The SEO landscape is changing, and no one-size-fits-all strategy exists. This has led to the emergence of international SEO for businesses aiming to target international customers.
International SEO is an Ecommerce strategy that works towards optimizing your online store’s website to target and attract customers from different countries.
International SEO efforts are aimed at helping your website to rank in local search engine result pages.
However, many Ecommerce business owners are confused about optimizing their international SEO strategy for their online business. This article aims to answer some of the queries.
What is International Ecommerce SEO?
International SEO is an approach that aims at optimizing your online store’s website so that search engines of different countries can index it. This helps it appear on local search engine results pages.
This is an excellent strategy for businesses that are planning to expand their business globally.
This involves targeting international markets with different strategies, such as localized content based on the country targeting, using relevant keywords, thorough target audience research, international link building, hreflang tags, and geo-targeting.
How is International SEO Different from Local SEO?
An international SEO strategy is different from local SEO in many ways. While the latter focuses on keywords and targets audiences within a small geographic area, international SEO targets a vast geographic region. Hence, the scale of international SEO is much larger. Due to its vast scale and scope, an international Ecommerce SEO strategy is much more costly. Moreover, as international SEO aims to capture a vast audience, its content is also more extensive.
An international SEO agency conducts meticulous international keyword research to determine the search intent of audiences based in multiple countries. This approach creates different versions of one website with different languages and specifically tailored content to target specific regions.
Additionally, in international SEO, the keywords are more competitive because companies worldwide, including some big multinational companies, are also targeting the same keywords.
International SEO is more extensive than local SEO because it targets global markets, whereas the latter only concentrates on the local markets.
Considerations When Going Global
If you plan to expose your business and services internationally, you must be well aware of your expectations.
Even if you have an effective international SEO strategy, you may be unable to implement it properly. This is because international SEO is expensive. You need a lot of resources to take your business to the global markets.
Moreover, you must conduct your own market research and analysis. The potential growth must validate the time and resources taken to conduct this research.
Additionally, be clear about the potential traffic volume that you expect from these countries and ensure that your business can accommodate the needs of the local audience of these target countries.
Getting your SEO team ready to target these markets is crucial, but you must go beyond to implement a successful international SEO strategy.
You must be clear about the revenue you expect to generate because generating localized content and overcoming cultural differences is difficult.
In no way is this meant to demotivate you. But you should have a clear picture before investing your time and resources.
Tips to Expand Your Business Globally
The following are some of the most effective ways to expand your business’s global presence:
Evaluate the market and see which markets you must target
Before implementing international SEO, make sure you have evaluated the potential target market. Look at the demand of the international markets that you plan to expand.
Look at the demand in these particular markets and the supply. Without proper research, your efforts to expand your business may fail.
Develop localized content
The content that one audience in a particular country may find interesting may not interest another. Designing locally relevant content will help your audience find the answers to their problems.
To create localized content, you must conduct keyword research that is country-specific and write optimized content, meta titles, and meta descriptions for them.
Focus on geolocation
Search engines have become very smart. You can’t optimize your Ecommerce website for one location and expect it to work for all locations.
You have to give the search engines various indications based on the location you are trying to target. Only then search engine algorithms will work in your favor.
Create a region-specific URL structure based on the country, use hreflang tags, and external linking from sites within the target market for search engine optimization.
You must build authority for your website to rank in local search engine results pages. The best way to do this is by getting high domain authority backlinks from local websites.
Common International SEO Implementation Challenges
Some common problems are faced by almost every business owner when trying to engrave their mark in the international market. In the following part, we are going to find solutions to these problems based on the three most common Ecommerce platforms:
Let us see what these challenges are and how we can solve them:
What’s the Best International Web Structure to Use to Target New Markets
If you are new to international SEO, you can begin with multi-currency and international shipping in the same URL structure. This approach is best for beginners.
But this doesn’t really improve your search engine rankings for the specific country you are targeting. This is a novice approach to international SEO.
So, if your goal is substantial international growth, you need a different web structure. Use ccTLD (country code top-level domains) domains with specific country codes for local searches. This will help you create region-specific URLs.
You can also add subdomains or subdirectories with a GTLD (generic top level domain) through the Google search console to geolocate new markets.
When choosing a web structure, consider your business goal and research your competitors. Some of your competitor in the target region may have established their website authority through the years, and it may be difficult to compete with them. You can use your current GTLD to accelerate the process in this scenario.
Another crucial tip to remember here is you shouldn’t target the continent as a whole because different countries in the same continent will have their own specific language and search behavior.
How to Implement These International Web Structures in the Most Popular Ecommerce Platforms
Now that the web structure for local search engines has been decided, it is time to implement them.
Apps like Shopify support multi-language targeting. However, it doesn’t support multi-country configuration.
