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How to Optimize Your Website for Other Countries

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How to Optimize Your Website for Other Countries


Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to help your brand reach the first page of search results and ideally climb into the top 5 positions for your primary keyword.

But what happens when you want to expand outside of local markets? With Google now seeing more than 3.5 billion searches per day, there’s a massive opportunity for brands to capture new customers. The caveat is that existing SEO practices may not translate — and in some cases, may actually hurt your brand in other countries.

To avoid this potential pitfall, a robust international SEO strategy is critical. Here’s what you need to know about what it is, how it works, how it’ll benefit you, and what steps you can take to create an effective plan.

Ready? Shkojme! Idemo! Vámonos! Let’s go!

Effective strategies leverage a combination of geographic and language data to develop SEO plans that drive reliable ROI. A strong international SEO strategy will help your company reach new markets and multiply revenue.

What does international SEO do for company websites?

An international SEO strategy for websites focuses on creating content that’s applicable to local markets, as well as developing a website structure that makes it easy for search engines to find and serve the right webpages to the right users at the right time.

Consider a company that sells window shades in the United States and is making a move into Canada. First, you’ll want to ensure Canadian customers are sent to the right pages on your website — pages that contain information about Canadian locations, Canadian shipping times, and fees and costs in CAD.

You’ll need a website structure that includes both U.S. and Canadian pages and leverages enough metadata that search requests from users will direct them to the right page for their current location.

Does my business need an international SEO strategy?

It depends.

If you have no plans to expand beyond local markets — such as your current city or state — international SEO probably isn’t worth the time and resources required. In fact, international SEO can backfire if your business is entirely local. Customers who land on international pages won’t be happy when they discover you serve a very small geographic area.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to expand beyond country borders, it’s worth spending on international SEO. Given the sheer number of companies competing on the global stage and the increased challenge in ranking highly for relevant keywords, a comprehensive strategy is critical.

Still not sure whether you should go for a local SEO strategy or international SEO strategy?

There are four primary differentiators between local SEO and international SEO:

  • Cost: Owing to their scale and scope, international SEO efforts come with significant costs.
  • Content: To ensure international reach, you’ll need to create significantly more content than you would for a local SEO strategy.
  • Capture: International SEO expands the target market you’re trying to capture, which necessitates in-depth research to ensure your brand aligns with customer expectations.
  • Competition: Competition for keywords and customers is much greater for international SEO efforts. Instead of simply competing with other businesses in the same local sphere of influence, you could be up against multinational corporations.

Questions to Ask About International SEO

Not sure how to get your international SEO efforts off the ground? Start with these questions.

  1. Where are you headed?
  2. Should you target language or country?
  3. What localization factors matter most?
  4. How can you build local links?
  5. Does social media matter?
  6. Are current keywords good enough?
  7. Do you have the right tools and talent?

1. Where are you headed?

Depending on the part of the world you’re targeting, your international SEO approach will change. For example, if you’re headed to China, the most popular search engine is Baidu, while Yandex is the preferred choice in Russia. Each of these engines have their own approach to SEO, meaning it’s worth doing your research to find out what matters most for rankings.

2. Should you target language or country?

This is a common international SEO question: Are you better-served targeting a specific language or a country? The answer depends on your goals. If you’re looking to appeal to a broad audience regardless of where they live, language optimization may be the answer. If you’re looking to grow brand awareness in a specific part of the world, opt for country-based SEO.

3. What localization factors matter most?

Localization is the process of optimizing your website and content to reflect the local language and culture. Two of the most important factors here are accuracy and common use: First, it’s critical to make sure that translations of any keywords or slogans are accurate — direct translations can open your brand and services to misinterpretations, such as the always-classic “Come alive with Pepsi” slogan translated as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead” in Chinese markets.

Common use is the other concern. The words and phrases used to describe your business and what it does may not be the same in other languages, even if the literal translation of words gives that impression. Find out what words locals use to describe your products and services and use those instead.

4. How can you build local links?

Building local links back to your site also helps with international SEO. Here, it’s a good idea to write articles for local blogs, get a sponsored mention on websites that offer advice or useful information, connect with local social media influencers, and sponsor local events.

5. Does social media matter?

While Google has expressly stated that social media doesn’t factor into international SEO rankings, you can increase brand awareness and local influencer connections with a strong social media presence.

