How to Create a Global SEO Strategy


How to Create a Global SEO Strategy - Eric Sachs SEO

If you’re nailing your business here in the United States and feel like it’s time to expand your brand to an international market, then it’s time to create your global SEO strategy. To be successful with SEO in other countries, it takes more than translating your website and letting people select the language they prefer to read your website with.

I don’t recommend this approach for just any brand. It’s generally only worth your time and effort if your analytics data reveals you have a steady amount of traffic coming from a foreign market or a spike in customers from a particular region or country.

Global SEO vs. Local SEO vs. General SEO

International SEO focuses on optimizing your content for a number of regions across the globe. Local SEO focuses on offline businesses that have a brick-and-mortar presence in a local area that relies on general SEO and reviews, business information networks, and local directories. General SEO focuses on the basic factors that make it easy for search engines to crawl, index, and list your content. General factors include:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Site speed
  • Sitemap
  • User experience
  • Backlinks
  • Schema markup

You’ll use general SEO whether you’re focused on local or global SEO.

Let’s say you sell shoes and you have business operations in Spain, Germany, and France, but your local market is in the United States. Your international SEO optimizes for those counties, as well as the word “shoes” in their languages.

In Spain, you’d optimize for Zapatos

In Germany, you’d optimize for “Schuhe”

And in France, you’d optimize for “Des chaussures”

And of course, at home, in the United States you’d still optimize for “shoes.”

Relevance Remains Key

No matter the market, Google wants to ensure the content they serve is relevant to the user. On-page and off-page SEO, along with visitor behavior is used to determine relevance. You won’t be successful if you copy and paste content across pages and translate it according to the language. Each market has unique needs, and your site’s content needs to reflect that. What performs best in the United States may be completely irrelevant to your German market. Craft content for each region and market.

Now let’s get to the nuts and bolts of crafting your strategy.

Step One: Determine Potential in Target Countries

Estimate your international SEO potential by using tools such as Google Analytics and SEMRush Domain Analytics to determine how your website is ranked in other countries. In Google Analytics, go to Audience > Geo > Language or Location and look at the number of sessions from the countries you’re interested in targeting.

Step Two: Conduct a Competitive Analysis

Regardless of your international SEO potential, you need to know who you’re going up against in the new market. You may already know who your biggest competitors are in the country, but they may not be as successful as you think when it comes to their online presence. As such, you should focus on your organic competitors.

Step Three: International Keyword Research

After you determine who your main competitors are, determine the keywords they are indexed for, so you can choose the best ones you should use for your SEO efforts. This helps you get a bunch of keywords you can use to improve your content and gives you a decent chance at being able to compete against them. Repeat the process for a few competitors to make sure you have plenty to work with.

Step Four: Localizing Your Brand

With the international keywords in hand, it’s time to create content in each of the local languages. You shouldn’t just translate it and stuff it with keywords because of differences in market. If you’re selling fruit in a country with a cooler climate, then the content you’ve written for a warmer climate in another market wouldn’t make sense to the audience even if it was translated.

It would be worth the investment to hire a native speaker to translate content you’ve written specifically for the audience – or to write the content itself. Native speakers are more familiar with the nuances of language and idioms so you avoid issues with certain forms of “you” because you need to use the polite form when you’re speaking with someone you don’t know. Germans, in particular, and more strict with their use of the formal “you” than Italians are, for example.

Step Five: Address the Technical Aspects

Once everything else is planned, it’s time to handle the technical side of SEO, including:

Website structure: Are you targeting a language or a country? If a language, use the language targeting approach. If you’re targeting a certain country or audience, you’ll want to use country targeting. Determine whether you’ll use country code TLDs, subfolders, or subdomains.

Server location: The further your server is from the destination, the slower the site loads. You can either go with a content delivery network that has multiple markets, a single provider with multiple server locations, or by hosting on servers in key markets.

Correct hreflang implementation: When correctly done, this ensures users in each of your target countries are coming to the right country or language version of your site. If they are not done properly, it can damage your ranking and user experience, since they are meant to cross-reference pages with similar content but target different audiences.

An important thing to remember is data privacy regulations vary from one country to the next. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) got a lot of media attention, but Africa and Asia also have their own guidelines in place, known as Personal Data Protection Guidelines for Africa (PDPGA) and Asia Pacific Data Regulation and Cyber Security Guide, respectively. When you build out your global SEO strategy, make sure you’re in compliance with all data privacy regulations in the markets where you’re conducting business.

If you’re ready to go international with your business, let’s talk. I can help you develop the right strategy to expand your brand into new markets and keep your customers happy.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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