Tips to Build a Powerful SEO Program That Scales Globally

Rakshit Hirapara

Need Help With Your SEO?

The internet has opened up the world. The digital realm can be your market and there is no reason to stay local in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. There’s no doubt about it – you are bound to benefit from crafting a powerful SEO strategy that scales globally.

Internet penetration is over 90 percent in the E.U. and 53 percent of China’s population connects to the internet. People in the E.U. have perceptions that differ from those in China, in the United States and in the Asia Pacific region. Your SEO simply cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, consider a powerful strategy that scales globally.

These tips can help you implement a powerful action plan. 

Search Engines

As per NetMarketShare research, Google accounts for 75 percent of global search traffic, with Yahoo at 2.77 percent, Bing at 9.97 percent and Baidu at 9.34 percent. A point to note is that Google is non-existent in China, where Baidu predominates. 

Further, search engines like Google deliver different results for the same keyword search input based on region. So, if Google receives 2.3 trillion searches, they are from across the world and searchers get to see region-specific outputs.

Your site may feature at the top in some country searches and not feature at all in searches in other countries. This calls for an SEO strategy that scales globally to suit search engines and the search habits of target customers.

The Case for Going Global

Small businesses may wonder why they should have a global worldview when their main customer base is local. The answer is intangible benefits, such as: 

  • Enhanced visibility and a better reputation
  • New customers potentially arriving from all over the world
  • Being local today and global tomorrow, growing your business as you should be

For large enterprises, too, it pays to have a global perspective and align strategies to suit specific regions in line with the way things operate there. Search engines are global but work locally, even within countries, spewing out one set of results in one location and another in a different location. Baidu delivers text links whereas Yandex and Google offer enriched Local Pack results. This calls for realigned strategies to maintain visibility.

These search engines even differ in defining markers such as H1 and H2 tags, metadata and character limit. It is challenging, and a good reason for you to pick the right web developer and digital marketing agency with expertise in operating across various markets. 

Localize Content

SEO relies a great deal on content to generate backlinks and traffic. The first step you can take towards scaling globally is also the simplest: Generate content in local languages, tailored to specific regions’ preferences. Pay particular attention to the use of local keywords. Look at culture, local slang and expectations from brands.

In parallel, operate analytics for each region to track outcomes. Naturally, traffic from such content distribution will point to your site, which will require optimization. 

Site Optimization 

You will need expert web developers and specialists in global SEO to carry out mods to your site, such as the use of the hreflang tag. This ensures that your targets view content written to suit their jargon while avoiding being labeled as duplicate content. Site optimization naturally points to the use of multiple domain levels as part of your worldview campaign. 

ccTLD and URL Structure

This does call for the services of specialist web developers and SEO experts. The standard practice when you wish to scale on a global level is to use country code top-level domain (ccTLD), a subdomain and a subdirectory structure with language parameters. Doing this aligns your site with Google’s policies. A few things to keep in mind are: 

  • ccTLD indicates in which country the website is registered.
  • Subdomain contains internationalized content that passes or receives links from the main domain.
  • International content remains within a sub-directory of the main domain.
  • The generic top-level domain (gTLD) language parameter tag further defines a URL to indicate which language speakers the website targets.
  • It is also possible to place internationalized content within a separate site for each region, preferably locally hosted. Drill down a bit and even consider foregoing the mobile user aspect to derive more benefits.

Following this practice has three benefits:

  • You have compartmentalized sites and structure, making modifications easy and simplifying the process of deriving analytics statistics.
  • Search engines and searchers will find precisely the content that you intend for them to find.
  • You get the benefit of local SEO in a global context.

There are different schools of thought regarding the superiority of subdomains or subdirectories. In practice, it is better to go the subdomain route even if it costs more. The reason is simple: Subdomains rank faster and higher. You will need to register variations of each domain, link them all together and use redirects. 

Your Approach and Attitude to Scaling SEO Globally

The first step? Rethink your approach and attitude to SEO. Ordinarily, businesses simply appoint an expert and let them do their thing. For scaling on a global level, this can work – provided your SEO expert has the capabilities to make it happen. Even then, it helps to internally change your perspective and bring about coherence across branches while deriving localized intelligence, all of which serves as input for your SEO team or for the expert you appoint. 

This exercise could open your eyes in different ways, too. Your local teams, tasked with gathering data on local culture, preferences and language, could well derive market intelligence and develop strategies that align culturally with local ideology. It could be used in digital advertising. 

If Starbucks or McDonald’s had so chosen they would have remained confined to just one city. However, global vision turned them into megabuck corps. Scaling professional SEO services to global proportions could have this effect, or it can simply improve local visibility and enhance branding.

If the internet gives you the world then why not take it through the right SEO done by professionals? 

Ranking Countries 

You can go overboard in global search engine strategies and assign equal weights to all countries irrespective of importance from the perspective of sales. You would be spending a lot of time and money to maintain a presence even in markets that have low returns.

It pays to know your product and target preferences in different countries and rank them in order of importance. Focus your efforts only on promotions targeting specific countries. This strategy has an added benefit in that search engines will not indiscriminately display results but will show country-specific results, since there is less to choose from and your site ranks better. 

The Mobile Factor

People using mobiles to conduct searches and online purchases outnumber those using desktops. You have no choice but to fall in line and make your site mobile responsive. Content, too, must be tailored to match mobile design. Even on a smaller screen, finding decisive information and persuasive calls-to-action (CTA) all need to happen in the space of a few minutes. 

Iterate, Reiterate

Attaining a commanding global presence is by no means an easy task – you have to keep at it constantly.

You may start with a basic set of assumptions fed by primary research; actual life experiences may show different results. This will mean slight changes to tags and keywords as well as topic matters, based on which ones generate better results. If it goes down well with audiences, is it equally effective with search engines? You will find yourself having to keep modifying quite a few parameters as you go along. 

It helps to have a plan and a platform for measurement along with a report card system to give you a single dashboard view of where you stand. This will help you to prioritize activities that have varying impacts on results and traffic. You will be juggling metadata, internal links, content optimization, competitor content, hreflang mapping and site speed. 

The unexpected can also have a big influence. For instance, a keyword or a set of keywords may have low competition in specific countries or regions but at the same time have high search volume. You will realize this only after you proceed with implementation and discover anomalies. When you target countries with small and large populations and different language usage, you will get better results from the smaller countries that have low competition keywords. 

Accelerating it

Waiting for purely organic efforts to show results can be time-consuming. You can accelerate it with the use of localized pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, letting the keywords for PPC feed organic content and vice versa to gain instant visibility you can translate to sustained visibility. 

On paper, it looks easy, but global search engine optimization is a huge challenge. Your local SEO expert may not be up to the task due to the nature of the work involved. Err on the side of caution and hire someone with proven expertise in this area. It is worth the extra expense.

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