International SEO: How to Optimize Your Website for Other Countries

by Kamilla Sterling-Parker

You got to the decision that it’s time to go abroad after fooling about with your metrics and insights? If you’ve noticed that a significant portion of your site visitors are from countries other than your own and/or speak a language other than your own, it may be time to make the next logical step and cater to the requirements of your international visitors.

You may wonder how you should go about doing so.

Starting with international SEO is a good place to start.

What exactly is it, and where do you begin with it?

We’ll answer those questions in detail in this post.

SEO on a global scale


To begin, we need define SEO on an international scale. Essentially, it entails optimising your website so that search engines can recognise the nations you want to target and the languages you want to conduct business in.

It may appear strange at first, but chances are you are already aware with some of the principles underlying it. For example, consider international SEO to be similar to geotargeting, but instead of attempting to attract local visitors, you concentrate on different languages and nations.

To that end, you must first and foremost accomplish three things in order to develop a fully international site that targets a different language and a whole new country.

Country targeting: Use an international-friendly URL structure to specify the target country (or area).
Language targeting: With appropriate language tags, determine the language you want to target with your pages.
Make use of the language: Create and distribute content in the target language.
To begin, these are the essential musts you must complete.

There are times when you just wish to target a single language or a specific country. If this is the case, one or more of these techniques may be necessary. Assume you’re designing T-shirts with Spanish phrases printed on them. You don’t want to focus just on Spain in this situation because you have other Spanish-speaking countries nearby. The same may be said about English.

There are also additional specific signals you may include to your website to let search engines know that the material you’re showing would be of interest to a person in a given language or country.

Creating Basic Content Guidelines


As previously said, you must select whether you want to concentrate on language or geographical targeting (or both).

However, there are several excellent instances of sites dedicated entirely to lagnappe. There’s the main page of Facebook or the website of Air Canada. The first allows everyone to choose their favourite language, but the latter allows them to choose both their nation and language, as well as directing them to a specific URL depending on their choices.

You may, on the other hand, target both language and country, as well as content. Consider eBay. There are numerous markets available on the web, each in a different language and for a different country. Retailers may change their content on a site like this by giving many alternative webpages for users from various countries.

So, when it comes to content, you have the option of just translating your materials into your desired target language or going the extra mile and providing a fully customised experience.

Creating a URL Structure


The structure you build will aid Google and other search engines in determining which pages should be displayed to visitors from various locations. This is essentially a geotargeting requirement, with an emphasis on – you guessed it – location.

When you dig into this further, you’ll notice that many firms either create a totally new website for each targeted area or add a subfolder structure to the one they already have. These techniques primarily focus on saving money, as building totally new sites and maintaining them requires more efforts from the site owner.

Let’s take a quick look at both tactics now.

On the main site, having a subdirectory for each targeted country
Create a folder on the site for each of the nations you want to target with their ISO codes to set up such a subfolder (usually two letters). It would be yourwebsite.com/es in the instance of Spain.

The benefits of this structure are self-evident: it’s simple to set up and maintain, and you won’t have to spend much time doing so. It’s an easy and cost-effective approach to conduct international SEO correctly, and it only requires one website domain. Furthermore, the authority you’ve previously established for it will be applied throughout the whole site.

On the other hand, some experts believe that this approach’s worldwide SEO signal is less than that of a dedicated website.

This might be a wonderful choice if you wish to maintain all communications on one dedicated site while yet going globally. It’s used by big brands like Nike and Apple.

Having a different website for each country


A local country code top-level domain is also known as a ccTLD. In the case of the Spanish example above, your website’s ccTLD would be something like this: yourwebsite.es.

The most significant benefit of this method is that it includes the most powerful nation signal that search engines will quickly identify. It also lends credibility to your brand by implying to your visitors that your company is committed to having an internet presence in that country.

On the other side, maintaining all of these distinct sites can be costly. You’ll also have to start from scratch with each website’s site authority.

As a result, this strategy may be preferable for larger organisations, as it is typically simpler for them to split the resources required for continuous maintenance on a frequent basis. As a result, it’s no surprise that companies like Disney, Sony, and McDonald’s employ this technique.

Hreflang Tags for Language Targeting


These tags are tiny bits of code that are used on websites with multilingual content. Their major function is to assist search engines in determining the most appropriate language for the visitor or searcher.

What causes this to happen? Of course, it begins with the keywords. Google, on the other hand, considers search history, user settings, location, and Google domain.

When it comes to providing translations of your material in subdirectories, these tags come in handy. Even while most search engines will be able to determine the language on the page without the use of hreflang tags, they prevent situations where your different page versions compete for search results.

Furthermore, they aren’t required when utilising ccTLDs because the signal is already provided by the specific country code, despite the fact that some experts recommend them, claiming that they will only strengthen the signal.

Take a look at everything you have in your arsenal.


Apart from technical considerations, there are a number of strategies and tactics you can employ to improve your international SEO, and they are as follows:

Examining the Preferences of Search Engines
Examine the search engines that people use, particularly those in the nations you’re attempting to reach. While Google has the largest share of the pie internationally, other engines reign supreme in particular countries. For example, if you want to stand out in the Chinese market, you’ll need to focus on Baidu and its preferences. You might want to look at Yandex and other similar services in Eastern Europe.

There will be a lot of similarities between these engines, but you’ll want to understand as much as you can about them so you can adapt to their unique demands and requirements, especially if you’re attempting to reach customers that use them on a regular basis.

Your Content and Your Device Preferences


You should also be aware that people from other regions of the world may have different tastes when it comes to using the internet. Focus on covering all bases, i.e. making your content visible on all common devices, which may help with SEO while also improving the user experience.

Local Signals in Addition
There are a few other indications that might assist you in receiving notifications. Display your rates in local currencies, for example, or use social media to connect to your particular URL structures. Include the address and phone number of any local offices you have.

Aside from that, there are a slew of other things you can do at work to improve your favoured traffic. Understanding local design and colour preferences, as well as people’s prefered methods of information consumption and other cultural variables, may help a lot. Always enlist the aid of a native speaker when translating information, and have it checked by specialists as well.

Getting Started and Getting Help
All of this may appear daunting, but worldwide SEO requires a significant amount of effort, attention, preparation, and understanding.

However, sometimes the best approach to begin thinking internationally is to seek expert assistance. By enlisting the aid of an SEO firm, you can get a jump start on going global, as these professionals will assist you in assessing the present condition of your SEO and advising you on the best methods to take.

Overall, SEO is an uphill struggle with the rules of the game continuously changing, so having a team of experts handle your traffic and visibility may free you up to focus on what you know best – running a business.

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