While regular SEO helps you reach local customers, International SEO takes it up a notch by connecting your brand with people worldwide (or those living in a specific country you decided to enter with your products). By optimizing your website for different countries, you simply make it “speak” multiple languages. And by doing so you befriend it not only with new foreign audiences but also with the search engines.
Truth be told, if you resign from doing International SEO, you might as well be hiding in a digital cave. In other words, you miss out on the chance to attract diverse audiences from different cultures and countries that are actively looking for the products available in your online store.
Think about it – everyone is on the internet these days, and they are all looking for clothes, beauty products, gadgets, electronics – literally everything! – in various languages and countries. If you don’t give it a try to go global, you’re going to miss out big time! So, seriously, don’t snooze on this opportunity to grow bigger and earn twice, three, or even five times more than you do in your local market.
And the best thing is that there are more benefits of international SEO than that. Let me show you what you can get if you decide to do global SEO.
But first, let’s focus on…
Understanding International SEO
International SEO, also known as International Search Engine Optimization or Global SEO, is the process of optimizing websites to enhance their visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) for users in various countries and language markets.
🎯 The primary goal of Global SEO?
To effectively target and engage a global audience by providing them with relevant content in their native languages, thus meeting their specific search intents .
The process of International SEO isn’t that much different from doing local SEO. Yet it requires going through and taking care of several additional aspects. That’s why if you want to reap all the benefits of global SEO, think about the following:
- Organizing website structure and architecture (eg. picking the right URL structure ) to help search engines understand the target audience for each section of the website.
- Using hreflang tags to signal to search engines the language and regional targeting of specific pages.
- Doing separate international keyword research to understand the search habits, preferences, and language nuances of the target audience.
- Writing so-called localized content that is tailored to the cultural and linguistic preferences of the target audience.
- Specifying the targeted countries and languages for the website, which is known as geotargeting and language targeting – helps search engines deliver the most relevant results to users from different regions.
- Acquiring quality backlinks from authoritative international websites.
By implementing those International SEO practices and optimizing the website for mobile users, an online business owner like you can connect with audiences worldwide. And the more people know about your brand, the higher the chance of making more sales, right?
To help you understand International SEO even better, I think it would be a good idea to compare it with something you – an online business owner – are already familiar with, and that is local SEO.
Difference Between Local and International SEO
Let’s imagine you’re a coffee shop owner localized in Sacramento, California.
In Local SEO, you optimize your website to show up when people search for “coffee shops in Sacramento,” “coffee shops in California” or “best coffee near me.” You target customers within the city and focus on local directories and maps to get noticed.
For International SEO, imagine you have a successful coffee brand, and you want to expand to other countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. You’d need to adapt your website content to different languages, like English, French, Spanish, and more. You’d also optimize for region-specific keywords, like “best coffee in Sydney” or “London coffee shops.”
While Local SEO deals with local regulations and compliance, International SEO goes further, ensuring your coffee brand follows food safety regulations in Japan, labeling requirements in Europe, and other country-specific rules.
