You’ve established a successful SEO process and are looking to start an international campaign. Fantastic! We must warn you: this may require more work than you did for your original campaign. To be successful, you must research and create content for every country you target.
For those looking to start an international SEO campaign, here are some best practices for SEO localization.
Ready for the challenge?
We assume you have already analyzed and chosen the areas you'd like to target. It is extremely important to thoroughly research each of these unique populations in great detail. Focus on the technical side first: know your target area’s most popular web hosting locations, domains and sub-domains, country codes, URL structures, search engines, and social media websites. The last two are of particular importance.
Odds are that your current SEO plan is tailored toward Google. Luckily, Google is the top search engine in most countries, but not all. Check the most visited websites of your country, just in case. Social media, however, is its own beast. We've touched a bit on the varying social media platforms before, but each country has its own favored sites. True, many use Facebook and Twitter, but do you recognize Naver? What about VK? Seznam? If you want to reach the largest audience possible, you need to use the sites with the greatest hits. Be safe, and do the research.
Once you’ve established where you plan to target your audience, next comes creating your content. In your local campaign, you likely chose your search keywords from your company’s blog posts, news articles, info graphics, etc. You should follow this process for your international campaign as well, with one huge exception: don’t use the same content and keywords.
While it may be tempting to simply translate the content you’ve already created, we advise against it. What one audience responds to can be vastly different to another; cultures differ, and inevitably part of your established content will be ineffective for the audience you’d now like to capture. Before creating your content, yes, research first. Know what your audience responds to and incorporate these factors into new content, and pull keywords from it.
If you have a native speaker able to create this content in house, know you are the envy of most. For everyone else, enlist the help of a translation expert. Some SEO programs – such as Google’s Global Market Finder – will offer to translate your keywords for you, likely using their own MT program. This is not the time to rely on a machine translation program. Even the most subtle of differences between two words can have a big impact once translated, and your efforts are in vain if you pull the wrong audience.
We stress the importance of using a trusted translation service for your heavier content, as well. Great SEO campaigns run best with thoughtful, informative blog posts or articles. Although you may pull in visitors with properly translated keywords, they may not stay if the rest of your content is indecipherable.
Although it may seem daunting, creating an international SEO campaign is highly beneficial to any business expanding into the global market. We encourage you to take up the challenge – the rewards are worth the work!