5 Factors to Think About When Approaching International SEO

3 July 2013


Auckland: Search engine optimization (SEO), is a fast-moving discipline with regular shifts based on algorithm changes from the main search engines, coding standards by website developers, trending platforms such as Twitter or Pinterest and many other factors. It’s such a big deal that Google makes news when there is a new release to its search algorithm.

This difficulty can be complex when impending SEO for a domestic audience. Aiming by city or region can bring in complexities to a plan that takes time to iron out. What about the need to aim several audiences around the world? International SEO is less talked about than other types, but it is vitally significant to any organization or brand that has a worldwide audience or even key audiences in particular locales.

Here are several high-level factors you must reflect on when approaching SEO for multiple countries:

Domains, Subdomains and Subdirectories:

Unless you are only active in a few countries, it is perhaps not practical to have a domain in each country you target. You must consider them for target countries or those where you have a recruiting presence.

Rather than using a different domain per country, you might reflect on domain directories for some of the non-target countries (e.g. yourdomain.com/in for India). The downside is that if you opt for this method, you won’t be able to host these directories on a different server, which could be located in India, for example.

Subdomains (e.g. france.yourdomain.com) are another alternative, though this is the least advantageous method of using domain names for international SEO. It is more useful if the sites are in separate languages. This option still lets you to host the site in the target country or region.

Whatever option you pick, ensure to confirm your domains, subdomains or subdirectories in Google Webmaster Tools. This critical tool can also aid you identify any potential issues with these items.

Where You Host Matters:

Think about servers in key countries. This will not only boost download speeds in those countries, but will also have a positive impact on your search rankings.

Keep in mind that you will have to either use separate country code top-level domains (ccTLDs, such as .au, .ca, .jp, .uk) or subdomains (en.yourdomain.com, fr.yourdomain.com, etc.) in order to do this. The payoff can be worth it if you commit to this plan.

Google Places and Other Localization Strategies:

Ensure to add any physical locations in other countries to Google Places and complete any other profiles that might put in credibility to your international destinations or locations.

If you have people on the ground in your target countries and regions, you should have them blogging and contributing content on the target domain, sub domain or subdirectory too. This balances a multicountry hosting strategy well and the two should go hand in hand.

Keywords are also a factor that varies wildly by location. People might refer to your products or services in a different way in different countries or even regions within a country. You can do research using Google’s Keyword Tool to find the relevant keywords in each target country.

Link-Building in Target Regions:

Aim particular regions for link-building efforts by solicit and obtain links from target ccTLDs that match that country or region. While this puts in another dimension to your link-building campaigns, the same rules apply as in a normal effort.

There are some SEO tools that let you to examine your backlinks by location and/or ccTLD. You can employ these to examine your efforts and center link building on precise areas.

One thing that you shouldn’t do is presume that your link-building policies can be just the same as they are for your domestic efforts. Ensure you invest the time and effort to truly comprehend the media culture of the countries and regions you are targeting. Think about the time you have invested in domestic or even regional/local media relations and keep in mind that the same type of effort will be necessary in each region you target.


Avoid one-page landing page sites. Instead, invest effort into creating out sections of the site with more in-depth information. This is the same approach you would take towards doing domestic SEO for microsites. Single landing pages ineffective for optimization efforts, but multipage sites can gain your efforts.

You must also avoid duplicate content, particularly if the pages for different countries will all be in English. Consider a content plan that removes the need for such duplicate pages and puts more focus on localization of your pages. You can always push people from different locations to common pages that explain your services or other information, while still maintaining your international SEO-targeted content.

Consider that if you are providing content in a different language, use the “Content-Language” meta tag. For instance, for French content use:

This is an important component of the page, as it helps search engines properly index your in-language content. W3C’s Internationalization section provides more specific information that may more directly apply to your efforts.

International SEO can be a challenge for even veterans. Ensure to keep these suggestions in mind and, as in all things SEO-related, when in doubt, use common sense. More times than not, pricey, complex and difficult-to-maintain solutions are not often the best solution and can generate diminishing returns compared with the amount of time and money invested.

These suggestions should give a basic set of rules that can be employed to create your international SEO plan. Even if some of them don’t make sense for your present situation, use the ones that do make sense and reflect on other options such as paid search or display advertising to complement your natural SEO efforts.

Read more: SEO Copmany in Auckland

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