International Link Building: A Comprehensive Guide for Global SEO Success

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International Link Building: A Comprehensive Guide for Global SEO Success
10 August 2023
How can you convince publishers and influencers popular outside your local market to mention you in their content and link back to your site? The answer lies in localization, understanding of cultural nuances, and strategic keyword targeting. While there are additional aspects to international link building, mastering these three crucial techniques will undoubtedly help your brand attract the eyes of your international prospects. What other essential details should you be aware of while doing international SEO link building?

17min.

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You decided you want to enter a foreign market with your brand to capture the attention of new untapped customers living outside your country.

Great way to go!

However, for your plan to work out, you need to know some clever strategies to expand your global reach online.

What should be your first step?

Acquiring backlinks from reputable international websites – no doubt about it.

Why?

Because only in this way will your website authority grow, and so will your search engine rankings.

To help you get those quality mentions, I’ve compiled the following International Link Building Guide. Let me show you some clever strategies and methods of acquiring international backlinks to increase your website authority, and ultimately attract global visitors who are actively searching for products and services like yours.

But first, let’s talk briefly about a broader term called International SEO, where international SEO link building derives from.

International SEO Basics

International SEO, also known as global SEO, refers to optimizing your website to make it rank well in search engine results for given languages and world regions.

Simply put, you want to do international SEO to increase your website’s visibility, keyword position, and organic traffic in specific target markets. This way you’re more likely to reach your new global prospects.

Basically, by tweaking your technical stuff and web content to match what users in different regions are looking for, you can enhance your website’s relevance, authority, and user experience in chosen languages and regions.

The goal?

If you do this right, you get more people from a specific country or – if you aim that high – from around the globe to find, engage and ultimately fall in love with your brand, products, and service.

Sounds amazing? Sure it does. So now let’s see which SEO elements can help you expose your brand to a new global audience. And this secret ingredient is – as you probably have guessed already – international SEO link building.

The answer is short: You – as an online business owner – need link building because this off-page SEO strategy plays a crucial role in improving your website’s visibility, keyword positions, and search engine rankings in general.

How is that?

To answer that, let’s start from the very beginning, which is answering the following question:

Link building involves acquiring hyperlinks from external websites to your own. Basically, it means getting other websites to put links on their pages that lead to your website. You absolutely want backlinks because each one gives a signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and relevant. It also helps you rank higher for particular keywords.

Naturally, there are a few types of backlinks. Some of them can be acquired, others however can be self-created by the website owners. See the below table to find out what hyperlinks you can make use of to improve the visibility of your website in the global search engines.

Backlink Type Description Pros Cons Difficulty of acquiring*
Natural Links Organic links are acquired without any request. They are earned based on the quality and merit of your content. Super valuable and trustworthy You can’t control who links to you. 5 /10

Moderate

Manually-Built Links Deliberately acquired links obtained through proactive efforts like outreach, guest blogging, or partnerships. They should come from reputable and relevant sources. Targeted and intentional Takes time and effort to reach out. 8 / 10

Quite Difficult

Self-Created Links Links created by yourself, such as submitting your website to directories, forums, or comment sections. Easy to do and control Risk of low-quality or spammy links. 2 / 10

Easy

*Please notice that the “Difficulty of Acquiring” column is my subjective rating on the level of difficulty involved in acquiring each type of backlink, with 1 being relatively easy and 10 being the most challenging. The actual difficulty can vary depending on factors such as your industry, niche, outreach skills, and the quality of your content.

If you still can’t really wrap your head around the importance of link building, let me paint this picture for you.

Imagine you’re a talented musician (business owner) who wants to make it big in the music industry (or whatever industry you are in). You know that your talent (website) alone won’t be enough to get noticed. You need a network of connections, people (backlinks) who vouch for your skills and recommend you to others.

Making those connections (creating backlinks) outside your local market is what we call international SEO link building.

Now, let’s see why international link building matters for SEO.

To spare you too many details, I can say that this issue boils down to two things:

  • how search engines work and
  • how they determine which websites should appear at the top of search results.

Search engines, like Google, use complex algorithms to crawl and understand the vast web of information. These algorithms pay close attention to links because they act as signposts or recommendations. When a search engine sees that many reputable websites link to your site, you’re considered reliable and trustworthy.

These referral links matter because they help search engines determine the quality and relevance of a website’s content.

The more high-quality backlinks you have pointing to your site, the more likely search engines will consider your content valuable and worthy of higher rankings.

