Don’t be Another Link in the Chain: Quality Content and PR is Key to International SEO

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SEO is categorized into two broad categories: off-page and on-page optimization.

On-page is more straight-forward, in that full control lies with the optimizer. In the simplest terms, they have to incorporate key search phrases into the main copy of their website so that search engines can link the site to searches made by the web-browsing public.

Off-page optimization, however, is a little more precarious, simply because it all depends on the cooperation of third parties, many of whom may not be keen to collaborate.

It’s often said that link-building can contribute up to 80% of a website’s search position – so it’s not enough to have quality content on your website…though this is still important.

It could be said link-building is all about quality rather than quantity for modern-day optimizers. There was a time when link-swapping was commonplace, as website owners attempted to boost their search engine positions. This is no longer enough – links should form the basis of content that is useful. And it should ideally be contained on a website that’s trusted by search engines.

A link from CNN, BBC or Reuters is better than a link from a low-traffic website at the lower-end of the Alexa scale. So if you’re trying to optimize a website for domestic markets, then you need to adopt a more sophisticated approach in 2010 than you would have done in 1998.

International link-building

With international markets, the hows and whys of link-building are similar to domestic markets, but there are a few additional factors you must consider.

Keywords and anchor text are intrinsically connected. So if a company ranks highly on Google, Yahoo! or Bing for a specific keyword, it’s probable that there will be a number of in-bound links with that keyword as the anchor text.

Now, if this same company launches a website aimed at French markets, they may be tempted to translate their keywords directly. But when linking keywords from foreign-language websites, you must consider that local consumers may not use direct dictionary translations to search for their product or service – they may use any variation of the term – such as slang words, abbreviations, synonyms or even pseudo-Anglicisms.

For example, Italians use ‘lastsecond’ when searching for travel deals online – and this fact could be missed if you don’t research your international link-building campaigns properly. If you’re optimizing your website for holiday chalets in Sardinia, then a smattering of in-bound links with ‘lastsecond’ included in the anchor text might just be what you need.

Pitch perfect: content is king

Similar to your domestic link-building initiatives, you need quality content to accompany your link-building on the foreign-language internet. Fresh, useful and relevant – three words you should remember with any content your produce, and with a smidgen of industry keywords included, you will be rewarded by the search engines.

Writing in English might not secure you coverage (hence no links!) on the top German blogs and websites, but it might be enough to secure you a freelance native-German article writer. You can post a simple ad in English in your home country, and the chances are you’ll find a professional writer or even a student looking for a little spare cash – someone who calls German (or whatever your desired language is) their native tongue.

And this is key to your international link-building. Pitching your content to foreign language publications requires sufficient language skills AND knowledge of the local markets. Hence, a native will always know best.

When targeting US/UK publications, for example, an informal tone may work. But in Germany, the way you approach and address a publication’s editor will have to be different. Oh, and don’t be tempted to use Google Translate in your pitches…it most certainly won’t get you very far.

PR and Link-building

For businesses with international operations, PR could well be your best friend in terms of getting high-quality links.

If anything newsworthy happens in your company, you should shout it from the rooftops. Press releases are free to send, and you can target all the top online news publications – if they pick up on the story, the chances are they’ll provide a link to your website.

If you’re new to PR, you’d be surprised at how many latent stories there are in your company. It could be how your company’s founder gave up their day-job to start the business and now you’re turning over millions every year in a country you really didn’t expect to succeed in. And such a story may go down very well in the business sections of the press in your target markets.

Of course, this probably won’t get your desired anchor text linked, but even your company name linked from the BBC or CNN-equivalent online news site in a given country holds tremendous value.

It might even be worth hiring a professional PR expert for a short while, who can help you identify any hidden stories within your business and tailor your stories specifically for your target markets – a little creativity is all that’s needed.

Link-building is a key facet of (international) SEO strategy and the quality of your links is every bit as important – if not more so – than the quantity. With foreign-language link-building, your underlying strategy won’t be all that different. Just remember that ‘thinking local’ will get you far – treat each country separately and tap into local knowledge and expertise where possible.

Christian Arno
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a global translation company. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 200 employees spanning three continents and clients... Read Full Bio
Christian Arno
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  • Rahul @ MazaKaro

    a Bit complicated honestly , but i found many new and useful informations , reading about seo and these kind of stuff is making me understand good/new strategies and tricks , can’t wait for more , thank you 😉

  • Steve Jobs

    In any start up business, you need some PR for it to have that media mileage and get your company on the right track. You may also need some PR firms locally if you are targeting a local audience.

  • Hanna Tan2

    I like this.

  • Hanna Tan2

    I like this.

  • Tommyboy98

    SEO is just a pain for me. I have written good content for my site. Still working on back links. I have got more than 1500 back links and many are from the sites having PR 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 respectively. But I am not that happy with my site PR.

  • Melissa

    I try to link-build my website right now and I read your post because I wanted to see if I’m doing it write, cause in a month I saw a increase of visits on the website but I didn’t know if because my work was productive or because google analyzed it now and gave it a good PR.

  • Designer’s Digest

    awesome post. I have one question: Is there any tool (or a way) to find out which all links or posts that is not indexed by google?


  • Anonymous

    In fact one of the major boosts my travel website received at some point a couple of years ago was because of a link from BBC. Since then, it felt like the authority of my website was promoted too! I got better rankings for other keywords although they were not related to the article BBC had linked to!

    Rahman Mehraby
    Site Booster Blog

  • yuregininsesi

    In any start up business, you need some PR for it to have that media mileage and get your company on the right track. You may also need some PR firms locally if you are targeting a local audience.
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