International SEO Best Practices [Checklist]

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 28 Jun 2021 by Paul Hogg

International SEO can seem a daunting task. You’ve got a winning product, done your market research and are ready to sell to the big wide world, but what’s next?

What should be on your international SEO checklist?

International SEO considerations include tailoring your SEO efforts to audiences in different countries and who speak different languages, although there’s a lot more to think about when it comes to international SEO best practices.

  • Have you checked out your local competition? What are they offering and how do they market themselves? You’re probably not ‘local’ so you need to be even better than what is available and optimise for local listings.
  • Are you aware of international SEO best practice for keyword research? Search volumes are not universal, a target keyword in one country, may not be the same in another. International keyword research should be done in the relevant language for the right location.
  • Do you know what your options are when it comes to international SEO URL structures? There are three main website structure routes to choose from – country-coded top-level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains and subdirectories, each has its own pros and cons.
  • What role does geo-targeting play in international SEO? One reason ccTLDs structure is a popular choice is that the URL targets a specific country for instance and This gives strong geo-targeting signals to search engines and sends a higher level of trust to users.
  • Have you considered how to do international link building? In particular, for ccTLDs and sub-domains websites as multiple websites will require more work to get links.

How does Google handle international SEO?

To rank in Google, international SEO is essential just as SEO is for any website. While the principles are the same, Google will look for international ranking signals such as how the site is structured and hreflang tags.

Google is also helpful for international SEO reporting. You’ll find a selection of reports including Google Analytics Location and Language reports where you can see if you’re getting traffic from particular regions.

Using tools like Google Trends also lets you see what topics may be important at a given time in a given place in the world.

Remember when it comes to international SEO, Google is not the only search engine and certainly not the main one in some countries. International SEO ranking needs to consider other search engines, for example in China and other countries in South East Asia, Baidu dominates, while in Russia, Yandex is favoured. Baidu, Bing and Naver are pretty big in Japan too.

International SEO Tips

Here are our top international SEO tips to ensure SEO best practices for your international website.

  1. Hreflang Tags – These tags allow Google to distinguish SEO from international SEO. Hreflang for international SEO are attributes that tell search engines to show the URL to visitors based on their language and geographic location. Hreflang tags are added to the <head> of a website and when accessed, it automatically directs you to the correct page.
  2. Translating for International SEO – Automatic translators don’t think about the intentions behind words and translate without the appropriate keyword placement. Nothing beats human translated content and even better a native-speaking translator who is aware of specific vocabulary, different information needs and spot-on translations of expressions for a particular language.
  3. Measuring International SEO – Start by ensuring Google Analytics is installed for each international website. To measure your international SEO successes or pick up and understand any failures, you need to add them all to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This will help identify any potential technical or indexing issues and gives you the ability to geo-target your site.

For the best international SEO, you need the best international experts, if you need help conquering the world, then get in touch with us for some friendly and knowledgeable advice today. We’re happy to assist you with your international SEO checklist.

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