What Is International SEO and How To Develop Your International SEO Strategy?

by Outranking
Updated On: January 18, 2023
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What is International SEO and How to Implement it in Your SEO Strategy?

International SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in search engine results for users in other countries. You can do this by targeting specific countries with your content, using the correct language, and configuring your website settings to be optimized for international traffic.

Why is international SEO important?

International SEO can help you reach a global audience, rank in multiple languages, and improve your click-through rate. It can also help you reach a more diverse audience, improve your conversion rate, and localize your website for different markets.

By optimizing your website for international SEO you can:

  • Reach new markets: International SEO can help you reach new markets and expand your business into new territories.
  • Connect with a global audience: By optimizing your website for different countries and regions, you can connect with a global audience and tap into a new customer base.
  • Boost your bottom line: Implementing an effective international SEO strategy can have a positive impact on your bottom line by increasing traffic and conversion rates from international visitors.

How to implement an international search engine optimization strategy?

Define your target market approach

It is important to note that no two international SEO approaches are the same – the approach you take will depend on your business and target customers. If your company offers different products or services in different national markets or operates under different brand names in different countries/languages, you will need to approach each country separately. You will need to have dedicated country websites, all with their own international SEO approaches tailored specifically for that market. This way, you can make sure that your website is optimized for search engines in each individual country, helping you to attract more customers and grow your business.

If you offer the same products or services to different language audiences, then you should opt for a language-based segmentation approach. This involves optimizing the content on your website so that it is the same in every language that is relevant to your business.

Do competitor research on your target country

It is important to do competitor research in order to gauge their performance when it comes to international SEO, content marketing, and paid advertising. If you want to find new opportunities in international markets, SEO can help. By optimizing your content for different languages and markets, you can gain an edge over your competitors who may not be doing the same.

Choose the right domain name and domain structure

When you’re creating websites for different countries, it’s crucial to pick your domains carefully. Before choosing a domain for your brand, work with a local agency that has the experience, as well as native-speaking experts. That way you can be sure that the name and domain you’ve chosen evoke the right associations and responses from people in that country.

When choosing a domain name with more than one word, make sure the words work well together and can’t be misread to form new words. This is crucial as the wrong domain name could lead to misunderstanding or mistrust in international markets.

Use URL structures for your target countries

It is important to use a URL structure that is optimized for your audience’s needs in order to improve your website’s international SEO. You can use subdirectories, subdomains, or country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) to structure your URLs. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks so you’ll need to choose the one that makes the most sense for your website. Make sure to use consistent keyword targeting and link-building strategies across all of your international URLs.

  • domain.itccTLD
  • it.domain.com – subdomain
  • domain.com/itsubdirectory
  • domainitsite.com – different domain

Language-target your website for your international audience

When you are targeting a specific language audience with your website, it is important to use language-specific keywords in your content and metadata. You should also consider localization when designing your website. This means making sure your site is accessible and easy to navigate for users who may not be familiar with the English language. You can do this by using a language selector on your website so that visitors can choose their preferred language.

example of dw language selector

Create content for your target audience’s language and culture

When creating content, it is important to make sure that it is relevant to your target audience’s language and culture. It is also important to consider the cultural context of your target audience when creating your website. This includes understanding things like social norms and customs that may impact how your site is used and perceived.

This will help ensure that they can access and understand your message. Additionally, use images and other visuals that are culturally appropriate to avoid any potential sensitivities. By being aware of these differences between languages and cultures, you can create more effective, sensitive content for your target audience.

Create a relevant link-building strategy

A big part of international SEO is also building links that are relevant to your target audience. For example, if you are targeting Italian audiences, you will want to get links from websites that are popular in Italy.

Remember that for international SEO, links have different values depending on the origin of the backlink. If your site gets a lot of backlinks from URLs ending with “.it,” it signals to Google that your site is relevant to audiences in Italy. Therefore, it can rank your page accordingly on those local SERPs.

It’s worth investing time in building a strong link-building strategy for each page, as local links will have the highest impact on search results.

How do you overcome language barriers in international SEO?

Use automated translation

Automated translation can be a useful tool for quickly translating large amounts of text into another language. However, it is not always accurate and it is important to proofread and edit any text that has been translated using an automated service.

Try to use a tool that offers both automated and human translation to get the best results.

Use visual graphics

Graphics can be a useful tool for making information more accessible and appealing. When using graphics in your content, keep in mind to adapt your graphic content for the audience in your target location.

Here is an example of how Nike uses image localization as part of their Chinese website content:

example of image localization of nike china

Employ native speakers

Employing native speakers can have several benefits, such as improved communication within a company, building trust and rapport with customers and clients, and providing valuable insights into the culture of the target language community.

It is important to consider the cost of employing native speakers, as they may require higher salaries than non-native speakers. However, there may also be a limited pool of qualified native speakers available, depending on the language.

If you want to target a specific country or region with your SEO efforts, it is important to use native speakers for that area. This will ensure that your content is properly written and targeted to your audience.

Tools that will help you with your international SEO strategy

1. Outranking – content writing and optimization tool

Outranking is an AI-powered SEO content writing and optimization tool that will help with your international SEO strategy. It provides translations of blog post content into 13 languages, helps you create country-specific content strategies, helps you work with cross-functional teams in different countries, and more.

2. Google Search Console – global site tracking tool

Google Search Console is a global site tracking tool that can be used to monitor your site’s performance in Google search results. With it, you can submit your site to Google for indexing, request re-indexing of specific pages, find and fix errors on your site, and track your site’s search traffic.

track your site with google search console

3. Ahrefs – keyword research tool

You can use Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to find the international keyword search volume and keyword difficulty for target keywords. You can find keywords your audience might search for in the appropriate language and simply choose your target country to see results for that location.

research organic keywords for international seo optimization with ahrefs

4. Moz – site audit and keyword research tool

Moz is a site audit and keyword research tool that can help you find and target keywords internationally. You can also do competitor research and see which keywords your competitors are ranking for in your target country.

moz the ultimate tool for getting started with keyword research and site audit

5. Google Analytics – website content tracking tool

Google Analytics is a website content tracking tool that can be used to measure traffic and engagement on a website. It can also be used to track conversions, goals, and e-commerce activity on a website. Additionally, it can be used to segment website visitors by demographics, interests, and behavior. Finally, it can be used to create custom reports and dashboards.

check different charts, info by country, and track your content with google analytics

FAQ about international SEO

How much does international SEO cost?

Depending on the country or region you are targeting, the SEO plan, service provider, etc., an international SEO campaign can require $2.500-$5.000 per month. If you want to target a specific country or region, you may need to hire an international SEO specialist and spend more on international SEO.

Is international SEO worth the effort?

International SEO can be time-consuming and expensive, but if there is a potential for a large audience and the opportunity to make sales, it can be worth the effort.

How long does it take to start seeing results from international SEO?

It can take anywhere from 3-6 months to start seeing results from international SEO, depending on the competitiveness of your target market and how well-optimized your site is. If your site is tailored for the target market and highly competitive, you will see results sooner.