But you know what? It’s not just about search engines. Backlinks also play a crucial role in building authority and trust among users. When people come across a link to your website on another trusted and respected website, they are more likely to see you as a reliable source of information or a credible business.

Quality backlinks help establish your website’s domain authority and enhance the trustworthiness and credibility that users look for.

So, link building is not just about impressing search engines, but also about building a strong reputation and earning the trust of your target audience and potential customers. 

Why is Link Building Important for SEO?
🔍 Search Engine Algorithms 🏛️ Authority & Trust
  • Search engines use links to crawl the web and understand the quality and relevance of websites.
  • Links act as votes of confidence and help search engines determine which websites should rank higher in search results.
  • Having many high-quality backlinks increases the chances of search engines considering your content valuable.
  • Quality backlinks from reputable websites enhance your domain authority and credibility.
  • When trusted websites link to yours, it signals to users that your website is reliable and trustworthy.
  • Building domain authority and trust helps attract more visitors and establishes your website as a reputable source.

All right, you’ve just grasped the significance of the off-site process commonly known as link building. You also see the clear benefits of implementing link building outreach strategies as they make you look more credible for search engines and prospects.

Should we now talk about what makes this absolutely essential aspect of international SEO so darn demanding?

In this section, I’ll show you the three biggest obstacles that you need to overcome if you want to nail your international SEO link building.

Language Barriers

There is no other way for you to make international prospects care about your brand if you don’t use their language in your marketing communication. Not to mention presenting your offer in a different language than their mother tongue.

Here comes some bad news: If you think that transferring your web content from one language to another will do the job, then well… it may not. Simply, the translation may not be enough. Why? Because international SEO link building is more about language localization than translation. 

Localization helps you understand your target audience’s search behavior. It helps you find out how they actually look for the products and services you offer. This, in turn, minimizes the risk of picking the wrong keywords to optimize your website for. I actually explained this issue in detail in The International SEO Keyword Research Guide.

Localized content improves your website’s visibility in search engine results. It also increases the chances of other websites discovering and linking to your content.

I just want you to realize that what clearly works in your local market, may fail in others. Example? If you’re an American business owner in the hospitality industry, promoting your accommodations as “apartments” may attract neither bookings from British travelers nor backlinks from websites and bloggers targeting the audience living in the United Kingdom.

Why? Because in the UK, the term “flats” is more common than “apartment.” Similarly, the phrase “car shop” holds different meanings and search intentions in these two countries. I delve into this distinction in greater detail in the aforementioned article.

Cultural Sensitivities

Now let’s take a closer look at two important cultural-related issues that affect international SEO link building: content relevance and relationship building.

Content Relevance

When operating in different countries and regions, you need to be aware of and respect the cultural nuances and sensitivities of the target audience. Cultural differences impact how content is perceived, accepted, and shared. Ignoring or disregarding these sensitivities can lead to misunderstandings and even damage to your brand reputation.

Here’s an example.

📌 In some cultures, such as those in Western countries, people value personal space and thus may prefer more indirect communication styles. Content that respects personal space by using a professional tone and maintaining a certain level of formality may resonate better with audiences from these cultures. And once it resonates better, it has a greater chance of receiving more backlinks.

On the other hand, in cultures where interpersonal relationships and warmth are highly valued, such as in Latin American countries, content that adopts a more personal and expressive tone may be better received.

Here’s another example.

📌 Humor, idioms, or references that work in one language may not make sense or have the same impact on another. Sarcasm, for example, is often used as a form of humor in Western cultures, particularly in countries like the United States, where it is commonly understood and appreciated. However, in some Eastern cultures, such as Japan or certain Asian countries, sarcasm may be perceived as rude or offensive. And you don’t want to be perceived as rude by your target audience, do you?

cro link building

Relationship Building

Building strong connections with international partners requires a deep appreciation for cultural differences. To foster positive relationships, I suggest you consider spending a bit of your time learning about your international partners’ customs, communication styles, and business practices.

4 Tips to Build Relationships with International Partners

👍 Research the cultural norms and values of your target market. This way you steer clear of cultural misunderstandings.

Example: Before launching a marketing campaign in Japan, research and understand the concept of “omotenashi” (hospitality) to ensure your approach aligns with Japanese cultural values and expectations.

👍 Use localized communication strategies. Partnering with a native speaker or translator may help you with establishing effective and culturally appropriate communication.

