Optimizing your global online visibility is your best leverage in the new normal.
Getting the top rank on Google’s Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with a high potential of global reach is one primary goal for local businesses. As always, both local and international searches are getting tough on the brink of the SERP while organizations are trying to cope or excel in today’s market condition. The international SEO (global search engine optimization) environment sets a growing role in an intensifying competition as numerous digital content platforms and businesses seek to thrive amid the new normal. Both international search platforms and numerous local customers are integrating into a highly competitive field to run small. But, they think big in targeting their products and services for local and global reach. Eventually, bouncing back to its market position as it usually held before the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, whether we like it or not, the “new normal” digital customers are getting started to search engines in finding ‘near me’ products. This customer search behavior vis-a-vis the policies and actions of the government and corporations are all changing and shifting their organizational policy, digital content privacy, information security, and digital content exchange under a new normal environment.
In recent Google and other search engines’ search, the majority are new product or service search queries and comprise local searches. Hence, to benchmark the best practices to conquer the world through digital presence over the world wide web, such as this checklist that provides general SEO tips, we have prepared to guide you for 2020 and onwards. You can use these international SEO tips and best practices to integrate and tailor to the SEO needs of your organization, business, and customers on an international scale. Feel free to add other SEO practices not listed here that can fit your needs. Further, when you use these best SEO practices, it will ease the access of search engine crawlers to your or your client website’s target countries and the languages you use – eventually ranking you high on international online searches.
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1. Linking to local content
When linking to local content, you need to consider a few things so that search engines like Google and Bing can return the best local results to your website. Consider that your website is geographically available as a community resource and that it is mobile friendly. Your website, capable of encouraging ratings and reviews, regularly publish a quality and long-form SEO blog and update your web page with high-quality content reflecting the local trends to suit Google’s local pack searches. This local pack is one of Google’s search results listings that show ads and local content to streamline searches and simplify organic listings.
Check whether your website links to local content for an identified region. Local results on search engines mainly anchor on relevance, proximity, and popularity. Search engine algorithms such as Google or Bing might decide to index a search query, for instance, a business located farther from your location may have what you’re looking for than a company that is closer to you. Hence, search engines will rank that distant business higher in local results instead.
2. Geo-targeting in Bing Webmaster Tools
The Bing Webmaster Tools is a free service that allows indexing of websites to its search engine crawler to see website performance such as clicks, impressions, and a lot more. Configure Bing to geo-target your website or a portion of it for additional flexibility such as defining a country audience for your entire website or section of it from within a single view, site level, and on multiple levels. The geo-targeting feature of your site allows it to provide Bing with hints about your website’s intended audience by connecting it to a target country. Other webmaster tools can let you do it on a site level only. You can configure your website in Bing by following a set of simple steps, get it started from here. Please take note that you need to use the geo-target feature for your sites or sections of your website that you dedicate to a specific country, and that you are not hosting them on a local country-code TLD that matches the country. When you are targeting a particular country with your domain that already uses a local TLD, you need not geo-target the pages on your site.
Generally, you need not geo-target sites or site sections that are set to target global audiences, or it applies to multiple countries at once. When you have a multilingual website that has a Dutch section, for instance, you should not target it to Netherland if you are targeting other Dutch-speaking audiences in other countries with the same content.
3. Business has a significant worldwide customer base
Does the website have a significant worldwide base that might justify a global appropriate TLD and website? If the answer is yes, maintain your customer base as it serves as one of your website’s key drivers or company’s value, that is your customer value at the same time. Analyze your worldwide customer base to determine your customer profitability and maximize a customer’s long-term value. You need to retain and increase your customer base, so it is imperative to stay in consistent communication and offer your business value with your existing customers as well as with the potential ones for both customer acquisition and retention. The frequent you do this, the more likely they will remain loyal to your business value proposition. To continue a lifetime customer value with them, offer them with free newsletters to update and keep them at a pace to your business and provide them with fresh and useful website page content, ask your customer opinions to measure their experience and satisfaction level, keep up to maintain excellent customer support, and promote your website or business on social media to create an interactive community of loyal customers and influencers.
