While we are hearing much more about local search and optimisation, the pendulum swings in the other direction as well. We are an increasingly local world – but at the same time, a global one. Websites often cater to an audience that is scattered across all corners of the globe. How do you optimise your site so you can reach and engage these diverse searchers?
Here are a few SEO tips for sites that have an international scope:
- Translation. It’s a must, obviously, and professional (human) translation is the best choice. It is also the most expensive. To cut costs, consider trying a university language program and hiring a student (get recommendations!) or even using Google Translator. It may not be perfect, and you may sound, at times, like a tourist depending on a guidebook, but it will get your point across in the event of a small budget. Don’t forget to also translate your alt attributes.
- Choose a generic domain name. In most cases, a generic top level domain (IloveSEO.com) over a country-specific top level domain (IloveSEO.uk or IloveSEO.ca). You could then separate language-specific sites into folders on your gTLD. This may impact speed, but it will most likely not be noticeable.
- Use hreflang. This tag helps Google know which version of your website, or which URL, to display to searchers. It will also prevent you from being penalised for duplicate content.
- Avoid Splash. Some sites have one landing page with a list of language or country-specific options from which searcher can use. This is not an optimal solution: it adds an extra step for users, and it doesn’t do you any favors with ranking.
- Be wary of geo-redirections. You may be coming from an American IP address but you speak German and prefer to read or view the site in German. Many sites automatically redirect users to the language which corresponds with their IP address. A better option is to add a banner which says something to the effect of, “If you prefer to view this site in English, click here.”
- SEO basics. You know the drill: keyword research, optimising images, creating great content…the same basics of sound search engine optimisation apply to international sites too!
If the world is your audience, make sure they can easily get the content they need and want with these and other international SEO tips.