For some reasons many SEO services think the need of international SEO as part of their campaign. However, few only conduct international SEO since international SEO is a challenging task. Therefore, to help you conduct international SEO we provide you with several steps, such as follow.
Find Your Current International Audience
Doing research is the first step that you should take before let your SEO goes international, so gauge current and potential interest by looking at your site traffic by country in Google Analytics. Find the countries that your traffic originates from by opening the location report under Geo and sort by sessions. These top listed countries are your top candidates to get their own targeted sites or pages.
The next step is to open up the Google Search Console Search Analytics report and filter by country. Check the boxes for impressions, click through rate (CTR) and position. A country who contributes lots of click will receive a large number of impressions and have higher average positions are good starting points for international targeting. In fact, it is easier to rank well in countries where you’ve already gained some transaction.
Determine Language vs. Country Targeting
Now there are two ways that can make your site goes international, you can choose to create sites in alternate languages, or to target them geographically? It looks like two of them works oppositely, but it will have big impact on how you go about creating your international site.
Both of them have their own weakness and strength:
You’ll get widen reach of audience once you have optimized your pages by language. Since people in French will be relevant and accessible to French speakers all over the world. It will also make translating/creating simpler since you won’t need to optimize it for specific cultures or markets. The downside is that your content will have to be generic and free of idiomatic phrases that may not be used globally.
You can provide more discounts, sales and other offers since you’ll be able to really target your content. Linguistic variations, like the differences between British, Canadian, Australian, and American English will not bother you anymore. In fact, since the SEO will be limited into a single country, therefore you need to do any market research to optimize your content for local buying behaviors.
Decide which URL Structure is Best for You
Arranging the best URL structure is necessary for your SEO site and there are three options for URL structure that is good for international websites:
- Country code to-level domains (ccTLD)
ccTLDs is quite self-explanatory: they use country codes in their domain name or domain extension, instead of the generic.com, .org or .net. In fact, the biggest advantage of using a ccTLD is because it does your geotargeting for you. When Google sees example.co.uk or example.it, it knows that those sites should serve United Kingdom and Italy’s users.
Another way to build up a lot of brand awareness globally is by using language or country-specific subdomains as the way to go for a company. Moreover, you need to make sure to use Google Search Console’s International Targeting if you do create geotargeted subdomains. This will make sure that Google will use that subdomain in searches in the appropriate country.
- Subfolders (also called subdirectories)
The main advantage of having subfolder is that because it is the fastest and easiest option to implement, as they just require you to create a few extra folders for each country and/or language. Due to this, subfolders are a great option for smaller companies. However, subfolders somewhat can be ambiguous for both human users and search engines since people will be confuse, for instance is /fr/ meant for users in France or for all French speakers?