4. Country Targeting, Language Targeting, or both?
Identify if a business needs country targeting, language targeting, or both. Tailor your website content to make it clear and create your pages that provide the impression that those pages are customized. Making such customs targeting will likely increase your chances of allowing them to feel and gain a positive experience. Customize your country targeting, in case you intend for the language, culture, or both for a specific country, think about using a ccTLD. When you want to If you are focusing on language targeting only, a ccTLD might not be your best bet. A ccTLD targets a specific geographic area, not specifically the language spoken in that same place. Instead, use a different international SEO technique such as hreflang, subfolders, or subdomains in combination with or instead of using a ccTLD. You can also explore other targeting options aside from ccTLD for your internationally targeted site.
5. Product availability in foreign markets
To check product availability in foreign markets and understand how locals are shopping for these products, you can start in determining global traffic where international orders are originating. You can consider cultural and language variables, as well as you, need to understand the distinct economic and political policy of the country or region you are targeting to check and ensure product availability. Dive into finding whether that foreign market has tariffs restrictions and trade barriers for the availability of the intended product. Once you have the information, you can determine your next step for entry to foreign markets. This is especially important when you commence exporting or importing, licensing, acquiring, and other indent product procurement modes via e-commerce, online shopping sites, and drop shipping platforms.
Most essentially vital to ensure foreign product availability is the need to translate your target country’s culture and not the language alone. Thus creating your business website as an international web resource site and may or not be multilingual to adapt to how locals are shopping or exchanging their products or services. Developing a marketing strategy in the home country of the product you are targeting or introducing is another proven strategy. You can hire a product entry ambassador or company to do this or create such an international product entry plan. An excellent international website can have great content to make it smoothly build a globally successful website when all the local and global information of the product and originating country are available. Google Search Console, Google My Business, Bing Geo-Targeting tool, and Baidu SEO are your international optimization allies.
6. Track International Websites separately in Google Analytics
When you track International websites separately in Google Analytics, you can obtain insights on how users find and use other sites as well as your homepage. These insights are vital for your international targeting, and you can use the data for comparative analytics and even extend further your global reach. Using Google Analytics (GA) enables you to track the return of investment or ROI of your international marketing. To do this, you have to register one property for the website you want to check on GA and generate a single tracking code for use across all subdirectories of that site. Also, you can have separate data for each subdirectory using its “Views” feature. You have to list all of the URLs for all the country subdirectories of that account to push enough information for analytics. Although you cannot get direct data from other sites, it can provide you the user data of that other site.
7. Currency issues
The currency-related issues significantly affect global or international markets, so is a website’s traffic. It’s better to check if there are currency issues between foreign markets on the website as these greatly influence its site performance to users as well as to search engine result pages or SERP. The foreign exchange plays one essential aspect of the global e-commerce sites, and doing currency checks will enable the website’s financial integrity to earn a trustworthy reputation over the foreign online markets and secure product exchange. Do not miss this as part of your best international SEO tips list. Like the value of goods or services, the demand level of a product determines the value of money. It affects supply and demand relationship to factor in foreign exchange vis-a-vis the future expectations for the foreign currency. Take a look at foreign currency issues such as inflation & interest rates, country currency strength, financial account, debts and balance of payment, trade terms & duties, political performance, and economic recession, among others.
8. Speak their Language
Ensure that when you define your target audience to reach them effectively, you must also define their language. You can create your content more appealing, useful, and relevant to your target audience when you (your website) speak their language. It will serve as your leverage to your influencers and will help you define international language outreach options. Also, you can make outreach research and campaigns through social media and use trending tags (hashtags, for instance) for your content. Double-check that all bits and pieces of your website, from your site navigation to the content and your query handling or help desk, use your target region or country’s primary language. Do good on your SEO keywords and links when you communicate your content.
Understand the type of audience that you want to target for you to effectively customize the pitch, tone, and other details of how to communicate with them your content. Prevent making generalized content as it will just be pointless, expensive, and dangerous. Make a precision targeting Country Targeting, Language Targeting, or both?
