Are you guilty of focusing all your time, money, and resources on the US market? Are you interested in expanding, all with the idea of driving more traffic to your ecommerce website?
The right international SEO strategy puts you in position to expand from both a technical and strategic perspective, thus giving your business a boost.
According to Statista, Google’s share of desktop search engine traffic in the United States is 78.81% as of June 2018. While there’s plenty of traffic to be had by targeting the US market, you don’t want to stop there. Here’s why:
You’re seeing that right. With Google a dominant force in other countries, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic if you don’t have a detailed international SEO strategy in place.
This leads to an important question: what does it take to create and implement a successful international SEO strategy?
Here are four international SEO tips that will put you on the right track:
1. Choose the Right International Target Markets
With more than four billion internet users worldwide, it’s tempting to cast a wide net with hopes of generating traffic from as many markets as possible. But there’s a problem with that: you don’t know which countries, cultures, and languages are profitable and feasible to target and serve from a business perspective.
Before launching an international website or implementing an international SEO strategy, it’s critical to conduct market research to evaluate the supply and demand in each market. Neglecting to do so increases the risk of spending resources to build awareness and drive traffic among visitors who don’t convert.
There are two questions that will lead you toward the right international target markets:
What is the existing traffic potential for each market?
Answer this question by reviewing your Google Analytics report with a focus on where your current traffic comes from. You’ll see something like this:
These numbers show an ecommerce website that’s generating most its traffic from the US market. However, there’s a good opportunity to secure traffic from France, Brazil, and Canada.
What languages do users use in their browsers?
Just the same as the countries where most your traffic comes from, you need to understand the top languages your users speak. This is a must when creating content and optimizing your site for different languages:
This shows the top 10 languages based on the users language browser preference. English is far and away the most common language, but there are others, such as French, that serve as a good opportunity.
2. Build Localized Content
The content that attracts and engages one audience may not resonate with another. Localization involves designing a website and its content to address the specific behavior of the target audience and their culture.
Getting started means understanding the website design preferences for each culture, as this provides the best shopping and browsing experience for users.
Here are some of the many areas of a website that require local language for a customized experience:
- Meta Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Headings (h1, h2)
- Main text
- Delivery Options
- Customer Service
- User Experience
All of these areas require your attention. Neglecting to devote enough resources to proper optimization can negatively impact both search engine rankings and conversions.
3. Geolocation Signals to Search Engines
Search engines are smarter today than ever before, but that doesn’t mean you can optimize your website for one language and let well enough alone.
There are a variety of geolocation signals you can use to give search engines a clear idea of the languages and countries to rank your website’s pages for:
- URL Structure
- Correct Hreflang or Language Code implementation
- External linking from sites within the target market
- Visible on-page language targeted content
- Anchor text content language
- GSC geotargeting settings
Here’s an example of how you can use Hreflang implementation to show search engines how to index your site:
Providing search engines with the right geolocation signals increases your chance of success. Conversely, opting against this and hoping that search engine bots understand your intentions can backfire.
4. Build Authority from Local Sites
The best (and most successful) international SEO strategies entail a content and promotion strategy for securing backlinks from local sites.
Authority is the name of the game when building links, but focusing on local sites is every bit as important. Google sees this as a signal of which country/language the page should rank for.
For example, if you want to build your US based traffic, focus on high quality, industry specific links from US based websites.
Just the same, if you want more traffic from Canada or France, seek out link building opportunities from sites in these countries.
Here’s an example of a backlink profile comprised primarily of US based websites:
To improve rankings in other countries, this site could benefit from a more diverse link profile.
You’re leaving a lot of traffic (and money) on the table if you don’t have an international SEO strategy. With this advice, you’ll find it easier to create a strategy and optimize your ecommerce website to attract visitors from all over the world.