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Before getting into such deep waters, it is always good to refresh your memory with basic aspects, so before talking about International SEO, you must put yourself in context about facts and fundamentals that will make you remember what are the bases of this important technique in the present to do digital marketing.
The word SEO corresponds to its acronym in English Search Engine Optimization. Initially, SEO was about executing two actions simultaneously:
Since then, link farms were born as a Black Hat technique with the aim of manipulating the rankings and obtaining the first places over time.
But it did not take long for Google to verify this fact and began to establish certain guidelines that would improve the user experience. Thus, he was adding new terms, creating new parameters and, in general, rules that would allow websites with Black Hat techniques to be taken out of the game, and reward those who were doing well by giving them a good place in the ranking.
We see how from basic algorithms capable of understanding what a website is about, I move to algorithms capable of understanding the context of a sentence. Let’s take a look at the progress they have been experiencing:
Despite the many changes that Google has made over time that have affected the way a traditional SEO strategy is applied, there are still key fundamentals when creating a strategy to position in search engines. These are:
Now, at this point it is worth starting to ask yourself , is International SEO the same as traditional SEO?
It would be wrong to see them as synonyms because in International SEO there are variants that must be added to give more weight to the classifications of the country or language in which it is intended to position, however, the fundamentals are the same, that is, in both it must carry out the same strategies that allow you to boost your ranking in search engines and this is where we enter into
As you should guess, International SEO is due to all the basic practices and strategies mentioned above, but directed internationally to facilitate classification and positioning in the rankings of a specific country or language. When considering the execution of this type of strategy, it is important to note that you will encounter two challenges initially, which are reflected in a practical example:
You have an online store operating in Mumbai, in SEO positioning you are doing so well that you begin to receive purchase orders from countries such as United States or Australia without dedicating a minimum logistical effort to achieve that result.
In this case, the challenge is not the country, but the language, because the language is totally different
So, as the first hurdle, the first thing to answer before continuing with the idea of International SEO is, if the market is good enough to invest in what’s next.
There are elements that give signals about the convenience of creating an International SEO strategy, one of them is:
If you are interested in creating an International SEO strategy, it is because you have surely found indications that indicate a potential foreign market, if not, then the fastest way to find out is from the analysis of your website now using metric tools such as Google Analytics , to discover 3 important aspects:
On the other hand, you can rely on tools such as SEMrush, Google’s keyword planner, these are magnificent in their paid version to determine key aspects in the process of researching the foreign market before preparing an International SEO strategy and help you know details such as :
SEMrush in its free version does not provide all the information that should be known about the competition, but in the paid version, just by placing the link of the website you consider to be a competitor, it performs a complete study on the behavior of the website; From the keywords on the pages, through the SEO strategy On page, Off page to backlinks, enough data to know what causes the success of the competition abroad.
As well as SEMrush there are hundreds of tools that can help you to know both the market and the position of the competition in it, for example, Woorank, MOZ, Ahreft, among others.
Now, if after executing a complete analysis on the situation in the country or language in which it is intended to position, everything indicates that the probability of taking a place in the ranking is very high, then it is time to think about a strategy of International SEO, but first, in an international keyword research, to help you contextualize the concept of each keyword for each country.
You can easily assume when directing your International SEO efforts on countries that speak the same language, the context of the word may not be different or in fact, there may not be any other context other than yours or that of your country. But there is no theory more erroneous than this, on the contrary!
If it happens very regularly in the , what would make you think that it would not pass from one country to another?
When conducting international keyword research, there are 3 elements that matter:
Cultural factors directly influence the way in which users in a given country ask questions in the search engine. Culture also affects the way you live and how you see the environment in which you live.
Therefore, culture directly influences the user’s search intention, for example, in India using “buy nike shoes online” may mean that the user is looking for a product with the intention of buying.
But perhaps a user in Australia uses the same term to begin a research process that allows price comparisons, therefore, it is not a user who is ready to buy, while perhaps the user is.
You have understood?
