SEO is a tricky business, whatever level you are doing it at. It is based on extremely simple principles, but the technical elements involved are complex and often misunderstood. International SEO campaigns take this to the next level, bringing even more confusing factors which can be hard to put into practice successfully.
If carried out correctly, international SEO can deliver fantastic results and open your business up to a worldwide market. However, there are many pitfalls which need to be avoided to achieve maximum success.
5 of these key pitfalls are highlighted below:
- It’s crucial to do keyword research for the international market with a native speaker so you can identify specific phrases which are suitable for the target market, rather than just translating your English keywords into the relevant language.
In many cases, simple translation won’t actually mimic search behaviour in different languages so you need to start from scratch with any new market. This also goes for your website copy – invest in producing quality copy in each native language, not just translating the copy used on the English version of your site.
- If you’re planning to attack a wide range of markets which use different languages then your content strategy needs to lead the way, not be an afterthought. If it gets forgotten about then it can lead to a big hit on the budget when you realise that you need to create hundreds of pieces of content in different languages.
It’s surprising how many companies think that creating your website’s copy in English and then feeding it through a translation system will suffice. If that’s you, then you need to think again…
Overlooking Local Links
- Many companies embark on an international campaign thinking that they can rely on creating content and pages which target a particular country or language and powering that off the strength of their domestic link profile. Wrong. If you want to rank in specific countries you’ll need to incorporate a link building campaign which acquires links in that market.
You’ll need links on TLDs of that country and on pages which use the target language. Without that, you’ll rarely gain search success internationally.
Using Analytics to Choose New Targets
- Google Analytics is a fantastic source of data and can be used to shape many business decisions. However, it can sometimes be misleading, particularly when looking into potential new markets to target with your international campaign.
For example, you may see visitors coming from a particular country and think you can increase that number with a new, targeted section of the site. However, people in that country are already finding you, and it may be that their search habits are already in tune with searching in English.
Likewise, there may be a country which isn’t finding your business at all as they only search in their native language and so have no presence in Analytics, but are a huge potential market if you had an SEO campaign in place targeting that language.
Analytics wouldn’t highlight either of these scenarios, and as such shouldn’t necessarily be used in this case to drive business decisions. Focus your efforts in instead on market research and keyword research in different countries and languages.
Lack of Research
- Following on from the previous point, in depth research is key to the success of an international SEO campaign, and is often the root cause of failure on this front. Take the time to carry out thorough, global market research to highlight where there is the most significant demand for your product.
Once you’ve established those target markets, carry out thorough keyword research in the native language using native people to do it so all nuances and opportunities are picked up. Only then can you start to look at on site updates and potential link building campaigns on an international scale.
Avoid these major pitfalls and you should find yourself on the way to a successful international SEO campaign. It’s a long road, but if you take the first steps in the right direction, all you’ve got to do is keep on walking.