International SEO is no longer just a market for leading global brands, internet connectivity means even smaller brands can reach out to appropriate audiences overseas. There are plenty of opportunities for businesses to expand their offering be it products or services and engage in global or international SEO.
Global reach and industry interest
First, you need to identify the location of your potential audience, you could be selling bespoke Christmas decorations or be in charge of marketing for a large pharmaceutical brand, you still need to establish the global and local markets and if it is worth trying to compete.
You can use Google’s own global market finder tool to find out which of your industry keywords are doing well in local markets.
You can then select the markets that have the highest potential for your industry based on traffic for these keywords. As a quick example I have used Photography props and photography backdrops as a potential product a UK business could export, I have limited this to Europe, for now, to see which markets are worth potentially reaching out to.
As you can see Italy and Spain have a larger potential, it is worth evaluating the approximate reach of the competition. Once you have decided on which countries/local markets you want to investigate further you can expand your keyword research and look at the competition in detail, what keywords are they using, how are they utilising these keywords?
You can use tools such as SEMRush to validate your research and look at the traffic the main competitors are getting. Have a look to see how your site is doing in these areas anyway even if you have not previously targeted the country.
It is very important to use native language for keyword research, never rely on automated translation services if you are going to expand into a region you should use a native speaker or translator not only to write your content but also to help with your initial keyword research.
Website set up for different languages and audiences
Ideally, you should set up different sub domains or sub directories on your website, for example:
These sections of your website will then be set up through Google webmaster tools to target the preferred region – in the above example France, you would also target the language through hreflang.
You can indicate international targeting with meta and html lang tags, then on each page put in hreflang annotations, there are a few ways of implementing this but we prefer to put this in thetag.
As search engine robots come from different IP addresses you should not put in automatic redirects based on IP or browser language as this could stop search engines from crawling these pages. This can also cause usability issues in countries with multinationals or people who genuinely want a particular country website. You can do what sites like Amazon do and suggest an appropriate version based on location rather than forcing them onto another site.
Search Marketing – Not Just About Google
Search marketing in 2017 isn’t just about Google, although Google makes up the biggest proportion of traffic other sites have search engines and ways to target your audience. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube are another way to reach out to your audience and get exposure much earlier on in the buying cycle. A small seller with a unique product can gain international exposure through sites like Etsy, or Amazon, all have search functionalities and an already established audience and presence.
Identifying local sites and referrers
Identifying the particular websites you can gain an audience in local markets will give you a great start for promotion or partnerships, collaborating with local influencers can help you gain immediate followers or sales and also help you identify which sites you should be utilising. Can you reach out to any niche, local, or authorative websites?
Content for International SEO
As mentioned before using native language in your content is essential, however, you should also look at semantic searches, what solutions you can give your audience when they ask a question, what does your ideal customer ‘also search for’, look at similar pages in the search engines for your keywords.
Your content should be relevant on a local level – don’t try to link bait based on what you think is big news, it may only be big news based in the UK, look at what is interesting to the local market yet still be relevant to you. Target your key demographic, personify a number of ‘ideal customers’ in each local market and tailor your content to them.
Look at how people in your local market engage with content, do they share publicly? Do they share at all? Do they prefer to watch a video than reading an in-depth article, base your content on what they want? Is seasonality a factor to look at? Should you be using popular content platforms or social media? As always measure and analyse based on performance KPI’s.