What is international SEO?
As you probably already know, SEO or search engine optimization is a set of techniques that serve to improve the visibility of a website in the organic results of Internet search engines. This is key, since the results that are closer to the first place in the index of results receive many more visits.
Types of SEO
There are different types of SEO. I present them below.
It would refer to optimize your website to position it locally, that is, in your city. A good example would be a restaurant, let’s say, in Barcelona. It makes sense to have a high position in local search results in Barcelona and surroundings, but not in Seville, Madrid or any other city.
In this case we would be talking about optimizing your website so that it is well positioned in your country. This could be the case of a franchise that is spread all over Spain or an online store that only ships nationally.
International SEO, which we are going to focus on today, is aimed at optimizing your website to attract traffic not only from your city, state or country, but for different countries and languages.
Creating an international SEO strategy is key if you are thinking of internationalizing your company; a process that will help you increase your competitiveness, consolidate your product or brand, grow and achieve economies of scale and, therefore, lower costs.
Creating an international SO Estrategy is key if you are thinking of internationalizing your company; a process that will help you increase your competitiveness, consolidate your product or brand, grow and achieve economies of scale and, therefore, lower costs.
Developing an international SEO strategy step by step
There are certain key aspects that you must take into account if you want to implement an international SEO strategy:
- Study of the audience we want to target.
- Study of the competition.
- Selection of the content you are going to use through a keyword search.
- Adaptation of the content.
- Web structure.
- Google Search Console.
- Hreflang tag.
- Link building.
- Social Networking.
1. Study of the target audience
This step is very important: you must understand well how are the users in the different countries you are interested in. Some points that you must define very well are:
Which search engines they use: although it is true that Google is the search engine par excellence, there are countries in which other search engines have more weight.
What is their level of access to the Internet: it is important to know if they have any limitation of access to the network.
What devices they use to access the Internet: mobile, computer, tablets…
Language: how do they speak, what terms do they use?
2. Study of the competition
It may seem obvious, but it is very important to know your competition at an organic level in the different countries where you want to position yourself. Analyze what content they work with and how they do it to help you in the previous point of knowing the audience of the country in question. This will help you evaluate how you can improve that content to obtain a better positioning.
4. Content adaptation
As we have already mentioned, people in different countries live different realities, which means that they also have different needs or interests, and this is reflected in the topics they consult in search engines. That is why there will be keywords that are highly searched in one country, but little in another.
However, there will be keywords that are popular in more than one country. In these cases it is very important not to automatically translate the content, a mistake that many businesses make and which greatly reduces the quality of the content.
For example, although Spanish is spoken in Spain and Latin America, they do not use the same words and expressions. That is why it is recommended to localize the content, that is, to adapt it to the audience of each country.
5. Web structure
Going more into the technical part, the web structure is a very important point. You are probably asking yourself “Do I have to create a new website for each country? or “Is it better to do it in a subdomain? Well, I will tell you the possibilities you have:
When I talk about different domains I mean creating domain .es, domain.uk, domain.cl, etc. In this case we want separate sites, that is, each domain is indexed independently.
It is true that it is easier to implement, but the website will start with 0 authority in a new country, since the link juice and the authority of the main domain will not be shared. Therefore, this strategy involves multiplying your efforts for each domain you have at SEO level. An example would be TripAdvisor:
Spain → https://www.tripadvisor.es/
United Kingdom → https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/
Chile → https://www.tripadvisor.cl/
In this case you would choose subdomains such as en.domain.com, en.domain.com, cl.domain.com, etc. In this strategy, there would be a main domain and a subdomain for each country, although at SEO level it also means multiplying efforts for each subdomain (it would be an intermediate option between domains and subdirectories). An example would be the WordPress website:
Spain → https://es.wordpress.com/
United Kingdom → https://en-gb.wordpress.org/
Chile → https://cl.wordpress.org/
The subdirectory strategy is based on domain.com/en/, domain.com/uk/, domain.com/cl/. In this case the link juice and the authority of the main domain will be distributed, so when entering a new country we would not start from 0 and we would not have to multiply our efforts at SEO level. However, we also have to comment that this strategy is more difficult to manage and the loading time is slower if we do not do a good job. An example would be Apple:
Spain → https://www.apple.com/es/
United Kingdom → https://www.apple.com/uk/
Chile → https://www.apple.com/cl/
As a conclusion, I recommend you to discard directly the first option. As for the other two, you can choose the one that best suits your needs: if you want to sacrifice a little SEO in exchange for having more capacity for movement and versatility, you can choose subdomains. If, on the other hand, you have the necessary resources and want more SEO, I encourage you to implement a subdirectory strategy.