With a staggering 86 percent of Internet users now coming from outside the United States, online marketing needs to move forward with globalization plans.
Establishing a successful website in international markets consists of more than “being there first.” In order to reach the rapidly expanding Internet audience, you need to implement strategies for International Search Engine Optimization (ISEO).
Similar to domestic SEO, international SEO aims to boost the likelihood that a particular website will rise to the top of search result, only there are other factors that must be considered before going global. Basically, you need to localize your site, make sure it is linguistically and culturally relevant.
Here are some key points to consider when developing international SEO strategy:
1. Optimize from day one
You may not see global business as important when you first build your website, but setting your site up with ISEO in mind can avoid time-consuming backtracking later on. If international expansion is not a consideration, then it’s not a problem but if you do see your business expanding off-shore in the future, including an international aspect to your SEO and site development is highly important.
2. Native language content
Having your website content translated into the native language of the country you’re targeting is, without a doubt, a crucial move to start multilingual expansion to Asia and Europe. Even targeting the United States in your global marketing strategy will require subtle tweaking of the language to appeal to the local audience.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t present both language versions of a page on the same URL, since this will easily confuse the search engines.
3. Machine translation is risky
Even with adequate time for review and planning, machines can make small errors in localization that have significant consequences. The pressure to get it right via social media is exponentially greater, since time is short and engagement expectations are high. If your online marketing strategy is to succeed overseas, you brand need human experts who can quickly examine and identify faults in automated translations, and repair them before damage occurs in important markets.
4. Know your potential customers
Businesses that want to reach targeted users demand expertise of not only in language, but also in regional culture, dominant local search engines and top keywords.
Whether a user seeks out information via a regional search engine or through Facebook pages or Twitter hashtags, the company looking for that prospect must anticipate the phrases he or she will use. For example, the highest volume searches for cell phones in China come from a slang term, not the direct translation of “cell phone.” Furthermore, the locally used Baidu search engine works on a completely different algorithm than Google, which dominates much of the rest of the world.
Proper keyword selection and on-page optimization is essential for ISEO. Making a list of possible keywords in the language you are translating to and optimizing for should be done very early in campaign efforts. It is also absolutely vital that you validate your keyword choices before going live in other languages. Choose the keywords that best convey who you are, what you do, and why customers should care, while maintaining that they are excellent choices for search success.
5. Local host
If you have a large site and large budget then hosting the site in the country you’re targeting is definitely recommended. Having a Country Code top-level domain really helps the search engines identify which region you’re relevant to and which queries you should show up against. You’re not going to target Australia with a .co.uk domain after all.