You just survived a Negative SEO attack and marked this as a turning point in your life in your mid-thirties, congratulations! Now you’ve started rebuilding and using as much creativity as you could squeeze to help you get your website’s ranking legs in shape again. Then, you get a Eureka moment! Why not try to expand your reach in other countries? Surely your competitors aren’t doing that, right? If in case they aren’t, there are a few things you must learn in order to execute this.
International SEO is a way of specifically optimizing your website so search engines can understand which countries you wish to target with your website. This includes automatically changing the languages displayed on specific countries, if needed, as well as just having a separate website designated to a specific country you’re targeting.
Much like Geo Targeting, where you optimize your website to attract and target traffic from your country or state, International SEO is the more (literally) “international version” where you optimize it to target more people outside of your country. Something for everything, eh?
First step is to choose and specify a country you want to target. And to do that, you need to have a URL structure that mirrors it. For example, www.AjIsAwesome.com.sg, www.AjIsAwesome.sg etc. A lot of modern webmasters and even business owners who try to venture out on the harsh desserts of SEO and the world of search forget about this. So to the person reading this, you’re on your way to a higher path…
Second, after you’ve set which country you’re targeting, you’re going to have to make sure that the site can adapt the language it presents to specific people from specific places. So for example, if you plan to have www.AjIsAwesome.jp run in Japan, the language should in fact, adapt and change into Japanese.
Next is to create and maintain the type of content that is suitable to whatever country you’re targeting. This is once again another factor that modern businesses forget. One type of content from this country might not be exciting, interesting or as important on another country. Take for example a website that offers burial services. Depending on the culture on different countries, this might not fly well at all. As some cultures have different ways of treating their deceased. (Kind of a morbid example but an important one. Life is tough.)
Now that the intros are done, let’s talk about them one by one. Starting with URL structuring:
Country Code Top Level Domain
Also known as “ccTLD” (another life of the party trivia you can throw around.) This the kind of URL structuring that involves 2 letter codes that tell search engines and people which country or state this particular website is registered in, like our previous example:
*Please make this into a real site. I promise to visit it
This is another way you can set up your URLs. This one, however, has a drawback: content made to target other countries may or may not pass link equity from your root domain.
An example of this is:
On this one, the content for international targeting is placed on specific subdirectories or sometimes subfolders of your root domain. So:
General Top Level Domain (with Language parameters)
Also known as gTLD (rolls right off the tongue, huh?) These are targeted towards people who speak specific languages—however, it doesn’t work on all. You have to specifically set this up to use a specific language.
Examples of these are:
Literally, a different Domain
If you agree with me on this one, we can be pals for life. This, in my opinion, is the best way to go. You get to have a separate root domain made only for a specific country. It’s like having 2 babies. More fun. But yes, like having two babies, this will require much more attention and maintenance. Paying for 2 domains can be costly. Trust me. I’ve tried it years before. It’s harsh, man.
Examples of this are:
Whatever your preference is, it’s up to you. It’s your business and your budget. Not going to judge. However, for any of these, you still need to make sure that your site’s structure is still well enough that crawlers will have an easier time crawling and therefore indexing it.
Let’s go back to language. The Hreflang tag lets your site show search engines which languages your content is available in. And since we’re your source of cheat codes, we’ll post a sample here so you can copy past it and show it to all your friends:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://ajisawesome.com/jp” hreflang=”jp-jp”/>
*Something you need to remember as well is to never set your website to forcefully redirect them on a specific language based on their location. Always give them the chance to choose from any form of language.
Lastly, like mentioned before, topics, keywords and other normal things from your country might be perceived differently on another country. Always make sure that you are using content / keywords that are suited directly to that specific audience. Check your keyword planner and see if high performing keywords here that have high search volume are also workable on another country. I’ve personally seen a few that has a set of keywords that will never work on another country. So be careful and be mindful of these things.
Whatever you do and wherever you go (most definitely even in other dimensions), this aspect of using the content will never change. Always consider culture and how other countries perceived.
Once you have these all set up, it will be very important that you get to build links on specific countries as well. If you set up an ajisawesome.sg, link build that in Singapore. It’s that easy! It’s not an absolute rule, you can still build links outside of that, but the main bulk of your link building will be based on the country it’s set up to rank in.
And now you’re ready to face the world. Literally. Start targeting specific countries (or dimensions) and dominate their rankings!