Let’s put all the information into a table for easier understanding:
|Aspect||Local SEO||International SEO|
|Scope||Targets a specific local area or region.||Targets multiple countries and languages, reaching a global audience.|
|eg. targets “coffee shops in Sacramento”||eg. targets “coffee shops in [selected country / region / multiple countries]”|
|Target audience||Local customers within a specific locality.||Global audience from different countries, cultures, and languages.|
|Geographic focus||Concentrates on location-based keywords.||Focuses on region-specific keywords and languages for various countries.|
|Language||Usually in a single language.||Requires content adaptation for multiple languages for diverse audiences.|
|eg. content in American English for English-speaking audiences living in the USA||eg. content adapted to different languages: Swedish, French, Spanish, German, etc.|
|Keywords and content||Uses local terms and landmarks.||Involves keyword research for various regions, considering cultural differences. Content often gets tweaked for each place.|
|eg. targets “near me” or “best coffee shop in Sacramento”||eg. optimizes for “best coffee shop in Paris” or “top cafes in Tokyo.”|
|Business listings||Optimizes for local directories and maps.||Needs listings in international directories and platforms for each target country.|
|eg. lists the coffee shop on local directories and maps.||eg. ensures listings on international directories, like “cafes in London” on UK-specific platforms|
|Hreflang tags||Not typically used in local SEO.||Essential for telling search engines which language and region each page targets in International SEO.|
|n/a||eg. essential to implement hreflang tags for language and region targeting, like “hreflang=’en-au'”.|
|Currency and pricing||Displays local currency and pricing.||Must adapt to various currencies and pricing models for different countries.|
|eg. displays prices in local currencies such as USD for the American market||eg. displays prices in GBP for the UK or EUR for Italy|
|Local citations||Important for building local authority.||Backlinks from reputable international websites help build authority across different regions.|
|eg. focuses on getting citations from local businesses||eg. earns citations from reputable international websites, like blogs or news articles from different countries|
|Server location||Sometimes relevant for local rankings.||Server location can influence international rankings; CDNs may be used for better website speed worldwide.|
|eg. hosting server may be in the same city as the coffee shop||eg. may use content delivery networks (CDNs) to ensure fast loading times for users from different countries|
|Mobile optimization||Crucial for local businesses.||Important for catering to mobile users in different countries where mobile internet usage may vary.|
|Legal and regulatory||Complies with local laws and regulations.||Must adhere to diverse legal requirements and cultural sensitivities of each target country.|
|eg. complies with local laws for operating a coffee shop||eg. adheres to diverse legal requirements and cultural sensitivities of each target country, like food safety regulations in Japan|
|Market competition||Less competition in local markets.||Faces higher competition in global markets, and needs smarter strategies.|
|Reporting and analysis||Focus on local search performance.||Analyzes performance in multiple countries, tracks international organic traffic, and fine-tunes strategies for each market.|
If I were to summarize what I’ve just shown you, it would be like this:
Local SEO is like a neighborhood coffee shop, and International SEO is like turning your coffee brand into a world-famous café chain, making sure everyone gets a taste of your delightful brews!
Sounds good? I bet it does. So let’s talk about other great benefits of International SEO, and the very first one is…
The Benefits of International SEO #1: Expanding Market Reach
International SEO lets your online businesses reach more people around the world. By optimizing your website for different countries, you attract new customers from diverse places who may fall in love with your products.
Going global with your brand is a smart move because it means you don’t have to depend solely on one local market, reducing risks if things don’t go well. In fact, there’s a good chance that people living outside your local market may have more so-called “spending power”, which opens up exciting opportunities for you – to sell your great products to a broader audience.
What’s even better is that sometimes, you’ll catch a lucky break with favorable currency exchange rates, making your products more affordable and attractive to international buyers.
This, again, will make your brand stand out. So, not only can you reach a broader audience, but you can also potentially gain a competitive edge and boost sales by offering better pricing.
Simply put, International SEO allows for exploring fresh markets to make more money. But how can you do this right? I suggest you two things: target the right audience and tap into emerging markets. Let’s start with the former.
Targeting the Right Audience: Tailoring Content for Better Engagement
Getting the right audience is super important, especially in International SEO. You need to make sure your content matches what they like, their culture, and the language they speak.
You absolutely shouldn’t neglect the power of international keyword research. You must understand the way your new target audience looks for the products you offer, and then build web content around those search terms. When you hit the sweet spot and give them what they want, they’ll be more into your stuff, and that means more clicks and sales.
Showing respect for their culture builds trust and makes them feel connected to your brand. Speaking their language, both literally and figuratively, makes it easier for them to understand and engage with your web content. Good vibes, as younger generations call it, come from a great user experience. That makes customers happy, keeps them coming back and telling their friends about your brand.
Let’s take a look at two examples illustrating the importance of targeting the right audience and tailoring content for better engagement in International SEO:
You’re an e-commerce website selling outdoor gear that decides to expand into the Australian market. You recognize the importance of understanding the local culture and preferences. Through market research, you learn that Australians are passionate about outdoor activities like camping and surfing. So, you create blog content and social media posts that showcase Australian adventure spots, featuring local influencers and using Aussie slang. This approach strikes a chord with the Australian audience, leading to a surge in your website traffic and sales.
