3 Things to know about International SEO

The world has grown so small that many businesses are experiencing growth they never expected from places they never considered as part of their market.  Websites reach almost every corner of the world and some business owners find themselves having to consider exporting their product or service to other parts of the globe due to inquiries arriving in their inbox from other countries.

If you are considering reaching out to a more global market you may want to consider using a company with experience in ranking websites in multiple countries and in more than one language.

Here are the basics of what is required to improve your ranking in multiple countries or regions.

What does International SEO really mean?

International SEO means ranking well in search engines around the globe. In some cases this means in more than one language but in other cases it means a single language spoken in many places.

As an example: Imagine that your business sells cookbooks in English. Upon investigation you find that your website ranks great in the UK, but not so well in other English speaking countries such as Australia or the United States.

How can you improve your rankings in foreign countries? Is there a way to optimize your website so Google knows you are selling in more than one country?

How to tell Google what global markets you are targeting

Yes! You can convince Google that you deserve being seen by an international audience.  Here are the most common ways to set up your website for international SEO success.

Consider having multiple pages of the same content

“What? Won’t this be duplicate content?” I hear you ask?  No.  It is quite common to have different pages with almost the exact same information designed for a very specific audience.  You do this by specifying the ISO language and ISO country code in the html section of the page.

This example specifies English as the language and the US as the country:

English as the language and the US as the country

This example specifies English as the language and the UK as the country:

English as the language and the UK as the country

You can follow this same pattern for multiple languages.  Here are a few examples for French:

multiple languages

A good example of why you want to have multiple pages in the same language are the subtle spelling differences, or different ways of saying things in same-language countries.  Let’s take English as an example.

US spelling: color, favor

UK spelling: colour, favour

Make the subtle text changes to each web page, add the ISO country and language attributes and then give each page a unique URL. For example:



Google then recognizes you have a different page for each market.  It also knows you are pursuing both US aqnd UK markets.  They will now give you increased ranking consideration in both markets.

But more can be done..

Get the right backlinks

According to Bill Bentzen of Ticode in Costa Rica “Links from within the target markets are essential to ranking success. Once we get the ISO attributes in place and start obtaining local links through outreach we begin to see significant traffic increases within a relatively short period of time”.

Ok, you have set up your UK and US pages. What’s next?

Get country specific backlinks to each page.  For example: get UK backlinks pointed at the UK page and get US based backlinks pointed the US page. Google sees these regional links as “recommendations” from the local markets. The US product page should rank in the US market and, conversely, the UK page should rank better in the UK market.

Consider a local presence

No, you don’t have to open an office (unless you want to). If you want to open an office in Paris I’ll be happy to manage it for you.

Back to reality – I realize not everyone can afford to open offices in each country they serve.  However you can have a presence even if it’s a serviced office with a PO Box. Get a local number that forwards to Skype. Get listed in regional directories and associations.  You can even assign members of your staff to each office.  Example: “Joe Smith, Manager of UK Operations”.  Google sees all these details on your website and they take you more seriously as a player in that market.

The Takeaways

The above is just a basic overview of key SEO considerations related to reaching a broader international audience. There are definitely more keys to gaining as much traffic as possible across the globe but if you follow the above advice it will be a great foundation to build on.

Tina Johnson helped bring The Marketing Folks from a-weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to The Marketing Folks, Tara mainly covers industry new.