International Search

International SEO: Need Your Help

Ok, so the past couple of months I have been researching international (or global) SEO and best practices that go along with it.  For the most part I have found few resources, so I figured I would give you some best practices that are probably beginner level along with some links from Michael Gray, who was kind enough to share his knowledge when I ran into him at IZEAfest.

Below are the tips, but what I really want is YOUR input and assisting me and others who are running into the same issues with finding REALLY good resources regarding best practices for international search engine optimization.  Please leave comments and links so we can all share the wealth and gain a better knowledge of narrowing the gap when it comes to global search engine optimization.

Cheers,

Victoria @tallchickvic

International SEO Tips:

  • If you have a global website for example yousite.com and yoursite.co.uk, each one should have its own IP address in that country.  So, if your site is a UK site, don’t expect to rank for terms that are generic if you’re hosted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.   Search engines want to make sure you.
  • Don’t assume that direct word for word translation will yield high rankings on international search engine result pages. Direct word for word translation is NEVER a good idea and will show your site’s ignorance doing so, hence forth ticking of your international visitors, and possibly resulting in low conversion.  Here is Google’s translation tool, which can aid you in translating content.  If you type in a phrase in English, like “How are you today?” and then request German, the search engine will show you translated results from German web pages as well as the English and German SERPS for that phrase..not too shabby
  • Do international keyword research!  If you’re doing keyword research for an international site, it really won’t do you much good if you’re using US tools and getting keyword suggestions from Google US.  Here are some obvious URLS for you:

www.google.de (Germany)

www.google.fr (France)

www.google.ca (Canada)

www.google.co.uk (United Kingdom)

www.google.it (Italy)

  • Thank you Michael Gray for the clarification!!! Use the top level domain (TLD) for the appropriate location.  Meaning use your country code TLD (.co.uk, .de, .fr….) for that specific region.  If you plan on doing global sites, than it is suggested to grab those domains too!
  • Study the vernacular!!! If you’re doing SEO for a UK site even though English is spoken there (duh,) there are many terms that you should be aware of that we don’t necessarily use in the U.S.  I, being a fellow limey born in the U.K, can assist with some terms.  For example:
  • Coupon = Voucher
  • Store = Shop
  • Hood = Bonnet
  • Trunk = Boot
  • Line (as in waiting in line) = Cue

So the above tips are rather common sense.  In writing the blog, I have found some other resources which you will see are linked throughout the post.  However, I am still hungry for more resources!

Victoria is an Internet Marketing Specialist for LinkShare Corporation. She works in the Creative Services branch and provides Search Engine Optimization and Social Media audits and consulting. She blogs for LinkShare and in her free time is TRYING to not neglect her site VictoriaSEOLove.com

 International SEO: Need Your Help
Victoria Edwards has been working in SEO and Social Media for eight years and currently works for GuideWell, a health and wellness e-commerce startup, based in Jacksonville, Florida. Victoria is their Marketing Manager and focuses on Social Media, PR and Blogging for the company. You can find her tweeting under the handle @TallChickVic.
 International SEO: Need Your Help

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31 thoughts on “International SEO: Need Your Help

  1. Mike, thanks very much :) I really want to get a grasp of how a continent/countries culture really can affect the whole international online marketing industry too. Especially when it comes to social media.

  2. Hi,

    this is a great topic, and much overlooked by many brands still. My 2 cents to this discussion:

    - If you’re using a .com site, use subdomains or directories for targeting different countries, like fi.example.com or example.com/fi for Finland. In this case, remember to use Google Webmaster Tools to explicitly target those subdomains or directories to that particular country.
    - A great post on geo and language targeting at: http://www.seoguru.nl/seo-blog/update-seo-tutorial-on-geo-targeting-and-language-targeting/

  3. Good information here, the most important bit in my opinion is that about having a website per country, hosted in that country and in that language. Interlink them by all means (can’t hurt SEO) as you have a valid reason so to do (won’t annoy the engines).

  4. hi victoria!

    it’s GREAT to see you’re looking into international SEO. i work in SEO out of an online advertising agency in São Paulo, Brazil and we work with sites all over the world. one of the biggest problems we face doesn’t even have to do with structure, but definitely keyword research and links! every country, even if the same language is being used, has a different manner of saying things/searching (this is especially true for spanish speaking latin america). even in brazil we find cultural differences amongst different states. usually we just try to use a little bit of everything and it’s worked so far!

    as for links – this is also a challenge. you really need to know which social networks the country’s users are on and how to communicate with site owners/bloggers, etc. we’re also limited in resources for linking. social bookmarking sites are far and inbetween, many markets aren’t very educated in search marketing, so they’re paying for links and spamming, etc.

    i guess what i’m trying to say is, so far i haven’t found a foolproof international strategy, except that you need to adapt your strategy to the market’s needs and limitations!! if you DO find anything though, it would make my life so much easier… haha

    beijos!

