As inbound marketers, we all know the importance of search engine optimization -- particularly how critical inbound links are to getting our websites to appear in the SERPs. But if you're serving an international audience, have you considered whether you're catering your SEO efforts to, well, an international audience?
While this may not be applicable to everyone, if you're an international marketer targeting your country, a U.S. marketer with customers in multiple countries, or see international expansion in your company's future, the information on how to optimize your website is critical, yet often scattered and hard to find.
Scattered and hard to find, no longer! The infographic below explains the six essential search engine optimization tips for international marketing in a succinct visual form that you can bookmark and browse through at your leisure -- or, if you're in the mood to read, we've expanded the explanations below the infographic for a little more in-depth information on international SEO.
1) Signal the appropriate language to search engines with meta tags.
Meta tags allow your website to converse with search engines. It's like flirting with Google to try and get a solid spot in their heart (or in this case, the SERPs). If you're marketing to an international audience, you need to ensure search engines know what country you're from -- or at least what language you're speaking in! By telling the search engine your language is English, French, German, etc., you're increasing the likelihood that your website will appear in the SERPs when someone searches in that same language.
The standard meta tag recognized by search engines is <META name="Language" Content="EN-GB">
All you need to change is the "content" portion. In this case, EN-GB stands for English-Great Britain. For a full-list of common language meta-tags, check out our free guide.
2) Be aware of (and use) spelling variations.
Even if you're targeting a language that's used in multiple areas around the world, that doesn't mean that each country uses the same spelling rules you do. For example, American English and British English may be the same "language," but there are multiple variations between the two such as color vs. colour, or optimization vs. optimisation. Such differences will be critical when it comes to ranking for particular keywords in search.
3) Cater domain extensions to the country you're targeting.
If you have the resources to build sites at each target country's domain extension (.co.uk, .ie, .fr, etc.) you should do so. As we all know, search engines pull results based on your location. When you search for "Dunkin' Donuts," your search will return links to locations near you. With that in mind, you want search engines in your target countries to pull up your website for searchers in that country. Having the proper domain extension allows search engines like Google or Bing to know that your site is the answer to the search inquiry. If you're worried about duplicate content by hosting multiple sites, you can always set up domains that redirect to your main website.
4) Make sure the date is formatted according to each country's standards.
When someone is looking for a particular update or story, they may specify their search to a particular date. Realize that every country formats the date in different ways, and by having your dates optimized for the country being targeted, you're more likely to reach them.
5) Use a local address.
As an extension of the previous two tips, you want to ensure search engines recognize who you are targeting by connecting them to that location. If you have an office or mailing address in the target country, include it in your website's contact information.
6) Increase inbound links from target countries.
If your target country is England, for example, you'll want to increase inbound links from England-based sites. We know inbound links are crucial for good SEO, but they are even more crucial for international search engine optimization. These area-specific inbound links can help create authority for your website as the destination for answers to the searches people in those areas are conducting.
Do you have any additional tips for marketers targeting international locations? Share your advice in the comments!
Originally published Jul 10, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016