Example: When expanding your business to Germany, hire a native German speaker to translate your website content and ensure it resonates with the local audience.

👍 Be open-minded and flexible in your approach. Embrace diverse perspectives and adapt your strategies to fit the specific cultural context.

Example: When working with international partners, be willing to adjust your negotiation style to accommodate different cultural preferences, such as allowing more time for relationship-building before discussing business matters.

👍 Seek collaboration and partnership opportunities that align with the values and aspirations of your international partners.

Example: Sweden is known for its strong commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. That’s why, partnering with a Swedish company may be a good idea if you specialize in renewable energy or sell environmentally conscious products.

Diverse Search Engine Preferences

Now let me help you realize the following: Google isn’t the only search engine out there. Of course, if your target audience lives in the USA or Europe, then following the international link building practices approved by Google should suffice. (For almost 9 in 10 internet users in the USA and EU Google is the preferred search engine – I talked about it in The Best Search Engine in 2023).

However, things are different in Asia.

For example, Baidu places great emphasis on Chinese language content, and optimizing your website for simplified Chinese characters is essential to improve visibility in the Chinese market. Similarly, Yandex takes into account factors like domain age and hosting location when ranking websites in Russia.

When it comes to international link building, there is a specific set of rules to follow. The thing is that while SEO principles are generally universal and based on similar practices, it’s important to take the time to understand the local market. This way, you can adapt your SEO strategy to fit the specific rules of the country and/or search engine you’re targeting. Trust me, search engines have significant influence in the world of SEO, so blending localized tactics with general SEO best practices is crucial to achieving satisfactory results.

Kasia Śliwa
Kasia Śliwa Off-site SEO Specialist

Interestingly, there are also search engines used by certain groups of people. For example, there is a separate search engine – Ecosia – created for those concerned about the environment. DuckDuckGo is preferred by internet users who value their privacy.

All of those search engines are powered by Bing, so if you target any of those groups of individuals in your international SEO, you may want to find out How to Do SEO for Bing. Let me just tell you briefly that Bing loves backlinks posted on various social media platforms, which aren’t as important ranking factors for Google algorithms.

So now when I help you realize the challenges posed by International SEO link building, we can finally move on to the most important thing, which is how you can acquire those valuable backlinks from the domains registered in your target country.

The good news is that most of the techniques ally with the regular link building strategies. Nevertheless, there are some aspects you should be aware of if you want your international SEO link building strategy to generate as many backlinks as it can. Let’s start with…

Content Localization & Translation

By ensuring high-quality translations filled with localized keywords, your content becomes easily accessible, credible, and simply sounds professional. This, in turn, encourages website owners, influencers, and publishers to link to you because such a website doesn’t look spammy.

Moreover, well-translated content – I mean, content that is skilfully adapted to a given international audience – is more likely to be shared and referenced, creating additional opportunities for backlinks. It simply helps you build trust with your global audience.

Trust me, with quality translation, you can establish a positive reputation and attract authoritative backlinks, ultimately enhancing your international link building efforts. How is that? Just look.

📌 Let’s say you have an e-commerce website selling fashion products, and you want to expand your reach to the Argentinian market. You decide to translate your website content into Spanish using a professional translator who knows the differences between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish.

As a result, your product descriptions, blog posts, and promotional materials are accurately translated into Rioplatense Spanish, maintaining their quality and persuasiveness. They are also saturated with the right keywords that Argentinians use while doing online shopping.

When Rioplatense-Spanish-speaking bloggers or influencers come across your well-translated content, they are more likely to link to your website in their articles or social media posts. This leads to an increase in backlinks from reputable Spanish websites, thus driving more traffic and improving your search engine rankings in the Argentinian market.

Once a professional translator adapts your content to the target audience, you may need some localization tools to organize the content to target languages and regions.

Localization Tools

I suggest you use some of the localization tools as they aid you in optimizing your website for local search engines. Let’s take Google Search Console, for example. You can use it to implement absolutely essential International SEO elements like hreflang tags. Your multi-language website needs them to indicate the language and regional targeting of your pages to search engines. Without hreflang tags, your website may have a hard time achieving adequate levels of visibility and discoverability in local search results.

Generally speaking, a localization tool makes your life easier when dealing with multiple languages, keeps your content culturally relevant, and boosts your international SEO link building efforts. Trust me, it will save you time, improve accuracy, and help you meet the needs of your global audience more effectively.