6. Are current keywords good enough?

While your current keywords may help you rank in the top 5 locally, the sheer number of companies competing for these keywords in global markets means you need to take a look at who’s using these keywords, where they rank, and whether other similar keywords might drive better results.

7. Do you have the right tools and talent?

Finally, consider if this is something you can take on yourself or if you’re better off hiring an experienced international SEO company.

Factors That Affect International SEO

Multiple factors affect international SEO, including:

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews on your website or on local review sites can positively or negatively impact your SEO efforts. Better reviews mean better connection with your primary keyword, in turn boosting your visibility.

Mobile Responsiveness

The responsiveness of your website on mobile also matters to overall search rankings. As a result, it’s worth finding a content delivery network (CDN) capable of providing a top-tier website experience no matter where users are in the world.

Google My Business Account

Your Google My Business Account can help boost your SEO efforts — so long as you ensure to update where your company is operating. This acts as a starting point for Google to seek out geographic and language metadata on your site.

Link Building

The more links heading back to your site from international sources, the better. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to write for local blogs or connect with influencers to point links back to your website.

How to Develop an International SEO Strategy

Ready to develop your international SEO strategy? Start here.

1. Decide where and who you’ll target.

First, pick your target market and target audience. For example, you might decide to target the larger market of Brazil, then hone in on a subset of that market that has the means and motive to buy your product. The more focused your decisions around “where” and “who,” the better your results.

2. Determine whether you’ll hire an international SEO agency.

Do you want to do the heavy lifting of international SEO yourself or outsource this effort? There are advantages to both — you know your brand better than anyone else, but SEO experts are skilled at understanding local customs and preferences and creating a strategy to match.

3. Conduct international keyword research.

Keywords that work for you at home may not work abroad. This may simply be down to keyword volume, or it may be linked to how customers in your target market refer to your business. For example, trial lawyers in the United States are known as barristers in the United Kingdom — if you’re a legal firm looking to expand operations, this is a critical keyword difference.

4. Choose the right international domain structure.

The domain structure of your website makes it easier (or harder) for visitors and search engines to find your content. Different options include:

ccTLD

Country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are two-letter domains assigned to specific countries. For example, .us is for the United States, .ca is for Canada, and .uk is for the United Kingdom. To improve international SEO, you may choose to create a unique ccTLD site for each country where your products or services are available.

Example: mybusiness.ca, mybusiness.uk

gTLD

A generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD), meanwhile, refers to domain extensions with three or more characters; these TLDs are maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Common examples include .com, .gov and .org.

Using a gTLD means that search engines won’t restrict results based on region, but it may reduce total traffic since many users prefer sites that include their country code TLD.

Example: mybusiness.com

ccTLD or gTLD with subdomains

You can also choose to create subdomains for your site which combine aspects of both ccTLDs and gTLDs.

Example: ca.mybusiness.com

This offers the benefit of a country code and the advantages of a gTLD.

ccTLD or gTLD with subdirectories

Subdirectories, meanwhile, change the location of the country code:

Example: mybusiness.com/ca/

5. Optimize content for the region and language

Finally, make sure all your content is optimized for both your target region and its local language. This includes double-checking all TLDs, translations, and content assets to ensure they’re aligned with local expectations.

Oh, and don’t forget the hreflang tag. This HTML attribute specifies the geographic area and language of a webpage. It’s used to differentiate similar webpages aimed at different audiences so that search engines don’t count them as duplicate content, and it looks like this:

 <link rel="alternate" hreflang="x" href="https://example.com/alternate-page" />

Tools for International SEO

The right tools can also help you maximize the impact of international SEO by providing actionable data around traffic, click-throughs, and time spent on your site. Some of the most popular tools include:

HubSpot

HubSpot’s SEO software allows you to create an international content strategy, gives you live tips to improve your on-page SEO, and lets you organize your website in a way that’s easy for both search engines and users to understand.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console lets you see what queries are driving traffic to your site, determine your position on Google Search, and analyze global site impressions.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolset that lets you optimize your site, analyze your competitors’ rankings, and find the best keywords for your brand.

Moz

Moz offers site audits to determine potential issues, tracks keyword rankings across more than 170 search engines, analyzes backlink profiles to evaluate performance, and offers keyword research tools to find out how you stack up against the competition.

