International SEO Strategies for Global Reach

This is an ideal method for companies that are trying to globalize. A company that is in Canada and selling a unique product will eventually want to take it worldwide and sell the product in numerous different countries. SEO is the first step to entering the global market and can be done at any time of the life cycle of a product. Taking the proper steps to ensuring that the product is known in its newly adapted country is key. Making the website available to the new country is the first step in the process. Directing customers to the new website instead of the old one can be difficult but it’s a task that is necessary. The URL that is represented towards the foreign market is an effective way to do this. URLs for location with country specific ccTLDs is an effective way to get customers to the right site and simplifying the site’s URL structure is effective as well. Creating a new XML sitemap of those URLs, then informing the search engine about these sitemaps completes the first step. The next step to go about is using the HREFLANG tag. This is a tag of code that tells Google which language you are using on a specific page, especially in cases where the language is not visible to the viewer. This is an effective way to avoid confusion for visitors to multi-lingual sitemaps. It is a complex but effective effort to ensure it will direct incoming customers to the right site. The final step is to just add internal links to your other location specific sites on your main site. This will make it easier for the search engine to understand the targeting and the relation between the different locations (Migrating your m-dot site). All of these steps are explained by Google and with patience and practice can be easily exercised to get the customer to the right site. Directing the right customer to the right site is the first step to promising that your new global product will be a success.

A search engine is a website tool that searches the internet for content and displays the best and most relevant information to the user. When millions and millions of online businesses are competing to be the first result that pops up, there is a need to be different and unique. With technology rapidly growing and a whole generation being raised in coffee shop with wifi, it has become clear that digital marketing is the most profitable way of marketing. It is a cost-effective way to globalize a company at an incredibly quick pace. Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that online businesses use to adapt to their customers wants and needs. It is a solution to give the right people what they want. It is a process of getting traffic from the ‘free’, ‘organic’, ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.

Importance of SEO services

Having an online presence is important in itself, but in order to attract potential customers, a strong online strategy is needed. Think about the last time you made a major purchase. Whether it was a new home theatre, car, or holiday, the internet would have been the first place you went to research, compare prices, and then make your purchase. 82 percent of Singaporeans are now purchasing products online, and this percentage is set to increase with Singapore’s E-commerce revenue market projected to grow to S$4.4 billion in 2015. So how does SEO fit into all this? With consumers using search engines to research and make purchases, the higher a company’s ranking on search engines, the more likely and earlier it is to be found and chosen by a consumer. This is especially important in Singapore as a study showed that Singaporeans click on internet ads 25% more than the global average.

In Singapore, the difference between the number of internet users now compared to just 5 years ago is significant. A recent study showed that Singaporeans use the internet on average 25 hours per week; that’s over 3 hours a day. This number is set to increase with higher internet accessibility and speeds in the coming years ahead. We are already seeing a lower consumption of traditional media as consumers turn to the internet for news, information, and entertainment. From the chart, we can see that consumption of newspapers has dropped by 17%, and watching television has decreased by 11%. With internet usage increasing and traditional media decreasing, the importance of having an online presence has never been so crucial.

So, what exactly does SEO services mean in today’s context? What are the implications for companies, and is it something worth investing in? Services provided by SEO companies in Singapore and across the world have been proven to have significant effects on company growth and success.

Sotavento Medios: A digital marketing agency in Singapore

Today, Sotavento Medios remains one of the most cost-effective SEO services in Singapore. We are constantly expanding our operations globally. We have a diversified group of professionals who are able to carry out SEO practices and strategies with a deep understanding of our clients’ needs, while still upholding the values of an SME.

Sotavento Medios is a young and dynamic digital marketing agency that has rapidly made its mark as a leading search engine optimization (SEO) company in Singapore. Using ethical SEO tactics, result-oriented methodology, and a deep understanding of our clients’ needs, we have been successful in delivering top-tier SEO services at highly affordable rates.