  5. Hi Victoria,

    Now this may be an obvious one, but I have found that your physical address should be reflective of the location you are targeting.

    This should be your actual address or a local office or agent’s address.

    Having this included on your contact page is obvious but also in the footer of your localised targeted landing pages is also a good idea.

    Cheers from DownUnder,

    Greg

  6. Some good suggestions there. I think a recent video from Google makes things a lot clearer. Using Webmaster tools and nominating your regional preference is one of the easiest solutions.

    If you want to be truly international, you can reproduce parts of your site in separate directories on host, then tell Google (through webmasters) which directory relates to a particular region.

    BTW – I know it’s pedantic -but cue as in line is queue.

    cheers
    les

  7. Tip #1: Creating content.
    While the selection of keywords that makes sense in the local vernacular and the other tips abve I fully support above, creating content that makes sense for the local geographies is my best tip for creating sites that are SEO friendly for various countries. All too often we see content come in from a global organization without the local office having any attachment to the content. If you can engage the local offices and get them interested in the content that is being developed you’ll end up with a site that is relevant to the user base in that country and better SEO.

    Tip #2: Other Engines
    While Google has a huge market share in most of the world, markets like Japan, where I work, have yet to make the shift. Yahoo Japan continues to hold the majority of searches in this country and China has Baidu, etc. Stating the obvious, but these other search engines don’t work the same as Google and you may find yourself on page two or three on Google but on page one for these engines in different markets. Always keep in mind which is the more efficient battle to wage.

    Tip #3: Local IP
    I’ve read conflicting reports on this in the past, but this video by Matt Cutts answers the questions, “What impact does server location have on rankings?”

  8. While doing international seo, I would like to suggest regarding domain hosting, if your targeted country is UK then if you host your site with uk based hosting provider then it will chances to rank in search engine will high. In fact you can use country specific directories and local directories for optimization of international website.

  9. Hey Victoria, nice post. I remember managing a ppc campaign for the uk market and had to do exactly that; find the different words used there we use regularly here. The IP address is a key component for international seo indeed. Good stuff!

  10. Using local host and doing keyword research for the target country are good poitns.
    You may also add the follownig points:
    - Depends on country, dominant search engine is differ. Thereby, change the target search engine priority accordingly.
    - Also better to research the strength of web hosting company toward (dominant) search engine.
    As an example, Yahoo has been the dominant search engine in Japan (Google seems to be catching up and the situation is getting change), and Yahoo has the known tendency to favor the certain hosting companies in its search result listing in Japan.
    These are not SEO, but important:
    - You need to aware of the taboos in each area of politics, religion, and daily custom of the target country, while creating contents or images of your site for the target country.
    - Definitely better to support multi languages in some countries.

  11. Good post. One obvious thing to mention is that most of the free tools out there for website/blog translation (e.g. Google’s widget, Babblefish) provide very little or no SEO value since the tool translates on-the-fly and does not host the translated content anywhere. So the search engines can not index the translated web content.

    The tips provided in the article are good but require a lot of work, especially when you are trying to establish a presence in a few languages. Large companies with large budgets can afford it but the cost is prohibitive for most companies. At GTS, we are developing some tools that put website translation and international SEO within the reach of mid-size companies. Contact us for further details.

  12. Good post! Thank you Victoria. I’ve tried a dot com for a specific location with success. it happened when I got some links from high ranking local websites with relevant content.

    So, I would say submission to the local directories as well as getting links from top ranking local sites will help you rank well for your keywords as well.

  13. Hi Victoria, those are some good tips for international SEO. I have lived in countries on four different continents and specialise (specialize) in international SEO copywriting and as such I am very aware of the differences in vernacular between countries. Many people just think as long as it’s English it’ll be OK for any English-speaking country around the world, but that’s just not right. Your 5 examples are just the tip of the iceberg. By the way… “cue”??? Surely you mean “queue”.

  14. Hmmm. Are we talking about making a additional site in the local country or selling to that country?
    If my company is in Michigan and I sell pianos in Michigan, but I decide I want to sell in Dubai. So I am not going to create an entirely new site there. I have many countries to sell to. I can’t create sites for all of them. But I don’t need to. First lets be clear about what we are offering. If I make a site for Dubai and do linking and SEO then a potential customer comes there and sees that I am in fact in Michigan, poof he is gone and I have a high bounce rate. What I really want is Dubai residents who want to buy from an overseas vendor. Okay now those potential customers are going to seek me (or someone like me) out. I can assume he will use a search engine that is popular in USA like Google, Yahoo or Bing. So what I need is content (surprise) that matches Dubai. This may be a one page or two or more designed as landing pages for a Dubai customer. Using keywords, titles and descriptions matching Dubai.
    Now I get potential customers looking at these landing pages I can go into specific info for them about delivery, customs, exchange rate and others. I can tailor the pages to them and even do a/b testing (highly recommended) .

