Running an international SEO campaign successfully means applying the same skills and knowledge to your targeted overseas markets as your home one. The difference is that an international campaign will require specific target market knowledge, such as language and cultural aspects.
No matter the language, the goal of your optimised website is to present products and services in the most convenient and user-friendly way and then to generate good search results. In other words, a user searching for “ladies watches” should obtain results containing websites not only relevant to that search term but also that are structured in a logical and familiar way making it easier for the user to find what they are looking for, in any language.
Whilst we have already covered linguistic and cultural differences in other articles there are also guidelines for Technical SEO that are especially important for multilingual sites and international campaigns, so that both at home and in overseas markets, your campaign obtains maximum visibility, ultimately returning good organic search results.
AVOID COSTLY REWORK
SEO in general, and especially technical SEO, is often seen as a task that should be done once the site has been built. However, there are some aspects in a site’s infrastructure where it is essential to optimise in advance to avoid extensive rework later on thus delaying launch and impacting budgets.
Strategic keywords are used in URLs when a site has been optimised so users can see the search path. These keywords are also used by search engine spiders to rank the page. For example:
A SEO-friendly URL:
A non-SEO-friendly URL:
When it comes to website translation URLs are often forgotten in the process. There are two issues with this. The first is that the user will be able to see clearly that this is a UK site that has been translated which could undermine the consumer’s trust in the brand. The second is that search engine spiders can identify a site’s main language so when they come across untranslated URLs they will penalise the site’s ranking.
In order to ensure your site is optimised fully, it is important that URLs are taken into consideration.
Where keywords are concerned, translation is not enough, merely having search terms in a different language is no guarantee that this is what consumers in overseas markets are searching for. Identifying successful search terms in your target markets requires careful research done by native speakers who will be able to navigate through the cultural considerations.
Correct implementation of HREFlang code is crucial for your localised website to ensure your site is ranked correctly. This piece of code is key to letting search engine robots know which markets and languages the site is targeted at, as well as signalling that the duplicated sites belong together but that the different versions serve different markets for different audiences. It is also crucial to get it right when targeting different countries where the same language is spoken e.g. French for France versus French for Canada. By incorrectly forming the HREF lang code you could not only affect your chances of ranking organically in an entire market but also affect the original and other connected sites.
An example of a hreflang set-up is shown here:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”en-us” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.co.uk” hreflang=”en-gb” />
<link rel=”alternate” href =”http://example.de” hreflang=”de-de”/>
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.at” hreflang=”de-at” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.br”hreflang=”br-pt” />
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