Congratulations, your business is finally ready to go global!
But taking your business to new markets means that you need to think carefully about how to establish your presence in different countries. There's a lot more to it than Google translate.
This month we asked the experts for their best tips for international SEO.
Go native. Whenever possible, register and host a domain for each of the countries in which you do business (i.e. .cn for China or .mx for Mexico). Google and other search engines will take you more seriously if you appear to have a dedicated presence in each country, vs. localized content in a native country language on a primary domain.
Kent Lewis, Anvil Media
International SEO can be a complex topic. Technical and on-page SEO i.e. how your structure your website are the keys to succeeding with international SEO.
For an existing website I would recommend using sub-directories which involves using country or language specific directory i.e. https://www.yoursite.com/sp. I recommend this link building structure as you're preserving your existing domain authority compared with other strategies like using sub-domains or new country-coded top-level domains (ccTLDs) which will negate your existing "domain authority".
You can then leverage your existing link profile to help you rank well for new international markets you're entering. Whilst you want to have the same "relevancy signals" of using ccTLDs or sub-domains the benefits of consolidating your existing domain authority outweigh these slight drawbacks.
Jenny Smith, Move To New Zealand
"Don't rely on Hreflang! Cannibalisation is a killer for international SEO, specifically when you serve multiple markets who use the same base language (eg UK English and US English). Google can often serve the wrong website to the searcher, which results in bad SEO and poor UX. Mitigate this via ensuring the copy is as unique as possible between the sites, and also implement a geo-redirect (taking the user to the equivalent page, not just the homepage!) to retain the users' journey."
Andrew Allen, Hike
"Invest your time in research before investing in SEO. If you plan to target international markets, make sure you are aware that SEO requirements vary across the world, for example, Russia's search engine Yandex requires an SEO strategy unlike Google's or Baidu's.
When targeting international markets, it's important to not only understand what users are searching for but also how. In the same manner that you would learn about your customers' buying culture if you were opening a physical store in another country, you would do the same in the case of online targeting.
You need to understand the market, the buyers' culture, shopping habits, and expectations, which vary from country to country. This implies thorough research and planning but it's usually the smallest things that are overlooked, such as the difference in time zone."
Borislav Ivanov, Best Response Media
Optimizing a page load time for various locations that you target. Apart from using a basic Google's PageSpeed Insight Tool that does not allow you to monitor various locations, such tools as Pingdom and WebPageTest seem to do the job. Using those you can check and optimize the page load speed but also detect and deal with the performance issues. make sure you check those for both desktop and mobile version for each location.
One of the ways to increase the page load speed instantly? Moving the web page images from your domain to your Content Delivery Network. Works like a miracle.
Agata Gruszka, Zety
Luckily, SEO is easily applied across every continent - you just need to know what you're targeting. This is the hardest and most important part of international SEO.
If we're trying to sell enterprise software to a client in Asia, they'll be searching for (and want to know) different things to a client in the US. A great example of this is GDPR compliance; clients in the US almost certainly don't mind whether we comply or not, but clients in the EU have to know that we do comply.
To understand our regional variances I use a combination of Moz's keyword explorer (and it's region settings) and answerthepublic.com (also with region settings). answerthepublic.com will let you know what that region wants to know about your seed topic, and then if you export that list to Moz you can find out which search terms are most easy to rank for and which have the largest search volume.
Alex Vale, Fundstack
Tailor your website content and design to your new market.
If you want to make the most of your international SEO plan, you need to immerse yourself in the culture. Cultural differences across countries may affect not just your content or keywords, but your website as a whole.. You should make your site content and design culturally appropriate for your target audience to provide them with a better experience. You will need to create new content and redo your on-page SEO optimization to rank for new localized keywords.
By using the local language, currency, and time zone together with the properly formatted contact information like addresses and phone numbers, you will show users and search engines that they're in the right spot.
On the design side, you should research targeted countries to understand how they perceive different colors and designs because different regions look at things like color, layout in very different ways. Your design may work in one country but other countries may not find it appealing.
Illia Termeno, Extrabrains