Find out how we increased the organic traffic and online visibility for a client from a fall protection equipment industry!

Learn more

Building Relationships with International Publishers & Influencers

When your website is finally ready to conquer the international market, you may consider identifying partners for collaboration in your international SEO link building efforts. Actually, there are many ways you can get in touch with the publishers or influencers that create content for your target audience. Take a look at the ideas below to pick the ones that seem the most suitable for you.

  • Search for websites within your industry that operate in your target markets.
  • Find popular bloggers and vloggers in your target markets.

Tip: Look for bloggers who align with your brand values.

  • Use influence marketing platforms such as Grin, Influencity, or Creator.co that connect brands with influencers and content creators in specific regions.

Tip: These platforms often provide filters and audience insights to help you find the right influencers. 

  • Follow and engage with social media accounts relevant to your brand and industry.

Tip: Comment on their posts and share valuable content to establish connections.

  • Whenever possible, attend conferences, trade shows, or webinars in your target markets.

After finding potential collaborators, engage with their content, share their work, and reach out with personalized messages or collaboration ideas. Emphasize the mutual benefits and value you can offer their audience. 

Remember: Building successful partnerships requires time and effort, so be patient, communicate openly, and nurture relationships. Bear in mind that fruitful collaboration is a two-way street, so aim to provide value and foster mutually beneficial connections.

Oh, and there is the issue of crafting personalized outreach emails and messages, right? Of course, I’d highly advise against sending generic emails because influencers and content creators hate them the same way you hate receiving generic messages.

How can you make the messages more personalized? Well, first and foremost you must be mindful of the cultural differences and nuances. That’s why consider doing the following:

  • Research cultural norms and communication styles prevailing in a target country.
  • Adapt tone and language; avoid slang, idioms, or humor that may not translate well.
  • Find shared interests, and highlight common interests and connections (if you happen to have them).
  • Keep your message concise and clear.
  • Avoid jargon and complex language.
  • Show genuine interest; express sincere interest in their work.

Leveraging International Social Media

Now, let’s focus on those omnipresent social media as they also give you a chance to earn some valuable international backlinks. Actually, there are 2 aspects of using these platforms for your international link building strategy: you need to pick the right platform and create the right content.

Platform Choices

Research and select social media platforms that are popular and widely used in your target countries. Each country may have its preferred platforms, so understanding the local social media landscape is crucial. For example, while Facebook and Twitter are popular globally, platforms like WeChat in China or VKontakte in Russia have a dominant presence in their respective markets.

Here are more examples:

  • Weibo – China

A microblogging platform with a large user base in China, often referred to as “Chinese Twitter.” It allows businesses to share content, engage with followers, and build brand awareness in the Chinese market.

  • Line – Japan, Thailand, Taiwan

A messaging app widely used in Japan and other Asian countries. It offers features like timeline posts, stickers, and official accounts that businesses can leverage to connect with users and promote their products or services.

  • Instagram – Brazil, Indonesia

While Instagram is a global platform, it has particularly high engagement rates in countries like Brazil and Indonesia. Utilizing Instagram’s visual-focused nature, businesses can showcase their products, collaborate with local influencers, and tap into the active user base in these countries.

  • Xing – Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Known as the “LinkedIn of Germany,” Xing is a professional networking platform popular in German-speaking countries. It provides opportunities for businesses to connect with professionals, share industry-specific content, and establish B2B relationships.

  • VKontakte – Russia 

VKontakte, often called VK, is a widely used social networking site in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. Businesses can create company pages, share content, and engage with users to reach a significant portion of the Russian online population.

Engaging Content

Once you decide which social media platform is used by your target audience, you may do your own research to understand what type of content is usually posted in those places. Try to fit in with your brand, but of course, avoid being a copycat.

Tailor your content to match the cultural preferences, interests, and values of your target countries. In general, try to showcase your products or services in a way that appeals to the local audience.

If you consider introducing your brand to TikTok, be sure to read TikTok SEO: 12 Things You Should Know to Increase Your Content Reach 

Once you get the target audience to engage with your content, you automatically become a more attractive business partner with local influencers and content creators.

Monitoring & Measuring Success

When you finally start producing the relevant content, fully adapted to your target global audience, you need to check if the referral international traffic is flowing to your website. To do so, you need to know how to monitor and measure the success of your international link building.

How can you tell if your international link building strategy is effective? Or in other words, how can you tell if other authoritative international websites and influencers link back to your website?

