Fundamentals of international SEO: How to do it properly


Of all the different user procurement channels available to today’s businesses – organic search still widely remains as one of the most attractive.

As Google and other search engines are continuously changing and evolving the browsing and search experience, online brands are being kept on their toes to find new and improved ways to maintain their visibility over the internet.

So let us discuss the fundamentals of how a brand can increase and improve its international search engine presence and some practical tips to make it possible.

Identify True International Opportunity

One of the biggest mistakes related to international SEO enterprises is failing to understand product or service demand in a number of different countries (or among the target audiences). For example, one thing might interest the people of United Kingdom, but not much in Denmark.

Online businesses and brands can gain a better understanding of the existing search volume in specific countries and markets for their products or services by using different tools such as Google’s own Global Market Finder or Google Analytics or Keyword everywhere, which lets SEOs compare opportunities from different locations and which international market provides more opportunities for your business and the volume of certain keywords in a given location.

Your current international organic search status

The first step you must take to identify your current international organic search visibility, traffic, and conversion rate by finding the answers of the following questions:

  • Which other countries and languages are already providing organic traffic and organic online exposure for your specific product and business overall?
  • What’s the search volume and trend for a certain product or service over a period of time of the organic traffic and online exposure from each country and language?
  • Which keywords have the most volume and organic traffic for a certain country and your top international markets?
  • What is the organic CTR from each of the country where you have the largest market?
  • How the conversion volume and trends coming from different markets differ to each other.

Tools such as Google Analytics will help you in answering these geo-specific questions related to your market.

Your international organic search potential

Moving on you now have to find the potential in each of the international markets you want to target (the markets you identified in the previous steps).

Keyword research will help to determine this potential by collecting data which is mentioned below:

  1. Relevant keywords and phrases used as search queries by your international target audiences to search for businesses, products, and services related to your niche
  2. The organic search volume for the searched keywords from per country
  3. What is the level of competition of every keyword per country
  4. Where your website ranks on these keywords per country

Engage in Appropriate “Market” Targeting


Once you are confident that a genuine opportunity exists (where you are absolutely sure about the organic traffic and conversion coming from certain countries and languages will offset the cost of creating another web presence), it is essential to conclude whether it is ideal to

1) Target a certain global audience speaking a certain language (irrespective of location) or to

2) Target a certain global audience speaking a certain language in a certain location.

There’s a vast difference between the two (e.g. the Spanish speaking in Argentina may have different digital expectations and experience than speakers of the same language in Mexico).

Let’s take a closer look at which is most suitable for different business scenarios.

Language targeting is more suitable when the location of a certain market isn’t necessarily important, or when it doesn’t carry relevancy when it comes to the goals of online business and website. Like if your website traffic is from different regions where the same language is spoken, it would be a complete waste to make a website for all these different regions. But, a section for that certain language will be more beneficial.

Targeting a location, on the other hand, is only necessary when the language factor is not so important but a certain region. If there is enough geo-specific search traffic then building a website version targeting a specific country, region or location would prove to be the right option. If there is interest in creating an impression in new markets, but budgets for translation remains limited, targeting those countries and location that use the same language as used by your enterprise then it is the ideal method as it permits the enterprise to boost their international initiative.

There are still a lot of things to be considered.

Consider Website Structure and Code


Deciding your market in a country or a language is all about what languages are spoken in a certain region and also what are the business goals of an organization.

However, there are certain technical issues that need to be looked over needs addressing

When there is talk about international SEO, website structure plays an important role. In some expert’s eye there is importance associated with choosing a site structure (directories, subdomains or ccTLDs – which are already targeted on the basis of location in the eyes of Google – that are focused on a location/region and language) based on your market in a targeted demographic. For others, it’s not something very important and does not hold much significance as they know that search engines are not much inclined to put importance on the terminology used within naming conventions. All you can do is create an organized online website that is crawled and indexed by the search engines.

The ideal way to tell search engines that a website is meant for a specific country is to designate the location to be targeted to the search engines directly. Google and other search engines all offer this option within their respective webmaster and search consoles, this allows SEO experts to tell the search engine which specific region they are going to target and which country and location the content is about.

To actually achieve that you have to get into the coding of the website to make the site-specific to a certain location or language.

The code-based tactic is utilized to indicate to the search engines that pages may have considerably similar content with minor differences that are important such as pricing and shipping details.

In order to truly internationalize the SEO of any website and its online presence, it is important to localize the content that means everything, like images, shipping details, contact details, pricing, and navigation.

It is also imperative that the performance of the site is measured regularly for every location in order to identify any weakness on that part or the market is not healthy enough to invest your money and time in it.

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