Offering content in multiple languages is one of the core aspects of building an authoritative site. Few online businesses offer their goods and services in foreign languages and make content available to customers worldwide. In the global economy in which we live, with international trade at all-time highs, there are countless advantages to offering information and content in other languages besides English if you can find the right solution for making it accessible for the international audience who needs it.
International SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that search engines can easily identify which countries you want to target and which languages you use for business. There are two types of international SEO. The first is multilingual SEO, which helps users in multiple countries, who speak different languages, find your website and content. The second is multicountry SEO, which helps users in one country find content written in a different language.
If you're doing business overseas or want to attract customers from other countries, you need to practice international SEO techniques so you can reach potential customers all over the world.
International SEO is important because search engines like Google will show results to users in different countries based on the searcher’s IP address and their Search Settings. For example, if someone searches for “pizza” from a computer in Italy, they will see pizza restaurants nearby them in Italy.
For many businesses, international SEO means creating relevant content in multiple languages for the target audience. This is because it’s common for people to speak multiple languages in the same country (for example, Germany). However, this isn’t always true. For example, Canada is a bilingual country where most people speak either English or French but not both.
International SEO works the same way as traditional SEO, except it focuses on multiple countries and languages. For example, if someone is searching for a product in Chinese, you want your site to show up within the top results for that search query. The same goes for any other language your site offers information in — Japanese, French, Spanish or Russian.
But getting found by people around the world isn't just about changing the language on your website. It also involves changing some of the technical components of your site to make it more accessible and relevant to international audiences.
When you are targeting users in other markets, international SEO is not just about translation and localization. International SEO is the process of optimizing your website and building a digital presence for each country you want to target, but it also involves working with local search engines and satisfying the needs of users in that location.
When you’re doing international SEO, the goal is to get your site to rank in search engines for searches made by people who speak different languages.
The number one reason for deploying international SEO efforts is to reach more people who speak a language other than your native language. However, I would like to take this opportunity to look at some of the other benefits of international SEO.
More exposure in different countries
The ultimate goal of any search engine optimization effort is to increase traffic. When you choose to implement international SEO strategies, you will be able to easily expand your business into new markets and achieve exposure in different parts of the world.
Increase your sales
By pushing your website out there on a global scale, you will be able to connect with people all over the world and get more sales. If you’re running an online store, you could easily start selling internationally and make a lot more money than you’re making at the moment. It would also be easier for people from other countries to find your website when they are looking for specific products and services that you offer.
Improve brand awareness
International SEO can help improve brand awareness for businesses that are trying to target a larger audience. It will become much easier for you to build trust with customers worldwide and let them know about your company and its values. You’ll be able to show people what makes your business unique from competitors in the same industry by highlighting.
What makes a strong international SEO strategy?
Building a strong international SEO strategy starts with understanding your unique market and potential audience. No two countries have exactly the same search engine results pages (SERPs), so it’s important to understand the ecosystem of each country that you want to target.
For example, many European countries have their primary local directory as the first organic result, while other countries have no directories at all. It’s also important to know what tools are available to help you conduct keyword research in different languages and regions and how competitive your market is for specific keywords. This will give you a better idea of where to start when trying to get your site ranked in foreign markets.
If you don’t have experience doing SEO work in another country, it’s best to start small. Look for low-hanging fruit in more easy-to-target countries like Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. These are English-speaking countries that aren’t too far from home — so much of their culture and search habits will be familiar to you already.
Once you get some wins there, you can use that experience as leverage when targeting more difficult markets like France or Germany. Besides that, your link building skills should also be sharp in order to increase your domain authority.
When you're targeting multiple countries, you have the option of using separate top-level domains (TLDs) for each country or region, such as .fr for France and .de for Germany.
You can also use a generic TLD (.com) and target multiple countries with domain-level targeting. This is where you use a subdomain or subfolder (website structure) of your root domain to target individual countries or regions.
When deciding which approach to take, consider the following:
If you're going to target a single country or region with your website, it's best to use that country's TLD. Having a website with the .de TLD will be more familiar to users in Germany than a .com domain would be. In addition, most ccTLD registrars require proof of local presence before they will approve registration.
If you're going to target more than one country or region, it's best to use a generic TLD in combination with domain-level targeting (subdomains or subfolders). Generic TLDs are viewed as being more trustworthy by users and search engines alike because they're easier to acquire and less expensive. Using a generic TLD also allows you to consolidate your link profile into one root domain instead of spreading it.
Why is the hreflang attribute important?
When you want to be found on Google, it’s important that search engines understand what your content is about and where your audience is located (more on that later).
The hreflang attribute helps Google do just that.
This attribute is added to a webpage’s HTML code and tells search engines that the content on a certain page is meant for users speaking a specific language or for users in a specific country.
Adapt topics for local cultures
Show people that you understand their culture and use language they will understand. For example, this may require changing topics such as "football" in the US to "soccer" in Europe. Keyword research is important here — look at search volumes in different markets and adjust your content accordingly.
By targeting your campaigns accordingly, you can better take advantage of the opportunities available to you in the global landscape. The world is increasingly becoming a single marketplace, and Google is making it easier for smaller businesses to compete with larger ones online. If you choose to participate in this space, make sure that you’re working with a competent SEO team that understands how to connect all these markets together.
While local SEO will likely always remain an important piece of any international company’s strategy, there are some larger trends at play that should not be ignored if that company is serious about its presence in foreign markets.
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