If you or your company are looking to expand into different countries there are a few tips you will want to keep in mind when attempting international SEO. As a precursor to the tips, I will give a few insights I have gained from my experience. Google’s core algorithm seems to be a bit behind the US algorithm, I don’t think they would admit this but there is a difference. Competition is not as difficult online however it is the opposite locally. Service areas tend to expand into several cities or villages, unlike most US based companies. When it comes to business owners comprehension of SEO it is like taking a 6-8 year back. This isn’t meant discourage but better give domain understanding of where to start.
1. Proper Domain
Having the proper Top Level Domain (TLD) is key in establishing immediate trust with users in different countries. Naturally a .com or .net can be just as effective but don’t quite carry the same trust recognition has to have a .de or a .nl domain do for users in that country. Another benefit to having a country specific domain rather than a general .com or .net is the ability to manage it easier on a micro level. This could also be a curse depending on the resources and time you have to manage multiple domains.
2. Proper Hosting
Hosting is a dead giveaway in determining if a site is locally based and operated or not. While this won’t kill any campaign it can be a deciding factor between you and several other relevant sites. Hosting also has another potential benefit in the sense of being faster for the user. This could be mere seconds or even milliseconds. With how user expectations have morphed over the past few years, you can be sure they will spot the difference and in turn prefer a site if it is even just marginally faster.
3. Local Citations
If you are looking to establish a local presence this is paramount. Not only will this help expose you and your business to potential customers but it helps establish a trust between you and the search engines. This is an important factor for any local business. Local citations help create an established and verifiable presence that search engines use to rank and recommend businesses.
4. Proper Domain Links
If you are looking to rank organically or don’t have a local location your primary concern for establishing external trust should be proper domain links. This has all of the regular benefits that come from any link building. Things like another doorway to your site, potential brand exposure, and of course search engine trust. The need for domain specific links is due to the need to having local relevance. It stands to good reason that if you get a link from a source with a country specific domain that they have some local basis and expertise.
5. Proper Language
The biggest requirements I have learned from performing, diagnosing, and implementing international SEO campaigns. Is the need to create content that is natural and legible to whatever country you’re targeting. If doesn't have the means to write the content yourself I suggest hiring a native writer who understands the culture and content necessities. This will not only make your life easier but it will also help tremendously when it comes to ranking in a foreign country. **Note that Google Translate is ok, but it is not a replacement nor is it perfect.**
6. Preferred Location
This is something you can set in your Google Search Console settings. This is something that you can declare to help push you in front of the right audience. It can also help you get indexed into the right foreign index. If you are using a general .com or.net domain this will have a greater need than if you have a country specific domain.
When it comes to having a local business how customer interact with your business can make or break your company. It is important to always keep in mind the buying process for customers. In today's market it isn't enough to simply satisfy a customer you have to give them a "WOW!" experience that can turn them into a fan of your brand. If you can master this you can be successful and create a locally recognized brand.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization on your site the best place to start is with keyword research. Not only researching what you can work on your site's content but understanding what people are actually searching for. The same principle can go towards understanding how much a budget can cost and what it will take to actually compete for top rankings and traffic. Below I will go through the steps and what I review for keyword research in 2016.
Review the website and determine what it offers from a content perspective. While content can always be expanded and added. It is important to remember that there are millions of keywords and it is best to go as niche as possible and then expand to more general keywords. Reviewing the websites content will allow you to identify the exact product/service and area that you should be searching for. From here create a generic list of potential keywords. These should be made up and should match exactly what the website offers.
Once you have a list of keywords you can use the Google Keyword Planner to identify the volume and other variations of your keywords. From here you need to continue to gather as many keywords as possible. Further analysis of these keywords will help you understand the intent and probability of ranking for a keyword. You can also use a few other tools like Google’s instant search or ubersuggest to help find practical alternatives to your keywords.
After compiling a list of keywords, you can begin to apply different data points to each one in order to help you make your keyword selection. The first thing you will want to grab is the data provided by Google’s Keyword Planner. The second data point that we will use would be Moz’s keyword competition score. Third you will need to grab the ranking of the website and the keywords. I would highly suggest using RankTank to grab a sites rankings. Lastly, you will need to determine the intent of each keyword. The easiest way of determining this is by reviewing the SERPs themselves. From here you can classify each one into one of these groups.
Once the data has been collected or identified you can begin to narrow down your keyword list. First and foremost I would take 2 factors as the primary factors for your selection. Ranking and Intent, this can help you not waste time and spin your wheels and effort on pointless keywords that never yield any ROI. The other factors I would use as tie-breakers to help you determine which keywords should be picked over others. I would suggest picking a good amount of keywords (around 5-15 per page). I would highly suggest adhering keywords to pages. Keep in mind the goal is not to necessarily rank for every single keyword but rank for a good amount. This kind of tactic can you keep you white-hat and can also help you create content that is best for the user and not the search engines.
With the final set of keywords selected you can now identify specific page and site wide needs. This can include things like content, pictures, lists, or other forms of content. It is key to take into account the time needed to complete these items. There is nothing worse than expecting results to happen when you are still working on site needs. Keep in mind that you will need to do some kind of link-building to see optimal results. Also, keep in mind that some keywords will naturally take longer than others depending on your current relevance and trust.
Tracking and Improvement
Finally, you can track and see the benefits of your work. To give you an idea of what you can expect with onsite and offsite work. On keywords you are already ranking for you should see yourself go to the first or second page in the SERPs within the first 3-6 months. For keywords, you don’t have any rank for you can expect the same results after 9-12 months. After you have seen results come in for your website you can begin to make tweaks around the sites needs and keywords themselves. It is imperative that you understand that ranking takes time, persistence, and work. It is a long-term strategy that has benefits further reaching then just traffic. Things like brand/product recognition and trust can have far-reaching implications for years to come.
Hope you liked the blog for today, feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything. If you like the tips provided follow me on twitter @Hectick_C for more to come!
I have always had a fascination with search engines and how they work. SEO allows me to interact and impact search engines in a positive way.
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