Ecommerce has opened up a host of new markets and opportunities to businesses that were previously confined to selling in their own local region or geography. Thanks to technological advances, traders can now sell their goods to almost anyone, anywhere and at any time.
Using tried and trusted digital practices for marketing and selling is key to achieving successful online sales. But, more important than that is the development of your brand’s international search engine optimisation (SEO).
What does international SEO mean?
First, let’s start with the definition of SEO. Essentially, it’s the process of making your website or content as visible as possible on search engines such as Google by using keywords that are most commonly searched for.
International SEO takes that one step further by optimising these searches for multiple regions and/or languages. It’s vital that it’s done correctly as the search engines for each area are designed to identify and segregate content based on a range of fixed parameters, thus producing only the most relevant results for each enquiry. That means you need to produce content that is relevant to that particular region or area that can be easily found by search bots.
How can you improve international SEO?
The performance of international SEO is influenced by a range of different factors. Here are some key areas that you need to focus on in order to improve your international SEO:
A good starting point is to identify and understand your target audience. That way, you can determine the interest and demand for your product or service and then tailor your approach to reach that particular market. It requires carrying out a thorough analysis of the market and your local competitors there, as well as territory-specific keyword research.
To build an audience for your business, or product or service, or win new customers, you have to provide them with relevant and valuable content. By working with local writing experts such as content creators and copywriters, you can create a website that meets and is responsive to your audience’s needs. This will also eliminate any spelling mistakes or cultural misunderstandings that can often occur when translating into different languages.
Following on from this, it’s important to be aware that not all search engines recognise the same language targeting tools, which enable you to choose the language of your intended reader. Most popular search engines favour hreflang tags when identifying whether there is a localised version of a site available in another language, but some use meta language tags instead, particularly in the likes of China and South Korea.
Any website that wants to target a particular audience should have SEO embedded within it, whether that’s reaching them by language or region, or both. Many companies rely solely on geotargeting: locale-specific URLs for each version of their website, to connect to their end user. But there are other methods such as subdomains or subdirectories that enable simple strategy tweaks as the business evolves.
Given that customers now expect more than ever before from the company they are dealing with, a top quality user experience is vital. That means investing in and enhancing your interface, site navigation, imagery, speed, trust building and value proposition.
Backlinks are when one website links to another. They let search engines know that your website is an authority on a specific subject. By providing expert content through the use of backlinks, you can quickly establish yourself as a specialist in that particular field and vastly improve your international SEO.
Equally, it’s important to use localised URLs and to optimise images for your target market. That will make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content.
Perhaps most importantly, once everything has been put in position, you need to monitor and analyse how your content is performing. By looking at who is landing on your site, where they’re coming from, how long they are spending there and where they go to afterwards, you can better improve its performance and user experience.
If you’re serious about expanding and reaching new markets, it’s critical to invest in and put an effective international SEO strategy in place. That way, you can sell your product or service to a much wider customer base as you continue to grow your global brand.
Article Contributed by Daniel Wood
Daniel is a highly experienced organic marketer who has been helping businesses improve their SEO strategy for more than 10 years. He is SEO Director at GA Agency, an independent digital agency based in London, specialising in international expansion, with an in-house team delivering SEO & Paid Media in over 15 languages.