In SEO, internationalisation means the process by which we want our website (or that of a customer) to be visible on search engines even when searches are made in other languages or in countries different than the main one.
Think for example of a company based in Malta that wants to expand its business and sell its products or services to France, Spain and Italy, or on the contrary an American company that creates software and wants it to be visible in all the markets of the world in their respective languages.
What SEO specialists want is that the search engine recognises the company’s online presence by having a clear understanding of the relationship between the different (if any) websites, versions of the pages and localised content and ensuring that it returns to users who are looking for a specific country the localised version of the website in a specific language.
Although the basic principles of SEO remain the same, there are precautions, things to do and things not to do to ensure that the website is positioned correctly in the target country.
Different sites or a single multilingual site?
One of the main aspects to consider when designing an international SEO strategy, is the structure of the site. There are several solutions, each of which has its pros, cons, advantages and limitations depending on the objective.
For example, if our target audience is Spanish speaking, we may decide to use similar solutions:
Each of the above could be an adequate solution and an SEO specialist or a web developer can recommend the best option.
What are other important aspects in international SEO?
From the company’s point of view, it is obviously necessary to evaluate the online demand for that product or service in the country in which it wants to expand. There are several tools that help in this process, some simple to be used directly by entrepreneurs such as Google Market Finder. For more accurate and advanced searches it is obviously a great idea to contact an SEO consultant.
From the point of view of those who do SEO, the first thing to evaluate; in addition to the online demand; is the search engine used in that particular country. Although Google is the most popular search engine in the world, there are some countries such as China or Russia where the most used search engines are others.
Having said this, some important aspects to consider on the SEO side in addition to the choice of domain and site structure are:
- Localisation of content
- The use of specific html language tags or sitemaps
- The hosting
- Other off-page factors
The digital revolution is transforming consumer habits, increasingly online, at the same time offering companies unthinkable opportunities until a few years ago, such as being able to sell online abroad.
In this context, SEO plays a fundamental role for the success of internationalisation. If carried out by SEO experts and integrated with other marketing channels, it can also lead a small local business to compete with the big international players in the market.