International SEO: the best strategies and practices to conquer the world
Optimising your SEO efforts to reach clients on international level requires a solid strategy. Especially when expanding your business to new markets.
If you’re planning on implementing an international SEO strategy, make sure that you’re aware of the best techniques to apply and the common mistakes to avoid. We’ll tell you all about it, so keep reading!
Define the URL
At first glance, this may not seem like a big decision. But on the contrary, defining the URL can have major consequences for your positioning.
Let’s take a better look at the options you have:
ccTLD (Country Code Top-Level Domain)
Using a domain based on the country you’re going to focus on is the best way to indicate Google what your intentions are. It’s the perfect way to specify in which market you want to position yourself with your website.
A country-specific top-level domain is, for example, yourweb.co.uk, which is specific to the United Kingdom.
However, you should bear in mind that choosing separate domains means that they are completely different websites. Your main website and your other domains will need to have their own independent SEO strategies.
With domains per country, you won’t be able to carry out actions that improve your SEO globally.
Another option is to use subdomains for each country you want to target. This way, the URL would be, for example, es.yourweb.co.uk, fr.yourweb.co.uk, it.yourweb.co.uk, etc.
By using subdomains for your international SEO strategy you’ll have some additional advantages. For example, with the subdomain, you’re also indicating the country you’re aiming at.
Search engines detect each subdomain as a different website. However, the strength of the main domain is transmitted to the subdomain, so your international SEO will benefit from that.
Subdirectories are one of the most frequently chosen options for international SEO. As a result, all international versions of the website are “attached” to the main one. Thus, the URLs would look like yourweb.co.uk/es, yourweb.co.uk/fr, yourweb.co.uk/it, etc.
The major advantage is that SEO actions will be reflected in all subdirectories, as they all belong to the same domain.
Hosting for international SEO
The loading speed of your website also carries an important weight in SEO. Therefore, it’s important that your website loads quickly wherever the user is.
If your website is English and your clientele is national, the website will probably load quickly. But what happens if someone consults your website from the other side of the world?
The web will probably take longer to load because the server is far away. This translates into bad user experience and you can be penalised by search engines for it.
Therefore, if you’ve chosen to have a domain for each country, it’s recommended to get hosting with servers located in the country you’re targeting.
The loading speed of your website carries an important weight in SEO.
However, if you have opted for subdomains or subdirectories, you will not be able to change the hosting by country, since the hosting is the same for all of them.
You can solve this issue with a CDN. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a server located all over the world where a static copy of your website is stored.
Depending on the country in which the user is located, a different copy of the website is delivered. This way, the loading speed will be higher and will affect your SEO positioning positively.
The hreflang tag
Hreflang tags are designed to give search engines information about which page to show the user, depending on their location or language.
These tags are used to tell Google, for instance, that you have two web versions in the same language: one in English for the US and another one for the UK.
The tag is also used to indicate which web version corresponds to which language. This comes in handy when a website is available in several languages.
However, if the tags aren’t implemented correctly it can cause quite some issues. Incorrect country codes or language tags can cause the wrong pages to be loaded and could negatively affect your SEO.
The most important thing is to control possible mistakes in order to solve them as soon as possible. Tools such as SEMRush incorporate several options to audit your website and inform you of possible bugs and solutions.
Google Search Console is one of the most popular tools to measure the SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position) of your website. It allows you to analyse the indexing status of your website and allows you to optimise its visibility.
Furthermore, it enables you to let new pages get indexed by Google. And you’ll receive warnings if it detects errors in the implementation of hreflang tags.
Search Console is a free tool that you should use regularly to monitor and manage the SEO of your website.
Keyword research for international SEO
Conducting comprehensive keyword research is essential for your international SEO strategy. When it comes to looking for specific search terms in other languages, you’ll find out it’s not always that easy. Some keywords can be translated literally, while others can take a lot of time to figure out what the right term is.
A keyword can have 600 monthly searches in one country, while it has none in another one. It might be possible that people are using different words to describe a certain term, which means they tend to use other keywords in search engines too.
This problem can easily be solved by asking or hiring someone native to translate the keywords. This way you make sure you are using the right words to refer to a term.
It’s important to make sure that your keywords are the same as native speakers would use to refer to a specific term.
Another possibility is that the terms you want to position don’t have enough monthly searches. In that case, it may not have enough potential. This problem can be solved with an in-depth market analysis prior to the development of the project.
However, if you are going to translate contents and you want them to be relevant for your clients, never translate your content automatically. It will give a poor professional image and native speakers will immediately detect grammatical errors.
Get started with your international SEO strategy
There are many aspects to take into account when carrying out an international SEO strategy correctly. In order to increase your chances of achieving your goals, it’s best to rely on an SEO agency.
By surrounding yourself with international SEO experts, you won’t have to worry about your web positioning in different markets. Don’t leave this important aspect in inexperienced hands and opt for quality.
Are you looking for international SEO experts? Tell us what you need and we’ll connect you with the best professionals to help you out!