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How to Optimize Your Website for International Search

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

Most websites are only optimized for the country that the business lives in, but for companies to expand, they should also optimize for international search. Search engine optimization continues to be the most effective way to drive traffic to a website. Focusing on one market may limit traffic and revenue if you aren't thinking about international customers.

To expand to an international focus, keep these guidelines in mind:

Consider keywords in other languages

Make sure that you have considered keywords in other languages. Even if your site is English only, people will often search in their native language. If your site is optimized for keywords in other languages, you will show up in search. From there, chances are that the person looking will still be able to use your site. If the person does not speak English, he or she will be able to use tools like Google to translate the page and get an understanding of the products and services you sell.

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Provide domains that are country-specific

Most countries have their own domain extension. German websites, for example, most commonly end in ".de" rather than ".com". In order to make your website friendly for international search, it is beneficial to create landing pages with different domains for different countries. Search engines in-country will pick up the site that is most relevant for their market. For example, would rank higher in Germany than

Translate content when possible

It is not essential to translate entire websites for international search since English is so commonly read and spoken. However, it is important to have at least some content translated and localized for international markets so that the site is relevant for search engines. Some websites have sections of the website that are translated with a disclaimer that only some of the content could be translated for local languages.

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Focus on on-page SEO

Make sure to consider the following on-page SEO guidelines for international search engines:

  • Alt Attributes and Imagery – Alt attributes and images need to have keywords and those keywords should be in all relevant languages.
  • Consistent Mapping – If you do use the local domain, e.g. ".de", make sure that that all navigation links on that domain also lead to a ".de" page. This tells Google that this page is in German and that the site is relevant for the German market. Also, make it easy for the user to be able to switch languages if you are not able to translate the entire website. Then he or she can get full content on the main site.
  • Keywords – It is important to do keyword research for each region that you are selling to. Doing translation of your English keywords alone is not the most effective way to find the appropriate keywords for your target country. Think of how many ways we say different words in English. If there was just one translation, you might miss the most commonly searched terms.

International Social Media

Social media sites are not the same for all countries. For example, while professionals in the US use LinkedIn as their professional networking site, people in Germany use Xing. To further optimize for international search, set up social media pages for each market and populate them with rich content that contains keywords.

By considering the above, your international SEO strategy can be as smooth and effective as your domestic one.

Written by Phillip Thune, CEO-Americas, Textbroker

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