How to Implement International SEO?
International SEO has turned into a very important investment where even small businesses make big gains when done properly. The good news is that by doing a little research on Google, you can access hundreds of sources written on the subject. The bad news is that most of these sources are out of date and can easily lead you to wrong practices. We wanted to share the most current international SEO practices with those interested in the subject.
We can say that there are several tests you can take to understand the potential of your website in terms of a particular geographic area or a foreign language. It will not be successful to publish your same site in a different language and then leave it on its own without any improvement. You should set your goals clearly and perform various analyzes. In this respect, you can review the International SEO checklist we have created for you below.
What is the Difference of International SEO and Other Applications?
If there is no international targeting within an SEO project, it can be considered as standard SEO. However, if International SEO is involved, this project should be evaluated under a separate title. The functionality of a website that is planned to serve different languages or languages may vary depending on how effective planning is done for International SEO. As you can imagine, good planning will bring good results.
To make good planning, you can review the checklist below:
- Try To Understand Whether You Have International SEO Potential or not.
Compare organic traffic from foreign language keywords on your website with pages in your local language. If the organic traffic rate is too low, your site may not have International SEO potential.
Try to compare the visibility rates of your queries and pages based on different countries. For example, you can measure the click-through rates of foreign queries in the Search Analytics section in Search Console.
You can also measure conversion and visibility rates using tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, SEO Monitor, hreflang Tags Testing Tool or SearchMetrics.
You can set a unique International SEO Strategy using the SEMrush Hreflang Report and Traffic Analysis Geo-Targeting feature.
Filter the keyword analysis that results from local searches based on the language and countries you set. A language can be spoken in more than one country, so filtering on a language and country basis can give more insight into the potential. You can get ideas by using tools such as Google Keyword Tools, Yandex Keyword Statistics, Baidu Index, as well as tools like Google Trends and Ubersuggest.
Try analysis and make comparisons. When you compare the conversion and traffic analysis, do you think that you can pay back for your work? Note that you may have to devote valuable time and budget for this job. If your answer is yes, we can say that you are ready to do international SEO. If your answer is no, it may be a little early for you. In this case, try checking the following:
If you can apply for ccTLD for the language and region you target, take action immediately.
By setting up a special alarm in your Google Analytics account, you can start working when you start getting enough traffic for the language and country you are targeting.
We recommend you to take a look at Aleyda Solis’s article titled International SEO Checklist and infographic.
- How Can You Target International Web Users?
Set your international Web target.
Does the geographic region factor affect your goals in terms of your services and products?
If your answer is yes, if each country you target has the potential for a sufficient amount of traffic and conversions alone, you can target them all.
If your answer is no, you can target specific to the language if each language you target has the potential for sufficient traffic and conversions on its own.
Try not to forget: Targeting every country that you intend to serve may not always be possible due to budget, technology and resource constraints, but it is an ideal situation from the target audience’s point of view.
Try to understand the behavior and characteristics of your International Users.
Standard person analysis in your country may not work for you, but if you can do this type of analysis, you know where to start.
Try to understand your International Competitors and the features of the Industry in which they are located.
The characteristics of your competitors in the international arena and the industries they are involved in may differ slightly. We recommend that you review all the data you can obtain in order to understand these features. In addition, you can use resources such as Semrush Traffic Analytics, Alexa and SimilarWeb.
- How Do You Improve International Targeting?
We recommend that you choose an international site structure that suits your targeting and characteristic.
If you are targeting a specific country; It may be appropriate to use ccTLD. This method can be a bit costly, so you can move on to the next item. For example, if you target France, “https://websiteadress.com.fr”, if you target Italy, “https:// websiteadress.com.it” and if you are targeting Spain, “https:// websiteadress.com.es” You can use.
The worst method to use for country targeting would be to use a sub-domain. In other words, sub-domains such as “https://fr. websiteadress.com/”, “https://it. websiteadress.com/”, “https://es. websiteadress.com/” are likely to harm site authority.
