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An international SEO strategy for your business

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Companies wanting to implement search engine optimization have two major options – they can focus on the local market and opt for local SEO efforts, or they can go far and wide, include different languages, and pursue a comprehensive global SEO strategy. In this article, we are going to concentrate on the latter scenario. We will also show you what the differences between local SEO and global SEO are.

In general, global SEO is primarily for large international companies that require a tailor-made international SEO approach. If you run a small, local business, local SEO is probably all that you need to succeed. However, if you operate in different countries and communicate with your target audience using different languages, then you should think about creating a strong international SEO strategy. But before we switch to that, let’s talk about the similarities between local and global SEO.

Local and global SEO – similarities

For starters, we have to emphasize that both these strategies have a lot in common. Both of them are all about increasing your visibility in Google and other search engines. In both cases, you need SEO tools like Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner to streamline your efforts. And in both approaches, you need to improve your domain authority to attract more organic traffic.

Both local and global SEO is about implementing three of the most popular and effective SEO strategies:

  • link building (linking to other website pages with high domain authority),
  • content marketing (especially creating and promoting content),
  • website and code optimization (that’s why you need regular site audits).

Of course, both local and global SEO is based on relevant keywords, so you’ll need keyword research tools to find out which keywords and key phrases are critical in your business and niche. Usually, such an analysis is conducted in the very first stage of implementing an SEO strategy.

OPTIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE

Here’s the second significant similarity. Google requirements for both local and international sites are pretty much the same. That relates to the loading speed, fully-functional mobile version, and optimized code with a clear category structure. That part of your SEO strategy has to be done no matter what your target region is.

DIFFERENT SEARCH ENGINES

Undoubtedly, when it comes to SEO strategy, the vast majority of your efforts will be focused on Google. After all, that’s the most popular search engine ever. But ideally, you should try to get good search results in other search engines as well. Here, we talk primarily about Yahoo! and Bing. And there’s also YouTube, a search engine that can boost your visibility on Google as well! Both Yahoo! and Bing can show search results for a specific country and include local links in their SERPs.

LINK BUILDING

An international SEO strategy requires gathering high-quality backlinks leading to your website. Ideally, these links should come from trusted domains with high authority. In local SEO, it works exactly the same. The more links lead to your website, the better. Of course, never put quantity over quality. It’s better to have two high-quality links than ten low-value ones.

As you can see, both strategies are similar, at least to some extent. The differences between them become apparent on the “production level”. We’ll get to that shortly.

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What do you need to know about international SEO efforts?

International SEO/global SEO is mainly about the scale and languages. Although techniques don’t change that much, here you’re not limited to a particular country. Let’s see what the specifics are when it comes to global SEO.

LANGUAGE TARGETING

With global SEO, you need to get to international visitors, and usually, they don’t speak the same language. As a result, you need a website that’s available in more than one language. Of course, it all depends on the local markets that you want to target, but international companies usually opt for the following languages:

  • Spanish,
  • French,
  • Italian,
  • Mandarin,
  • Arabic.

If your website is already available in English, that’s a good start. English-speaking countries constitute a massive target audience of over 465 million people. On the other hand, local companies have an easier task because they are usually focused on just one local language.

CONTENT NEEDS

Creating relevant content is always beneficial, both in local and global SEO. When it comes to international SEO efforts, your content needs are far more extensive. Let’s talk about that for a few moments.

For starters, you need to create content intended for different search engines and specific countries, even if you offer the same services worldwide. As a result, you have to be prepared to create a lot of new texts, blog posts, articles, and press releases. There are a few reasons for that:

  1. Customers in different countries can ask different questions.
  2. There can be some differences in your services in a specific market.
  3. Almost everything you publish will have to be translated into other languages (of course, there are some exceptions, but in general, that’s how it should work).

COMPETITION

Local companies compete with others operating in the same neighborhood, e.g., a city or a region. When it comes to the international SEO strategy, it’s far more complicated because you compete with organizations from all over the world. As a result, you have to tailor your SEO strategy toward the needs of all these markets. That’s because some keywords may be less popular in some countries, and the same keywords may have higher competition in others.

Therefore, in effect, you need several SEO strategies, not just a unified one for the whole world. Copy-paste can work but not always and not in every sector.

OTHER SEARCH ENGINES

Google is your best bet, but this search engine is not always the most popular all over the world. That’s why you have to think about other search engines as well. For example, in China, Baidu gains 65% of that market, while Yandex is popular in Eastern European countries, especially Russia. While there are many similarities between various search engines, it is worth taking a closer look at how to optimize international SEO efforts for Baidu or Yandex, for example, if China or Eastern European countries are a vital part of your global presence. Each search engine has its own analytical tools for tracking keywords locally. It is worth using them to properly optimize your website in terms of SEO for the selected foreign market.

TRANSLATE EVERYTHING

Many people don’t realize that, but your global SEO strategy should comprise more than just translating your website’s content into other languages. All the elements that remain invisible to the users of your website are also important. This means that you should translate:

  • Metadata (alt attributes, meta descriptions, meta titles, tags, etc.);
  • All the titles and headlines;
  • Category and product names;
  • URL structures and links;
  • Additional elements and documents (e.g., privacy policy, terms of use, cookie information, pop-ups, thank-you messages, automatic emails, etc.).

The role of localization

Localization is a service provided by professional LSPs (language service providers). It’s all about tailoring translation to the needs of a particular local market (primarily concerning social and cultural context). Let’s take English-speaking countries as an example. Everyone will agree there are many differences between American, British, and Australian English. Localization considers these differences and makes the final text sound natural to a specific target audience. Texts that have been localized seem like a native speaker had written them, and that’s what you need.

Global SEO strategy: How to choose keywords

Keywords are important to search engines as they allow users to get results that match their search queries. If you want to be visible on Google, you have to master keyword research. In theory, you could just translate your keywords into the target language as if they were a standard part of the text. However, this is not a recommended practice. Keywords are phrases that users actually enter into the search engine, so translating them literally may result in the use of key phrases that are not popular in a given country.

Inappropriately selected keywords will cause the number of searches in the new language to be much lower than it could be with properly done keyword research. Thankfully, many SEO tools offer the option to verify keywords in different languages. That’s, for example, how Ubersuggest works. An effective keyword analysis can be performed in three simple steps:

1. Identify keywords and see how often they appear on the page in the source language.

2. Use an SEO tool like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to find relevant keywords in your target language.

3. Translate the site and replace the original keywords with the equivalent phrases in the target language.

International SEO: Summary

From many perspectives, global SEO is a huge challenge. Many language versions, many search engines, different needs, customers, and competitors. A lot to think about, undoubtedly. But with a well-thought-out global SEO strategy, you will be able to thrive in the international market and adjust all of your activities to the needs of specific target audiences.

Always remember that SEO is a long-term investment. You can’t expect to see the effects overnight, especially in the international environment. It will take some time, but it can surely be done. If you want to succeed, focus on these aspects of your strategy:

  • Conduct keyword analysis for every market and every language. Act accordingly.
  • Translate (and localize!) all the elements of your website, both visible and invisible ones.
  • Implement three useful SEO strategies – link building, content marketing, and website optimization.
  • Measure and adjust your activity when you see the potential to do something better.

We understand that dealing with global SEO on your own is close to impossible. That’s why we’d like to propose our services. At Rank Higher Agency, we help our clients thrive in search engines, both in the local and global contexts. We have offices in Europe and the United States. If you want to see what we can do together, just reach out. We’re always happy to help!

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