Understanding International SEO

Targeting global markets

Global search engine optimization will generally involve implementing site changes which will affect visibility in search engines which have an international audience e.g. changes in code, design or content. These changes are especially pertinent for companies who have regional specific websites, even though the changes are needed to make the sites appear in various search engines, it should not be assumed that this is the only way to complete international SEO. An ideal start to global SEO is to make a site that is truly world wide audience focused on it from the ground up, with domain name and URL structure aimed at a single world wide site. This approach can simplify implementation of a web site which is aimed at all the markets. The changes required for search visibility are also especially pertinent for companies going through with a global brand marketing or trying to salvage global brand for a new product. In this case it is likely that the brand is already a non-deceptive representation of what is being marketed so there will be little need to change the actual product. This is quite the opposite of brand localization where the brand is being changed to suit a different market. This might be done in case were there is an existing brand damage or as preventative measure to avoid damage in a new market.

Targeting global markets when deciding to target a global market, a company must be prepared to do extensive demographic and psychographic research. These studies will identify and segment the characteristics of customers in each market. This is important because the same product can require different marketing mixes in order to appeal to different market segments. It may be necessary to adapt the product itself to suit different cultures or the usage conditions of different countries. If an organization decides not to adapt their product, they will only be targeting a segment of the market, rather than the market as a whole. In this case, it would be more prudent to employ differentiated marketing, rather than undifferentiated or concentrated marketing. This comes into the decision of which countries to target initially, and which ones to leave till later. Often it makes more sense to forgo targeting developing countries until they are more viable markets. This is due to the fact that different countries and segments have different levels of competitors. The return on investment at attaining top brand status in a country with high levels of competition may not justify the incurred costs. In this situation, it may be more appropriate to use the skimming strategy. Regardless of which countries are chosen to be targeted, it is important that there be synergy across the different markets. This is particularly applicable to centralized companies with little in-country variation of their products and/or services. This synergy is only true global marketing occurs in an undifferentiated manner were no in-country variations of marketing mix are made and all market segments are targeted.

Language and cultural considerations

Language and cultural considerations greatly influence how information is presented and information needs differ from culture to culture and person to person. While translating the text, transcreation, i.e. changing the content so that it fits the target culture, must be considered. In certain languages, words can have different meanings, which can reflect on culture and perceptions. In Japanese, the term for mobile phone “keitai” refers to a mobile phone and the culture associated with it. Another term, “pocket bell,” refers to the same thing, which was a device similar to the UK’s bleeper. This reflects on cultural differences between Japan and the UK. The choice of “keitai” as a word reflects on the fact that Japanese mobile phone culture was markedly different from that of the West. So when Japan started to use mobile internet, it made the transition from email to web that the West experienced several years earlier. Hence, the emphasis in SEO is on mobile internet. This is reflected by the term indicating a mobile phone, rather than “pocket bell,” where there would be less emphasis on mobile services. Adapting the term “search engine optimization” to a culturally acceptable word has been an ongoing process in many countries. The direct translation often requires explanation and at times has little cultural relevancy. A good example of culturally adapted advertisement comes from comparisons of the same Coca Cola advertising campaigns between different countries. In this scenario, it is useful to note that we are trying to sell a product. In the UK, there would be no change required, while we compare the same ad to a Brazilian audience, who place a lot of emphasis on social atmosphere, the central figures of the ad would be changed to celebrities and the focus less on events and more on the interactions of the main people in the ad. It is important to note that there is no simple answer to what to transcreate to, from a word or phrase, to an advertisement. Largely, this decision is made by intuition and understanding of the target culture.

Localized keyword research

An important consideration for companies targeting many different regions/languages is the use of a keyword glossary. This is a document that lists all keywords and phrases in all languages and acts as a reference for all employees working on SEO activity. This will ensure consistency and coordination across all languages and increase efficiency when implementing the keywords on site and in off-site content.

