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What You Should Know About International Search Engine Optimization For Business
So, what does it take to reach a global audience? This is a pretty hot topic. The US dollar is weak, the global economy is recovering and President O’Bama has a plan to double US exports by 2015. It would seem a good opportunity for US companies to enter foreign markets.
However, there is much to consider.
1.) Global Search Trends: The search landscape has changed!
- 15 years ago 80% of all searches were conducted in English.
- Today 70% of all searches are performed in a language other than English.
- This will not change. The potential number of new Internet users (those not currently active on the Internet) is far greater in foreign speaking countries than in English speaking countries. Example: 10% of China’s population are active Internet users versus 51% of the US population.
2.) Dominant Search Engines.
The conversation about how to reach a global audience has to start with the search engines. It’s natural for us to think “Google” and while they are the dominant search engine worldwide (with about 85% global market share), in some countries they are not the prime consideration.
In China, Baidu has about 75% of the market share. In Russia, Yandex is #1 with 64%. In South Korea Navar has 62%, Daum 21%, Nate 10% and Google is 4th with only 4%. So, while Google dominates in many countries one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to International SEO. As we think about moving into foreign markets it becomes critical to do some research and develop a strategy that includes the significant search engines outside of Google. And, it’s really important to understand that what may be important to Google here in the US is a bit different than what they give consideration to elsewhere.
3.) Key elements of International SEO.
- ccTLD or country code top level domains are country code name extensions that are generally made up of two characters. Here in the US we are www.site-seeker.us (with a generic domain of www.site-seeker.com). If we were located in Canada we would be www.site-seeker.ca. In China we would be www.site-seeker.cn and in Germany www.site-seeker.de. A ccTLD identifies to users and search engines what country your domain is from. For those reasons alone this is the best way to go. However, almost all countries require that you have a physical location within that country and have filed with the in-country trade registry.
- Subdomains and subdirectories offer an alternative if you are unable to aquire a ccTLD. You can use Google webmaster tools to identify to Google that there is translated content that they should consider. You can have success with these alternatives but it may require more effort in other areas. Specifically, website’s with in-country TLD’s will not need near the authority from incoming links as a .com using subdomains or subdirectories.
- Translated and localized content is very important and should always involve a professional translator. Although Google offers a tool called Google Translate even Google’s Matt Cutts has told us to steer clear from auto translation tools as search engines are very likely to consider the translation spam. Beyond just language translation the website properties and content should be localized to the nuances and preferences of your target audience.
- Local hosting can influence where you place on the search engine results page. Search engines want to deliver the most relevant results and do consider the location of the IP address.
- Inbound links are the currency of the web. This is where your credibility comes from. Domesticated search engines looking to serve relevance will be biased to pages that have relevant links from within that country. Think of it like this: overseas shops and vendors might take the US dollar but they much prefer to deal in local currency.
- Research the potential markets you are considering.
- Don’t go into a market just because you see a trickle of visitors from your target market on a Google Analytics report. These visitors are finding your .com website and may be a small slice of the potential worldwide.
- Use tools like Google Global Market Finder to see where your opportunity lies.
- Do a comprehensive search of your key products and services using professionally translated words. Gauge these results, look at search volume for your key terms and then engage in competitive analysis.
For additional information take a look at this three part conversation about International SEO I had with my brother Brian Bluff and Scott Bass from Advanced Language Translation Inc.
Eddie Bluff is the Vice President of Key Accounts and Co-Founder of Site-Seeker, Inc., an Internet marketing company created by Eddie and his brother, Brian, in 2003. Site-Seeker performs the efforts necessary to drive qualified visitors to its clients’ websites; convert the visitors into buyers; measure the results achieved; and develop improvement plans based on performance.
Mr. Bluff brings over 20 years of experience in sales, account development, business process development, marketing, and service management to the company. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and worked for more than 15 years as a Manager of Sales and Marketing at PAR Technology Corporation before joining the Thomas Industrial Network. At Thomas, he signed the largest ever first-year contract in the history of Thomas Register with a sale in excess of $143,000, and he placed 16th out of 480 individual sales contractors in North America.
As the Vice President at Site-Seeker, Eddie travels the country conducting seminars and workshops focused on bringing clarity to the Internet Marketing industry. When he’s not on the road, he is responsible for developing relationships with key accounts, partnerships and co-management of the firm.
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