Taking your brand global isn’t easy. But when performed correctly, a smart global SEO plan will help you build brand awareness, influence, and visibility in international markets. Use these five steps to tailor your multilingual strategy to more effectively reach a global audience.
1. Identify the Top Markets for Your Brand
Not every global market will work well for your brand.
You must first identify which international markets present the best opportunity before beginning your global SEO efforts.
Start by looking at the most common languages in the world. A late 2017 study by Statista goes on to state that English, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic are the most commonly used languages online.
Although your brand might not be successful in all of the top language/geographic areas, the most widely used languages online do present the highest potential for growth.
Make sure to analyze potential barriers to entry, such as local SEO competition, as well.
2. Focus on Local Search Engines
Expand your research to the most popular search engines in the international markets that look promising.
Although Google reigns supreme around the world (with around 90 percent of the global market share, according to a study by StatCounter), local search engines do very well in certain geographic areas.
For example, a study by Net Marketshare claims that Baidu, a Chinese search engine, is not only the leading search engine in China, but also the second most used in the world.
Yandex is another example. According to StatCounter, this Russian search engine is the market leader in Russia.
After you get a better idea of which search engines are popular in the international markets you’re targeting, it’s time to research how these search engines actually work.
Focus on unpacking the ranking algorithms to understand how to create global SEO content best crafted for that specific geographic region.
3. Geo-Target Specific Regions with Proper URL Structure
Proper URL structure will make or break your global SEO efforts.
The key is to make it as easy as possible for each search engine to identify which language/country your content is targeting.
There are three main ways to accomplish this:
- ccTLD — example.us
- Subdomain — example.com
- Subdirectory — example.com/us
According to the Google Webmaster Tools help section, each of these URL structures has its own set of pros and cons.
In short, a ccTLD conveys a high level of trust, especially if your brand is attempting to break into a new international market.
If your brand already has an established reputation in an international market, then a subdomain or subdirectory is arguably easier and more affordable to setup and maintain.
4. Perform Market-Specific Keyword Research
Using the right geo-targeted keywords is just as important as creating geo-targeted content.
This starts with performing keyword research for each market. Not only must you consider the local language, but also the specific geographic area.
Even the same words and phrases can be used differently. As a write-up on Moz suggests, the same words can even have very different meanings, throughout the same language.
A simple example is the word “airplane” in the United States and “aeroplane” in the United Kingdom.
Both words mean the same thing, but someone in the United Kingdom probably won’t search for “airplane”—they’ll search for “aeroplane.”
You must take these small regional variations of the same language into account as part of your market-specific keyword research.
5. Create Easily-Translatable Geo-Targeted Content
Take what you learned from your keyword research and turn it into geo-targeted content.
The content you create for international markets must not only be in the correct language and dialect, but it must also use the correct terminology.
On top of this, the content must use the same tone and style of speaking and writing that the people in the targeted area will connect with.
Content completely customized for each market is obviously most effective, but that’s impossible for a lot of startups, especially those attempting to reach multiple geographic areas at once.
A highly effective alternative is to create easily translatable content. Make your desired tone and brand personality clear and straightforward, so it’s easily translatable into many languages.
A skilled translation company can then take this content and translate it into many languages while still maintaining top-notch translation quality.
In fact, the Search Engine Journal states one of the most important aspects of global SEO is to always have a native speaker at least review your content for that international market.
A Smart Global SEO Plan Will Help You Break into International Markets
By developing an updated global SEO plan with the above strategies in mind, you make it that much easier to break into international markets.
First, you must get the content in front of your desired international audience. Second, you must ensure it’s written in such a way that’s not only easily readable in the target language, but also resonates with readers and builds trust in your brand.
A skilled translation company will help maintain excellent translation quality for maximum international impact.