How to Build a Successful International SEO Strategy

How to Build a Successful International SEO Strategy

International SEO is an often misunderstood concept. Some think of it as geotargeting at an international level. Others call it a fancy name for translating your website.

But International SEO is not just geotargeting or website translation. It is a culmination of several strategies. Strategies aimed at creating a suitable and comfortable experience for your international audience.

If your website gets significant traffic from other countries, in other languages (non-primary languages), or both, it is time you give conscious thought to your international SEO strategy.

And you don’t need to break a sweat while doing that. We have outlined the simple steps that will help you build a strategy and get successful results.

Steps to Build a Successful International SEO Strategy

1.  Analyze Local and International Competitors in Target Country

Before you begin chalking a plan for your international SEO efforts, consider the competition.

When considering international expansion, you need to consider two types of competitors.

One, international players who have a stronghold in the target country. And then the local players in the market.

Identify the keywords they are targeting. What kind of content they are creating. What search engines they are targeting.

The starting point for creating your international SEO strategy should be your competitors’ strategy. You do not just have to do what they are doing, but do something better. And for that, you need to have their strategy laid out in front of you.

A professional SEO agency would be able to help you identify your competitor’s strategy.

2.  Carry Out International Keyword Research

Let us first define what we mean by international keyword research. It means finding out the keywords that you need to target in the target country. This could include location-specific keywords or keywords in other languages.

In essence, international keyword research is local keyword research. But for a country that isn’t the home for your business.

For example, if you are expanding your real estate business from the USA to the UK. Then you need to consider the fact that apartments are called flats in the UK. This would affect your keyword research.

And if you are expanding to France, for example, you need to use “louer un appartement” along with “rent a flat.”

Consider local slang, spelling variations, and keywords in the local language.

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And yes, don’t stop your keyword research at Google. Different countries have different favorites when it comes to search engines.

Yandex is the most used search engine in Russia, with a 60% market share.

And Baidu (54.3% market share) is the most used search engine in China, followed by Qihoo360 and Sogou. Yup, no sign of Google here.

3.  Localize your Brand in the Target Country

There are hundreds of stories about international marketing fails. The one common conclusion that can be drawn from all of them? A lack of localization is the perfect plan for failure.

This stands true for your SEO efforts as well. You cannot just translate your content from English to the language of your target country. Consider the context and cultural differences. And also, the tech aspect isn’t something you can ignore.

Here’s what you need to do –

  • Translate your content and use Hreflang. Google doesn’t penalize you for duplicate content when it is in a different language. Good guy Google knows what you are aiming at.

But, you need to tell Google which content you want to be shown for which country. And Hreflang is the code that you need to use.

Is Hreflang a foreign concept to you? Look for managed SEO services instead of changing your website’s code. You might land yourself in a fix. With no way to fix things

  • Hire people to build a community in different countries. Your brand needs to be localized, not just the website. Your social media handles, the reviews and comments that people leave for you, native language queries that come up – all these need to be handled. If you don’t speak the language, hire someone who can do the job. Do NOT try to use Google Translate. It is not a professional translation tool. It is basic. Not suitable for business. And definitely not the right way to expand into international territory.
  • It might be the middle of the day for you. But it can certainly be the wee hours of the morning for your audience in another country. Make sure you time your interactions with them according to the local time zones.
  • Turn them dollars into euros or pounds, or whatever is the currency in your target country. No one has a currency convertor tab open. Unless, of course, if they are a forex broker. Nonetheless, convert prices to give your customers a comfortable experience. Also, be clear about shipping charges, if any. Accept locally popular payment methods.
  • When you create website copies in another language or for another country, make sure it reflects the cultural differences. Hire expert copywriters if you need to. But don’t let your content sound foreign to the reader. Or worse, inappropriate or offensive.
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4.   Finalize your Site Structure

When you have multiple pages in different languages or targeted at different countries, you need to finalize a site structure.

  • us and is one option. This type of URL uses ccTLD.

ccTLD is a two-letter code to show the country of registration of the website. Informative for search engines as well as users.

  • and is another way. In such a case, a subdomain is being used. Note that link equity from your root domain may or may not reach the subdomain.

Some other options include  –

  • Using a subdirectory – yourbusiness/us
  • Using a General Top Level Domain (gTLD) with language parameter – yourbusiness/?lang=en-us
  • Using a separate domain itself –

Understand the pros and cons of each option and make a call that aligns with your long-term goals.

5.  Geotargeting

Geotargeting is an important aspect of international SEO. Other than using Hreflang, you should also use Webmaster geotargeting.


Other aspects that you need to look into include –

  • Local hosting. Okay, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you can get local hosting, it will add to your SEO efforts and improve page speed. While it is tough to achieve, you can sure give it a try.
  • Local link building. Is your brand getting a poor response in a foreign country? Chances are local mentions will be able to sort that out for you. Local link building aids international SEO. And induces traction to brand awareness as well.

6.  Find Experts and Allies

Foreign territories are best ruled with local allies. This simple and effective rule of international politics applies to international SEO as well.

What you don’t know and understand about other countries is best left to the experts. Uplers, for example, is a professional SEO services company. They can help you expand to international markets with a robust SEO strategy. They have worked in several markets. Have a globally-placed team. And expertise in the technical aspects of international SEO.

They offer not just international SEO services but bundled services from the SEO services list as well.

Choosing an expert should be a decision that gets significant time and attention from you.

Once you have decided on these basic aspects, get in touch with the best SEO company that can help your business. Then, start building a plan based on the skeleton strategy that we have outlined.

Conquer the world with international SEO!



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Shankar is a tech blogger who occasionally enjoys penning historical fiction. With over a thousand articles written on tech, business, finance, marketing, mobile, social media, cloud storage, software, and general topics, he has been creating material for the past eight years.

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