You’re a software company that wants to enter the Latin American market. You realize that simply translating your web content into Spanish won’t be enough to engage the audience. Instead, you make the right move and hire local copywriters who understand the cultural nuances and preferences of each Latin American country you’re targeting. This localized content resonates with your new audience, as it feels authentic and relatable, leading to increased sign-ups for your brilliant software.
Tapping into Emerging Trends: The Role of International SEO in Fast-Growing Economics
Expanding into emerging markets with a tailored International SEO strategy is a fantastic opportunity for businesses looking to grow. Basically, all you need to do to reach potential customers in these rapidly growing economies is to make your brand more visible. Most preferably, you need to do this before your competitors sniff out this good business deal.
By doing so you obviously get one of the biggest benefits of international SEO, which is helping you become noticed abroad before everybody else from your niche .
That’s what brings us to what I’ve just discussed. If you want to become visible to your new global audience, remember to create content that really connects with the local people, making them feel understood and appreciated.
Trust me, you want to be one of the first to target fast-growing markets because that gives you a huge advantage and helps build loyalty with customers.
Again, let me give you two examples to better illustrate the importance of tapping into emerging markets with your customized International SEO and sales strategy :
You’re a tech startup in the United States that is looking to expand into the rapidly growing market in Brazil. You translate web content and app into Brazilian Portuguese, making it easier for locals to understand and use your services. You also tailor your marketing campaigns to highlight how their tech solution can address specific challenges faced by Brazilian businesses. This targeted approach helps you gain traction in the Brazilian market, attracting new users and increasing your market share.
Imagine you have a trendy online fashion store, and you decide to target the booming market in Southeast Asia. By using International SEO techniques, you customize your website to answer the needs of the fashion preferences of countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. You offer localized content with popular styles and fashion trends that resonate with the young and fashion-forward audience in these countries. As a result, your website traffic from these regions soars, and you see a surge in sales from trendy shoppers in Southeast Asia.
There is one more thing I’d like to draw your attention to – Mobile SEO . Since mobile internet usage is booming in emerging markets , it’s crucial to ensure that your website works well on mobile phones. And remember, local search engines such as Yahoo! in the Philippines or Baidu in China have a big impact on your ranking, so staying on top of their requirements is important.
The Benefits of International SEO #2: Boosting Brand Reputation Globally
By implementing a strong International SEO strategy , you can significantly boost your brand recognition and trust on a global scale. And for you – an online business owner – boosting your brand recognition globally is crucial for numerous reasons. It expands your customer base, increases sales and revenue across different markets, and provides a competitive edge over local competitors . This is also a way for you to diversify revenue streams and reduce risk connected with economic fluctuations.
It’s also worth realizing that global recognition builds trust and credibility with customers, fostering long-term relationships and encouraging repeat purchases . It also attracts potential partnerships and collaborations, opening up new growth opportunities. However, to do it right, you need to…
Be Relevant in Different Cultures
I can’t stress enough how much being culturally relevant in different markets is critical for your international SEO success. When you make your content and design match the things people like in each of your target countries, it helps your website show up more often on search engines. In other words, it improves your search engine visibility and user engagement.
You know that search engines aim at making their users satisfied. That’s why if you manage to create content that appeals to your target international audience, you’re one step closer to being favored by the search engines.
How’s that? 🤔
The so-called cultural adaptation encourages users to spend more time on your website and explore your offer.
Search engines recognize positive user behavior. This, in turn, increases your chances of being listed higher in local search results, driving more organic traffic to your website.
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The Benefits of International SEO #3: Maximizing Revenue through Global Sales
Imagine your business having customers from all corners of the world, boosting your sales and revenue like never before! That’s exactly what International SEO can do for you.
Basically, when done right, your international SEO strategy gives your website the power and ability to be seen and enjoyed by people from your target countries. You just need to show search engines your website isn’t only available but also specially adapted for those people, their search behavior, and expectations. Simply put, you need to optimize your website for different languages and world regions to rank high in search results in your target countries.
Let me tell you that again, by optimizing a website for different languages and regions, you can reach more people who might not have found your brand otherwise. And once you do this, you get more potential customers, which leads to more sales and conversions.
