Recently, I received a few links to my blog from a website located in France. About the same time, I started receiving traffic from the French version of Google. (google.fr) This got me wondering how to capture more international search traffic.
Despite the many SEO blogs I subscribe to, I see very little information posted on global SEO strategies. Out of curiosity, I started researching international SEO tactics. Below are some suggestions that I found.
- Use Local Domain Extensions: The most effective strategy for international SEO is the most obvious one. If you’re trying to optimize for Google.ca and your domain has a .ca extension, you have a great advantage (though it’s still very possible without one.) In addition to the domain extension, Google probably looks at the IP address location of your server to determine the geographical relevance of your site.
- Translation Isn’t Enough: Many assume that a word-for-word Google translation of existing website content will result in high rankings on international SERPs. Those of use who’ve ever read a word-for-word translation from another language to English realize this isn’t a good idea. You may get into the SERPs, but your odds of converting the visitor and slim to none.
- Get Links from international domains: If your site contains a good diversity of incoming links from many domain extensions (.co.uk, .ca, .fr, etc), Google will begin to notice your site on the non-US versions of Google.
- Links to international domains: While I’m not sure if this will really improve rankings, it at least shows you’re participating in a global community by linking to international sources.
- Keyword + Country Landing Pages: I’ve found searchers sometimes do a keyword search and append their country name to it. (e.g. “ipods uk”) By optimizing a landing page for this combination, you can begin ranking for the terms.
- Do International Keyword Research: It doesn’t make sense to get your keyword suggestions and counts from keyword tools only showing US results. Aaron Wall’s International SEO keyword tool allows you to get keyword data from 15 different countries.
- Know the Local Lingo: Anyone who has traveled to another English speaking country knows there are significant differences in local lingo. For example, one of my clients discovered that “shop” is more frequently used than “store.” in many European countries.
- Consider Local Search Engines: Google doesn’t exactly rule the entire world of search….yet. While its still the number #1 engine internationally, local engines such as Voila in France, Ansearch in Australia, or Yandex in Russia are very popular. If you’re targeting a certain local audience, it pays to understand the algorithms of other engines besides Google.
For many international brands, global Search engine optimization remains a virtually untapped arena. According to this podcast from Oban Multilingual, 70% of internet search queries are not in English.
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