How can Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) be applied effectively on an international scale?


Business serving customers from several countries tend to have country-specific websites for each of their targeted international audiences, which often means ensuring each local site is optimised for its specific country. Although this process tends to require a considerable amount of technical SEO expertise, the results are usually significant.

While the basic application of SEO techniques do not change, the overall process for international search engine optimisation requires a much higher degree of planning, strategy, and implementation.

Therefore, international SEO can be defined as the process of optimising your business website. Ensuring search engines can identify the countries you are aiming to target and where necessary, your audiences’ language.

Expanding nationally or internationally?

Suppose you already know that a decent proportion of your visitors come from different countries rather than the one where you are located, use other languages, or perhaps both. In that case, it may be a good idea to tweak your website to improve your international visitors’ experiences.

The concept of international SEO may appear utterly foreign at first, but you may be a little more familiar with the process involved than you realise. It is a similar process to local SEO, but rather than optimising your website to target visitors from a particular city or region. You are simply ensuring it’s optimised for specific countries or languages.

Suppose your goal is to internationalise your website completely. In that case, that is, explicitly targeting different countries and languages – then your main objective to achieve this level of international geo-targeting will become threefold:

  1. Country targeting – this involves specifying your target country (or region) and applying a URL structure that is international-friendly.
  2. Language targeting – using language tags to establish the language your website is targeting.
  3. Language-specific content – creating, publishing, and maintaining content in your target audience’s language, will help you rank in your target country’s search results.

In cases where you only wish to target a specific country or only a particular language, you may need to apply only two of the three objectives. With this in mind, here are eight tips to help improve your international SEO efforts.

  1. Optimise page experiences

Google is continually updating its ranking specifications, and each update focuses more and more on visitor page experience. As mobile browsing is becoming increasingly popular, you must ensure your website is optimised for mobile in each country your business operates.

  1. Avoid machine language translation

While it may appear to be an excellent time-saving idea to translate your new or existing content using machine translation, this process should be avoided. Translation plugins or manually translating using services like Google Translate may appear to be an obvious choice. Such services invariably result in awkward phrasing and translational errors.

This can do more harm than good to your international SEO efforts. A much better option is to use human translators who, unlike machine translators, have a much better understanding of each language’s context and nuances. This is usually a costlier process but will ensure that your content is translated correctly, which helps protect your brand and attract new visitors.

  1. E-A-T your words

E-A-T or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness are qualities you should apply to your SEO strategy at any level. These are included in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines and can help build trust from your target audience.

Focus on the following elements to improve your website’s E-A-T level:

  • Please include the names of your content’s authors and their biographies.
  • Remove or improve low E-A-T content.
  • Build, manage, and maintain a personal brand.
  • Ensure your technical security is highly optimised.
  1. Create and execute a solid plan

A large part of SEO is about analysis, but there would be little to nothing to analyse without creating and executing a plan. Using your goals and knowledge of how you can accomplish them, make a plan and then execute it to the best of your abilities. You should focus on technical SEO, link building, and content, and use these areas to create an optimisation calendar for you to follow.

  1. Appropriately allocate your resources

SEO works better when you prioritise your time and resources to accomplish your most important goals. When working with different countries or languages, it’s best to prioritise your time based on your overall international SEO strategy.

For example, keep implementing a link tactic you already know is working well for you, rather than trying a new one. Or, given the choice of creating a new blog post or updating an older one, focus your energy on the option that would benefit the user and have the most significant impact on your ROI (return on investment).

  1. Act and think holistically

Your scope is often much broader in international SEO compared with working in one area in one country. Optimise your website holistically by focusing your efforts towards creating an incredible user experience.

  1. Get networking internally and externally

To stand a chance of being the best internationally, you need to network with the relevant marketers and industry professionals in the international markets you intend to work with. This can help you gain valuable insights you might otherwise be unable to achieve.

  1. Tailor your content to each target language and culture

To help both users and search engines realise they are in the right place when visiting your website, make sure your content provides the right, country-relevant information. This not only means using the local language, but the currency, time zone, and correct contact information such as telephone numbers and addresses.

Don’t forget to consider cultural differences when designing and creating your website and content. Simple and often overlooked areas such as layout, colour, and type of humour that are culturally appropriate for your target audience can increase your users’ chance of having a positive experience when visiting your website.

When properly implemented, these international SEO tips should be almost unnoticeable to your international visitors. Ideally, they should access relevant content tailored to their country or region in as seamless a manner as possible. When applied correctly, international SEO can help your website raise your target countries’ search rankings, simultaneously providing an excellent experience for your users and increasing your revenue. For more information or support, contact your trusted international search engine optimisation professionals at Top 10 SEO.

Senka Pupacic is the founder of Top 10 SEO,


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