Learn to Conquer Your Global SEO for International Success
Global SEO covers our strategies for targeting multiple markets on an international scale, down to the words we use and the search engines we aim to accommodate. While your business is on trend for industry-relevant keywords, expanding that success to additional markets in diverse languages poses exponential challenges.
1. Don’t Let Keywords Lost in Translation
Regardless of the power of your home market’s keyword rankings, expanding into international markets takes thoughtful adaptation. It is not enough to directly translate keywords from English into your target market’s native language.
While the intent is admirable, the results of machine translation range from slightly awkward to severely maimed and non-functional. As a global language services provider, we must advocate against the use of online translators or conversational language apps for web content.
While a small error likely won’t impact your bottom line, an entire page of mistranslated content could doom your international platform from the start.
As Search Engine Land’s post on the topic of global SEO and localization suggests, addressing web copy for culturally sensitive settings is as vital as maintaining compelling content. Communicating with customers in their native language is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the most efficient as well.
2. Keep an Eye on Alternative Search Engines
International SEO won’t help your business’s global reach unless you consider alternatives to the almighty Google. While Google is at the forefront of U.S. and global searches, with 90 percent of the market according to Stat Counter, it isn’t as pervasive as expected.
In local regions, other search engines may reign supreme. For example, as Search Engine Journal discusses in a post on global SEO, China’s primary search engine is Baidu, a name that is likely unfamiliar to most U.S.-based marketers.
If a brand focuses solely on Google optimization, its target market may never arrive at the intended website. Surveying popular search engines used in the intended market positions your brand directly in front of the customer.
While zeroing in on Google’s algorithms sets you up for global SEO success, researching your target market’s favored search engine will provide insights on the searching habits of your intended customer base, and allow you to cater to those habits.
This research also offers clues to the level of saturation in your industry.
3. Geo-Target Web Sites for Maximum Reach
For larger companies, creating entire alternative websites for specific countries or regions has its perks. It is tedious to translate and adapt content for multiple platforms, but the perks of geo-targeting include creating accessibility and familiarity for consumers.
Search Engine Journal explains three options for geo-targeting your web properties in its post on global branding. These three options are creating country-code top-level domains, creating country-specific sub-domains, or creating a subdirectory for each country.
For optimal results with Google, Search Engine Journal’s recommends employing country-code top-level domains, with hosting in the target country. While this option is the most involved, an entire website dedicated to a particular geographic location shows your brand’s investment in that market.
While you may already apply hreflang tags to each page on your website, geo-targeting steps go further toward establishing international SEO clout. In conjunction with one of the options listed, hreflang tags further categorize web pages.
4. Plan for Localization
We’ve explored keyword research and local search engine preferences, but without a plan for implementing localization, that research is only the first step.
Adobe, a globally reaching company with a focus on multilingual SEO, retains a localization team that follows a five-step process for local search term research and implementation. Dave Lloyd, the Senior Manager of Global Search Marketing at Adobe, shared these five steps as a guideline for global SEO teams.
Adobe knew that just translating and dropping content onto their website wasn’t enough. An in-depth understanding of localization drove the creation of a five-step process for keyword selection. Their process starts with search term definition and progresses through localization, validation, selection, and approval.
With this collaborative keyword selection method, Adobe maintains its brand identity while catering to geographic-specific markets. Lloyd’s global SEO team designs organic and site search strategies, so it’s definitely a good idea to take their advice when it comes to focusing on localization.
Another tactic for developing your localization strategy is seeing how websites with global success in your industry operate. Bytelevel Research issued its “report card” for web globalization for 2017, ranking the top 25 global websites.
According to their evaluation system, Google is number one in the global rankings. Other top scored sites include Wikipedia, Facebook, and NIVEA. Pick a brand that’s related to your industry, and make a case study of their website.
While we can’t all aspire to earn the global reputation of Google, mastering global SEO for your own brand, no matter the size, serves to increase your markets and your profitability.