International SEO: How to Increase Profitability in International Markets
If you’re a savvy business owner and have spotted a new market or looking at market expansion in overseas markets, then this post is for you.
International search engine optimisation (SEO) or multilingual SEO is not actually that difficult to execute and the ROI is often generous. If you’re selling your offering nationally it could be the case that you have a great opportunity to duplicate your success overseas in new and untapped markets.
In this post, we look at considerations of SEO from a more strategic viewpoint. If you are interested in the more technical aspects, then reading Google’s guidelines on international SEO or multilingual SEO is a good place to start.
New foreign language markets
Generally, when you want to embark on a multilingual SEO campaign it will fall into one of these two categories:
• A foreign language speaking community in your own country where you feel a market that exists for your products and services. Turkish people living in Germany or Polish people living in Britain are two good examples.
• A foreign country that has a market for what you sell to. Here, you’ll have to pay attention to applicable factors such as shipping costs, trade tariffs, specific country tax laws where applicable, and for SEO purposes – keywords people use in your new market to find your offering.
Whichever it is, it is important to realise that in many respects you are launching a new business venture. The culture is different to your own and there will be a learning curve involved.
The rewards, however, are more than worth the effort.
Researching the market is key to success
Before you start on your SEO campaign you should ensure that there is a market for what you’re trying to sell. There are numerous sites that can give you this information. Some charge a small fee, but it is worth the investment before you tell your marketing team to begin the search engine optimisation process.
Here are a few:
• Office of National Statistics for the UK
• Trade.gov for the U.S.A
Once you’re confident you have a market you should be able to work out how much the market is worth. If you’re feeling good about all the business intelligence you have then it is time to instruct your marketing team to begin your international SEO campaign.
Keywords and culture
One of the biggest challenges you will face in tapping into international markets online is identifying the right keywords for a foreign language market. Slang terms that may make your offering irresistible in your own country do not necessarily translate in a different language.
This is where the phrase ‘lost in translation comes from’. A marketing message lost in translation can often cause a significant business cost. As such, if your budget allows, it is a good idea to employ or consult a native speaker of your chosen market to give invaluable advice on this aspect of the SEO operation.
Ideally, this person will be a copywriter, as you will need this person to write ads, your website copy, blogs, and social media updates for the new target market. They will also be able to blend your keywords and unique selling proposition (USP) together.
It is important to grasp that from a marketing point of view you are a foreigner in a strange land. Therefore, it is important that you understand the nuances of the culture quickly to ensure that both your keywords and holistic marketing efforts are not wasted.
If your budget does not allow for a native speaker it is not the end of the world. Translators may be able to help you be on-point with your marketing messages. Again, a native speaking translator should be able to give you advice on what is and what is not a good cultural fit.
As well as culture, you should use the following standard SEO best practices to determine what keywords to use and to forge connections and build links in a new country.
As with standard SEO campaigns, it is important to conduct competitor research. Here, you should be able to find where your competitors are getting mentions and links. Moreover, you should be able to deduce what keywords they are using to rank their offering.
Getting a foot in the door of an international market is important and Google AdWords offers you the perfect way to do this. Also, as you will no doubt use the tool to identify your keywords, it fits hand in glove with conducting an AdWords campaign.
By running paid search ad campaigns, you can practically guarantee short term success and set your business up perfectly for continued prosperity. Once you have a few months of data you should be able to determine the most profitable keywords for your SEO campaign.
Take a holistic view to foreign language marketing
As touched upon earlier having a good understanding of your market’s culture is essential to success. As well as the written or spoken words aspects, such as your logo need to be looked at, especially if you’re marketing in countries that have strict laws on what is and what is not deemed acceptable.
For example, Starbucks had to rework their logo in Saudi Arabia. If you do your homework first, you can avoid damaging your reputation and reduce wasted cost.
As well as looking at aspects such as logos, study your competitors’ websites for branding. Native brands will have the right culture built in and it would be an idea to use these features for the pages that are going to sell your offering to your new markets.
Forge connections with businesses your customers like
As part of promoting your site, it is a good idea to forge connections with other businesses that your customers are likely to use. For example, if you sell sporting equipment then contacting businesses that supplied sports clothing is a good idea.
This will help you forge good mutual connections and if you’re clever you can tap into their customer base. From an SEO perspective, it will also help you to get social media mentions, links, and direct marketing from these already popular sources.
Multilingual SEO and international SEO is not that different from conventional SEO. Once you have your head around the culture your marketing teams can start to build links and propel your offering on Google’s search engine results page.
Broadly speaking, the same rules apply in terms of devices in international markets and so all of your marketing should be mobile first. You will need dedicated in context landing pages to turn your site into a conversion machine.
Tapping into international markets allows you to expand your business. If you consider that, potentially you can market to millions of new customers. It makes perfect sense to put time and money into international SEO.
If done correctly, your return on investment is going to be immense. Check out our page on multilingual SEO for more information on this topic and see what we can do for you!