No matter how many times Google updates its algorithm or throws a monkey wrench in the finely tuned SEO machine, search engine optimization will always be the best way to get more visitors to your site. (Never mind the chorus of “SEO is dead.”) The reason is that, once you get past all the jargon about page rank and SERPs, search engine optimization really just means signalling to Google and other search engines what you have to offer readers. That information is always going to be important in ranking your site in search results.
Though most SEOs focus on local search only, that is short-sighted. Business is moving toward a more global economy, and websites are helping make that shift. With your website, you can reach any customer anywhere in the world. Optimizing your website for international search can help you to reach more of them.
Here are a few ways that you can optimize your website for international search and help your business grow:
Your keywords are at the heart of your search engine optimization strategy. Beyond choosing keywords to reflect your content, you also need to choose keywords that indicate your location or the location that you want to target. Therefore, instead of keyword phrases like “bass guitars” or “luxury real estate,” you should choose keywords like “bass guitars France” or “luxury real estate India.”
Using location tags often in your content will signal to Google that you are either a business that operates out of that location or that offers products and services to customers in that location. Either way, when people from France search for “bass guitars” or people from India search for “luxury real estate,” your site will rank near the top of search results if you optimize appropriately.
English is the international language of business, and many people know how to speak it and read it. However, not all English speakers follow the same rules for spelling and grammar. Countries like England, Australia and Canada practice notably different standards in spelling, such as adding a “u” to words that have only an “or” in American English, such as “colour.” They also use an “s” where a “z” is used in many words in American English, such as “optimisation.”
With Google’s latest algorithm update, the search giant is shifting to intuitive search, rather than searching for simple keyword tags in content. By using these alternative spellings along with your geographic keywords, you are creating a grouping of signals for Google that your page is designed for people in those countries.
One of the best ways to create country-specific signals for Google is to translate your pages into the local language. You can do this manually, or you can install a plugin that automatically translates your page according to region or by selections that your visitors make.
Writing content in the language of the country you wish to target is even better since original content always takes precedence in search. However, if you don’t have the time or resources to do so, then providing a translator can also get you the results you want.
Your URL is a strong content indicator for Google and other search engines. By creating subdomains for the countries you want to target, you can send a big signal to Google that you are providing content for that demographic. Instead of www.yoursite.com, your URL would be Spain.yoursite.com or Canada.yoursite.com. You can also create country codes for your domain, which would look like sp.yoursite.com or yoursite.com/ca. Many leading companies like Amazon and ebay use these codes to distinguish their international content.
If you plan to only target users in a specific country outside your own, go ahead and register a local URL. Include location keywords in the URL, as well, if you can, such as www.canadianinteriordesigner.ca. Registering a local URL will give you a strong bump in search results, but this is only a viable option if you don’t plan to target other locations or if you want to put the time in to creating a different website for each location you plan to target.
Contact information that indicates a presence in a certain location gives websites an automatic boost in local search. So if you have a physical office, it is important that you list that address on your website. If you can’t maintain a physical office, you can at least establish a P.O. box and then list that address on your site. Research the options available in the country you are trying to target.
Linking continues to be one of the best ways to increase your page rank and feature more prominently in search results. If you want to boost your international search, you need to solicit links from prominent websites in those locations. For example, if you want to rank for real estate in Korea, you should try to get links from a Korean real estate association, Korean lifestyle magazines or Korean homeowner’s associations.
You’ll get traffic from the sites that are linking to yours, and you’ll boost your reputation with search engines, helping you to feature more prominently in results and get more traffic that way, as well.
When you do your keyword research, you will learn how many people are searching for those terms both locally and globally. You can hire an assistant to do keyword research in the country you are targeting to get information about how many searches are being conducted in that location. Terms that perform well in the United States may not perform well in Egypt. By getting more specific information, you can learn the right terms to use in your content to attract users in that location.
You can also learn about how much competition is present for that location, which can help you adjust your strategy as needed.
The Internet opens up many doors for your business, helping you to connect with literally the whole world. However, it also opens the doors to many more competitors. You have to know how to take advantage of those opportunities to set yourself apart from your competitors and propel your business to the top. By optimizing your site for international search results, you can connect with more people and position your business for long-term success.
Though you can learn how to perform your own optimization for international search results, you may feel intimidated by the process or you may not understand how to tweak the strategy for your particular website, which may not net you results that you want. In that case, you can hire an SEO professional to do the work for you. You are likely to get faster results and maybe even learn a few things along the way. However, if you’re on a budget, you can put in the time and do the research to get the results yourself. With the right effort, your site will soon be ranking high in international search, bringing you the new customers that you need.