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.
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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