In today’s accelerating online marketplace, search engine optimization is key to establishing a distinct presence. International SEO is a topic that has emerged with greater frequency as companies look to broaden their consumer demographic by appealing to international audiences. By expanding outside the domestic realm, websites can widen their audience and spike sales.
While domestic and international SEO maintain similarities, the latter involves additional layers of complexity for optimizing content. When carried out successfully, international SEO has the potential to give your website a boost and your content pages serious sticking power. Below we list the top 6 tips for making the most of international SEO.
1. LOCALIZE YOUR CONTENT
The cornerstone of international SEO is tailoring content to a regional audience. This involves much more than simply translating copy into the local language. In order for international SEO to be effective, all content must be “localized” using common words and phrases native to that place. Failure to localize usually results in an underwhelming performance on search engines and a lack of respect from local consumers.
Even if the body copy of a page has been translated into the local language, it will appear unprofessional unless everything else on the page is localized as well. Content written by native translators allows for the most accurate representation of localized content.
A sure-fire way to localize your website is to register its domain under a specific country. Simply through geolocation, the content will automatically be dispersed to search engines in that region.
2. USE NATIVE TRANSLATORS
To make sure your content is in-keeping with what your target audience expects, work with native translators who have an inherent knowledge of regional syntax. Websites trying to expand their audiences but cut corners using online machine translations or non-native speakers often fall flat. So many factors come into play regarding SEO, and an ineffective translation can turn the ordeal into a marketing nightmare.
3. TRANSLATE RELEVANT KEYWORDS
One of the most important international SEO practices is keywording. Assigning the proper keywords is essential to buffing up any webpage’s potential of landing at the top of the first page of Google or other major search engines. When translating keywords from the original language to the local language, geographical and cultural context must always be considered.
Many words have multiple connotations from culture to culture and sustain different levels of relevance depending on the location. Furthermore, some countries use colloquial phrases that others don’t which can seriously diminish international SEO potential when translated word for word. Therefore, when assigning new keywords, localize the words and phrases to appeal to the values and knowledge of a specific target group.
It is paramount to work with translators native to the location in question.
To elaborate, even countries that use the same language still suffer from the pitfalls of content which has not been localized. For instance, an American brand advertising potato chips will inevitably use keywords that conjure up different meanings in the UK.
4. TARGETING SPECIFIC SEARCH ENGINES
While Google is the obvious reigning search engine throughout much of the Western world, some nations prefer other modes. In fact, Asia’s top pick is Baidu, a search engine increasingly co-opted by businesses looking to tap into the Asian market using international SEO.
Local domains and country-specific hosting allows content to be picked up by regional search engines with greater ease, but don’t necessarily disseminate it in the same format as Google or Bing. Recognizing which search engine your target audience uses the most is a formative step in maximizing your website’s international SEO potential.
5. ESTABLISH WELL WRITTEN ORIGINAL CONTENT
For an eventual translation to be effective, the original content must be strong on its own. In addition to meeting certain baseline word count requirements, the web copy must be completely original, well-researched and maximized for domestic SEO potential. This includes assigning the right keywords, optimizing share-ability and more. There is no substitute for unique, compelling content which can be applied seamlessly to other markets.
6. BUILD LINK PROFILES
Google’s algorithm is partly based on a system where high-quality link profiles push websites to the top of the first page. With a formula based partly on quantity but mostly on credibility, link building almost guarantees a stronger international SEO presence. Even if you have built up your business’s original language link profile, you will have to start fresh to gain traction in new territories. Once links from local websites begin to mount, the more your website will be able to compete in local markets.
Link building is certainly not an exact science, which is exactly why search engines encourage it. Over the years, there have been hundreds of articles written on how to organically accrue links, from the classic “content is king” approach to excessive keywording. Ultimately, high quality, localized content will have more staying power on search engines than a copy that has simply been translated from one language to another.