So to do an International Keyword Research you have to go beyond the simple term to position, it is to make an effort to understand why the user from a certain country uses that term.
One of the first questions that arise when creating an International SEO strategy is the domain issue, questions such as: should I buy more domains that help me position myself in other countries or languages? Is there a way to restructure the architecture of my website to show several versions for the country in which I want to position? Do you have to duplicate your efforts on SEO? They are some of those that you review in your mind while you feel that everything becomes a confusing situation.
The good thing is that these questions have the same answer and it is YES! That is, if you determine that the new market in which you want to do International SEO is very good and will raise your ROI to an insurmountable level, the most convenient thing is to buy new domains in which you obviously have to double your SEO effort.
With these simple steps you should not do more than the classic SEO actions that are traditionally known and mentioned at the beginning of this material, unless the pages of your subfolders have content similar to that of the root domain, in that case, extend the procedure to tell Google that you are not duplicating content using hreflang tags.
Hreflang tags are part of the technical SEO solution for the internationalization of a website for sites that contain similar content, in this way you indicate to Google that you are not duplicating content, but that you are generating similar content for each region or country in that you indicated that you want to position.
Remember that Google to crawl and index a website verifies what URL you want to rate, if those URLs have hreflang annotations and if they do, it presents the most appropriate URL for that user to the search engine. If you do not present annotations to distinguish the pages, you can get into a serious duplicate content conflict; In the worst case, Google generates a penalty that goes from a drop in the rankings to the elimination of these duplicate pages.
The weight of hreflang tags in International SEO is barbaric, because by telling Google in which country and with what language you want to position, you make it easier for them to show the content that users from that region are looking for, that means that each fewer and fewer users return to the search engine index and therefore the lower the bounce rate; As you know, the lower the bounce rate, the greater the signal you send to Google about the quality of your content.
According to Google, there are 3 ways to tell its crawlers that your pages present versions in languages or country, these are:
It is a useful method for websites that have not yet built a sitemap, and in which Google requires adding elements in the header that allow identifying which language or country said page is directed to. For example:
“<Link rel =” alternate “hreflang =” language_code “
In real code it would look like this:
“<Link rel =” alternate “href =” http://example.com/ ”
hreflang = “is” />
<link rel = “alternate” href = “http://example.com/en-gb/”
hreflang = “es-es” />
<link rel = “alternate” href = “http://example.com/en-au/”
hreflang = “en-au” /> “
As you can see, the code contains a combination in which the language and country are identified with the respective universal language ISO 316-6 to identify the region and ISO 639-1 to identify the language.
It is the method used to identify non-HTML files, such as PDFs. These would look like this:
“Link: <url1>; rel = ”alternate”; hreflang = ” language_code_1 “, <url2>; rel = ”alternate”; hreflang = ” language_code_2 “ ”
As you can see in the same code, the number of existing versions for each page must be reflected, in the example there are 2, but if in your case you have 3 versions, then you must compose the code of 3 versions duly identified with the ” hreflang = ” Language_code_ 1″
XML sitemap markup works very similar to the other methods, that is, if you have 4 versions of a page, the map must include 4 different entries, each with 4 equal secondary entries. Google requires respecting the following rules when it comes to applying the hreflang tag from the sitemap:
For any of the 3 methods with which you decide to create hreflang tags to identify the versions of your root page, Google explains that if you have regional versions, it is advisable to create a generic page to take users who are not included in the tag.
In principle, if you do not have a webmaster operating and managing the technical elements of your website, it is likely that when reading this you will feel that it is very difficult to apply International SEO, and yes, there are certain degrees of difficulty to work on an international positioning strategy However, like any strategy executed on a volatile market, the key is to experiment and analyze.
Why the recommendation once you put all this in the ring, is to verify is playing so well this to your advantage is working well and labeling configurations? Are you doing auditor í to of the status of your international pages? Are you experiencing growth than ten í as stipulated in your new markets?
In short, there are hundreds of questions you should ask yourself to make sure that everything is going according to plan, questions that together with your local expert team, you can answer