International SEO: What It Is, Why It Matters, And How to Do It

The online marketing world is like a universe on its own. And in this vast world of online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), there’s a treasure trove waiting to be discovered – International SEO.

International SEO can expand your website’s reach and make you rich in visibility, traffic, and revenue by exposing your domain to the world, not just your locality.

But to unlock this treasure, you first need to know what it is and how to master it, and that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about here. Keep scrolling to learn more about international SEO.

International SEO: A Brief Definition

It is like the global ambassador of your website, making it accessible and appealing to the target audience from all corners of the world. It is about jumping the geographical borders and ranking your website in other regions as well.

In International SEO, you optimize your website’s content, blog, landing pages, etc., in a way search engines can identify your target language and country. So, implementing language targeting and country targeting allows you to reach an international audience. The prime goal of using international SEO is to get found in other countries as well as to reap maximum traffic and, eventually, conversions/sales.

How International SEO Works?

International SEO involves optimizing your website in a way that your content starts ranking for different languages, areas, and cultures. Technically speaking, in international SEO, you tailor your content, keyphrases, hreflang tags, etc., in a way that caters to the target users living in different corners of the globe. You can optimize your SEO techniques to cater to a target country or even a target continent. So, in a way, you are utilizing the techniques of language targeting as well as country targeting to reach the audience living in a different country or speaking a foreign or different language too.

What Makes International SEO Different From Local SEO?

Comparing local and international SEO is a bit like comparing a neighborhood bakery to a global pastry franchise.

Local SEO focuses on optimizing your website for a specific geographic area, like a city or region, whereas international SEO has a more global outlook. It focuses on reaching audiences at a global scale, targeting them in their native language, currency, and search preferences. In other words, the search volume in local SEO is much less than in international SEO, as the former is not meant to target international audiences.

Importance Of International SEO

International SEO is like the secret sauce for businesses looking to expand their online reach beyond their home turf.

Speaking theoretically, here are some reasons why it is so important:

Global Audience Reach

With International SEO, you’re not just catering to folks in your neighborhood; you’re talking to people worldwide. Think about it like opening a virtual store that’s accessible to millions, not just a few hundred.

Revenue Boost

It’s not just about reaching more people; it’s about making more money. Let’s say you sell unique handcrafted shoes. By optimizing for international markets, you tap into a whole new world of potential customers who might be really into those one-of-a-kind kicks.

More customers mean more sales and more money.

Competitive Edge

Your competitors might be stuck in targeting their local audience while you’re jet-setting across the digital globe. Being ahead in the international game can give you a significant advantage.

Diverse Cultures, Diverse Opportunities

Different countries have different search habits. International SEO helps you tailor your content and keywords for specific markets. Let’s say “football” in the United States is “soccer” in most other places. Optimizing your content for these minute details can be a game changer.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Consider this – in 2022, global retail eCommerce sales reached approx. $5.7 trillion! That’s a slice of pie you don’t want to miss out on.

So, whether you’re a small business dreaming big or a giant conglomerate eyeing global domination, international SEO isn’t just a fancy term. It’s the key to unlocking a world of opportunities and dollars in the digital era.

Those were some theoretical reasons why International SEO is important. But let me back these points with a few numbers and figures to make my statements more convincing.

  • #1 search results on Google steal almost 32% of all clicks. This means ranking at the first spot in different countries can shoot up your CTR through the roof.
  • An average top-ranking page also ranks in the top 10 search results for about 1K other relevant keywords. Tweaking your pages with the right keywords can improve your search engine rankings.
  • 49% of digital marketers say that organic search has the best ROI. That states the importance of organic presence, which can be strengthened with international SEO.

The point of these stats is to show you how you can squeeze maximum benefits from search engines using international SEO. It can boost your CTR, increase your search rankings, and ramp up your ROI.

But Do You Really Need International SEO?

International SEO isn’t a works-for-all strategy. Whether or not you need international SEO depends on your business goals and target audience. Let’s explore some reasons why you should use International SEO.

Why You Might Need International SEO?

  1. Global Ambitions: If you dream of selling your products or services worldwide, International SEO is your ticket. Let’s say you run a company that makes high-quality Italian leather bags. Expanding to markets in Europe, Asia, or beyond would mean a bigger customer base.
  2. Multilingual Audience: You could benefit more if your website attracts visitors from different languages. For instance, if you’re a language-learning platform, you’d want to speak your customers’ languages so that you can cater to learners who are Italian, Spanish, or even French-speaking users.
  3. Competitors Are Going Global: If your competitors are expanding internationally, it’s time to consider it too. If they start catering to international customers before you do, they might snatch up your potential clients. Optimize your business to the top of the Google searches and let international SEO work its magic.

One of the most helpful ways to find out if international SEO is for you is to ask yourself some questions.

Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Who’s visiting your site? Check your website analytics. Are you seeing traffic from different countries? If yes, it might be worth optimizing for those regions. Analyze the country’s official language and create language-specific versions of your website.
  • Where do your products/services have demand? Do international market research to find out where there’s interest in what you offer. If you’re getting inquiries or orders from overseas, that’s a sign.
  • Are you ready for global logistics? Expanding internationally isn’t just about SEO. You need to figure out if you can handle the shipping, customer support, and payment options for different countries.
  • Can you adapt your content? Do you have the resources to create content in multiple languages or tailor it for international audiences? Heavy traffic may come from people speaking a certain language, and adapting according to that is vital to staying up and running.

In a nutshell, if your audience extends beyond your home turf, if there’s demand for what you offer in other countries, and if you’re ready to take on the global stage, international SEO is your ally in reaching those goals.

How to Implement International SEO For Your Website?

Let’s get into the practical steps and see how you can use international SEO best practices for your site:

Map Out Your International SEO Plan

Think of your International SEO strategy as your roadmap to success in the global online world. Start by identifying your target markets. Are you aiming for customers in Europe, Asia, or both?

One of the international SEO best practices is to consider the keywords people in those regions are using. For example, if you’re selling sneakers and want to reach a French audience, you might need to target “chaussures de sport” instead of “athletic shoes” to increase the search volume coming from the French-speaking area.

Decide Your URL Structure

Your URL structure helps search engines understand whether to rank this content higher or not. Moreover, it’s also a major click-grabbing factor if we talk about actual users. There are multiple options when it comes to URL structures:

  • Country Code Top-level Domains(ccTLDs): This type of URL structure is a country domain extension specific to a country, like .uk for the United Kingdom or .in for India. For example, for Japan. You can view them as country-specific domains.
  • Subdomains: For French content, you can use subdomains for each country or a particular language, like
  • Subdirectory: Another option is to use subdirectories like for Australian content.

Opt For Language Targeting

Speaking your first language target audience’s language is key. If you’re trying to target German-speaking users to your English website, you have to write content in German. Always try to coincide with the target market linguistically.

Use hreflang tags to tell search engines which language and region each page is targeting, increasing your chances of getting higher in the search results.

Customize Your Content

You wouldn’t offer sushi at an Italian joint, right? The same goes for your web content. You need to adapt it to suit your target audience and target market.

This might mean translating your content, adjusting images, and even tailoring your marketing messages to fit cultural nuances.

Pick Your Target Countries

Not all countries are created equal when it comes to your business. You must be receiving organic traffic from some countries, but even that doesn’t mean you’ll get sales there. Hence, you need to understand what regions are the low-hanging fruits that can bring sales to your site and determine your target country.

For example, if you’re selling winter clothing, targeting countries with cold climates like Canada and Norway might be a smart move.

Remember, implementing international SEO involves welcoming all the users from around the world to your digital residence. So you need to speak their local language, give them what they prefer to make them feel at home, and target a specific country.

A Few Helpful International SEO Tips

Here are the key points to make international SEO as easy as relaxing on a couch:

Go Local With Languages

International SEO is like talking to people at a global event – you want to use the same language everyone understands. If you’re targeting France, create a French version of your site. For example, if you’re a shoe store, make sure sneakers become “baskets” for your French-speaking customers.

Tailor Content For Each Country

It’s like recommending personalized products on a shopping site. To create a targeting international SEO strategy, you need to conduct keyword research, understand the unique preferences and the needs of the countries you are targeting and implement tailored content marketing strategies.

For instance, if you sell tech gadgets, offer voltage converters to countries with different plug types. To be precise, in the United States, A and B-type plugs will work, while in Germany, you need to offer F-type sockets.

Linking Globally For SEO

Your website is a vast library. Backlinks from other sites are like references from different parts of the world. They increase the credibility of your website.

So, try to get links from international websites. If you are a travel blogger, having links from popular travel sites worldwide like Tripadvisor or Booking can boost your SEO performance.

How To Measure Your International SEO Performance?

A critical step after implementing and practicing your international SEO techniques is to monitor them. Tracking your international SEO performance unlocks insights like what’s working, what’s not, what needs improvement, and all.

Let’s see how you can measure your international SEO performance.

Country-specific Traffic

The key insights about your international SEO success lie in the traffic you receive from different countries. Look at what countries you’re receiving most of your traffic from. Is it coming from those nations you actually planned to target through your international SEO strategy?

You don’t even need to pay for any tool to track the traffic. You can use Google Analytics for this, which is totally free. Just open your GA4, find the section that displays your traffic report, and filter it by demographic.

Keyword Performance

Keywords are the soul of your SEO strategy. Hence, you need to keep track of your keyword data and performance by consistently checking your keyword rankings on your target keywords.

For example, if you’re a travel agency, see if your “dream vacation” keyword is getting attention in both the U.S. and Europe. On top of that, keep a constant eye on the position of your pages on this keyword.

Conversion Rates

Imagine your website as a store. Check how many visitors actually make a purchase or take the desired action you want them to. It could be a sign-up for your newsletter or downloading a PDF checklist you’re offering for free.

