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7 Ways Not to Fail at International SEO

7 Ways Not to Fail at International SEO

Learn which are the main challenges to avoid when doing International SEO to maximize success, from content localization to hreflang configuration.

Aleyda Solis

November 03, 2022
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  1. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    7 Ways Not to Fail at International SEO
  2. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI * I’m Aleyda Solis SEO

    Consultant & Founder at Orainti * SEO Speaker at +100 Events in +20 countries * Author “SEO. Las Claves Esenciales.” * Crawling Mondays Video & Podcast Series Host * #SEOFOMO Newsletter Wrangler * Maker LearningSEO.io * European Search Personality of the Year in 2018 * remoters.net Co-Founder I’m Aleyda Solis, SEO Consultant & Founder at Orainti #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI
  3. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Targeting International markets can be

    a great way to scale your business online
  4. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI However, ranking across competitive industries

    in international markets can be tough
  5. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI There are very common well

    known challenges that are critical to avoid to not fail in the process LAUNCHING IN TOO MANY, NON-PROFITA BLE MARKETS CHOOSING THE WRONG INTL TARGETING FOR YOUR BUSINESS NOT LOCALIZING YOUR INTERNATION AL CONTENT INCORRECTLY SETTING HREFLANG ANNOTATIONS CHOOSING THE WRONG WEB STRUCTURE FOR YOUR INTL MARKETS REDIRECTING USERS (AND BOTS) AUTOMATICAL LY BASED ON THEIR IP ONLY RELYING ON HREFLANG ANNOTATIONS TO GEOLOCATE
  6. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    1. Launching in too many non-profitable markets
  7. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI You don’t need to target

    *all* international markets just because your industry leaders are doing it so
  8. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Or enabling all language versions

    for every country you target since most won’t bring meaningful search traffic
  9. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI This is how you end

    up having this too very common problem when doing International SEO “I don’t have enough resources to localize and optimize for all the markets” - Someone who enabled too many international Web versions
  10. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Validate your starting point, market

    search potential as well as the relevance from a business standpoint COUNTRY AND LANGUAGE CURRENT ORGANIC SEARCH TRAFFIC SEARCH COMPETITION LEVEL SEARCH VOLUME OPPORTUNITY SEARCH TREND IN MARKET SEARCH ENGINE USED CAPACITY TO PERFORM BUSINESS OTHER TRAFFIC DRIVES Canada in English 300 per month High 2,000,000 searches per month Positive Google High Affiliate USA in English 500 per month Medium 3,000,000 searches per month Negative Google Medium Social Affiliate USA in Spanish 200 per month Medium 2,500,000 searches per month Positive Google Low Social Affiliate … … … … … … … …
  11. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Assess if there’s a minimum

    of search traffic potential for profitability using current conversions data https://www.aleydasolis.com/english/international-seo-tools/roi-calculator/
  12. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    2. Choosing the wrong international targeting for your business
  13. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI https://developers.google.com/search/docs/specialty/international/managing-multi-regional-sites Google supports language and

    country targeting, but not “continent level” one
  14. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI What countries should this EU

    version in English target if there’s already a UK version in English? If you use a .eu version you will have a harder time geolocating it and end up running into duplication issues
  15. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Yes No Yes No IS

    LOCATION A FACTOR THAT INFLUENCES YOUR WEB OPERATIONS? COUNTRY TARGETING LANGUAGE TARGETING IS THERE ENOUGH TRAFFIC & CONVERSIONS TO TARGET EACH COUNTRY? An online shop will likely be country targeted It’s critical to correctly identify your international targeting, to make *everything else* consistent A Tech blog will likely language target
  16. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Search demand behavior should be

    identified and *compared* per market to assess similarities/differences
  17. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI brand.eu/es-es/ brand.eu/fr-fr/ brand.eu/de-de/ brand.eu vs

    If you really need to use .eu domains, use them as if they were gTLDs, with country folders/subdomains with them
  18. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Like Patagonia does here

  19. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    3. Choosing the wrong Web structure for your International Markets
  20. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Many Internationally targeted sites are

    held back by their international Web structure, since all have pro’s and con’s https://developers.google.com/search/docs/specialty/international/managing-multi-regional-sites
  21. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI No Yes Is the language

    of the new market different than the one of your current site? Is the audience purchase/search behavior/preferences (terms, trends/seasonality, etc.) of the new market different than the current one? No No Is your site product offering going to be very different for the new market (availability, conditions, pricing, etc.)? YOU MIGHT NOT NEED A DIFFERENTIATED WEB STRUCTURE FOR YOUR NEW MARKET YOU NEED A DIFFERENTIATED/NEW INTERNATIONAL WEB STRUCTURE FOR YOUR NEW MARKET Yes Yes Check first if you really need a new/differentiated Web structure to target your new international markets
  22. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Not the best to scale

    targeting multilingual or localized search potential Good first step for international shopping support For example, SoleRebels supports international shipping & multi-currency w/ the same URL structure
  23. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Depending on industry/biz model &

    language variation, you might prefer to language rather than country target
  24. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Are your top competitors in

