If your small business is growing and you decided it is time to spread your influence internationally, there are a few things that you might need to do differently than you have so far. As you probably know, SEO, or search engine optimization, serves for optimizing websites so that they rank higher, while an international SEO will help you come up with the right concoction of elements based on the language and country you are targeting. With that in mind, here are 4 ways to leverage on international SEO.
Choose an optimal domain structure
One of the crucial elements you would have to consider is the domain you will use to publish your internationalized content. When it comes to this question, you have several choices. To illustrate it better here’s an example: you have a US version of the site that goes businesswebsite.com, and you plan to expand to the UK. In that case, you can go with businesswebsite.uk (a country code domain), uk.businesswebsite.com (a subdomain) or a businesswebsite.com/uk (a subdirectory).
To give a clear sign to Google which country you are targeting, using the country code domain is recommendable in case you are certain regarding your growth opportunities in that country, in this case, the UK, or otherwise, it would not be financially practical. If you are on a budget, then you are better with one of the other two options. As for the choice between a subdomain and subdirectory, domain authority plays an important role since the idea is for Google to see your website as a trustworthy source. This means that if you want to leverage on the domain authority you built for .com domain, you are better off with a subdirectory.
Make your website multilingual
If your goal is to become more noticeable in a foreign market, then a multilingual website might be a solution for you. Although your Russian customers might know English well, in order for them to have a smooth user experience while browsing your website, it’s better for them to have an option to choose their native language. This is not only for the sake of making sure they understand everything regarding products’ descriptions, delivery deadlines, payment options and such but they would also feel more appreciated if they see that you added their language as an option.
Naturally, in order for this to make sense from the economic point of view and to have an effect on your ranking, you would first have to make sure that you have a substantial number of website visitors from a particular language area so that you know that adding their language as an option makes sense. Also, what is really important is to hire professional translators to ensure that everything is properly translated or otherwise you risk many misunderstandings and potential loss of customers. So, a multilingual website will bring greater trust to your brand, boost conversion rates, and decrease bounce rates.
Research international search engines
Although we sometimes forget, Google Search is not the only search engine in existence and in some countries, it is not even used. For instance, if the Chinese market is your next target, you would need a different approach since you won’t be optimizing your website for Google but for Baidu or, as the digital magazine Week in China believes, Bytedance, Baidu’s main competition, is preparing something else. Also, in some cases you need to be careful about what you post since even innocent jokes on the topic of the Chinese government will not be accepted with enthusiasm.
In general, it is vital you research popular search engines and predict industry trends if you wish your website to have a high rank in the countries where your brand is present. It is all about customizing your website, approach, and marketing to suit the needs of your foreign target audience who you first need to meet to know the do’s and don’ts. If you don’t perform these preparations, all scenarios are possible, from mildly displeasing your audience to offending the authorities in that state which is something that you don’t wish to do.
Incorporate hreflang tags
When a user searches for a piece of information in their native language, let’s say, German, for Google to show them results in German and not English, it is useful to add hreflang tags to the code. These tags help search engines boost your ranking position since you are sending a clear signal about the language of your website which in general significantly improves user experience.
These tags are useful both in cases when you have the same content in different languages and different content in the same language (i.e. English is used in both the US and Great Britain, but the currency is different). Just to illustrate this usage, hreflang=”en-us” signifies English for US users, while hreflang=”en-gb” signifies English for Great Britain. Hreflang tags can be added to the HMTL link element in the header, HTTP header or sitemap so it is up to you to choose the location.
As concluded, if you plan on an online global expansion of your small business, international SEO is a vital piece of the puzzle. By proactively considering these 4 tips, you will ensure superb user experience and a high-ranking position on a global scale.
Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. As a regular contributor at BizzmarkBlog, he enjoys writing and providing insight of the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.