If you are targeting a specific language and also a specific country, it is best to manage the language folders by keeping them under the root directory of your site. Create “https:// websiteadress.com/fr/” folders for French, “https:// websiteadress.com/it/” folders for Italian, and “https:// websiteadress.com/es/” folders for Spanish.
Managing these folders may be the most efficient method. It may also be possible to use ccTLD for languages, but it should be used with caution, as you will need to make adjustments for multiple countries where the same language is spoken.
Try localizing the content and structure to be specific to that country and language.
If you have made a language and country distinction in the content on your site, you should now start making arrangements specific to that language and that country. When you see the source code of the pages that start in the Turkish language and serve in different languages, it is possible to tell your users that you cannot have a full user experience when you see Turkish expressions still forgotten.
- Page URL, page title, page description, link texts, title tags, visual alt text texts, navigation, written content, currency, address, phone number, e-mail address, if necessary, time-date, weather etc. regional details.
We do not need to emphasize that every site that addresses different languages and regions should be found and use individually. It is the healthiest method to leave the transitions between the sites with different language/country versions to the user and to prevent automatic switching. When the user makes a language change, it is reflected as a positive user experience that the page in the previous language, if any, can go to the version of the language of his choice.
For example, if the user is on the following page:
- https://websiteadress.com/tr/urun-kategorisi/urun-turu-123456 (This is the Turkish version of page)
when the user chooses the language to see the page in a foreign language, the page URL can be expected:
- https: //websiteadress.com/en/product-category/product-type-123456 (This is an English version of the same page)
If the same page in Turkish is equivalent in a foreign language, it may be beneficial to make this referral.
For different languages, you can try using rel = ”alternate” hreflang = ”x tag.
With the spoken language being notified to the search engines, your correct pages can be seen in the search results. With this simple code that you will put in the HTTP header of the page, search engines can understand that the content is customized regardless of the country.
If you’re targeting Regional, that is, Country, you can try using Geotargeting features. You can inform the search engine about your International SEO target, especially by selecting the country you are targeting through Search Console.
If you have targeted more than one country, we recommend that you do not make any changes here.
If you can use a CDN, you can get a CDN server in the country you are targeting. Your connection will be faster in that country and search engines will perceive your regional target better. In this case, you do not need to use the targeted country option in the Search Console.
- How Can You Measure the International SEO Process?
Try watching the language and country versions of your website separately. With Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can separate your tracking by country and language. You can open a separate profile for each language or country option. Thus, it will be possible to compare performance between the version of your site in the country you are in and the versions in foreign countries.
As we mentioned earlier, you can track the visibility of your sites with different versions using tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, SEO Monitor or SearchMetrics and so on. You may be able to take precautions in time, especially by comparing the targeted keywords and the performance of the version-independent login pages.
If Russia, China and South Korea are among the countries you target, it will not be enough just to consider the Google search engine. While Google is the most popular search engine worldwide, its market share in those countries is not high. Therefore, we recommend using the tools that would be useful to use in these three countries: Yandex (Russia), Baidu (China) and Naver (South Korea).
Our Recommendations Before International SEO Practice
There is a quick guide to get started in international SEO above. While there are many resources drawn for international SEO, the most important detail can be overlooked. Let’s first consider what kind of problems it can cause; all the time, financial resources, and manpower you can devote to doing this work can be wasted. To avoid such troubles, you should definitely ask yourself the question:
- Do I need this?
- Will it really benefit?
- Will it be worth the effort I spend?
- Will I get the return on my investment?
If you are giving positive answers to these questions you ask yourself, we recommend that you start planning immediately. International markets can provide higher traffic, conversions and earnings compared to local markets. When implemented properly, International SEO can help you reach a significant number of potential customers worldwide.
We recommend that you take a look at Google’s Multi-region and multilingual sites help page and build your international SEO infrastructure taking into account Google guidelines before taking a step in this regard.
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