If you use Google Analytics on a daily basis then you know it allows you to check various metrics, including those related to international link building. For example, you can use this SEO tool to track 1️⃣ referral traffic from different countries and 2️⃣ conversions.

1️⃣ Take a closer look at the referral traffic report to determine which international websites are driving the most visitors to your site. This way you know if the backlinks are doing their job.

2️⃣ Later, you may want to take a look at the conversion rate for international traffic. This way you assess the effectiveness of your link building campaigns in driving valuable actions and conversions from your global audience.

By analyzing these two metrics, you can assess the success of your international link building campaigns and identify areas for improvement.

Moreover, if you have access to backlink monitoring tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush, I advise you to check out what those SEO tools “tell” you about the quality of the referral links your website has acquired from international sources. These tools allow you to review your backlink profile, analyze the authority of referring domains, and identify potential link building opportunities.

And finally, you may want to have a go at keyword monitoring tools, such as SEMrush. These tools allow you to track the performance of your targeted keywords in different regions and languages. You can monitor keyword rankings, search volume, and competition, enabling you to optimize your content and link building strategies accordingly.

Once you collect the information about your referral traffic, keyword position, and the quality of backlinks you received, you will be able to assess your off-page strategy. If you like the results, then congrats! However, if your international link building efforts appear to be futile, the reports will help you introduce the right chances to your strategy.

I guess it’s time for me to show you the potential outcomes you can achieve by planning and implementing your own fully-customized international link building strategy.

Quick overview:

The Client operates in the furniture industry. They approached us for assistance in creating and executing a link building strategy for the French market.

To help our Client improve the authority of their website and attract the attention of French customers looking for furniture online, we started with international keyword research. Subsequently, we run a backlink gap analysis, also known as competitive link analysis, to find the websites linking to our Client’s market rivals.

Once we gathered all the relevant information, we launched the process of acquiring quality backlinks for our Client.

The international link building process began in May, and the results we managed to achieve were not only rapid but pretty remarkable. Take a look:

International link building

After seeing the significant growth in organic traffic and keywords, the Client made the decision to enter yet another international market – Germany.

Let me just draw your attention to the fact that the Client didn’t specifically request an SEO plan from us. They only used our link building services. To me, this is compelling evidence that with a thought-out and fully-personalized international link building process, you can significantly enhance your keyword rankings, ultimately drawing visibly more organic traffic to your website.

If you want to be visible to your new international audience, you need to work on your international link building. You need to get those valuable backlinks so that both search engines and new customers find your brand. And to acquire backlinks from international websites, you need to adjust your website to the target audience and use strategic keyword targeting.

Let’s briefly recap the key aspects of international link building:

📌 Keep in mind that international link building isn’t just about impressing search engines. It’s about building a strong reputation, gaining trust from users, and improving your website’s visibility in local search results.

📌 Language localization is essential for successful link building as it enables you to establish meaningful connections, enhance credibility, and maximize your link acquisition potential.

📌 Cultural nuances and preferences vary across regions. That’s why you may need to adapt your content to the target audience. If you fail to do it, no reputable punisher will be willing to link back to your website.

📌 Build relationships with local influencers working in your niche. Collaborate on content creation, seek endorsements or partnerships, and leverage their reach to amplify your brand and gain exposure in the local market.

📌 Regularly monitor the performance of your international link building efforts. Analyze metrics such as website traffic, keyword positions, conversions, and backlink quality to assess the effectiveness of your strategies. Don’t hesitate to make adjustments if needed.

Last but not least, remember that international link building requires a tailored approach for each target market. Be patient and persistent. If you need assistance or guidance with your international link building, we’re here to offer support and share our expertise. Feel free to reach out to us whenever you’re ready.

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Logo Delante
Author
Delante

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

Author
Logo Delante
Author
Delante

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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FAQ

What is the first step in expanding my brand's global reach online?

Acquiring backlinks from reputable international websites is the first step to increase website authority and search engine rankings.

Why is link building important for SEO?

Link building is crucial for SEO because it improves website visibility, keyword positions, and search engine rankings by signaling to search engines that your website is trustworthy and relevant.

What are the major challenges in international link building?

The major challenges in international link building are language barriers, cultural sensitivities, and diverse search engine preferences in different countries.

How can I effectively conduct international link building?

Effective strategies for international link building include content localization and translation, using localization tools, building relationships with international publishers and influencers, leveraging international social media, and monitoring and measuring success.

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