International SEO is all about making your site relevant to specific countries you’re targeting and adapting to the languages used locally.
Companies targeting many different markets and geographical locations need to be aware of international SEO. Sites need to be tailored to different target audiences, languages and user behaviour to be effective in different markets.
Google and most search engines have country specific versions of their index, so a shopper searching from Italy will use Google.it and view results in Italian. In this context, if you’re targeting Italian customers with your site, then you’ll need to adapt pages and content to appeal to them.
It’s about more than simply translating your existing copy. For example, there are cultural differences and content preferences to consider, which means you may need to tailor content for different countries, as well as on-site features such as payment methods.
There are various technical considerations to consider too. The structure of international websites can be approached in different ways, with pros and cons for each. For example, country coded top level domains and local IP addresses can help your site rank in target markets, though they come with extra costs.
Translation needs to be done well, as it often requires not only professional expertise, but local knowledge that ensures content is translated with reference to cultural differences, and so that it sounds natural to the visitor.
Keyword research is required for each new territory, not just for different languages, but the way people search and the terms they use varies between markets. A successful group of keywords in the UK may not work as well in Europe or North America for example.
It’s also important to be aware of potential international SEO conflict. International SEO conflict is most likely to occur between same language sites such as US and UK, Australia and Canada. This is usually down to duplicate theming or duplicate content. Google sees a semantic relationship between the two sites – even if they are on different TLDs or CMSs – and pits them against each other if they share similar content. For example, US and UK sites may both appear in a UK search engine if the correct international SEO is not applied, causing the ‘right’ page to consistently drop in the rankings.
Not only does this present poor user experience (i.e. on an ecommerce site, a UK user may end up viewing products only available in dollars within the US), it also often translates as lost visibility and revenue.
Therefore, effectively targeting your customers geographically can result in improved UX and increased conversion rates.
The fact that they have similar content can mean Google sees a semantic relationship between different country dites, and they compete with each other for the same search terms.