Are you expanding your company and going global? That’s great, that means you’ll also now have to build your online presence in your target country.
To do so, you’ll need a localized website. This is what the locals will visit instead of your original website. For that, you’ll also need to do international SEO to also stay on top of the search results in other countries.
If you need tips on how to target international markets with SEO, dive right in.
What is International SEO and Why Is It Different?
International SEO is the process of optimizing your website for improving its organic search presence in the targeted country/countries. With it, search engines can identify your target countries and the languages you’re using.
In many ways, it isn’t different from regular SEO. This is especially true if your business has numerous locations across the country. You’ll only have to make sure you do it in a proper way so that your websites for each country won’t be competing with each one.
Your Spanish website, for example, shouldn’t outrank your French website in France. It shouldn’t even appear in the search results.
Ways to Target International Traffic with SEO
For the reason stated above, you can’t build a new website with the local language and call it a day. The search engine might not index your websites at all or it may create duplicate indexing. Here are the proper ways to geotarget different countries:
1. Choosing the Domain
What changes to your domain are you going to do to target specific countries? Take a look around international sites and you’ll see their methods to geo-target. Some may use a subdirectory, a ccTLD, or a subdomain.
Let’s see how each one differs and how each one can be advantageous for you.
A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) allows you to target a specific country using 2-letter A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) allows you to target a specific country using 2-letter codes. Using this code, users and search engines will be able to determine the target country of the website.
Let’s say you’re using the website ‘www.example.us’ and now you want to Germany using ccTLD. This would lead you to have a website with the domain ‘www.example.de.’
An example of a website using ccTLD is Amazon, which has numerous international versions, including amazon.co.jp, amazon.de, amazon.ca, and so forth.
The advantage of this is that people tend to trust websites with such a URL structure better than those with generic TLD. Some search engines also favor websites with local ccTLD.
If you have a gTLD, using subdomains will allow you to create a different version without adding another level of depth to your website. Websites with subdomains will look like the following: us.example.com or es-es.example.com.
With this method, you don’t change the top-level domain. Instead, you place the content on a separate third-level domain.
This can be advantageous as you isolate the versions of your website from each other. As such, however, search engines will usually see them as different entities. You’ll have to work hard with this one, too, so you can improve its search results rankings.
This method will only add a separate directory within your gTLD. This means it will add complexity to your current web structure. The URL of websites using subdirectories would look like this: ‘www.example.com/us.’
What’s good about this method is that the subdirectories will inherit the popularity of your own website. After all, it resides within your root domain. This is the better option if you don’t have a lot of resources and content.
An example of a website using this method is Skype. It uses skype.com/fr/, skype.com/ja/, or skype.com/en/ to target different countries.
2. Language-Targeting Your Site
Don’t forget to tell the search engines in what languages your website is available to view. You do this by using the hreflang tag for Google or meta tags and HTML attributes for other search engines. The example below would tell Google that your available is also available in Spanish:
It can also indicate which region the content is for; the code above indicates the content is for Spain. If you change it to hreflang=’es-mx,’ Google will know that it’s for Mexico.
It won’t make Google show the Mexican version of your page if it has a low-ranking, though. Make sure a different version doesn’t rank higher by keeping in mind the other tips.
3. Creating Localized Content
Aside from adding a new domain and translating your whole website to another language, you should also create content that is specific for that version. Study first the culture and the current trends in that country.
They may have a different response to your web layout. You would then be better off creating a new one for that country to make that response positive.
You may also have to publish different content and not translate your existing ones. It may not be relevant to where they are, or it may contain humor that doesn’t click with them. Make sure to learn more about the SEO trends in that country.
Make it so that they’re 100% sure they’re in the right place, and this will reduce your bounce rates.
4. Choosing the Hosting Location
This isn’t a necessity and isn’t as important as the other signals when it comes to geotargeting. However, it will still play a huge role in the loading times of your website.
You’re free to stay in your current IP for the different versions of your website. Make sure, though, that the visitors in other countries will still enjoy fast loading speed.
5. Catering to International Search Engines
Google is the most popular search engine, but that’s not the case in other parts of the world. In China, for example, the most popular one is Baidu, holding 70.33% market share. In contrast, Google only holds 2.59% of the market share in that region.
You’ll have to pay more attention to your SEO efforts in this country, as well as in Russia and South Korea.
Choosing the Appropriate Website Design
To target international countries, your website design must cater to their tastes and culture. Contact us today and let’s discuss how you can create a beautiful website for each version.