Have you incorporated international search engine optimization in your marketing and branding campaigns? You need to because success on the international scene will require employing more than basic SEO strategies to reach the global audience. There are already thousands of companies competing for customers around the globe which makes it more important than ever to ensure your website and landing pages are visible to the international audience.
International SEO cannot be brushed off easily. This is because the global internet population is growing at a rapid pace. Last I checked there were more than 4 billion internet users across the globe, which is around 53% of the entire world population. If you want your brand to establish a global digital footprint, then optimizing your web pages for international SEO is a must.
Characteristics of International SEO
International SEO includes pretty much the same strategies you employ to make your website rank higher in search engine results but for a larger global audience. The big difference between the two is that International SEO goes a step further to make search engines understand that you are targeting particular markets using language-specific, regional, and country content.
International SEO follows the same trends as traditional SEO but with more focus on the adoption of mobile-first approaches, translation, and understanding search behaviour in other regions. If you can incorporate local insights from foreign regions into your global campaigns and shape your approach to suit technical, cultural, and linguistic attributes of every new territory you target, you’ll reap the benefits of the highly profitable global market.
Different Regions Different Search Engines
One of the most challenging aspects of international SEO is the fact that there are different dominant search engines in different parts of the world. Google is not the only king globally. You’ll need to first understand where and how customers are searching for content across the world so you can optimize for the dominant search engine in each region.
To drive this point home, let’s look at some of the search engine giants in a few global regions.
In North America, Google reigns supreme. When we think of search the first name that comes to mind is none other than Google. We cannot be blamed because statistics show that 70% of searches in the US are done on Google. The picture is however quite different outside the US, where Google accounts for less than 50 percent of all searches.
For instance, in China, Baidu accounts for 70% of all searches, in Russia Yandex has the biggest share with 60% of searches, and in Korea, Naver dominates with 70% of the search market. Keep in mind that even in places where Google is the major search engine, the results you get are not the same as say in the US. The results you get for the same keyword in Google US will not be the same as those given by Google in Germany. This is where international SEO comes in to ensure that your site is optimized for global search engines through translation and country-specific TLDs.
The Challenge of Accurate Translation
When you hear the phrase international SEO being bandied around, the first thing that probably comes to mind is how you can overcome the language barrier using an online translation tool. Well, this is not usually the case. Online translation tools won’t cut it in international SEO.
First, online translation tools are never accurate and will only deliver colloquial content that will be shunned by your audience. Incomprehensible content not only harms your search engine rankings but portrays your brand in very bad light.
Secondly, the direct word-for-word translation provided by online translation services for the most searched terms in a foreign language is not always accurate. People search for content in their local dialects which could be very different from the directly translated phrase. It is therefore important to localize content based on the location’s search trends and consumer insights. This is how you’ll rank for relevant and appropriate queries and engage with your audience.
The URL Structure in International SEO
There are 3 URL options recommended by Google for international SEO:
- A ccTLD or country code top-level domain name related to a specific country such as .au for Australia and .sg for Singapore.
- A generic TLD that’s not specific to any country such as .com or .org
- A generic TLD with a specific country or language subdirectory such as .com/uk or .com/en.
When you think about international SEO you’ll need to consider if you are building multi-regional sites, multi-lingual sites, or both. Keep in mind that it’s more than basic SEO strategies and translation. It extends beyond the typical SEO metrics you are used to. To build a global footprint using international SEO, work with a reputable SEO agency with experience in international optimization.