International SEO is complex and time-consuming. Implementing best practices across the board is the surefire way to avoid embarrassing international SEO mistakes and to boost revenue by effectively marketing to a global audience. On the other hand, taking shortcuts can undercut your entire effort. We've outlined some common pitfalls and international SEO issues and mistakes below.
International SEO Issue #1: Failing to Consider Local Laws
It's important to keep regional laws in mind when targeting and marketing to different countries. Different regions have different laws on how particular products can be marketed and what type of language can be used. For example, certain countries may have more hardline rules on positioning a product as the "best". Be sure you know what you can and cannot say when marketing in certain countries as well as the consequences for breaching those laws.
Additionally, you need to keep in mind technical laws regarding server location, international privacy laws, and data protection. It can be beneficial to consult a marketing or legal expert that has familiarity with your target countries.
International SEO Issue #2: Treating Google as the Be-All and End-All
In the US, Google is hailed as king and most companies choose to optimize according to Google's documented preferences. This is not necessarily applicable when looking at international SEO. Different countries have different search engines (e.g. Yandex owns 55% of Russia's search engine market share) and those search engines may have different ranking algorithms.
While optimizing for Google and Bing may be good enough for a good chunk of the globe, you'll want to double check on search engine considerations for your target countries. China, Japan, and South Korea each have search engines that compete with Google, and each have different strategies to rank. You will need to understand how different search engines operate to be successful in certain countries.
International SEO Issue #3: Relying on Translation Alone
As previously stated, relying on automated translation is the quickest way to failure when it comes to international SEO. Even some paid translation services are simply not intricate enough to nail the nuances of certain languages and foreign markets.
But even perfect translation falls short. Different people in different regions will have their own quirks. Your content should be tailored to the marketing and advertising preferences of that target locale in order to be as impactful as its English counterpart.
In short, localize the idea, not just the wording. This may mean you end up with totally different foreign content than what you started out with in English, and that's ok. Hone in on what each audience wants and needs and deliver in a way that aligns with your overall SEO and keyword strategy.
International SEO Issue #4: Inconsistent Site Architecture
A major technical no-no is inconsistent ccTLD/subdomain/subfolder usage. We see this most often with large transnational organizations that have multiple offices across the globe with different management across each region. One country may be using a subdomain while another may be using a ccTLD while yet another uses a subfolder.
Getting each country and region on the same page is a daunting task, but the alternative is a fractured UX and bumpy brand experience for the company. The best bet is to choose one strategy and roll that out to each country to provide a more seamless UX for international users.
International SEO can get complicated. Having a plan and adhering to best practices can eliminate costly mistakes. For more information about optimizing International SEO, download the ebook. [LINK]