The following guide offers tips for understanding and implementing international SEO. This resource will help identify your site’s potential for international SEO, outline how to target an international audience, and how to implement an internationally targeted website.
Assess International SEO Potential
Analyze your website’s organic and total traffic from other languages and countries currently.
Utilize Google Analytics to identify the trends and volume of the keywords and pages along with the visits and conversions per language and country.
Examine your website’s organic search visibility from the other countries.
Use Google Webmaster Tools, SEMRush and SearchMetrics to assess the pages and queries that are currently getting search results visibility in the identified countries.
Implement a keyword search using the languages and counties you have identified.
Examine the local search volume for the relevant keywords for the languages and countries using the keyword tool of the most frequently used search engine in the country, such as Google Keyword Tool, Baidu Index, Yandex Keyword Stats, Google Trends, Ubersuggest and Moz.
If the potential traffic and conversions from other languages and countries indicate enough compensation to develop your web presence then international SEO is merited.
Targeting an International Web Audience
Identify your international target audience
- Consider if location factors into the goals, products or services of your site.
- Assess if there is sufficient traffic and conversion potential to target each specific country.
- If there is not enough traffic and conversion potential for specific countries, consider language targeting for a broader audience.
- While targeting each country individual is ideal, there are some circumstances including technical and resource restraints that may make this approach challenging.
Analyze the characteristics and behavior of your international target audiences.
- Utilize studies and tools such as Google GDN Research, TNS Digital Life, and Comscore Data Mine to understand demographics, linguistic and cultural profiles of each country.
Locate and analyze your international competitors and industry.
Use Alexa Top Sites, Rnkrnk, SimilarWeb and other tools to monitor industry competition, including behavior and characteristics in each international market.
Developing an International SEO Targeted Site
Implement an International site structure based upon your targeting and characteristics.
- For country targeting opt for either ccTLDs or SubDirectories, and avoid SubDomains (this can depending on how many countries you are targeting and development resources).
- For language targeting choose SubDirectories over SubDomains.
- Each country or language version should be featured through their own site structure to all crawling, indexing and ranking.
- Don’t use scripts or cookies to show your language versions under the same URL.
Localize your site’s structure and content.
Create International Web structure that is easy to navigate and findable.
- Use a very visible and crawlable menu to link between your different country and language versions, and suggest a different version rather than redirect.
Utilize the rel=”alternate”hreflang=”x” annotations.
- Add the hreflang annotations in your HTMLS <head>, HTTP header or Sitemap to specify the language and/or country you are targeting.
Utilize the meta content language.
- Add the “content-language” meta tag in your HTMLs <head> to specify the language and/or country you are targeting.
Develop local familiarity and popularity by promoting within your target International community.
- Develop trust and popularity by connecting with your international communities.
- Use Social Crawlytics and influencers with Followerwonk to identify your competitors’ networks and most popular content.
Geolocate if you are country targeting.
- Implement the Geotargeting option for the main search engines Webmaster Tools and the specified country.
Measuring the Impact of International SEO
Independently monitor and track all of your International versions
- Using Google Webmaster Tools or the Webmaster tool of your targeted search engine, create individual profiles for each version.
- You can also track activity between your different international versions with Google Analytics.
Check your International Search Visibility.
- Using SEO tools such as Authority Labs or Advanced Web Rankings, utilize the rank tracking function, as well as track keywords for international search results. SEM Rush also has an excellent tool for this.