Identify if a business needs country targeting, language targeting, or both. Tailor your website content to make it clear and create your pages that provide the impression that those pages are customized for them. Making such customs targeting will likely result in increasing your chances of allowing them to feel and gain a positive experience. Customize your country targeting, if it’s for language, culture, or both for a specific country. You can use a ccTLD for this, but if you want to focus your targeting on language only, a ccTLD may not be the best fit. A ccTLD targets a specific geographic area, not specifically the language spoken in the same place. Instead, use a different international SEO technique such as hreflang, subfolders, or subdomains in combination with or instead of using a ccTLD. You can also explore other targeting options aside from ccTLD for your internationally targeted site.
9. Using language annotations
Before you proceed in using language annotations, check whether you need such on your website to optimize your web SEO. Better map out the language and country versions of your website as well as double-check its structure and content optimization strategy for SEO best practices. By then, you can assign hreflang value to each language and country version on your website’s coding and content like reflecting it in the HTML link element in your website’s header.
The hreflang is an HTML <link> or <link> tag attribute, indicating that the search engine crawls the relations of your pages in different languages on your website. Google uses this attribute to provide the correct regional or country language URLs in each search engine result pages based on the searcher’s country and language preferences.
In the HTML section of https://www.example.com/, add a link element pointing to your target audience’s language, i.e., a Spanish version of that webpage at , like this:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=”https://es.example.com/” />
Please note the HTTPS header as sighted above, when you publish non-HTML files (like PDFs). Also, you can use an HTTPS header to show another language version of any URL:
For instance, this link: <https://es.example.com/>; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”es”
To specify multiple hreflang values in any link HTTPS header, separate the values with commas:
link: <https://es.example.com/>; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”es”,<https://en.example.com/>; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”en”
To list your language annotations, use a sitemap instead of using markup, and you can submit a language version information in your Sitemap to Google Webmasters.
10. Geo-targeting in Google Search Console
Check and properly configure your website’s geo-targeting in the new version of the Google Search Console (GSC). On GSC, check on the international target report, click the country tab, tick the Geographic target checkbox, and choose your country target. Select “unlisted” in the drop-down list to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region. When you do this, you can send a signal to Google to index a country that you want to be prioritized for search engine results. So better use the GSC’s International Targeting Report to monitor the usage and errors of your hreflang tags on your website, and you may set as you desire a site-wide country target for your entire site.
11. Using language subdomains?
Make the use of language subdomains as part of your website to make it simple. So, check if the website is using subdomains for language versions. Please take note that a subdomain is considered a separate entity by the search engines. One good thing about subdomains is that it can be used for organizational improvements or SEO optimization. To set-up your language subdomains, establish the DNS records of your website. For example, west.example.com and east.example.com are subdomains of the example.com domain, which is a subdomain of the com top-level domain (TLD). You can configure this to Google Webmaster Tools or Google Search Console (GSC). You have to edit your DNS records to create a subdomain for your website’s language.
12. Consider Site Structure
Use URL structures for your website that can target a particular country. Include the use of a country-code Top-Level Domain or ccTLD to do this. Take “example.us” as a case in point. You can use a subdomain “us.example.com,” a subdirectory “example.com/us,” gTLD with language parameter “example.com/?lang=en-us,” or different domain “exampleussite.com” as you choose. Note that Google recommends that you similarly organize your hierarchy in each section so that it’s intuitive and easily crawlable. Use distinct two-letter codes (i.e., “us” for the United States, “UK” for the United Kingdom, “ny” for New York) to indicate both users and search engines of the site structure and match this to the target country, sovereign state, or dependent territory that the website is registered. Make sure that the structure is unique and not commonly used for other purposes that Google treats them generically.
13. Acquire ccTLDs for countries
Acquire the ccTLD, or also known as Country Code Top Level Domain. It’s a two-letter domain, such as UK (United Kingdom), .de (Germany), and jp (Japan) (for example), are called country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and correspond to a country, territory, or other geographic location. When you do your busine