When considering doing localized keyword research it would most likely be an English speaker within the company conducting the research. In this case, it is important to involve native speakers in the keyword research process to ensure that the right terms and phrases are being identified. A native speaker will have a much better understanding of what the target audience is looking for and will be able to identify the keyword that is most appropriate.

Localized keyword research has to capture the nuances of the way your potential customers search for your products, no matter what language they speak. It is important to understand that it is not always a case of translating your English keywords into the local language. For example, if you were an American company selling financial software and you were expanding into the German market, a direct translation of the English keyword “financial software” would be “finanzielle Software”. However, this is not actually what German people would type when searching for such a product. Through the use of a keyword research tool such as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, it can be found that a more common phrase used is “Buchhaltungssoftware” meaning “accounting software”.

Implementing International SEO Strategies

If the target market is global rather than specific countries, the use of a subfolder is preferable to a ccTLD or subdomain, as it is easier to maintain and passes on any link juice or signals to the root domain. Each language and country should have a specific URL, and it is important to avoid automatic redirection based on the location of the user, as this can cause interference with Googlebot in accessing the content. Sufficient server-side code must be in place to provide Googlebot with access to all variations of different language or region content.

3.1.1 URL structure

Implementing multiple language sites is best achieved by using a ccTLD or subdomain, such as or, with unique content on each site for the language and target country in question. To ensure correct indexing, each page must have a self-referencing canonical tag, and most importantly, reference hreflang tag pointing to the alternate language and country versions of the page, showing search engines the relationship between these. For more detail on the implementation of hreflang tags, see section 3.3 Geo-targeting and hreflang tags.

To benefit from traffic in different countries, it is of utmost importance that a website has a multilingual approach. This might seem self-evident, but a common error in the setup of a multilingual site is the use of automated translation. Search engines are able to detect the language of the page, and this is used as a factor in determining the target country. As a result, machine-translated content does not help establish the target country as being different from the root site and also carries an obvious negative reflection on the company.

Multilingual website optimization

Using a single website with multiple languages: This is a very search engine-friendly method as long as it’s implemented in the right way. Here’s how it can be done – A default language is set for the website, which will be the indexed one. The different language versions of the pages can be shown by textual links or using flags. What is to be kept in mind here is that the different language pages should not be as different URLs else the search engine would consider it as a separate page and thus duplicate content. To avoid this, all the different language versions should be put with the help of dynamic URL parameters and the language preference of the visitor can be detected from the browser and the respective language page can be shown. This is also a good way to learn the user preferences and it makes it easy to track a user coming from search engines to the preferred language page.

Using country-specific domains: In case the webmaster does not want to have too many websites, they can consider having different country-specific domains. This is actually good for SEO, but it is also an expensive affair.

Creating a separate website for each language: This is the most effective method as the webmaster has the liberty to create a fresh website in any language. However, the main drawback of this method is that it is quite expensive to maintain multiple websites. Moreover, it becomes quite difficult to manage multiple websites, which may dilute the link popularity of the original website.

Multilingual website optimization is the first and foremost thing that webmasters need to consider while planning to target an international audience. It is a vital step as it has the potential to make or break the SEO efforts. The website content may be translated into multiple languages to tap into an international audience. Here are some effective methods that can be used for multilingual website optimization:

International link building

One of the main ways to attract links to a website is creating compelling content others would want to link to. Marketers have to work out what content type is most likely to attract links for that specific country. This isn’t easy and the wrong choice could add a large opportunity cost. Infographics are a great example of linkbait. They display useful information in a visual format which can be understood by any language. The content of the infographic has to be useful to the target countries to attract links from those countries. Any finance type data would require links from financial blogs, while health data would require links from health blogs and so forth. This is just one example of the type of content, and how it would attract links from said target country. Videos, whitepapers and articles are all very effective if done correctly and also require careful planning. A very direct approach is begging for links and link exchange, however the long term effects of this could be negative with the recent Panda updates. It’s very important to note that whatever link bait method is used, it has to be easy to share for users within that country. If content is shared with too much effort from the user it will hinder link acquisition.