    new target markets using ccTLDs? Yes Yes USE A NEW CCTLD FOR THE NEW COUNTRY MARKET No No USE GEOLOCALIZED SUBDIRECTORIES IN YOUR CURRENT GTLD. IF YOU CAN’T, USE SUBDOMAINS IN CURRENT GTLD. You’re using a ccTLD You’re using a gTLD Are you using a gTLD or ccTLD for your existing market? Yes Yes No No USE GEOLOCALIZED SUBDIRECTORIES IN A NEW GTLD. IF YOU CAN’T, USE SUBDOMAINS IN NEW GTLD. Is the popularity/authority of your competition very high/well established? Are your top competitors in new target markets using ccTLDs? Is the popularity/authorit y of your competition very high/well established? USE A NEW CCTLD FOR THE NEW COUNTRY MARKET If you need a differentiated Web structure to target a new country, what should be it?
  25. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI JS Sports target countries via

    ccTLDs, which are by default geolocated to each country
  26. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Asos does it with sub-directories

    under a gTLD
  27. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Avoid migrating your already established

    market when targeting a new one, do it only if really necessary .com/uk/ .co.uk .com/us/ .com/au/ .co.uk .com .com/au/ .com/us/ or Don’t Do
  28. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI It’s also critical to be

    consistent with the Web structure referring the user to the relevant URL
  29. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    4. Not Localizing your International Content
  30. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Going native can make or

    break global sales and your international site rankings! https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/international-ecommerce-issues
  31. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI The localization of your content

    is key to connect with your international audience preferences/behavior
  32. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Overlooking it will give a

    bad search and user experience, negatively impacting rankings and CTR
  33. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI The goal is to localize

    the different user facing areas and indexable content of the site
  34. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI While taking into consideration each

    market search behavior for each version content optimization
  35. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI It’s about having an iterative/incremental

    approach, from translation to localization up to transcreation
  36. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Establishing multi-country patterns to generate

    the main content elements for each page type
  37. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    5. Redirecting your users (and bots) automatically based on IPs locations
  38. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Whatever the international Web structure,

    avoid automatic redirects based on the IP location
  39. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Automatic redirects can harm crawlability

    of some of your international Web versions https://developers.google.com/search/docs/specialty/international/managing-multi-regional-sites
  40. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Suggest the relevant Intl Web

    version instead, and save the value to redirect the user based on saved preference
  41. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Always allow the user to

    switch (and the bot to find your alternate versions) too with a crawlable navigation
  42. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    6. Incorrectly Setting Hreflang annotations
  43. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Hreflang provide a method to

    signal Google about each page and their alternates language & country target
  44. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI It tends to be complex

    to implement since pages need to self-refer and then refer to each other
  45. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI It’s not only complex but

    also Google has deprecated the hreflang report from Search Console
  46. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Hreflang itself continues working though

  47. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Most hreflang implementation issues happen

    because we add them to all pages, we shouldn’t
  48. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Focus on those that have

    misalignment issues, ranking in non-relevant markets and indexable alternates
  49. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Google.com for “womens socks” Google.co.uk

    for “womens socks” <link rel="alternate" href="https:/ /shop.lululemon.com/c/women-socks/_/N-8rc" hreflang="en-us" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https:/ /www.lululemon.co.uk/en-gb/c/womens/socks" hreflang="en-gb" /> For those hreflang that you actually need, only map the alternate pages with the issues, rather than all versions
  50. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Use internationalization tools that automate

    the hreflang implementation process Weglot Hreflang Builder Hreflang Tags Generator
  51. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI Validate Hreflang with SEO crawlers

    before/after release and monitor in real time with SEO monitoring tools Screaming Frog ContentKing
  52. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI

    7. Only relying on hreflang annotations to geolocate
  53. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI • ccTLDs • Country in

    metadata • Country, Address and Phone numbers in pages copy • Local language & currency • Backlinks from local sites • Connected Business Profile • Hreflang specifying alternates from stronger same language country version Well aligned ccTLD Not Well aligned ccTLD There are many more geolocation signals, which should be as aligned as possible for consistent geolocation
  54. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI • ccTLDs • Country in

    metadata • Country, Address and Phone numbers in pages copy • Local language & currency • Backlinks from local sites • Connected Business Profile • Hreflang specifying alternates from stronger same language country version Well aligned gTLDs This is also applicable to subdirectories/subdomains under gTLDs, and not only to ccTLDs too!
  55. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI By doing all of these

    activities is how you will avoid these very common challenges and maximize success LAUNCHING IN TOO MANY, NON-PROFITA BLE MARKETS CHOOSING THE WRONG INTL TARGETING FOR YOUR BUSINESS NOT LOCALIZING YOUR INTERNATION AL CONTENT INCORRECTLY SETTING HREFLANG ANNOTATIONS CHOOSING THE WRONG WEB STRUCTURE FOR YOUR INTL MARKETS REDIRECTING USERS (AND BOTS) AUTOMATICAL LY BASED ON THEIR IP ONLY RELYING ON HREFLANG ANNOTATIONS TO GEOLOCATE
  56. #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI * I’m Aleyda Solis SEO

    Consultant & Founder at Orainti * SEO Speaker at +100 Events in +20 countries * Author “SEO. Las Claves Esenciales.” * Crawling Mondays Video & Podcast Series Host * #SEOFOMO Newsletter Wrangler * Maker LearningSEO.io * European Search Personality of the Year in 2018 * remoters.net Co-Founder I’m Aleyda Solis, SEO Consultant & Founder at Orainti #INTERNATIONALSEO BY @ALEYDA FROM #ORAINTI