You can use freemium apps such as Translation Lab and Weglot for multi-language targeting.
Moreover, since Shopify doesn’t support multi-country configuration, you must create stores to geolocate via subdomains.
Wocommerce supports WordPress multi-language and multi-country plugins. Hence, there is more flexibility in this app.
WooCommerce platforms allow multi-country and multi-language plugins with the help of subdirectories, subdomains, or domains for international versions.
Magento also supports multi-country and multi-language stores. But you have to open different stores with different languages.
You also have to use different domains, subdomains, or subdirectories.
How to Scale Categories & Products Content Localization with Little Resources
Localization is the key to scale in global sales. But how do you do it with limited resources?
You can use different URLs and other on page SEO strategies, such as using meta tags and meta descriptions and publishing local language-optimized content, among others.
The idea here is to indicate to search engine crawlers that your web pages are relevant to a particular country’s target audience’s search intent.
How to Follow This Process with the Most Popular Ecommerce Platforms
With the advent of technology, this process has become very straightforward. You can easily leverage the advantages of an AI translation tool to make your journey toward becoming a successful international Ecommerce business easier.
This app supports third-party translation features. Apps such as Translation Lab offer direct automated translations.
It allows manual translation by default. You can also leverage third-party translations both on automated and on-demand services.
Magento also has translation and localization extensions. However, it is not free like the Shopify freemium.
How to Implement Hreflang to Rank with the Right Pages Without Triggering Errors When You Have Millions of URLs?
The main aim of hreflang is to show the relevant version of a web page specific to a country. Its purpose is to help search engines understand the different language versions of web pages and which ones should be presented to the users.
It helps display relevant content based on region to your audience. Therefore, it is crucial that indexable URLs of different languages be optimized with different hreflang tags.
Moreover, hreflangs also solve the problem of duplicate content. This issue may arise when you have similar content in multiple languages or regions.
Hreflangs can be implemented through HTML head, HTTP header, or XML Sitemap.
How Can You Implement Hreflang Annotations in the Most Important Ecommerce Platforms?
Implementing hreflang tag involves adding these tags to your HTLM code to inform search engines about your target language and region.
You can edit the theme.liquid layout page in Shopify to include hreflang pointing to each version of canonical URLs.
You need to implement an hreflang if there are different page versions for a URL. You need to repeat this process for each page on your website to help search engines understand which page to display to which audience
The Magento 2 version supports Hreflang and the process is the same as Shopify and WooCommerce.
International Ecommerce SEO Best Practice
Keep the following steps in mind when it comes to international Ecommerce SEO:
Conduct your due diligence
The strategy used in one country may not be relevant in another country. The international market is very vast, and even if you are selling the same product, you are targeting a different audience in different countries.
The audience of different countries, even though from the same continent, don’t always speak the same language. Optimize your international pages based on this research and use a country-by-country approach.
Additionally, look at digital marketing strategies used by your top competitors in that specific country, identify the most popular search engine in that specific country, and adapt your international SEO strategy accordingly.
Answer questions of your audience in the right context
If there is one ultimate thing you can do to improve your international SEO, it is to speak in the same language as your customers.
Firstly, you can use language tags to ensure that the search engine identifies the language in which the content is written. Secondly, check the primary language used in a particular country and optimize your content based on that.
If your Ecommerce site has answers your customers are looking for in their own language, you will be able to build your credibility among them.
Translate existing content carefully
Be very careful while translating your existing content based on the local language.
In many instances, translation tools may not be well-versed with the literal conversion of words and phrases. Therefore, be very careful, as you don’t want your content misinterpreted.
Develop a link-building strategy specific to each market
In international SEO, the origin of a link matters a lot. Google will view your content to be relevant to the Australian audience if the number of inbound links is from the .au domain.
To ensure you have a solid link-building strategy, you can leverage the power of tools such as the Google search console to check the number of relevant inbound links and backlinks, URL structure, and web traffic.
Analyze how your strategy will impact user experience
Global businesses must realize that international SEO is not just about keyword research, content, and optimizing your web structure. There is more to it!
Analyze how your strategy is going to impact the overall user experience. Take the help of tools such as Google Analytics to analyze the bounce rate, conversion rate, and organic traffic to your website.
Also, optimize your website for other search engines that are popular in a particular area. Additionally, mobile optimization is also crucial for a better user experience.
International SEO for Ecommerce can be complex for a beginner. However, it is essential if you are planning to expand your Ecommerce business globally.
The right SEO strategies can differentiate you from the crowd. For Ecommerce businesses that are aiming to target particular markets, high-value content with keyword optimization for various countries is crucial. However, you also have to look at the overall technical SEO of your website for search engine ranking.
Lastly, understanding how Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento work in the international SEO landscape is also crucial to building a successful strategy.