International SEO can be quite tricky. There are a number of things to take under consideration for successful international SEO. Much of it is personalized to the business, intention, demographic, etc. While every case is different, here are the 10 quick International SEO tips to keep in mind.
1. Consult with someone that knows the language/dialect as well as the market in which you’re doing SEO for. Translation tools should not be your first choice. Not only can a poor translation affect the perception of your website, but has the ability to hinder easy opportunities for optimization and can actually be viewed as SPAM. While resource-intensive, there are several nuances of the language that a translation tool just can’t account for. Consider the consultant first.
2. Don’t assume that Google.com is the top search engine. Google has several versions around the world. Don’t even assume that the Google branded search engine is the most popular. While it may be for several countries, Google is not the only search engine out there. Find out what your audience uses to search before you think about optimization. Familiarize yourself with that search engine.
3. Google’s keyword tool can still be very useful in coming up with long tail keyword combinations and ideas. Please make sure to set the country and language appropriately when researching.
4. A page with the ccTLD of the country you wish to rank for along with a server in that location has a better chance at ranking than a site without it. For instance, a .de site which a server located in Germany will take preference over a .com site with a server located in the United States trying to compete for Germany website traffic.
5. If it’s not in the budget to obtain a country specific ccTLD – consider either a subdomain or subfolder for the international site. While there is much debate over the correct way, I have always preferred the sub-domain. While link juice is not passed through the same way it is on a subfolder, the separation of alternate language keywords and links has personally, been successful.
6. Webmaster Tools allows you to set a geographic target for your website. Have multiple subdomains or subfolders on your domain for alternate languages? Make sure they’re separate sites in Webmaster Tools and target individually.
7. Translated Content can cause a duplicate content issue if you’re not careful. Please take care of this in your robots.txt file. Block spiders from crawling machine translated content if there is any on your site.
8. If you’d like to direct users to a single version, use the rel=canonical tag. If both versions need to be indexed, using rel=”alternate” and hreflang=”xxx” helps Google to provide the correct website versions during international searches.
9. Don’t discount directories. Not all countries use search engines as their primary method of finding websites. Directories are still popular outside North America. Take this into consideration when doing your link building.
10. Links coming into your site should also be done in the language you’re competing for, as well as come from a website (both server and ccTLD) located in the country you wish to rank in.