Expansion Via International SEO

digital-marketing-strategyAs the business world grows ever smaller the time may come where you want to take your business overseas and tap into a foreign speaking market. English is still the dominant language online, but it has barely grown in comparison to the boom of Asian languages and Spanish speaking nations.

As more people connect to the internet your potential audience continuously increases and the fastest growing demographic right now is the non-English speaking one. Which means that, sooner or later, international marketing may not be a luxury but a necessity for sustainable business.

The challenges of keywords in a foreign language

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that your SEO strategy needs a serious shake up when it comes to targeting a foreign speaking market. Keywords are not only in a different language, but many countries have multiple national languages, while Spanish is just one example of a language spoken in many countries across the world (the third most widely used online).

Dialects also make keywords in Spanish, French and many other languages more difficult, while they both use accents in written form which can throw another curveball at your keyword strategy. People normally aren’t too concerned about grammar when it comes to search so accents are often missed out and keywords without accents generally get more traffic.

Domain names, URLs and server location

One solution to the accent problem is to avoid them in URLs and metadata, while maintaining correct grammar in the content itself. URLs are a major factor in taking your SEO strategy abroad and there are a few options you need to familiarise yourself with.

The best all-round option is to go for country specific URLs (www.website.es) if the relevant domain is available, but you should take a look at the Google documentation on the pros and cons of country-specific URLs, subdomains and subdirectories.

Meanwhile server location is no longer a major ranking factor in Google’s algorithms, which means you can host your foreign language website from anywhere you choose, unless you expand into Russia or China.

Google isn’t number one everywhere

Not quite anyway. A grand total of five countries favour another search engine over Google and three of those go for Yahoo/Bing. The other two are China, where Baidu is the top search provider, and Russia, where Yandex rules the roost – both of which factor server location in their page ranking.

Speaking your audience’s language

Content is your biggest challenge when it comes to expanding into a foreign speaking language. Sure, you have to translate your content, but engaging with an international audience takes a lot more than simply switching language. The key to a successful content strategy is knowing your audience inside out – and the same thing applies when you move into a foreign market. Which means you need a deep cultural understanding of your new target audience, their values, humour and individual needs.

This concept goes far beyond your written content and your visuals need to reflect each individual target audience if you want to make a success of international marketing. Images should include people or models from the country you are expanding into while you need to consider how the contextual meaning of colours and symbols vary in different cultures.

A deeper understanding

The key to international SEO and marketing in general is the right mix of knowledge and enough cultural understanding to expand a business overseas and engage with a new audience on a deep level.