When you think about to globalize your business or organization across the world , you need to go beyond the traditional SEO blueprint. Also, the global augmentation of your business requires a high level of planning and better understanding of the SEO world to compete in the market. But, before you plan to expand your business in the global world, you need to keep some important key points in mind. So, here I have explained the list of 6 important checklists that you should consider for successful international SEO.
1. Understand The Current Demographics
The primary step in any international SEO campaign is to understand the current demographics of your website. Because, it is possible that your website is also visible in other countries and languages, even if you have not placed any efforts to target them. Therefore, you need to check the present organic status of your website in the global market and you can simply do it by focusing on some key factors such as:
• The traffic volume that your website is receiving currently from other major countries. If you are using Google Analytics you can easily check it by going into “Audience-> Demographics”.
• The conversion volume and conversion rate, your website is getting from international audience.
• Keywords and pages that your international audience are targeting the most.
• Current organic CTR that your website is receiving from all the international markets.
By doing this prior analysis, you will have a better understanding about the current market status of your website and it would be much easier to find the next step that you should consider for International SEO.
2. Language or Country Targeting
Before you start your international SEO program, make sure what is your exact path of reaching at the audience. Based upon the audience, you need to decide whether to target language or country.
For example, Let’s assume that you are selling clothes in the US, now you want to enter into the new markets like UK and Australia, but also need to deal with their culture. In this case country targeting would be the best option.
On the other side, suppose you have developed a template for the users of South America, now if you want to make this template available in Spanish or other language, then language targeting would be best.
3. Domain Structure
When developing a global website, the domain structure is certainly an essential factor that can affect the potential visibility of your website in the international market. Here, the Domain Structure means which URL strategy you are following.
The selection of domains is based on your target audiences. Basically, there are three options to structure the website URL.
• ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) – In ccTLD, the domain name is followed by the specific country code such as www.example.co.uk (United Kingdom), www.example.fr (France), etc. ccTLD plays a very important role when your target audience is local to a particular city or state. ccTLD is the strongest signal for geo-targeting and generally preferred over the other approaches.
ccTLD also help users to find relevant results to their country. For example, if a user in Australia searches for “Used Mercedes Benz”, Google will always tend to show the results with .au domain instead of other generic TLD (.com, .org).
Blurb, an online platform for publishing ebooks, was not getting a good presence in international markets, but after using ccTLD for multiple countries, they got astonishing results with a 90% increase in traffic, 174% increase organic search traffic for non branded keywords.
The only disadvantage is that the link building is a little bit challenging for ccTLD as you need to cover all the domains for each country or language.
• Subdirectories or Subfolders– In subdirectory a separate directory is created within the root domain directory. The URL structure of subdirectory look like www.example.com/de (Germany), www.example.com/ca (Canada)
The major benefit of using a subdirectory structure is that it inherits the root domain authority means the efforts you put for root domain will also be beneficial in all its subdirectories. Maintaining subdirectories are comparatively easy as all the files reside on a single server.
• Subdomain – Subdomains is an another alternative to target any country or language. With this approach the domain is treated as completely the separate entity. For example uk.example.com, de.example.com.
As subdomains are completely different from its root domain, it doesn’t inherit the domain authority of its root domain and need their own link building efforts. Generally, this approach is not preferred for small websites because it is quite expensive, and requires a different server for each country specific subdomain.
4. Keyword Research
The keywords that the users are using in US may not be used by other country users. Thus, keyword research requires a deep digging about how the users are searching the content of your website. You can easily do the keyword research with the free keyword planner tool along with their monthly search volume.
5. Avoid Issues With Duplicate Content
There was a time when the geotargeting was almost impossible, but the introduction of HrefLang element has been proven a game changer in SEO industry. HrefLang tag is an HTML link element used inside the header of the each web page to indicate the search engine crawlers which language or country the page is targeting. Hreflang tag not only eliminates the problems regarding to duplicate content, but also help with correct indexing.
For example, suppose you want to create a German language version of your English language website. Using a subdirectory structure the URL for German language website would be like
The above URL will not automatically tell the search engine that the page is in German language. You need to use Hreflang tag to indicate the search engine as using the below line of code
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://www.example.com/de” hreflang=”de-de” />
Seerinteractive, a digital marketing company has implemented the Hreflang tag strategy for one of its clients and seen incredible results in organic search along with 150% increment in indexation rate.
6. Not everyone is using Google
We love Google, but it doesn’t mean that it is also the favorite search engine of all the countries in the world. There are many other search engines that are popular in their countries such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China, Yahoo in Japan. For each of these countries, you also need to know their SEO rules and ranking factors.
To rock in the international market, you need to keep the above 6 points in the mind. The successful international SEO requires an appropriate adoption of domain architecture and better understanding of the target audience. So, intelligently plan your SEO strategy to get the seamless growth in all the international markets.