If your customers are all over the world, you need to have a website reaching them. Global search engine optimization (SEO) allows you to create and optimize content to reach audiences in international markets. This way, international users can find your website when they’re searching in their home country and your content will rank on their search results page, in turn, increase conversions.
What Is a Global SEO Strategy?
A global SEO strategy refers to the approach and tactics used to optimize a website's content for search engines in multiple countries and languages. It aims to encourage search engines to serve the right content to the right users in different countries at the right time.
What Is Local SEO vs. Global SEO?
Simply put, local SEO aims to optimize a website to rank well in local search results while global SEO focuses on targeting international markets and tailoring content to different regions and linguistic groups.
Local SEO includes optimizing for location-based keywords, generating and leveraging local reviews, and using localized URLs and effective backlinks to optimize your website.
Global SEO, on the other hand, includes applying hreflang tags, optimizing URL structures, and creating localized content in multiple languages. It also involves considering local laws, cultural nuances, and search engine preferences in different countries.
Why Is a Global SEO Strategy Important?
Unless you run a local brick-and-mortar business with no ecommerce component, chances are that your customers hail from all over the world. When you’re providing goods and services to international audiences, where you’re located doesn’t matter.
If you do it right, you can attract customers regardless of their geographic location, so it’s important to think about your business from a global perspective.
Appearing in foreign search engines and ranking highly for your desired search terms isn’t something that you can achieve just by having your website translated into a local language.
While it’s important to have your web content accessible to readers who speak a different language, that’s not enough to build a comprehensive global SEO strategy.
Creating a Global SEO Strategy
There are two ways for your business’s website to go international: you could have country-specific versions of your website using local domains in each target country or have only one global website.
This is what’s called Country Code Top Level Domains (CCTLDs) and/or subdomains/subdirectories.
In the first case, you could make your US-based website a .com site, while creating a duplicate site in Japan with a .jp domain and one in Spanish (Spain) with a .es domain. However, this can get rather costly and complicated, as it requires you to maintain multiple domains and make updates to multiple sites every time you want to make a small change.
The other option for a global SEO strategy is to have one multilingual website that’s translated into the languages of the market (or markets) that you’re trying to target.
Weglot is a versatile tool that can help marketers with website localization and multilingual SEO. Here’s some of our top tips to help you build a global SEO strategy to cater to international audiences:
Optimize Your Website: SEO Best Practices
Before you address global SEO strategy, it’s important to first look at your overall content marketing efforts and SEO performance. You’ll want to assess your website to determine whether it’s in good condition and optimized for search engines and human site visitors.
Looking at the bigger picture and overall SEO best practices will lead to you ask yourself the following questions:
Does your website offer content that’s informative, educational, and valuable to the reader? In any language, if the content on your website isn’t useful, visitors won’t come back.
Is your page loading speed fast? Slow page loading may get your page de-prioritized from search engines and hurt your overall SEO rankings. You can check this using free tools like PageSpeed Insights from Google Search Central (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). It can analyse your website against Google’s recommended SEO practices and tell you how to improve your page loading speed.
Are the images on your website compressed and/or optimized? If your image sizes are too large – if they take up too much memory – this can contribute to your pages loading too slowly. It can also use too much space on your server and eat up your bandwidth.
Is your site easy to navigate? You’ll want to make sure to have an updated Sitemap file on your site for search engines to use to crawl your website, but you also want to make sure that it’s easy for human visitors to find their way around for a better user experience.
Is your website responsive or mobile-optimized? Search engines penalize websites that aren’t mobile-optimized, since mobile devices are such a common way to surf the web these days.
Is your website accessible? That is, do your images and videos have appropriate alt descriptions and tags? Are you using the most current accessibility practices? Websites that aren’t inaccessible can sometimes face SEO penalties that get them de-prioritized.
Analyze Your Target Audience for Your Global SEO Strategy
Before you can move forward with your global SEO strategy, you’ll need to do some background research.
Check out the type of content that competitors are offering, especially competitors that already have a foothold in the local market you’re looking to expand into. Look at their URLs, images and offers to get a good idea of what keywords they’re ranking for.
Fresh ideas could help drive more organic traffic and if your new content is better than theirs, you have a chance to outrank them.