Additionally, tailoring your web content to local preferences and customs helps build trust and loyalty with the international audience. With proper keyword research and localization, your international SEO strategy ensures that potential customers can easily find the company’s offerings in their native languages and using terms they relate to.
Speaking of using keywords for the target audience preferences, we absolutely shouldn’t forget about…
Currency & Payment Preferences
Integrating local currencies and popular payment methods like PayPal or Alipay into your international SEO strategy can greatly enhance your customers’ shopping experience and boost global sales. By doing so, you’ll be removing barriers to purchase and ensuring a seamless transaction process for your international customers.
That’s why, I suggest you consider offering localized pricing in customers’ native currencies. This is how you eliminate problems related to exchange rates. This approach builds trust and confidence among your international audience, making them more likely to complete transactions on your platform.
🚨 Remember, providing a familiar and secure payment experience is essential for gaining the trust of your global customers . When they can pay using payment methods they are already comfortable with, they are more likely to make purchases without hesitation. This way you’ll not only ensure customer satisfaction but also increase the likelihood of successful conversions .
For your convenience, I’ve prepared a list of popular payment methods in various countries:
- United States: Credit and Debit Cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover)
- China: Alipay, WeChat Pay
- Brazil: Boleto Bancário
- Germany: Bank Transfers (Überweisung), Credit Cards, PayPal
- Sweden: Swish
- Norway: Vipps
- Denmark: MobilePay
- Finland: Credit and Debit Cards, Siirto
- United Kingdom: Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay
- France: Credit Cards, Carte Bancaire, PayPal
- Italy: Credit Cards, PayPal, PostePay
- Spain: Credit Cards, PayPal, Bizum
- Netherlands: iDEAL, Credit Cards, PayPal, Apple Pay
- Switzerland: Credit Cards, PostFinance Card, Twint
- Austria: Bank Transfers (Überweisung), Credit Cards, PayPal
- Portugal: Multibanco, Credit Cards, PayPal
- Mexico: Credit and Debit Cards, OXXO, PayPal
- Argentina: Credit and Debit Cards, Mercado Pago
- Colombia: Credit and Debit Cards, PSE, PayPal
- Chile: Credit and Debit Cards, Sencillito, PayPal
Once you deal with the currency and various payment methods, you may think about…
Overcoming Language Barriers
Overcoming language barriers is crucial for your international SEO strategy because it directly impacts the discoverability, user experience, and overall success of your website in international markets.
If you want your website to take top positions in SERP in a given country, you need to think about doing some language optimizations.
What is that? 🤔
When you’re translating web content and keywords from one language to another, it’s crucial to go beyond a simple word-to-word conversion. You need to know how people from different cultures express their needs and preferences online . Instead of just changing search phrases from one language to another, the main focus should be on understanding and identifying your target audience’s search intent.
Here are my ideas on how you can overcome language barriers . You can become more friendly to your new customers and local search engines by using these tips:
📌 TIP #1: Hire a professional translator to guarantee the accuracy of your website content and marketing materials; eg. You may ask a language expert to translate your product descriptions, web pages, and blog posts into various types of Spanish when you want to target Spanish-speaking customers in the USA, Mexico, and Spain – indeed, there are 8 main types of Spanish around the world.
📌 TIP #2: Use local keywords and phrases for each market, doing so-called keyword localization; eg. If you’re a software company, localize your keywords for the German market by using terms like “Softwareentwicklung” (software development) and “Softwarelösungen” (software solutions) to match the search behavior of German users.
Here’s a full guide on How to Do International Keyword Research . Be sure to give it a read as it explains the importance of localization in detail. After taking some time to go through it, you will understand that it’s common for people living in various countries to look for the same products using completely different search terms.
📌 TIP #3: Offer customer support in target languages ; eg. If you’re an e-commerce platform, offer customer support in English, French, and Dutch to assist your international customers from the UK, France, and the Netherlands.
📌 TIP #4: Be aware of cultural preferences; eg. If you’re a food delivery service adjust your marketing messaging and visuals to align with local customs and traditions during a religious festival in a country it operates in.