Link building is without doubt one of the most difficult components of SEO, and this is no different when it comes to international SEO. The main purpose of link building in SEO is to gain as many links as possible from authority sites to your own. Gain more links than your competitors and your site will rank higher. The same rules apply for international SEO, and with the recent Google updates, diversity in link building is crucial to an effective campaign. The difference with international link building is identifying potential sites in your target country and gaining the links from sites within said country.

Geo-targeting and hreflang tags

The primary method of informing Google of the targeted country for a website is by using the Google Search Console. This provides site owners with a means of specifying the target country for generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .com, .org, or .net. However, this does not provide a means of geo-targeting subdomains of country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) or specific parts of a website. An alternative option for specifying the targeted country and language on a page or set of pages is by using the ‘content-language’ meta tag and HTTP header. This method tells search engines which language(s) to use when indexing a page or to set location and language preferences in the search engine’s options.

The construction of an international website leaves webmasters with a common concern: ensuring the correct content is shown in the right country. Failing to do so can result in webpages being served in an unintended country or with mixed language and region content on the same page. This can be a discouraging situation for search engines and users alike. Geo-targeting can be implemented using several methods to inform search engines which country is being targeted for a website or specific pages.

Mobile optimization for global audiences

Those with a strong preference for responsive web design need not despair. Google’s recommendations for each method of mobile configuration are as follows: Regardless of which method you choose, having a great mobile site is critically important. Like all things SEO, the development of the site architecture and content must be founded on keyword research. Knowledge of the markets and an understanding of the specific needs of users in each country are crucial to successful keyword research. Integration between the mobile development team and an international SEO will facilitate the strategic placement of categorical and brand-related keywords and allow for optimization of meta data and alternative tags. Creating a bilingual or multilingual mobile site is also an obvious necessity for targeting non-English speakers. With the global expansion of mobile technology, it is safe to say that the best in the business will be putting more efforts and resources into mobile SEO for the foreseeable future.

Evidently, implementing a successful mobile search engine marketing strategy follows the same principles as general SEO, with a few important considerations. To cater to an international audience, you will need to create a mobile site that is specifically tailored to the preferences of users in the targeted regions. Many regions (especially Asia-Pacific) have a strong preference for mobile browsing and even in countries with high saturation of PCs and laptops, travelers and commuters reach for their smartphones as a primary internet tool (Singh, 2013). For these reasons, it is important to consider mobile as a separate entity and not just an extension of the desktop site. In which case, a separate mobile site on a subdomain, m-dot site, or dynamically served mobile site can be geo-targeted using Google Webmaster Tools to the specific regions and their respective languages. Due to the differences in mobile and desktop URLs, separate mobile sites are relatively easier to manage with a simple and reliable method of geo-targeting.

Measuring Success and Continuous Improvement

Although the strategies outlined in this essay will go a long way towards ensuring your international SEO campaign is a success, it’s important to always measure and analyze the results against KPIs. For tangible success, SEO should always impact your business bottom line and it’s important to always have plans in place how to tie this through to ROI. Knowing that thousands of pages have now been indexed or you are now ranking number 1 for a high volume keyword are only indications of potential success. These things can usually be measured fairly easily, even when it comes to conversion tracking for instance, what keywords are converting and are they the same words you expected? This is a simple thing to measure, comparing what you expected to the actual result and SEO can be easily adjusted according to this. When it comes down to reporting, you should be comparing the global organic search traffic from before the SEO campaign and after, to show an increase in visitors from target areas. By using filters to compare different regions in analytics, you can segment data to show increases in specific countries or even down to specific languages. This data should then be compared against the specific KPIs that were set at the beginning of the campaign and there should be clear evidence of a correlation. Failure to do so means that behavior will continue unchecked or unaltered. Completing these steps will present documented evidence of organizational accomplishment, therefore proving the SEO was successful.

