What You Need to Know About Global SEO

September 22, 2014

There’s been plenty of hype over the importance of local SEO (LSEO), but what about global SEO? The majority of companies pinpoint one of three SEO levels: local, regional, International SEOor global. In each category, certain keywords can optimize the website or keep it far out of reach from the target audience. For example, an acupuncturist in Buffalo isn’t doing herself any favors trying to optimize the key word “acupuncturist.” It’s very competitive, and even if she succeeded the efforts are pointless—she only wants to target people who need an acupuncturist in the Buffalo area.

Going regional doesn’t make much sense either. Optimizing “acupuncturist New England” might get her a few positive matches, but what do people in New England living hundreds of miles away want with a Buffalo acupuncturist? Her best bet would be going hyper-local, focusing on specific neighborhoods in Buffalo that are convenient to her office.

But what about businesses that do want to target markets outside the US? You have languages, infrastructure, and cultures to deal with. It’s complex, but there are best practices to master it.

It’s Still SEO

It might seem like everything is different with global SEO, but the pillars of best SEO practices remain the same. You have five pieces of the pie: Making useful content, technical changes to the website, creating quality inbound links, social media marketing and of course analyzing the end result. It doesn’t matter what the search engine, country, or language—these five principles need to be at the forefront.

For language, you of course need to offer content in the native language of the country you’re targeting. You don’t do this with Google Translate (even though many people do). It’s a bad experience for visitors and SEO purposes. You also shouldn’t go with a “translator” who’s not certified. Instead, depend on hreflang annotations that let you specify both the language and country. You’ll bypass misalignment and optimize your success, both necessary to overcome a huge hurdle.

Appeasing Search Engines

Instead of focusing (just) on Google, find out which search engines are most popular in the country you’re targeting. It might be Yahoo!, Google, or another search engine you’ve never heard of. For example, in China, Google is blocked and Baidu is king—so why optimize for Google’s search engine?

There’s an SEO “rule” about duplicate content on multiple websites, but if you’re going global there’s an exception. If you have different domain names for every country, that’s the best way to dominate global SEO. Plus, the content isn’t “duplicate” by search engine standards because the language is different. The best approach is ccTLDs (i.e. www.example.com, www.example.in, www.example.co.uk, and so on), and make sure to use language targeting via subdomains (i.e. de.example.com) if language is your main concern.

Bringing it “Home”

If you host a foreign website in a part of the world where you’re not located, that can have a lot of negative impacts. It can tarnish your SEO and lead to slow load times for your global audience. Secure a hosting company with a datacenter in your foreign target. If that’s not possible, find one with a data center located in a neighboring country.

Finally, don’t forget about social signals from the likes of Facebook or Twitter. They may not directly impact rankings in other markets, but good social media can cause more shared content, which leads to linking and finally increases in your rankings. Research the most popular social networks in your target market and use them for promotion.

If you only target the US but you have worldwide appeal, you’re missing out. Soon, the Asia-Pacific market will become 66 percent of the entire world’s middle class. Billions will be accessing the internet from around the world—don’t miss out on this big piece of the pie.

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