If you’re planning to sell your products and services internationally, then your SEO effort needs to be a bit different. Multiple countries, multiple languages, and sometimes even multiple languages within one country – it’s very easy to get confused and miss great opportunities to sell.
It may seem like multiregional SEO is a tricky business, but it doesn’t have to be hard to implement. There are certain steps that you can take to improve the quality of your international SEO, and with proper forethought and sound execution, they’ll help you to reach your sales goals within expected timeframes.
Let’s look at how to achieve a good multiregional SEO and gain your fair share on markets of other countries.
What is Multiregional SEO?
Google defines a multiregional website as
“A website that explicitly targets users in different countries. For example, a product manufacturer that ships to both Canada and the United States. Google Search tries to find the right locale page for the searcher.”
Multiregional SEO, in turn, is the strategy of producing web content tailored specifically to multiple geographic regions.
Since multiple geographic regions may have different languages, businesses have to optimize their content using these languages. That’s why multilingual SEO often overlaps with multiregional SEO.
How to Execute Multiregional SEO in the Right Way
Step 1: Find out Where Your Audience is coming from
Before we get to implement any multiregional SEO strategy, we need to do some research. For example, an international site targets two or more countries, therefore should contain versions in multiple languages.
That’s why you need to find out where your current international traffic is coming from to be sure what countries to target. For this purpose, you’ll need good old Google Analytics.
In the app’s windows, find Geo menu section and go to Location. There, you’ll see a complete report with the countries that your traffic originates from. The first countries in that list should be your best bet for international expansion.
Step 2: Choose Appropriate Domain and URL Structure
There are several options when it comes to these two very important factors. First, let’s consider URL structures. Here, you have three ways to go for a multiregional website:
- Country code top-level domains (ccTLD): mywebsite.ca
- Subdomains: ca.mywebsite.com
- Subdirectories: mywebsite.com/ca/
Each of them has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Using the top-level domain is great because it shows Google that your site should be displayed to users from that country (according to Verisign, there were 143.1 million top-level websites in the world in 2017). However, the server location is irrelevant, so you can be based in another country and still employ this domain. Also, ccTLD offers some advantages in terms of legal requirements and geotargeting.
On the other hand, remember that using ccTLD is not cheap can you can run into availability problems. Therefore, it is recommended to use this domain if you have a physical presence in that country and the resources to build and promote several different websites.
This option is recommended for businesses that are yet to build a lot of brand awareness on the international level. It’s also easy to setup, allows different server locations and Webmaster Tools geotargeting.
However, users of subdomains aren’t able to share authority across them because search engines treat them as separate domains.
While being extremely easy to implement compared to the previous options, subdirectories are ambiguous to Google and human users; for example, they cannot easily answer whether a subdirectory /es/ is meant for users in Spain for all Spanish speakers.
Step 3: Configure International Targeting With Google Search Console
In addition to choosing a ccTLD for your website, you can use Google’s Search Console to let the search engine know what country it is intended for.
For example, you can use this tool to indicate the country for which your website is intended by configuring international targeting to that country. Settings are fairly easy, plus Google has International Targeting Report for you to get answers about languages, countries, and everything else related to geotargeting.
Step 4: Don’t Forget about Local Search Engines
While Google reigns supreme in the English-speaking world and has a strong international presence, it’s not the search engine of choice for everyone. For example, the dominant search engine in China is Baidu. Its market share in 2017 was 76.05 percent, while Google China, a subsidiary of Google, ranks a distant fifth with a share of 1.84 percent (all data by China Internet Watch).
The same applies to other large countries (for example, Yandex is one leading search engine in Russia with 51.6 percent of the market share while Google comes the second with 44.89 percent).
So the takeaway here is clear: do your homework in terms of local search engines in the countries you’re about to operate and find out how to work with them.
Step 5: Pay Attention to Content Marketing
Writing SEO-optimized copies of content for multiregional websites may be a daunting task because of the language difference. To ensure that your content meets the needs of the target audience, consider the following:
- Research keywords that audiences in different countries use to find your products/services
- Refer to translation agencies list to find a good translator for your content
- Use targeted content marketing to help page rank internationally
To succeed with multilingual content, however, you should also pay attention to the essential principles of multilingual content marketing. They include:
- Reexamination of reader personas (representations of typical readers). You should never use the reader persona you developed for your English content. Each country has a unique audience, so you should respect that.
- Localization of content. Speak your audience’s language, both literally and figuratively.
- Working with a native writer or editor. There’s no replacement for human expertise, so use a professional to make sure that your content is professional.
Hopefully this article provides a great overview of multiregional SEO. Although it may look a bit complicated, a good multiregional SEO is totally achievable with the right knowledge. So use these tips to take steps to create an effective strategy and get your share of local markets!