International SEO Strategy

International SEO Strategy – A Beginner’s Guide

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 27 Jan 2021 by Pooja Shevade

When should you opt for an International SEO Strategy?

International SEO is the process of optimizing your website in such a way that search engines can show relevant content to your target audiences in different countries and/or different languages.

Consider answering the following key questions, before you choose to go ahead and optimize your site for global audiences.

  • Are you getting organic traffic from a different country (or people speaking a different language or both) to the one you are located in? Check your audience data in Google Analytics.
  • Do you want to gain visibility in a new market through search and also have increased search volumes?
  • Do you want to generate global business and sales for your products or services? Is your business ready for this?
  • Do you want to improve the customer experience for existing global customers and help understand your offering and increase your conversion rate?
  • You don’t want to build a new website for each new market?

Website Traffic_International

First Steps

Based on your business goals, you need to identify, what type of targeting you need to go for.

If you want to target users speaking different languages, then you need to go for language targeting – Multilingual SEO. Example: If you want to target Dutch and French speakers in Belgium.

If you want to target users in different countries then you would need to opt for geotargeting or country targeting – Multi regional SEO. Example: If you want to target people in the UK, US, Sweden, France, Australia.

If you want both – target users in different countries and languages – then you need to go for language and geotargeting.

How To Implement A Global SEO Strategy?

Local Search Engines

Although Google’s global presence is significant, and optimizing for Google will help you reach your target customers in many countries, it might be wise to also research on certain local search engines, that dominate over google in certain parts of the world. Here are a few examples.

International Search Engines

Focus on E-A-T content ( Expertise – Authority – Trust) but also on other ranking signals that are specific to these search engines.

URL And Domain Structure

Once you have decided to go international, it is very important to decide your URL structure. This will pave the way for your future SEO efforts as well. Changing it later might prove to be too costly and difficult.

There are different ways to do this. See the examples below.

ccTLDs – Country Level Top Level Domains

This is used when you want to target a specific country. ccTLds would work well in countries where there is a universal common language spoken by the masses. It would also be required in countries where it is a legal requirement to have regional TLD ( eg. China)


This approach is more useful when you want to target multiple languages within a country. Although, it can be used for geo-targeting only as well.


Not a preferred method, as a subdomain could lose out on the SEO equity of the main domain. But if you still want to use it for geo-targeting, you can.

HrefLang Tags

If you have multilingual sites and have customized your website for people to visit relevant content in their language on your website then use this option.  hreflang Tag (rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”)  is added to the <head> of a website.

Eg – <link rel=” alternate” href=”” hreflang=”en-US” /> used for targeting English speakers in the US

One of the most important reasons to use hreflang tags apart from user experience is to make sure that search engines do not flag your site as having duplicate content. For example, if you have content in British English as well as American English on your site Google may see them as duplicate content and index only one version.

Hreflang tags help Google to understand which is the correct version shown in search results It is better not to rely solely on hreflangs and also focus on localizing content in terms of currency, language, contact information, etc.

Both Google and Yandex look at hreflang tags to help do this.

Bing and Baidu don’t look at hreflang tags. They instead use the content-language HTML attribute.Source

<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en-us”>

You can implement hreflang attribute in three ways.

  • HTML tags
  • HTTP headers
  • Sitemaps

Localization of content

Work with native speakers for keyword research to build a list of your target keywords in regional languages.

When it comes to expanding internationally into non-English speaking markets, don’t just rely on translating your existing content — you’ll also want to create content campaigns that are tailored to address issues the local audience cares about.

Using the currency, and time zone together with the contact information like addresses and phone numbers, you’re sending strong signals to users and search engines that they’re in the right spot on the globe.

  • Translate content into the local language for the markets you are wanting to target
  • Depth of translation depends on the time and resource but also the opportunity and reward for each market
  • Avoid using Google Translate or automated translation services
  • Don’t rely on a translation agency that is outside of the country in question. Think about where you are targeting, if you are trying to target a country find someone who is local to the area of which you are trying to target.
  • Translate everything from the menu to your content and help desk
  • Localization means you are using the right currency, payment methods and have addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Don’t automatically change language based on a user’s IP address

International SEO should be seamless. It is all about showing the right content, in the right language, at the right time without the end-user realizing this.

Local link building

Backlinks are a very important ranking factor. A strong backlink profile in local markets can help boost your SEO efforts.

  • Look into local competitors and analyze their backlinks.
  • See what sort of content is being written for PR and outreach articles and use this to your advantage
  • Use these signals to update content on your site.
  • Create content in different formats, text, video, infographics, etc. anything that is worth sharing and gives value to the local audiences and that will help you gain links.

So are you ready to start with International SEO?

Our guided steps above can help you get started with international SEO to optimize your website for global audiences who are in different countries or speak different languages.

If you need more help to expand your business online and take it international, our team of international digital marketing experts is here to help. Feel free to give us a call today!


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