If you take the time to plan and implement an international SEO strategy carefully, you can avoid potential administrative problems down the road, as well as financial ones. But why does your website need an international setup in the first place? Read on to learn why you should invest in international SEO and the essential considerations to keep in mind when choosing your URL structure.
What is international SEO?
International SEO is a form of website optimization that allows search engines to specify the countries and languages in which pages appear in search results. Simply put, it ensures that your website’s version appears in search results in other markets and countries. From target areas to hreflangs, there are many important considerations to make as part of your strategy. But the primary purpose here is to explore the importance of international URL structure for SEO and the options to consider.
Why is international SEO important?
To understand why your business needs international SEO, you must first understand how search engines like Google crawl, index and present your website to different users. Search engines aim to provide users with the most relevant, useful and trustworthy content. What content users find relevant, useful and trustworthy depends on the language and country they are searching from.
These sites offer products and services at competitive prices. Submitting a website written in another language or offering a product that is not available in the market will degrade the user’s search experience. This is something Google tries to avoid at all costs.
As a result, companies that want to trade in different markets must ensure that their websites are optimized for their audience. To do this, make sure your site is multi-regional (a site that targets users in different countries who speak the same language) or multilingual (a site that offers content in multiple languages).
Just as a website needs local SEO to rank organically for its target keywords, a multi-regional or multilingual website needs an international SEO strategy to perform well. The first step, the subject of this blog post, is choosing the best settings for international websites.
How to develop an international SEO strategy
The first thing to consider before you start optimizing your content is a strong international SEO strategy. It consists of five main steps:
01. Understand your user’s search journey
The Internet is penetrating different parts of the world at different speeds. Some users find sites with particular search terms, but in smaller digital markets, they tend to focus on more general keywords.
The more general the concept, the more difficult it is to understand the user’s intent. For example, a search for a generic term such as dark roast coffee indicates that the user is looking for information about the difference between light and dark roasts, wants to buy coffee beans, or wants to learn about the roasting method. To solve this problem, you can create a keyword map for each new market you target and focus on the specific search goal you want to satisfy.
02. Remedy of market weaknesses
Some markets are more price sensitive, while others are more concerned with service quality and brand reputation. Some people do not trust digital transactions, as evidenced by the popularity of cash on delivery as a payment method.
Investigate new market weaknesses and address them directly. If price is an issue, try to discuss your concerns early in the buying process (this will help increase your chances of staying in the buying process)—address quality issues by featuring warranties, reviews and pricing on your website. Finally, understand and respect your audience’s payment and connection preferences.
03. Know your competitors’ SEO weaknesses
To outperform your competitors, you must first understand them. A gap analysis audit will help you understand what your competitors are good at and where you can gain an advantage. For example, many brands are good at technical SEO but sometimes need to catch up regarding good content and backlink strategy. Knowing what your competitors are bad at will help you know that you are better.
04. Get international connections
Links show Google that you are active in the local market and give your company more credibility in different countries. If you want to rank for competitive keywords, you need links. It’s simple; you need to interpret a campaign and expect results. It would help if you created a tailored digital PR or link-building campaign that works for each specific target group.
Research the media and culture of the target country and tailor PR topics to the local culture. For example, stories about the royal family please the British press, but funny stories about the hobbies and income of the royal family are unpopular and can get you into trouble. If you want to get links internationally, research a (culturally relevant) topic, choose the target audience, and do keyword research on your competitors to understand where you might be making money.