If you’re hesitating about whether hiring a professional translator is really that important, let me tell you this – you absolutely need to work with a language expert, otherwise, you may not get the benefits of international SEO. Here’s why.
The Importance of Professional Translation
First and foremost, professional translators guarantee accurate and contextually appropriate translations, minimizing the risk of conveying incorrect or misleading information to your global audience.
Secondly, professional translators possess cultural knowledge and sensitivity, enabling them to adapt your web content to resonate with diverse audiences. This cultural relevance helps avoid offensive or inappropriate language choices, enhancing your brand’s image and reputation.
Finally, experienced translators understand SEO practices specific to different regions , enabling them to optimize content with localized keywords and phrases. This boosts your website’s search engine rankings and visibility in various international markets.
When you finally get your web content adapted to each of your new target audiences, you may start thinking about…
Legal and Compliance Considerations in International SEO
Considering legal and compliance aspects in international SEO is crucial for maintaining an ethical online presence for your business. Adhering to the laws and regulations of different countries – and even individual states like for example the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States – ensures that your website operates within legal boundaries, preventing potential penalties or disputes .
For instance, if you expand into the European market, you must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to safeguard user data. Under the GDPR, businesses are required to take specific measures to protect user data, including
- obtaining explicit consent from users before collecting their personal information,
- implementing security measures to prevent data breaches, and
- providing individuals with the right to access, rectify, and erase their data.
Non-compliance with the GDPR can lead to significant consequences, such as fines of up to 4% of global annual revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher. Moreover, failure to comply can damage your company’s reputation and erode customer trust, potentially resulting in a loss of business opportunities.
Furthermore, respecting intellectual property rights is equally vital when doing International SEO. Simply make sure that your product images and designs don’t infringe on local trademarks.
Also, complying with online advertising regulations while doing International SEO is a must for ethical practices. For example, if you run ads in Australia, adhere to the country’s advertising guidelines to avoid legal repercussions. Making false claims or using deceptive advertising practices in your online ads in Australia, may be considered a violation of consumer protection laws.
Speaking of consumer protection laws, accurate geo-targeting helps you align your web content with regional laws and regulations. Naturally, being aware of local business registration requirements is necessary for maintaining legitimacy. Want an example?
Here’s an example. Some South American countries have specific restrictions or licensing requirements for certain industries (eg. the beauty industry) or business activities. Understanding these regulations and obtaining the necessary licenses ensures that your business operates within the legal framework of the country.
Okay, when you finally take care of picking the right keywords for your new global audiences, create web content that resonates with them and make sure your business operates within the legal boundaries of a specific country, think about…
Enhancing User Experience for a Global Audience
Making the user experience tailored to different countries is super important, especially if you strive for reaping the amazing benefits of international SEO. UX is a big deal because it directly affects how much people engage with your website and how many of them end up buying something or doing what you want.
As I’ve mentioned above, when you show content in their language, your international users feel more connected to your brand, and they’re more likely to stick around and check things out. Result? Lower bounce rate .
Plus, if you use content and images that are relevant to a given world region, it makes users feel like you get them, and that’s a big boost for conversion rates . So, yeah, customizing the user experience is an absolute must for making your international SEO successful and enjoying the benefits of global SEO.
Naturally, providing your new international audience with the right language version of your website is just half the battle. You also need to consider doing more UX-related modifications on your website.
📌 Let me give you a couple of UX tips tailored to different cultural preferences and user behaviors in various regions :
- Right-to-Left (RTL) Language Support: In Arabic-speaking countries and other regions with RTL languages, ensure your website supports RTL text alignment to provide a natural reading experience for users.
- Local Date and Time Formats: Display dates and times in the format commonly used in each region to avoid confusion; eg. use the “dd/mm/yyyy” format in the UK and “mm/dd/yyyy” format in the US.
- Localized Units of Measurement: Adapt measurement units to align with local conventions; eg. display distances in kilometers for European countries and miles for the US.
- Holiday and Festival Promotions: Recognize and celebrate local holidays and festivals by offering region-specific promotions and content, showing appreciation for cultural traditions.
- Localized Social Proof: Highlight customer reviews, testimonials, and endorsements from users in each country to build credibility and trust specific to that region.