  15. For international rankings i would suggest you to host your website in the country which you would like to target. also take domain country specific. (for UK use .co.uk, India use .co.in, etc. )

    This will make your SEO or web promotion efforts lesser. Also try to get back links from local directories or sites to get rankings with targeted search engines.

  16. A real “pros” tip (you’ll thank me for this one): Use a web service called OneHourTranslation.com to translate content + text ads. Their service is mainly for SEO companies and I received a recommendation about them from many friends of mine in the SEO industry. The idea is: you send text and in few minutes a translator who is native speaker of the target language takes it and start translating. The result is excellent.

    1. I have seen people do this before. But it causes problems because you are not honest with these people. They contact you in their language and you have no staff to deal with it. A typical example is a site targeted to sell fancy wheels and you want to attract Chinese. So you have a some pages made in Chinese and they then email you. You cant even display their characters on your screen. Better to have an English site unless you plan a staff and major commitment to a country.

  17. William,

    This is an EXCELLENT TIP!!!! I was wondering if companies like that existed as tools for translation are rather shady and as said above not very accurate. Look forward to checking them out :)

    Cheers

  18. No offense, but these tips, while valid, have been talked about for a very long time. When is someone going to come out with REAL international SEO tips. I’ve read this same blog post over 100 times. Everyone posts this. Yes, it is definitely valid and good for SEO beginners, but wow, you could really drop an earth shattering post if you came up with some new international SEO tips.

    Just trying to give some advice, not criticize (what the hell have I posted?? nothing…so who am I to complain). Just think there is an amazing opportunity for a good writer with a blog that gets traffic to publish something NEW about international SEO.

    Here’s another topic…international link buying. Trying finding some info on that. There is almost nothing. Come up with a couple good posts on these topics and you’re bound to attract some serious attention from the SEO community.

  19. Victoria,

    do not use online translator!!! Google translator is cool, it helps but for an international SEO campaign it doesn’t work!
    let’s say we want to translate the idiomatic phrase “it’s a piece of cake” (meaning something very easy) in italian with google translator.
    it will translate it literally “E ‘un pezzo di torta” (using the wrong accent by the way): google think we are talking about cakes!

    here you can find some good tips you need to consider when planning a multilingual SEO international campaign

    http://www.seobloom.com/article/111/international-seo-and-geolocation-top-10-factors/

    THINK GLOBAL: SEO LOCAL!!

  20. Krumpet,
    I am on it!!! I have made it a priority to study international online marketing and hopefully come up with some great resources, so we will finally get some insight on international/global SEO. I will be looking at the topic from a online marketing perspective and HOPE with much research, get information on not only SEO, but page design and layout, social media, landing page optimization and so on…believe me, I feel the same way as you do, which is WHY I am taking it upon myself to find out more. Once I do, I will make you become aware of it :)

    Cheers,

    Victoria

  21. Hi victoria,

    Thanks for this information. As previosuly said much of it has been well documented before however I think your post inspired some good comments with links to additional sources which alltogether makes this a really good post for scraping the surface of the subject. Right, I have about 6 different tabs open on this now, best get reading.

    Thanks Again and if I get anymore insight into the subject I will be sure to come back and share.

  22. Interesting article and comments.

    I think Joe Knapp is right: “Are we talking about making an additional site in the local country or selling to that country?”. I have a translation website and I have a good knowledge of targetting the Hispanic Community. I think it is very different to sell for a specific country than to sell internationally. A good suggestion would be to translate to the language your customers use most. Regarding the Spanish Language, it is very important to understand that each country has it own regionalism and colloquial language. However, if you would like your message to reach Hispanics in US, then Neutral Spanish can be used so that the text is widely understood by all the Hispanic population, no matter if they are from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala or Chile.
    An example of how a word can be translated depending on the Spanish Speaking country and how it can be translated using Neutral Spanish.
    Car
    Mexico: carro
    Argentina: auto
    Neutral Spanish: automóvil

    Defininetely, DO NOT use a translation tool!! The translation has to be made by a professional translator NATIVE in the target language AND if you are targetting a specific country, the translator should be from that country.

    Also, if you will be translating your site to Spanish, take into account that Spanish translators sometimes use two, three or even more words to translate a single English compound word. In general, a Spanish document will be twenty percent longer than its English counterpart.

    Some resources:
    Hispanic Community in US http://www.transpanish.biz/spanish-stats.htm
    Machine Translation vs. Human Translation http://transpanish.biz/translation_blog/machine-translation-vs-human-translation-pay-less-get-less/
    The use of Neutral Spanish for the US Hispanic Market http://transpanish.biz/translation_blog/the-use-of-neutral-spanish-for-the-us-hispanic-market/