International SEO: how hard can it be?
At first glance, doing SEO for international clients might seem pretty straight forward: carry out routine technical fixes on-site, pop a few key terms into Google translate and watch your site shoot up search results once it’s properly optimised.
However, there are numerous parameters you should take into consideration before going all out with a standard SEO strategy, as simply replicating the same approach to all your markets could prove a costly mistake. Here are some things you should look for to make your global campaign a success..
Assess your target market
While your company may be successful in selling products/services online, it is important to understand how and where those products fit within your target markets. For instance, it may be that the demand for your product is smaller in other countries, which means you should carefully consider how much money you want to invest, or whether you should even launch in that territory at all.
In addition, it’s important to accurately assess how fierce competition is in your new market. Once you’ve worked out who your main rivals are, you should carry out a thorough assessment of how strongly established they are, and how much time and money it would take for you to close the gap down to a profitable position for your site.
In other words, you should find the right balance between entering a saturated market and a non-existent one: the only thing worse than being a small fish in a big pond is being a fish without a pond at all!
Another thing you should look out for is language differences. In a recent post, we touched upon the difficulties in optimising for Yandex, Russia’s number 1 search engines, because of Russia’s use of the Cyrillic alphabet, in which some terms can have up to 20 different endings. Of course this argument’s very much relevant to any language and country you may want your site optimised for. Hence, you should not rely on automatic translation to get a full understanding of your new target market.
Carry out thorough research into what products people search for, as well as what terminology they use to do so. You should particularly careful in how you translate your individual products and services, since they’ll hopefully represent the most important segments of your new site.
Local PR and webmasters
In order to carry out a successful SEO campaign, you need to ensure you have the right connections to boost your site post launch. From PR influencers to webmasters and bloggers, you should ensure you don’t kick off your new site without the adequate support in place to promote it.
Google’s latest algorithm updates have heavily focused on promoting high-quality fresh content, whilst penalising spammy websites and link farms. Having said that, recent polls show that most industry experts and correlation studies still consider links as an important indicator of authority, and hence a key ranking factor.
Finally, you should ensure you have all the right SEO resources to go international. While Google Analytics provides great insights about traffic and conversions in most countries, many recognized industry tools provide services in a limited number of territories. For instance, although SEMrush is a great tool, it ‘only’ offers services in 25 territories. By contrast searchmetrics supplies a much wider range of international options, which could come handy if you plan to go global .
Similarly, you should ensure you have the right personnel or resources to generate high quality content in the most relevant language, whilst understanding the interests and culture of territories you wish to launch in. This will help you create attractive content, which will help your SEO by generating organic links and social shares, while raising awareness of your brand.