Have you considered taking your company into international markets? Expanding into new markets can be daunting. However, with the right tools you can put yourself into a position of success. From small independent companies to large corporations, international SEO is a tool everyone needs in order to succeed in foreign markets.
What is International SEO?
Let’s start at the beginning. Similar to our regular SEO, international search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website so search engines can identify which countries you wish to reach and in the languages you use for business.
Deciding To Go International?
After taking a good look at your customer/client base and your website analytics, ask yourself these questions:
• Does most of your website traffic come from countries outside where you live?
• Do you offer services in multiple languages?
• Do you operate your business within multiple countries?
If you answered yes to any of the above, international SEO is a tool that would benefit your company. But before you begin your marketing blitz in these new countries, there are a few steps you need to complete first.
Know Your Market
International markets should be treated in a similar fashion as your local niche markets. In both cases, a firm understanding of your new potential markets will help your company succeed in its expansion. The more information you have, the better prepared you will be to handle the differences between your chosen markets.A firm understanding of your new potential markets will help your company succeed in its expansion Click To Tweet
To begin your research, review your site’s current analytics and see how current visitors are finding your site. What keywords are they entering and what search engines are they using. This information will give you a starting off point when you begin your international SEO strategy.
Determine Your Niche
After learning how your current visitors found your site, you need to consider how you will get new visitors. To do this, you need to narrow your focus to your desired target audience.
If you are not personally familiar with the new country or its language, consider hiring a translator or someone from that country to be an adviser. This person can help you optimize your site for the new market.
One way they can assist you is by offering insights into your keyword choices. They can let you know if your chosen keywords fit within that country’s vernacular or if the term is too obscure for the new market.
Implement A Strategy for Optimization
To optimize your site for the new market, you need to understand how that market operates. How people operate in the U.S. may be different from how they operate in Italy, for example. Cultural differences can play an important role in your optimization plan, such as determining which keyword you select.
Once you understand how your market thinks, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to evaluate which keywords will give you the best ROI for your chosen country.
After that, make sure that the content you are providing is relevant to your niche market, indexable and crawlable. These steps will help your site rank in each of your markets.
Domain Structures for International SEO
Now that you know who you want to target, it’s time to set up your website to achieve your desired results. The first step for this process is to set up your international domain architecture.
The research conducted earlier in this process will help you determine how to set up your domain. For international SEO, there are three main structures your domain can take.
1. Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
Have you noticed that some sites end in .com but other sites end in .ca or .uk? These endings are called country codes and are designed to geotarget specific areas. For example, a domain ending in .ca is from Canada and a domain ending in .uk is from the United Kingdom.
This structure is ideal for geolocation, but it is not the cheapest of the three options. This is because this structure dictates that you have a domain for each country you operate within.
If you prefer not to manage multiple domains, you can break your current domain into sub-domains.
Sub-domains are ideal If you offer a specialized service or product, and already have a successful website. A sub-domain allows you to build off of your current site rather than having to start from scratch with a brand new domain. You already have traffic in the first scenario, but you will need to build an audience from scratch in the second scenario.
For the sub-domain structure, the country code goes before the name of the domain. For example, your domain for Mexico might be mx.domain.com
This is the most cost-effective option of the three structures and gives you greater targeting flexibility. This structure option allows you to have separate folders within your main domain for each of the markets targeted.
For example, you can geotarget with a domain like domain.com/uk/ to target people living in the United Kingdom. Alternately, you can target your niche market with a domain like domain.com/French/ to target French language speakers.
Are You Ready To Use International SEO?
If you are ready to expand your company’s global reach, its important to take your time and do it right. By creating a solid foundation of knowledge about your new markets, you can make the best decisions on how to optimize your site and rank high for the local search engines. In doing your homework, you will put your company in the best position to succeed.
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