Over the past 14 years Inspiration has provided search engine optimisation services for a wide variety of Irish SMEs. Many of these companies are manufacturers whose primary business goal is to bring their product or service to International markets. Because of this focus Inspiration has honed best of class skills in International search engine optimisation. In this blog post we are going to share our knowledge in this specialist area.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Before we get started with the “technical know-how” lets answer this question for you.
“Search engine optimisation is a series of technical processes that a Webmaster makes to their site and other external sites. The result of search engine optimisation is seeing an improvement in a websites position in organic search result pages.”
International search engine optimisation adopts the same processes with an additional focus on regional factors and influences.
Similar to a standard search engine optimisation campaign, keyword research needs to be carried out but in the target market’s local language. You can use Global Market Finder to research relevant keywords for your campaign.
If you are using a localisation company to translate your keywords it is good practice to test the keywords that you receive. You can do that by going to the relevant search engine, Google.de for example, and entering the key phrase into the search bar. If the results show websites that are not connected to your target industry you may want to re-visit the translation.
Choosing a Domain Name
When choosing a domain name for your International search engine optimisation campaign there are a number of options to consider.
TLD – A top level domain name provides the best geo-targeting impact. Examples of top level domains include: ie .co.uk .de .fr
Subfolder – A subfolder consists of one or a series of websites contained within a TLD. For International targeting it is best to use a .com TLD with International subfolders. Examples include: .com/ie/ .com/uk/ .com/de/ .com/fr/
Subdomain – We would not recommend using subdomains as part of your International search engine optimisation campaign. Subdomains do not offer the same geo-targeting impact as TLD’s or Subfolders.
Website Design and Psychology
Think about the regional differences in your target markets. Do the colours, design, images or messaging reflect the cultural or religious beliefs of your target market? Getting the design right will be central to providing the right messaging for your target market. If your message is on point your website is more likely to convert, resulting in more enquiries and sales.
While not a major ranking factor for Google, your websites hosting location can still help with your International search engine optimisation. Best practise is to host your website as close as possible to your target market.
Content is one of the most important factors to consider when implementing your International search engine optimisation campaign. If your content is translated erroneously your website won’t be visible for your target keywords and may even be found for Keywords not related to your business.
We recommend using a local translation company to translate your content. They will understand your target markets local dialect and will be able to provide the most accurate and up to date translation.
SEO’s shudder when the words “duplicate content” is mentioned. Duplicate content can cause indexation issue when Google chooses to display only one of two duplicate results. When you are developing your International search engine optimisation strategy duplicate content is something you have to consider. Here are some scenarios that you may face:
Problem: I have an Irish .ie website and I would like to develop a website for France.
Solution: Develop a .fr website and translate all the content into French. There will be no duplicate content penalty as content translated into another language isn’t considered duplicate.
Problem: I have an Irish .ie website and I would like to develop a website for the UK.
Solution: Develop a .co.uk website. Try and make as many changes of possible to differentiate the pages. Eg. in the code, image ALT text, meta data, text.
Having the right content marketing strategy can help your website perform optimally in search engine results pages and attract authority links. When developing your strategy think about your target market and create a plan specifically for their regional preferences.
If you are developing multiple sites for translation you may already be sitting on a content marketing gold mine. Are there case studies, blogs, testimonials or even content hubs that can be translated and carried over to your new website?
Another issue that you may face is the appearance of the wrong website in International search engine results pages. For example, if you are targeting the UK with a co.uk website but your .ie website appears in Google.co.uk results. The solution to address this problem is to create hreflang sitemaps. Hreflang sitemaps help Google understand what website should be delivered to the correct International search engine and in what language.
Google has created detailed guides on creating your sitemaps which can be found here.
Note: You can also use HTML link element in header as an alternative to the sitemaps.
Using Google Webmaster Tools is a vital step in your International search engine optimisation strategy. Here you need to indicate to Google which country your website is targeting. This can be done by clicking on the “Search Traffic” menu option
and then “International Targeting”.
Google Webmaster Tools is also where you will be submitting your regular and hreflang sitemaps.
Image ALT and Title Text
When you approach your translation company ensure that they translate the image tags on your website. Every piece of content on your website should be translated in order to provide the best possible user experience for your target market.
SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions
SEO titles and meta descriptions should be translated. Keep an eye on the length of your SEO title and meta description as they may exceed the character limit when translated.
Every URL on your website should be translated into your target language. Create a master document of all your translations and ensure that the correct keywords have been used in your URLs.
You will ideally have a physical address and telephone number in the country that you are targeting. Having a physical address opens up local SEO possibilities and helps with your geo-targeting authority. Mark up your business name, address and telephone number using rich snippets. We also recommend setting up Google+ local to enhance your listing on local search results pages.
Links are still a key ranking factor for search engine optimisation. Building a link profile from website located within your target market will help your website local SEO performance.
This guide is ideal for getting the basics right in your International search engine optimisation campaign. The basics are important for laying the foundations for future success in your target market. But, to ensure future growth we recommend having a digital marketing strategy in place. For further reading on planning your digital marketing strategy check out our digital marketing hub.