Growing your business internationally is a natural step in the life of your company and surely one that keeps you awake at nights. To achieve that goal, using the Internet is often your golden ticket to grow global, but do not rush into it before having defined an international Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Charlotte Prieur, Digital Marketing Consultant and a Beeleever, develops further on this essential problematic that only seasoned marketers take into account…
On Internet, trends come and go very quickly, but one is definitely here to stay. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been receiving a lot of attention these past few years. It can be defined as the optimization of your website’s organic or natural ranking in the results of Search engines such as Google, the most famous and used one. To give you an idea of its importance, Organic traffic represents in average between 30% and 50% of a website’s visits.
You may ask: why is ranking on top of search results so important? Well, 58% of internet users are going to click on the first 3 websites that Google shows them. This simple stat should put ranking on top of your priorities.
Now, you wouldn’t launch on a new market without studying it first, right? Well it is the same with SEO, you need a marketing strategy on that front too. A lot of factors need to be thoroughly studied before jumping into it. Let’s talk about the most significant ones.
Figuring out the Structure that Works for You
Are you going to work on different websites or just use one? It depends! If you are targeting a specific country, you might want to create a specific website. If you are not sure, an English version might be the way to go. You do however have different options:
- Distinct domains, also called ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain): It means that you have to buy a different domain in each country and that you need to start from scratch each time. The perk is that Google automatically recognizes the targeted language and country, which gives you a great base in terms of ranking. People also tend to have more trust in a website that’s localized in their country. However, the downfall is that this method is time and money consuming. If you are only targeting one or two countries, you might want to learn more about this option.
Example: www. yourwebsite. it
- Subdomains: This can be a solution as it only gives you one main domain to work on. It is still localized and remains less expensive than the first option. However, if you want to optimize it to its full potential, you need more technicalities when it comes to the use of linguistic and localization tags like Hreflang and Canonical.
Example: it. yourwebsite. com
- Directories: This option allows you to easily create different versions of the same website. Although, it is the cheapest option, it is rarely advised in terms of SEO due to its poor efficiency.
Example: www. yourwebsite. com/it
Don’t get Lost in Translation
Once again, are you targeting one country or multiple ones? In the first scenario, choosing the local language is strongly advised as it will build up trust in your company, products and/or services. If you are not sure or targeting several countries, working on an English version is usually the way to go.
About the language itself, remember that everything has to be translated and optimized. I really do mean everything. For instance, do not leave out the contact part or things that seem minor to you. In general, search engines aren’t huge fans of having multiple languages on one website, mixing them is thus not recommended for your ranking.
That being said, translating is good… but adapting is better! When it comes to choosing your keywords, you cannot just translate the ones you are currently using in your home country. And if it isn’t for your local customers, do it for Google. If you want it to work its wonders, you have to adapt your content. There are lots of tools like Adwords or Keywords Planner to help you in the choice of your keywords, with localized suggestions.
A little tip: Always keep in mind long tail SEO techniques. They consist in highly specific search terms (more than 2 words), that’s what’s going to make a difference at the end of the day. For example: your company sells cookies, you would be tempted to use « cookies » as a keyword. How about considering one of your products instead and going with « milk chocolate peanuts cookies ».
Entrepreneur, Meet Targeted Country
In order to be successful, you can’t just adapt the language, you have to think about the market, the culture and the use local people have of the internet. All those factors differ from one country to another, even from one region to another. In the U.S., targeting New York is going to be completely different from targeting Wisconsin. And for the language, a French-Canadian website is not going to do so well in France and vice versa.
It is also important to consider search engines. Yes, I have been talking about Google, it is everywhere but it doesn’t mean it is the only search engine. If you are planning on developing in China, you’d better get familiar with Baidu which represents 80% of the market share. Study your market and take into account the specificities of the principal search engines. For instance, and on the contrary to Google, Baidu uses the meta-keywords in its SEO as well as mobile optimization.
No one will ever say this too much: CONTENT IS KEY. It is the one thing that is as true in any country, no matter which search engine is the most used. As websites have become more visual, blogs have started blooming in many of them. Adding new content on a regular basis is one of the essential step in working on your long-term SEO. And, of course, being on social media helps! Not only for your online presence but for your ranking, as you will be using netlinking strategies. And that is as technical as we will get today.
Last word of advice, always keep in mind that creating a SEO strategy takes time and perseverance. For small companies, it is an investment, but it is one you should really consider making. It does not happen overnight but done right, it will be worth your while, no doubt about it. Even with effects that will not be immediate, it is still considered as the most efficient and durable promotion action. And remember, if it gets overwhelming, you can always ask for some help.
For more information and advice don’t hesitate to contact Charlotte Prieur, Digital Marketing, Content, SEO & E-reputation Consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org or by giving her a call at + 33 (0)7 70 28 79 81.