Basic Principles of International SEO

The nature of the global village means that it’s never been easier to conduct business on an international scale. The internet makes it even easier, as anyone with a modem (and the correct keywords) can find your website and potentially use your services or purchase your products. But it raises a rather important question: should you actively seek international markets with international SEO (ISEO)?

International SEO

The answer, as it is so often, is that it depends.

It depends on your business goals and capabilities.

For instance, if you’re a small carpet cleaning business and you only operate within a very defined area then focusing attention on ISEO will be an utter waste of time.

If, however, you’re a small company that makes customised t-shirts and you want to extend your market to other countries then ISEO starts to make sense.

The next question you need to ask yourself is how far you want to go.

Basically you have two options:

1)     Create different websites with separate domains to suit specific countries.

2)     Create country-specific pages on your website.

Different schools of thought advocate the two options.

One school believes that you need country-specific domains to rank properly in international markets. For instance, .co.za will help you rank in South Africa, while .co.au will help you in Australia. Having different sites also allows you to go completely local with the content. If you have the budget for it you can hire local writers to ensure the sensible, smooth flow of the content. They’ll also be able to insert the appropriate keywords in the appropriate places so that you aren’t left with a site that reads as though it was translated by a dyslexic robot.

On the other hand, creating country specific pages is usually more affordable and provides you with more control over what goes on.

Regardless of which you choose you will need to bear in mind these important principles:

  • Keyword research. Ensure that your keyword research reflects the terms applicable to the countries you’re targeting. Spelling and phrasing are particularly important.
  • Geographic specificity. Ensure that you include the name of the country that you are targeting in the content pages. You’ll also need to ensure that international customers are completely aware that you are based abroad, so you need to prominently display your physical address.
  • Remember to cater for different currencies in your prices. Not everyone likes to go to Google for a quick currency conversion.
  • Andy Atkins-Kruger recommends that you pay careful attention to the images that you use. Remember that not all cultures have the same appreciation of the same images, so be sensitive with the pictures that you choose.

Marketing your site to an international audience is much like marketing to your local audience in that it requires the same diligence and hard work. But, it’s important never to forget that for all the similarities there are some differences. Master those and you’ll conquer the world in no time.

Sandy writes on eclectic topics ranging from the environment and publishing to finance, planning & buying media, digital marketing and social media. She’s a complete workaholic and considers editing to be her number one hobby.