When you think about expanding your online business, you tend to think about many things in the process depending on your industry.  Obviously, if you have an e-shop it is important to understand how to manage deliveries in other country, suppliers etc. One thing that unfortunately business tend to forget is how to organise there international seo strategy right from the beginning which unfortunately leads to constantly many problems.

Now I cannot say I am an expert in SEO but I have spent a bit of time here and there so I thought to talk about this subject a bit.

Plan Early Before you Launch

I cant stress enough how you need to make your SEO strategy an important compononent of your overall marketing strategy.  Many business forget or don’t take into consideration of seo and then tend to pay hefty budgets to agencies trying to correct mistakes afterwards. Its not bad for the agencies but  it will be bad for your budget.

That planning process begins with keyword research. Determine what keywords your target customers are likely to use. Will they search for your products using the exact translation, or are there local slang terms you need to know? This information is essential to develop an international website that is optimized for the key factors evaluated by search engine algorithms: meaningful, fresh content that is keyword-specific; descriptive tagging; rich media; social media distribution plans; and internal and external links.

Subdomains or Subfolders or ccTLD’s

That is a popular discussion in SEO circles and one that I believe it will never end.  Essentially what that means is how you want your website urls to be formed.

Subdomains en.yourcompany.com

Subfolders www.yourcompany.com/en

ccTLD’s www.yourcompany.co.uk

So lets write down some things about all those things.

Firstly the ccTLD’s. In my opinion as an SEO that gives the stronger signal to Google on where you want to target your domain. Also it is the easiest domain that your local marketing team could use to promote your products/services.  Naturally as it is a local ccTLD will attract easily a lot of natural links from bloggers. 

Then again if you have a small company that would increase the cost, maintenance and working hours for you. So if that is the case then maybe you  should go for the second option which is subfolders.  The good thing about subfolders is that essentially you need one installation for your website  (your dev team will love you) and you can still  target all  the folders in Google Websmaster Tools.. Additionally, if you have incoming links to one folder and good website structure all the language folders can equally benefit.

Now for whatever reason you might as well don’t like any of the previous 2 ways.  Don’t worry! We have a third but it is my least preferred.  Now, when you have a new subdomain google considers it as a different and unique domain. That means that even if you can gain some value from the root domain many SEOS believe that you will lose some value in terms of authority of your domain if you have that structure.

The whole issue had spark a fight online between Rand Fiskin of moz.com and Google employers .

If you are interested you can find the whole thread on twitter over here

For what its worth, I believe that subfolders work much better than subdomains and I have my own experience when I immediately transferred a blog from a subdomain to subfolder for a brand and saw huge boost in many countries.

BUT, if your tech team prefers this, there’s nothing wrong with using a subdomain to geo-target. You’ll need to claim each subdomain in Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and set the geo-target for each, just as you would with subfolders.

Whatever you decide, should be based on SEO and business requirements.

Implementing Hreflang Sitemap

Now,  that is simply the most important and technical aspect of SEO .   Many SEO’s get it wrong but when you get right…..ooooooh …fireworks!

Google might be really good in identifying what your website is talking about but they do want some extra help from you. The Hreflang tags that were introduced by Google in 2010 which aims to help Google show the correct results. Hreflang tags will tell Google which version of your website should appear in each targeted country to help serve the correct content, and the correct language for the right users in each country.

If you don’t do that might for example have for the same result in Mexico have the your mx and co website ranking together.

Now, I wont get into more details on how to implement the hreflang tags on your website but you can find more details here if you want and here. Nevertheless, I seriously advice you to have a look at them and take them seriously.

Image  Strategy

I love how easy and underdevelop this strategy is. Basically when you are targeting new countries, you really need to make sure that you have different photos per market that match the needs of your target audience.

A lot of traffic dependingon your industry might come from image search and because not many people tend to optimize there images you might be losing users for no reason.

  • Try to write a descriptive caption
  • Tell your devs or content writters when you upload a picture to always add descriptive alt tag
  • Make sure you use a descriptive name file for the picture and not just DSC02927.jpg
  • You can even create a sitemap for those pictures to make sure that can be found by google.

Yes, focus on mobile

After many years in speculation Google put there focus last year in Mobile and made a lot of changes on there algorithm to support mobile friendly brands/websites

As almost 60% of searches are carried out on mobile devices, mobile-first indexing makes sense.What does mobile first-indexing mean for SEO? Basically, this major change means that the mobile versions of websites are being indexed before the desktop versions. So mobile web pages are more important for ranking than ever.

I can’t really believe why you might not have a mobile friendly website in 2019 but in case you are one of those persons…well, you might want to reconsider.

Speeeeed is your friend now!

Last year, as part of the mobile first index, google announced that speed is a very serious of the ranking algorithm now. That essentially means that if there is anything that effects the loading speed of your website you might find yourself ranking a bit lower now.

Modern users aren’t going to wait around for slow pages to load. If this is the case, your bounce rates will go through the roof. Slow loading websites should also expect to receive zero user engagement. You could focus on the following things.

  • Use a browser cache.
  • Compress all images.
  • Use a CDN. A CDN, or content delivery network, reduces latency and makes your website load up to three times faster.

Schema Markup

You might be wondering what is that? Well, couple of years ago all the worlds search engines united and made the following code that helps them understand even better what your site is talking about.

We know for sure now that Google for example is using a bunch of different ways to understand what is your website about. Lets say though, that for whatever reason they are still not sure about it. Having the ability to be certain about it by reading your schema mark up code will help your website rank better for some keywords

Also, markup makes it possible for Google to display relevant info about your content, services, or products in the search results. For example, if you Google “cake mixers,” you’ll see several links in the organic search results with star reviews. Google grabs those reviews by evaluating the markup schema on the page.

Last words

Obviously, optimising your website is an ongoing procedure like correcting and editing an article. I do believe though that if you start on those areas you will have a really good opportunity to reach your targets.