Tracking international rankings and traffic

This example effectively highlights how site strategy can often conflict with the specific regional goals and budgets. It must be understood that effective regional SEO strategies are often driven by the breadth and nature of competitors within the same market. Therefore, in order to measure the traffic and success of the Yummy Tummy product in these two different environments, we would suggest that each market is treated as a separate entity. This would usually mean having different web environments/sites for the different products in different regions. This will facilitate easier tracking, and improvements can be made on a local level with more precision.

Company X sells infant nutritional products and decides to implement a standard global site strategy to promote their product ‘Yummy Tummy’. The Yummy Tummy site serves both the UK and Ireland but it uses the same site for both markets. Having implemented the same site strategy for both the UK and Ireland, Company X soon realizes that the traffic and interest generated for the product in the UK market far outweighs that of the Irish Market. Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish the UK and Irish traffic levels and the interest shown by this product.

One common mistake that companies make when going global is assuming that they can apply the same SEO service across multiple markets. Before we measure the success of the global search campaigns, let’s go over an example to illustrate the nuances of setting a global SEO strategy.

Analyzing user behavior and engagement

User behavior analysis allows us to see what users are doing on our sites, showing us the most or least used site areas. This benefits SEO in many ways, with the ability to: – Analyze how users from different countries behave. It is natural that different cultures will behave differently and have different expectations when browsing online. By knowing these behaviors, we can optimize the site to give the best user experience. For example, a user from a fast-paced culture may be more impatient and expect the page to load faster. – Find out what keywords users are entering to find our pages. While there are tools available which help us to find this information such as Google Webmaster tools, the data is generally limited and can sometimes be misleading. With user behavior analysis, we can see the terms that are actually leading users to our site and the relevance of these terms. – Understand what type of visitors are the most valuable. An e-commerce site may want to find out what type visitors are more likely to buy their products. By knowing this information, SEO can then attract more of these types of users with the same tactics.

One of the biggest benefits of online marketing is the transparency and the vast amount of user data. Data is irrefutable evidence of what is or isn’t working, enabling marketers to make informed decisions that are based on solid evidence. Over 70% of businesses that are investing in marketing technology, such as web analytics, expect to see an increase in their spending on these tools in the near future. Over half of businesses are increasing investment in data management. So it is clear that understanding customers is a top priority.

A/B testing and optimization techniques

Optimization is taking the results of testing and putting them into practice in order to make systematic improvements. This can include applying the findings of a single test or the combined findings of several tests in order to make a part of the site function better or to make it more user-friendly. It is important to apply changes based on evidence and not guesswork. As with testing, it is best to make small changes one at a time. This makes it easier to isolate the effects of changes, it means you can track the effect of each change and it makes it easier to roll back changes that have a negative effect. Ensure you record what changes you make to the site and have a process for tracking their effects. A/B testing and optimization can lead to fantastic improvements in the user experience and have a big impact on revenue in the long term. Always remember to keep a control of what is tested and changed and only make changes you believe will improve the site.

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. It is one of the most vital techniques in the CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) process. A/B testing allows you to make more data-driven decisions. This means you can put your effort into changing those parts of your site that will give you the greatest ROI. Such testing can be used with relatively small changes (such as a single headline) or with much larger changes (such as redesigning an entire page). This makes it ideal for trying out new ideas. It is however important to only test one thing at a time, if you test two changes simultaneously, you can’t accurately say what change had what effect. Tests can be run using special A/B testing tools, many of which include a multivariate testing functionality. However, if you have a low-traffic site, you might need to run your tests for a longer time to get an accurate reading. Remember that it is important to only test changes that you believe will improve your site. Randomly testing anything can lead to what is known as ‘hippo-ing’ (highest paid person’s opinion), where the highest paid person’s opinion is the one that is followed, regardless of whether it is right. This can lead to worse results as it usually creates a situation where the winner is simply the one that the highest paid person prefers.

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