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  • Writer's pictureDerick Johnson

Go Global with International SEO

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Seeing as Smiths Falls is so close to the United States, having good SEO that caters to both regions is quite important. Though, Google is the still the biggest search engine in both countries there are still differences between the two which means having to keep that in mind when optimizing your website. Some of the biggest ones are spelling differences, like the added “u” in colour and flavour for example, word choice, different parts of the country have different words for soft drinks for example pop versus soda among others, and of course secondary languages, i.e. French versus Spanish.

Also keep in mind that Google is customized based on the region that you are searching from. Therefore, if you were going to search for a product or service in in the US, unless you are ubiquitous in both regions your ranking most likely be different based on the country that your are living in. if you plan on marketing further afield, like in China, Baidu is the platform that you will be optimizing for and there are other search engines depending on the country you want to drive traffic from.

Being in Smiths Falls, it would not be a huge assumption that your largest market outside of Canada is the United States, though these tips will still work no matter what country you want to optimize for.

The structure of your site will depend on the region and language you want to target. If you are going to have multiple languages on your site, you might want to look into having subdomains for your different languages, have a .fr domain for a French version and a .es for a Spanish version of your site. Alternatively you can have different subfolders for your site as well. Both have their pros and cons.

Subdomains allow you to free up your implementation style you can create a totally different layout, navigation scheme and even have outright different content. But this comes at the cost of having to do your most of your SEO again for that new domain because its basically a new website. Using subfolders mitigates that and also prevents your backlinks from being spread too thin among your subdomains.

Subfolders on the other hand, will allow you to keep your ranking the same across all languages, at the cost of losing that freedom of implementing different content and layout. That said some content management systems will only allow you to do one or the keep that in mind when creating your strategy.

It’s also important to consider error that might occur when a user enters your site. Though search engines are good enough when it comes to detecting language based on the country accessing it, to mitigate that inconvenience of ending up in the wrong region for your website here are a few ideas.

Obviously, the best way is to redirect them based on their IP address but be careful to make sure that you give the search engine bots access to the entire site. This is because search engine bots might think that you are cloaking even though you don’t mean to which can hurt your rankings. This can be mitigated by giving users extra links to content in other languages. For example, if a tourist came from Mexico to Smiths Falls with very little command of English there being a quick way for them to access their working language would add a lot of authority to your site. Having a language or country selector on your site is the easiest way to achieve this. From an SEO perspective having a button with a flag to indicate different languages is the top right hand corner. Finally, to make it even more accessible, add alt text to the buttons so that search engines will be able to crawl it easier. Most importantly remember to have your international content in the site maps that you build and submit to search engines.

Considerations for Language SEO

Like SEO in English, choosing the right key words for your business is very important in other languages, however simply translating the keywords that you are trying to rank for is probably not the best strategy when it comes to ranking in other languages. Your best option is the make a list of keywords for every language that you want to optimize for. This is because there are not only translational considerations but cultural and regional variations that you have to keep in mind when coming up with good keywords both long-tailed and short-tailed. By keeping this in mind, it can offer a whole range of insights that might otherwise be overlooked. When it comes to countries with the same language but different regional variations, it is best to evaluate whether or not a full regional variation is needed for people in Canada it might not be a good investment of your time and/or money to make two different sites for American and Canadian users whereas it might be better idea for speakers of Spanish to have a Latin American site as well as a European site since their regional differences are more distinct and would make a better onsite experience for both parties.

Speaking of keywords, there are a number of tools that you can use to monitor your keywords in other languages. Some of the best ones are SEMrush and Moz Keyword Analysis tool. Both sites give in depth analysis of your keyword rankings in the languages and regions that you are trying to rank for and see what sites you’ll have to compete with. Then once that’s said and done, off page SEO is where you’ll go next. Building links is the lifeblood of any SEO campaign both locally and internationally. Just like you would do for a page in your home country, leverage the multi regional aspects of your site such as having a Google my business in every region that you market in this gives locally relevant and high quality back links to your site. You could also look at business review sites, such as Trip Advisor, Yelp or any local business directories.

Finally to check your progress, Google analytics and adobe analytics are the best options by far when it comes to checking your ranking for various countries. There is a lot of functionality with analytics tools like this, but we can discuss that in another post.

Generally speaking once you know where you want to target, going global isn’t all that hard just be mindful of the keyword choices and understand the nuances of the places you want to rank in and you will be able to go global in no time.

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