International expansion of your business is a terrific way of growing and scaling your business. But deciding to enter various foreign markets involves making decisions and actions that will establish your organic presence on the web.
Globalization has made it straightforward for all businesses to expand their presence internationally. When you detect a good opportunity or a good amount of traffic coming to your website from a specific country, it is a good idea to target this market. But if you enter a new market without proper preliminary research, it will lead to a lot of wasted resources and time.
Here are some steps you need to take for a successful venture:
Performing local keyword research will permit you to collect data about the traffic potential of certain search terms and their search volume. You can also find out how they are connected to your products and services in the local language used in the new market. You can find some online tools for this purpose.
Apart from the search volume, the other key metric is difficulty. It defines the competitiveness of your keywords in various markets and languages. One-to-one translation of keywords might not always work. Therefore, getting the native language experts in the area you are targeting, for keyword research, is a good idea.
You can find organic competitors in the new market based on relevant queries and keywords highlighted in the keyword research stage. These are the competitors you can find on the search engine results pages (SERPs) while targeting the search terms. Certain tools can provide an overview of local SERPs for your questions.
Depending on the relevant queries and keywords, you may define the competitors. These organic competitors can overlap internationally; however, they may differ significantly for different markets. Therefore, it is a good idea to check where the main organic competitors are operating and the language they use for their sites.
When going international, you have to adapt to new countries and languages or both. A multi-regional site targets many countries, for instance, airbnb.com. Similarly, you can have a multilingual or a global website targeting many languages or an international audience. The number of versions you can have depends on your target audience.
Taking a global website approach will be effective only when the audience has already gone international, and there is no need for customization. Most people, in any case, prefer to browse using their native language. Therefore, it is tough to rank a domain within a specific market if it is not localized.
The domain name can be either a name associated with your brand or a localized name for the local markets. Many businesses opt to localize their domain names because it allows them to include keywords that are relevant to the targeted markets. This is the way of a top automotive company called Auto1 Group. It adapts its name for every target market.
Generally speaking, using the business or brand name is a good idea because it allows for consolidated brand authority and the brand’s awareness is better in various markets. But when the brand name is tough to pronounce or has an ambivalent meaning, it might be a good idea to adapt it to local markets.
Geotargeting means serving the right version of your site to the users as per their location. For this reason, the selection of URL structure is critical as it will be an indication for users and search engines. There are different types of anatomies of URL structure used for various subparts.
The three URLs that can be structured for targeting international markets are gTLD, ccTLD and subdomain. The selection of various URL structures has a set of advantages and disadvantages. The structure selection depends on the market you are trying to penetrate, the resources available to you and the niche you are operating in.
For the URL structures that use gTLD, you may use the international targeting report from Google Search Console. It lets Google know that the website targets visitors from specific countries. This feature works as a local hint from Google. The report can be found under the “Legacy tools and reports” section of the Search Console. The domains that use ccTLD get geotargeted automatically.
The creation of brand-new content can be time-consuming. Therefore, while expanding to a new market, most businesses will try to recruit foreign employees that are translation experts. You may use them to translate the content from your original site into the local language.
Similar to the market in your local area, the quality of content will affect the website’s ranking. If you do not perform proper keyword research or do not know the users’ search intent from the local market, the developed content can be irrelevant or of poor quality. Therefore, you need to spend some time developing content that will take into account the differences.
Being able to speak the targeted country’s language doesn’t mean you can talk to the people in the area. There are slang and cultural differences regarding humor, taste and approach. These things can differ a great deal between nations. It is a good idea to keep track of religious and national seasons and events in the local markets.
Having a currency choice is good for your site. The currency you are using on the site for the transaction must be one of the choices available to users from a country. It’s also a good idea to offer different methods of payment on your website wherever possible. Moreover, ensure you consider local regulations; they have to be respected to avoid legal issues.
Usually, when enhancing content, it is recommended that you have outbound links to relevant local sites. These outbound links are a natural way of providing greater insights to the readers. They also add context to search engines regarding the topic you cover in your content.
Search engines take into consideration the quality of outbound links in the content. So, it is important that the content has outbound links to local authority sources. These are the relevant sources in terms of quantitative metrics and quality. These links need to be placed within the content and should point to good resources in local languages as far as possible.
The hreflang tag is helpful to search engines such as Yandex and Google to define the URL version of your website served to visitors from a certain area or using a specific language. The Hreflang attributes can be useful for preventing indexing problems because of duplicate content where the same content is delivered in a language of a particular geographical area. Hreflang may be implemented in 3 ways; through HTTP header, HTML document, or site XML sitemap.
Backlinks are still one of the most significant ranking factors. While entering a new market, these links can facilitate the discovery of your website for both users and search engines. From the start, search engine optimization (SEO) needs to work together with the other departments, like PR, to build links to the Home page and develop brand awareness. If your website is technically well-placed and the servers use qualitative content, you need to start getting local and relevant backlinks. If you can get backlinks from authoritative sources from all your targeted countries, you start to establish your local presence.
Local citations mean any mention of the business info online. Local citations are important when you implement your website in many countries and have a physical address. This allows you to strengthen your local presence in a country. The name, address and phone number or NAP information of your website can be found on the site and in your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business) or local directories and social media pages. However, if the search engine finds different addresses apart from the real ones, it can get confusing. So, your NAP information has to be consistent in the countries you are present.
Expanding your business internationally is not something that can be hastily attempted. As far as SEO is concerned, it will take a lot of thought, time and careful consideration to do it right. While entering new markets, your international SEO strategy should include studying market potential, selecting the correct URL structure and domain as well as developing traffic and authority locally. You need to design an effective plan that will consider the sources available and the market potential for a successful and effective expansion.