Semrush

Semrush lets you identify high-value local and national keywords, analyze the backlink profile of any domain, and track your site’s SERP positions daily.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an interconnected suite of tools that helps you analyze the impact of your website content worldwide.

International SEO Best Practices

No matter what approach you take to international SEO — language-focused or country-based, outsourced or in-house — the same best practices apply. Let’s take a look at them below.

1. Answer questions in the region’s native language and in the right context.

If there’s one thing to get right for international SEO, it’s making sure you’re speaking the same language as your customers. This means doing your research to ensure you’re always answering questions in their native language and in the appropriate context.

2. Translate existing content carefully.

While translation tools provide a literal conversion of words and phrases, they’re often not used this way by locals, meaning customers will quickly recognize that something isn’t quite right. Instead of translation, what you’re really looking for is “transcreation” — you want to recreate the same content but using the culture and language of your target market as a guide.

3. Consider the entire user experience in your strategy.

International SEO isn’t just about keywords and content. It’s also about making sure the entire user experience — from filling out forms to viewing prices in local currency or accessing multimedia assets that include native speakers — is seamlessly aligned across your site.

4. Avoid automatically redirecting users based on their IP address.

While it’s critical to serve content that matches local user expectations, don’t make the decision for them. Instead of automatically redirecting where they land based on their IP address, give them the option to choose their preferred region.

SEO: Improving Your International Impact

The right SEO strategy sets your brand apart from the crowd. And while this is important in home markets, it’s even more critical if you decide to go international, because it will ensure your website is optimized to support high-value content and keywords across regions and countries. By considering local customs, language, and context, you can boost consumer engagement, improve search engine results, and maximize your international impact.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  



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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub


Enterprise customer data platform ActionIQ has announced the launch of a new product, CX Hub. The company has also rebranded as AIQ. The CX Hub is designed as a set of modules offering self-service access to customer data, allowing users to build audiences and orchestrate experiences at scale.

After eight years of growth as a CDP serving B2C, media and other sectors, the changes represent a “new approach to our product and brand,” said CEO and co-founder Tasso Argyros in a release. The modular framework will ingest data from any source, integrate with any activation channel, and also allow components to be used with a third-party CDP.

The modules. CX Hub is comprised of four solutions:

  • Customer data platform.
  • Audience center.
  • Journey management.
  • Real-time CX.

The Hub is also designed to be accessible to business users with a friendly UI and extensive automation capabilities.


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Why we care. This is a significant development in the CDP space — a space that has been transforming rapidly, with many of the early established CDPs being acquired and ingested by more extensive suites such as digital experience platforms.

ActionIQ, one of the leading B2C CDPs, is now describing itself as “the leading CX solution.” It seems to be future-proofing itself by extending its capabilities across orchestration and execution channels, not by acquiring or building those solutions, but by seeking to provide modular integration between its (or a third-party’s) customer data management tool and orchestration and execution channels.

Sometimes we wonder how many independent, traditional CDPs will be left standing a year from now.

Read next: Deep changes in the CDP space


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update


Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll

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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll


Earlier this year, revenue orchestration platform LeanData released a report suggesting that lead management remains a “heavily manual” process. Based on a survey of more than 1,700 sales, marketing and operations professionals, the results showed that, despite all the talk of digital transformation, the number two challenge for revenue teams was too many manual processes and not enough automation (the number one challenge was insufficient pipeline).

LeanData, which partnered with Sales Hacker, Outreach and Heinz Marketing in conducting the survey, is interested in that result, of course, because lead management is precisely the process they offer to automate. We were struck by the contrast with Scott Brinker’s recent statement that we are arriving at a post-digital-transformation era: “(C)ompanies are no longer planning to become ‘digital.’ They are digital.”

And then we got the results of our 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey. Among the surprising nuggets to be mined from our findings was that 77% of respondents identify spreadsheets as the tool they spend most time (10 or more hours a week) working with. That doesn’t mean that spreadsheets are a marketer’s most important tool, but it does suggest that manual processes remain a key part of daily life for marketing managers and staff.

We wanted to extend the opportunity to all our readers — B2B, B2C, agencies — to give us a reality check on spreadsheet use. MarTech is marketing, we like to say, and certainly today’s marketing is fundamentally data-driven and digital. But is it too soon to say that marketers are working in a digital and largely automated environment?

Download the 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey here


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About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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