Posted: Thu 16th Jun 2022
Most website owners will understand the importance of ranking well organically on Google for traffic and customer generation. But what about if your target audience doesn’t just live in one country?
International SEO is a specialised digital marketing strategy that aims to ensure that your customers, wherever they are in the world, can find your website.
But where do you begin, and what are some key considerations?
Different country, same language
If your international audiences speak the same language as your core, ‘home’ market, then things are a little simpler - mainly as you don’t have to worry about translations! But there are still a couple of core considerations to think about.
First, is your domain the right domain to target international territories? If you have a localised domain, such as a .co.uk, you’re signifying to search engines that’s where you’re most focused on ranking.
If you have a .co.uk and want to rank both here and also in the US, you will find it more of a struggle. The best solution is to opt for a .com domain address which will more easily enable you to rank in different countries with the same website.
Lastly, think about your backlink portfolio. If 99% of your backlinks are from UK-based websites, you should rank well in the UK, but will struggle with international rankings.
Embarking on a link building campaign from country-relevant domains would be beneficial if this is the case.
Different countries, a few languages
Slightly trickier is if you want to target numerous countries which predominantly speak in their own native tongue. That is, they’re using Google in a non-English language!
To rank well in these countries, you will need to offer up a translated version of your website, alongside those translations being indexable by search engines. This is key as it will ensure that your translated pages can actually show in search results.
One of the simpler options to tackle this is to launch different versions of your website. A great example of this is GORR translation company, who have a core .com website to cater for broader international markets, but also specific German, Czech and Slovenian websites to attract their three core markets.
This approach can take a little time to set up, but if you’re using WordPress there are plugins available that mean you can build your website once on one domain, and then re-share it to other domains with translated copy.
Different countries, multiple languages
Finally, and the biggest multilingual SEO challenge out there, is if you want to rank in numerous countries for multiple languages…all from the same website.
What we need to remember here is that we need all the translated pages to be standalone URLs in their own right, thus ensuring they can be indexed by search engines. A great example of how to do this is Go Exporting, who use a WordPress plugin called Gtranslate.
This plugin automatically translates all your web pages and then publishes translated versions onto a fresh URL that can be indexed.
This approach means you can technically show your one website in as many languages as you like, with a little flag selector drop-down for users to select the language they’d like to view your website in.
For both of the previous two approaches though, you still need to consider your backlink profile. Offering all language variations or localised websites possible won’t mean you’ll automatically start to rank in the target countries you care about.
You still need to ensure that you have some links from .de websites for your German pages/website, or .sl sites for your Slovenian pages too!
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