If you are not converting enough visitors from a particular country, you might need to ponder over the SEO strategy you implemented for that region.

Rankings On Your Local Search Engines

Just like being popular in your hometown, you want to be well-liked by local search engines in other countries. Monitor your rankings on search engines specific to your target countries, like Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia.

Around 85% of the market share of search engines goes to Google. So ranking up on Google can bring a lot of traffic in. However, you must not forget other search engines are dark horses in this competition. So try to rank on other search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and all because they make a difference as well.

User Engagement

User engagement is a crucial metric for assessing your SEO performance. Your website doesn’t speak, but it still makes conversations with your visitors. Therefore, you need to check if your site is engaging your visitors or not. Check if people are sticking around and chatting (or clicking around), or are they leaving right away?

Bounce rates, average page time, average session duration, and heatmaps are some of the best options to track user engagement on your website.


There would be so many products in your home that you bought just because your friends recommended them. In the context of a search engine, Backlinks are similar to these recommendations from friends. The more “recommendations” (quality backlinks) from your multiple countries, the better.

Tools like Ahrefs or Moz can help you keep an eye on your backlink profile.

Return Of Investment (ROI)

Ultimately, you want your international SEO efforts to pay off. Calculate how much you’re investing in your international SEO strategy and compare it to the revenue generated from your international customers.

So, by measuring your SEO performance, you can make sure you are going in the right direction or not. Are you hitting the targets you planned, or are you just wasting your efforts? Every answer would unveil a new secret to your SEO success.

Some Of The Best Tools For International SEO

Let’s talk about some of the best international SEO tools you can grab to dominate the search engine results:

  • Semrush: Think of it as your all-in-one SEO expert. It helps you spy on your competitors, conduct keyword research in different languages, and track your global rankings.
  • Ahrefs: It is the giant in the SEO world. Ahrefs makes it easy to discover what domains around the world are talking about your content. It is one of the most credible SEO tools that help you with keyword research, link checking, rank monitoring, and so much more.
  • Moz: Moz is another reliable solution for your SEO problems. It packs helpful features like keyword research, rank tracking, and on-page optimization to brush up your SEO image.
  • Screaming Frog: One of the most appreciated yet underrated SEO tools. It’s a fantastic tool to check all your SEO problems and fix them before you kickstart your SEO journey.
  • Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free and feature-rich SEO tool. It is one of the easiest tools to track the performance of your website and pages. Adding to that, you can also use it to spot issues, check what keywords your page is ranking on, and submit sitemaps.
  • DeepCrawl: DeepCrawl is like your website health checker. It scans your site for technical SEO issues that might be holding you back internationally. It has its own restrictions, but it’s a great tool to monitor your website’s SEO health.
  • Serpstat: Serpstat is your international keyword research buddy. It helps you with keyword research for different countries so you can target them precisely.

If you do not have a good budget, stick to free and complementary tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, etc.

Important Elements That Impact International SEO

Let’s chat about the critical elements that can affect your SEO strategy.

Languages: Languages are the key to opening the door to SEO success. If you’re targeting different countries, you’ll need content in each specific country it’s specific language. For example, if you’re selling tacos in Mexico, you want your site to speak Spanish language.

Hreflang Tags: Hreflang language tags guide your website visitors to the right version of your content based on the language and location they’re visiting your site from. It’s just like telling your visitors, “This is the way to your English site,” or “Head to the Spanish page.”

Country-code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs): As I’ve already explained above, these are the domain extensions that match specific countries, like .nz for New Zealand or .ca for Canada. It’s like having a different address for your server location each country, making it crystal clear where you’re based. Moreover, ccTLDs also convey that you will speak your customer’s language.

Geotargeting: In Geotargeting, you control which content your visitors will see in other target countries. So, if you’re promoting summer fashion, you might want to crank it up for forks in Australia but keep it low for those in Alaska.

Mobile-friendly Design: A mobile-friendly website offers an on-the-go experience to your visitors. Since billions of people browse on their phones, make sure your site looks and works great on mobile devices, no matter where your users are.

Website Speed: Slow sites can turn visitors away. So make sure your site loads like a lightning bolt, whether someone is in New York or Tokyo. To give you a number, you need to ensure that none of the web pages take more than 2 to 3 seconds to load.

Content Localization: Adapt your content to match local tastes, cultures, and preferences. If you’re selling hiking gear in Japan, highlight Mount Fuji, especially in an international SEO scenario where there are hundreds of customers with different requirements wanting your content to match their needs.

Backlinks: Backlinks from international websites are international endorsements. They tell other search engines everywhere that your website is a global and credible player. But you should never go behind backlinks just like that. You also need to ensure that whatever links you’re receiving are quality backlinks to let your SEO efforts pay off.

Expand Your Reach With International SEO

In the ever-connected digital world, international SEO is your passport to expanding your online presence far and wide. Whether you are a small local business or a mammoth in your industry, following the above best practices could be your way to reach more eyeballs, traffic, and revenue.

So, go ahead and expand your reach with international SEO – the world is waiting!