- Addressing Forms and Formats: Customize forms and address fields to match the format used in each country. eg. adapt zip code formats to be country-specific (e.g., postal codes in Canada vs. zip codes in the US).
- Language Switcher Visibility: Ensure the language switcher or selector is easily accessible and prominently displayed on your website to allow users to switch between languages effortlessly.
Loading Speed and Mobile Responsiveness
With the significant increase in global mobile internet usage, mobile responsiveness becomes detrimental to your international success. When your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, it’ll negatively impact user experience, rankings, and conversions.
Also, having a mobile-friendly website improves your international SEO too. Search engines prefer mobile-responsive websites and give them higher rankings in search results.
That’s why you should consider implementing a responsive design to ensure a seamless experience across different devices, boosting user engagement and encouraging higher conversion rates.
🚨 Remember that slow loading speeds can lead to higher bounce rates and frustrate visitors from different regions. By ensuring fast-loading pages, you retain user attention and reduce the likelihood of them leaving without making a purchase due to the slow performance of your website.
Strategies for Effective International SEO
I guess it’s time to wrap up what we’ve discussed today. That’s why let me share with you a few actionable steps to improve your efforts and get all the benefits of international SEO.
✅ Use Hreflang Tags: Add hreflang tags to your website to show search engines which language and region-specific versions of your content to display to users.
For instance, if you have a Spanish version of your website targeting Mexico, use hreflang tags to indicate the correct content for users searching in Spanish from Mexico.
✅ Localize Content: Customize your content to resonate with each target market. Translate product descriptions, blog posts, and other content into the local language.
For example, if you’re expanding to Japan, ensure your website content is in Japanese to connect better with the local audience.
✅ Geo-Targeted Keywords: Research and use location-specific keywords for each target country.
For example, if you’re targeting the UK, include British English terms in your content and meta tags to match how locals search for products or services.
✅ Mobile-Friendly Design : Optimize your website for mobile devices, as many users around the world access the internet on smartphones. Make sure your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate on smaller screens.
✅ Choose Domain Structure Wisely: Consider using country-specific domain extensions (like .uk for the United Kingdom) or subdirectories (like example.com/au for Australia) to signal
search engines and users about your target audience.
✅ Build Local Backlinks: Seek partnerships with local businesses or organizations in your target countries to earn backlinks from relevant and trustworthy sources.
For example, try to acquire a backlink from a local industry blog in your target market to boost your website’s visibility in the local search results.
✅ Claim Local Business Listings: Ensure your business is listed accurately on local directories and platforms like Google My Business. This helps your business appear in local search results and maps, improving local SEO.
✅ Monitor Website Performance: Regularly track your website’s performance in different countries using tools like Google Analytics. Analyze user behavior and adjust your strategies based on the data to optimize the user experience.
✅ Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of cultural differences in your content and marketing efforts.
For example, avoid using images or phrases that might be offensive or inappropriate in your target markets.
✅ Continuous Improvement: Stay flexible and adaptable. Continuously review your international SEO efforts, learn from successes and challenges, and refine your strategies accordingly.
Summary: Benefits of International SEO
Now you know that International SEO brings a world of benefits to your online business. Once you optimize your website for global audiences and local search engines, you have an opportunity to:
reach new customers 🌍 International SEO opens doors to people worldwide, taking your brand beyond borders and connecting with those who have the means and willingness to buy your products.
boost sales 💰 A bigger audience equals more prospects, right? To persuade them into buying from you, you need to adapt your content to local tastes. Spark excitement to drive more sales and grow your global revenue streams.
stay ahead of the game 🏆 Master the art of global SEO and embrace international markets to outshine your competitors. Keep up the good work and secure your top spot in search engine result pages. Actually, this is one of my favorite benefits of International SEO.
Remember, you don’t need to feel confined to your local market. Introduce your brand to new international markets and reap the benefits of International SEO. Indeed, stepping into the international scene might feel overwhelming, but worry not – we’ve got your back!
Delante is here to guide you every step of the way. You can use our help. From expanding your reach to connecting with diverse audiences worldwide, we’ll make sure your personalized international SEO strategy helps you achieve all your unique business goals. Just let us know if you need us.