If your business ships globally, you have the intention of expanding, or if your product reaches an international audience, then sound international SEO practices are essential. Unfortunately, not everybody is well-versed in this area and many rely solely on guesswork for their international SEO efforts.
But global SEO is not something that should be taken lightly, and poor international SEO tactics could block you out of important markets. Here are some of the most common international SEO mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
The first mistake we see often is people using one domain name only for all their sites. If you want to perform well globally, then you want to ditch local domains and either go for a neutral .com or .net name or consider country-specific extensions for each of your international sites.
For instance, if you have a .co.uk extension and you want to reach a New Zealand audience, then it might not perform well on their local search engines. You should consider getting a .nz extension as well.
From a development standpoint, IP serving might seem like a great idea. With IP serving, you send people automatically on the correct international version of your site depending on their IP address.
While this might seem very useful at first glance, it does present some issues. For instance, in its truest form, there is no way to override IP serving and someone performing searches from a particular country will be forced to go to this country’s website. This isn’t exactly the best user experience for someone who’s visiting or isn’t native to that country.
Second, IP serving presents a challenge SEO-wise as well. With IP serving, it’s simply impossible for search bots to crawl each and every one of your international sites. As a result, some of them might underperform on local search engines.
Many websites that use IP serving have visibility issues and the wrong version of the website will often appear in search engine results. Google, in particular, is struggling to identify these sites and it’s not unusual to see local and international searches switch regularly on the same search engine.
There are also brands who have had to resort to buying local ads because their site wasn’t appearing in a particular market’s search engine results.
Assuming English will Work
Another mistake people make when they first start implementing global SEO is assuming that English will be OK for certain markets. For instance, a lot of people will assume that English will work for places like Sweden or the Netherlands because of the large English-speaking population. However, this doesn’t always work in all instances.
For instance, high-end or B2B brands would be wise to have a site in the market’s native language. People who are looking to make major financial decisions and those spending a lot of money will expect to be served in their language. Since they are making an investment in you, it’s only right that you invest in them as well.
Another mistake a lot of people make is assuming that people will automatically prefer searching in their own native language when they’re used to searching for your products and services in English. For instance, if you’re targeting customers in Kenya, they will most likely be performing English searches most of the time. So, make sure that you check your international traffic and see in which language most of the searches are performed depending on the market.
This is perhaps the biggest international SEO sin anyone can commit. Using automatic translation is a big no-no and a sure-fire to deter your global audience.
While automatic translation might be correct from a dictionary standpoint, it doesn’t reflect spoken language very well. It also has a difficulty capturing difference search nuances and you might end up missing part of your audience as a result.
For instance, if you’re trying to sell event tickets to a French audience, then dictionary translation won’t work. The word ticket is used both in French and English but is rarely used to designate event tickets. French searchers are much more like to use the word “billet” instead. So, unless you understand these subtle language nuances, you might lose a lot of searches.
This is why it would be wiser to have at least a French SEO consultant review your website to see if they can make some recommendations. People like French SEO consultant Elodie Gythiel will not only help you make your site more palatable to the French audience but might also advise you on proper keywords to target and how to formulate your content strategy accordingly. So, speak to SEO consultant France Elodie Gythiel – or someone like her – today.
If you want your international SEO efforts to be fruitful, you have to make sure you get things right from the get-go. Make sure that you steer away from the mistakes mentioned in this article and consider seeking local help to maximise your results.