search click-through rates and conversions from those specific countries?

You will get answers for all these questions via Google Analytics (using ‘Geo’ reports under ‘Audience’).

Also, refer to the location details for each search query in Google Search Console.

You will get clarity on your top international countries that make high traffic, conversions, trends, and market potential.

Identify the top international target or language markets for which you have got decent organic search visibility, positive trends, and considerable conversions. Prioritize and validate based on their organic search potential.

For a successful international market SEO, ignore the countries for which you have very low search engine visibility and hence, traffic.

To identify your international organic search potential, you must perform comprehensive keyword research.

Take the list of keywords that your international audiences used to find and reach you. What is the search volume of those keywords? What’s the global competition? And, where your site stands in Google search results for those target keywords?

Knowing all these, you can determine the international search potential for each of your top identified countries and language.

Step-2: Target

If you identify that there is no enough traffic to target a specified country, then target by its language.

When you sort your traffic based on the language, the traffic would be upright. Since there are several countries with multiple languages (countries that speak your top specified language), this will work. But before targeting a specific language market, make sure that it doesn’t impact your business operations.

For country targeting, ccTLD’s are ideal to geo-locate your web page with the country-specific extensions.

  • – USA
  • India
  • – UK

Also, you can have settings to make different versions preferable for the dominant languages in the particular country.

Amazon Canada Site

But it may be hard and takes time to bring it up as a new and fresh website.

Otherwise, start with sub-directories. Simpler compared to the above as this can inherit the popularity of your existing parent site. Spotify uses country targeting sub-directories.

For example:

Alternatively, when you have a gTLD, try with sub-domains. By which, you don’t complicate to site architecture. Also, it comes easy to isolate various web versions based on geo-locations.

Here is a simple example with different URL’s –

  • ccTLD:
  • Sub-domain:
  • Sub-directory:

The same applies to the case when you target a particular language rather with its geo-location (like how Skype has different versions for various languages).

Step- 3: Optimize

Practice all your successful SEO strategies to date. Additionally, here are some of the optimization tactics you should consider as you target international users.

The very big things are relevancy and personalization.

If your brand targets by languages, make sure to translate and localize the content as if you target by country location.

Based on the research (as discussed above), optimize every element of your page like URL, title, description, headings, images & alt texts, content body, contact information, taglines, and anything.

Each of your web versions must be crawlable and indexable featuring in their own URLs. Cross-link between the different international site versions but doesn’t overdo.

If you have too many versions, just link between the main pages and the popular international web versions.

Then, mention them all in the inner pages of your various international versions. Now, it becomes crawlable.

How to improve your international SEO results?

Armed with all the above information, we are likely to discuss the various ways to boost your international SEO results.

  • Targeted content marketing helps businesses to rank internationally. If you can generate leads through content, then concentrate on promoting your content with SEO.
  • Have an organized site structure for languages or country-specific web pages.
  • Localize your keyword research and content for search intents, strictly for the targeted users.
  • Personalize your international site versions with different aesthetics (images, color schemes, etc.) with respect to their culture and trends.
  • Pay more attention to content for its originality for each version. Don’t go for automatic translational content since that won’t be reliable.
  • Use hreflang (in head or HTTP or XML sitemap) & proper canonical tags to display the right version of the site to the appropriate searches.
  • Don’t auto-redirect your visitors based on the IP addresses or browser settings. They don’t like you taking control over their interests.
  • Define your language and location preferences about your target audiences on Google Search Console.
  • Be top on your research and analytics as people from different countries use different search engines too.

So, you are on your way

I understand there is so much to go in-depth into the international SEO. I have touched a few things here.

Basically, if you don’t have time and money to invest in ccTLD’s just start with TLD you have with country or language-specific sub-directories.

Make it more personalized with localized content, visuals, and offerings. Generate quality backlinks boosting your authority of the primary site that enhances each individual sub-directory.

Generating the majority of backlinks from locality based blogs or directories will let the search engines know what your page is a specific country or language-tailored and funnel the traffic.

Alternatively, you can also deploy surveys or polls to your customers to know how they are likely to prefer local domains or anything. Like your regular SEO, international SEO is all about optimizing your web pages for search intent, again.

Drop your thoughts about international SEO for multi-location targeted businesses and your experience with it.



international flags -DepositPhotos

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

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