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If you have ambitions of expanding your business to a global territory, International SEO is a must-have. It is a scalable and budget-friendly way to make your target audience present in international locations knows your brand, understand its values and also become its paying customers,says Mega Parikh
Why International SEO matters? Search engines index and rank web pages based on various parameters. Primarily it is based on the Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD). Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. give ccTLD the prime reference while ranking search results.
However, in other countries the popular search engines could be something else. For instance, in China it is Baidu and in the Czech Republic, it is Senzam.
So, optimizing your web page for search engine friendliness in each country domain is essential. But, that is a tedious task. The key is to get the fundamentals right that will ensure your website is SEO friendly on all platforms and countries alike.
Here is how to get started.
Gain Knowledge of Ground-zero
The flag-off point for your international SEO optimization is to know the countries, its search habits and overall user preferences. Metrics like keyword search volume, in demand keywords, average bid rate, existing top ranking pages, etc. help visualize your strategy for the long-term.
SEMrush Tools help know in detail how much search volume a search phrase has >, paid and organic traffic, back links created, display advertising metrics, etc.
You can also use Google Analytics to know how many individual sessions originate from a specific language or country or both together.
Language or the Country? The SEO professional’s dilemma
Every SEO professional who ventures into international SEO gets stuck here at least for a short while. Targeting your audience in a specific country location and targeting your audience who speak a particular language are two different things. The search volumes will definitely differ.
Hence, it is better to decide early on which one you are going to stick on to streamline your SEO process accordingly.
If you are going to stick to a country, Google helps you fix your target audience easily. You can set your country preference in Google Webmaster Tools by heading to Site Configuration -> Settings and under settings, set the country of your choice.
Use Specific Languages
If you want your search engine to be language-specific and not location-specific, then it would be better to opt for language targeting. When targeting a specific language, abstain from simple translation of content in one language to another.
It is recommended to seek services of native language translation experts who can translate the content into native language in the right context, grammar and punctuation. Google and almost all search engines weigh content worthiness heavily for page ranking. So, we can rightly say that Content is king and will remain so as long as search engines are around >. Websites containing content that is spinned or does not make sense in local languages will not get proper ranking. There is an inevitable need to fine tune your language-based SEO strategy to the global language trends.
Also, do not forget to set language meta tags. Language meta tags are like pointers for search engine bots to understand which language the page is written in >. The bots indexes the page based on the language meta tag and contributes to the overall search engine ranking of the page.
For example, following is the language meta tag for Spanish:
Use Localised Content
Local listings like Google My Business and other online listings are combed by search engines for evaluating the ranking worthiness of a website. For instance, if you are in London, the contact details, address, etc. should be London based.
In International SEO, it does not make sense to give a US based contact detail for a UK web page. Ensure that Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) is localised and specific to the region to which the website pertains.
Also, search engines crawl your website schema to identify the location and to assign page rank. So keeping the website schema readable for the search engines will also help a lot in International SEO.
Create Separate Xml Sitemaps
Think of XML Sitemap as an instruction manual for bot crawlers. An XML sitemap is basically a file that contains the list of URLs in the website and their detailed information, like when was it last updated. This information helps search engine bots to crawl the web pages quickly.
XML sitemaps for each country-specific or language-specific website is a must. Create separate XML sitemaps and register them with Google Webmaster Tools or the search engines that you target for optimization.
See how directories for three different languages have been created in this XML sitemap.
This sort of a XML sitemap is called a Hreflang sitemap. It tells Google’s search bots which country or language is intended to be shown to specific audience.
The URL structure of a website is critical to SEO success >. It is the first thing that a crawler looks and decides what the web page is all about. Now the URL structure can be based on ccTLDs, subdirectories, subfolders and subdomains.
As a golden rule, don’t use a ccTLD if you are targeting a language and not a country. ccTLD works best if you want to target specific locations > and the choice of which is not going to change for long. For language targeting, you can select anything from subfolders, subdirectories and subdomains after evaluating the pros and cons of each.
International SEO is not just translating your web page content into another language. It is much more than that.
In fact, it is a bigger process compared to optimization in your native language and region. A huge amount of research is involved, too many parameters to check and on-page optimization to be done to achieve results.
Content plays a crucial role in while translating the content, pay attention to translating it completely without losing the context or meaning. Localize the content wherever possible to help local users relate to it easily.
Also, do not forget to complete the other nitty-gritties of SEO like creating XML sitemaps, setting the right design, setting target country locations, etc.
If done correctly, this can take your website ranking to great heights. With top search result rankings comes more traffic and subsequent conversions. In other words, International SEO is your passport to reaching customers on every nook of the world.
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Source : https://www.martechadvisor.com/articles/seo/international-seo-your-passport-to-reaching-customers-on-every-nook-of-the-world/