Market research will help you assess your opportunities. There’s also a way to find out what shows up on a specific country’s Google search results, which will give you insight into the kind of content you’re up against. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with our guide on seeing multi-location search results.
You’ll also want to look closely at which search engines are important in your target market. While Google has the market share for search, different regions may have search engines that have a strong specific country presence.
To reach customers in China, for example, you’ll need to rank well in Baidu. South Koreans use Naver, and in Russia it’s Yandex. Each of these search engines will have slightly different algorithms, so you’ll want to find out how they work and find out what their ranking factors are.
You’ll also want to look at keyword research using tools specifically designed for the search engine that you’re optimizing for.
Finally, you’ll also need a link-building strategy that works in your target market. In order to optimize your global SEO strategy, you need to obtain backlinks from sites that have a high authority rating for a particular region, language, and/or search engine. This means you’ll need to do some research to find which directories, publications, or websites will provide you with the best backlink opportunities.
Keyword Research for Global SEO Strategy
There are some similarities and some differences when selecting keywords for global SEO strategy. As with any keyword research, you need to pick keywords that are relevant to your website or business and that drive the right kind of traffic to your site so you appear in SERPs. Not only that, but you’ll need to translate keywords as well. Here’s a quick video summarizing the process:
You’ll want keywords that have a high enough search volume to get you sufficient traffic, but that aren’t so competitive that you won’t be able to get a ranking for them and waste your SEO efforts.
As with all types of SEO, you want to consider keyword placement in your content. Keywords that are strategically placed in the page title, page descriptions, alt text, anchor text, and header text sections will usually boost the SEO rank of that page more than keywords that are written in plain text.
And just like any SEO, it’s important to look at the intent behind a user’s search. All over the world, voice search and natural syntax search is becoming more commonplace, meaning that users are being directed more and more often to sites that fit their presumed intent.
You need to create helpful content, such as writing articles, that provides the users with the information they’re looking for.
Create a Language-Specific, Long-Term Plan For URL Structure
Your global SEO strategy isn’t just about content. You need to make sure that your site is robot-friendly, too.
A great global SEO strategy will have a clean, correctly configured, frequently updated sitemap, along with SEO-friendly and people-friendly URLs in each language you’re optimizing for.
It’s a good idea to include some keywords in your URLs, as this makes it easier for bots and humans to know what the page is about, and it’s a good idea to have different pages in different languages link to one another; for example, the French version links to the English version and so forth.
Weglot will automatically update the metadata for your website. Once Weglot is installed, you can use the “Inspect Source” feature on your finished site. At the top of the code section, just above the “head” tags, the code on your website tells the user’s browser (and the search engines) what page your website is displayed in.
When the English language flag is clicked, it says the language is “en_US”, for “United States English”. When the French language flag is selected, Weglot automatically changes this designation to “fr” for “French”.
SEO is not a magic wand, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for search engines to properly index your site, and once your site is cataloged, it will take some time before your site develops the longevity, clout, and reputation to rank for your selected SEO keywords.
International SEO can be just as competitive as local SEO, so a great global SEO strategy with localized content optimization is necessary for getting the long-term results you’re looking for and to help you appear at the top in a Google search.
Tools of the Trade
Since Weglot is one of the few website translation tools that work with SEO in mind, Weglot already handles most of the heavy lifting of international SEO for you.
Weglot automatically creates subdomains or subdirectories for each language, which helps each site to be properly indexed by search engines. It automatically translates page titles and metadata, too and adds hreflang tags.
It also gives you machine translations that you can then manually edit to fit the translation quality you want to be displayed on your website.
And if you have team members or external freelancers that you’d like to collaborate on your site, you can invite them directly into your Weglot platform.
A good international SEO strategy can help you sell to people all over the world. There are a lot of factors to think about, even if the actual implementation is a breeze.
You’ll want to do plenty of research. Just because it’s a high-volume keyword in one language doesn’t mean it has the same volume or importance in another.
Even if the language is the same, search volume can differ a lot in different countries or regions, so keyword research is important.
Don’t tackle too many new markets at once. It’s better to establish your brand in one or two additional markets and build a reputation of high-quality products and culturally relevant content than to flood the web with low-quality copy in 30 markets. Slow and steady wins the race!
Marketing to international customers is essential in today’s global marketplace, and international SEO is how you put your product or service in front of your customers.