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How to Avoid International SEO Mistakes

Nothing beats the urge to take your business to even greater heights, does it?

Of course not. 

However, there are times when geography becomes a sore spot. So, here’s this little tip by Digital Danish. Don’t let geography be a bummer to your business’ growth!

Coming back to your idea of entering the global market, you should be aware of the following fact. 

The exact procedure of entering the bigger market (or the global market, as you say) is not as easy as the idea. Expanding your business venture to make it a global brand means acknowledging the importance of international SEO. International SEO stands for International Search Engine Optimization. I shall explain to you the concept of the same in the later sections of the post.

Without the right optimization of your website, there’s no way you can find a good rank on the SERP. It involves investing a great deal of time and effort in international SEO. And while you are at it, might I remind you that international SEO may deliver results par expectations, but it is not easy? Managing international SEO is both complicated and time-consuming. As a result, you should expect your hard work to pay off well (with increased sales and conversions), but not anytime soon.  

Online business owners often find managing international SEO daunting, not that it isn’t. But starting off on a good foot is always essential. It is of utmost importance that you be mindful to avoid the most common mistakes while optimizing your business for the global market. In the following blog, I have shared the most commonly committed International SEO mistakes. Also, I have discussed the ways out of them. So, stay tuned until the very end.  

To Begin With

Wondering how to avoid international SEO mistakes?

If yes, this blog might be your need of the hour. International SEO, in the simplest terms, can be understood as the process of optimizing your business (or website) for the international market. The purpose is to optimize the website for geotargeting. By geo-targeting, I mean letting the search engines rank your website in the countries that have your target customers. 

With the right international search engine optimization, you can earn organic traffic from multiple markets. This shall eventually contribute to increased conversions and ROI of your business.  

That being said, it is evident that to get the most out of your SEO strategy, you must understand the concept of International SEO. And that is to be done before you execute your plan of formulating and executing an International SEO strategy. So, let’s understand what international SEO is and discuss its importance. Thereafter, we shall dive deeper into exploring the most common International SEO mistakes that digital marketers make. 

What is International SEO?

Starting an online venture has become a new normal. But what is not normal is succeeding in one, especially if you are targeting an international audience. However, with the right methodologies and their implementation, you can always boost your reach. The best way you can resort to, in such a case, is international search engine optimization. Every country usually has an audience seeking the content that you deliver. But if you fail to target the right market, your audience wouldn’t be able to find you. And neither will you find them. 

International SEO shall aid you in optimizing your content, products, and services to rank for global searches. 

What is International Search Engine Optimization?

As evident from the term, International SEO, International Search Engine Optimization refers to the procedure of optimizing the organic presence of your website on the global front. Practicing international SEO shall facilitate you in enhancing geo-targeting and increasing brand awareness of your website.  

While the concept is pretty easy to understand, International SEO is also one of the most misunderstood terms in digital marketing. International SEO isn’t always about targeting the global front or multiple countries at once. It is the summation of all the marketing tactics used to enhance a website’s presence in more than one country. The major breakthrough of International SEO of your website can be summarized into four steps:  

  • Country targeting via international friendly URL
  • Language targeting via language tags
  • Creation and maintenance of content in the language used in the target country
  • Website optimization for enhanced User-experience

Why International SEO is Important

If you think it is only the massive companies with massive budgets that can enter the international market and succeed, you might be wrong there. Because there’s this ace called International SEO that enables small businesses to outrun the big establishments in acquiring international traffic. Read on to know why International SEO is important.

International SEO!

A little too common term with loads of potential. 

International SEO is important to your business unless you are not planning to expand it into more than one country. But if you are targeting an audience beyond your geography, optimizing your website with international SEO is important. To target the global market, several businesses have their website and content optimized for SEO. However, when it comes to trans-creating the same into different languages (for different countries) for better results, they fail. 

Did you notice that I used the term Trans-creating instead of Translating?

Well, that is because a whole lot of digital marketers believe in the supremacy of translation. They think that translating the website and its content into a local language would do good in attracting and engaging organic traffic beyond their geography. 

What they fail to realize is that mere translation is important, but it is never enough. 

International SEO is an efficient method to trigger growth. It increases the visibility of your products and services in the global market. The same can give you an edge over your competition. You can tailor your content, products, and services for certain countries and bring in higher traffic. The following are the benefits aligned with International SEO. These benefits make International SEO a must-have element of your online marketing strategy. 

  • International search engine optimization complements the long-term marketing strategy of your business.
  • Investing in International SEO makes you proactive
  • Working to implement and execute an international SEO strategy enhances the operational efficiency of your team
  • It triggers the KPI and Goal alignment of your website
  • International SEO Boosts the growth and SERP ranking of your website
  • It generates higher conversions and eventually, ROI for your business
  • The same enhance online visibility and organic traffic.

Does Your Website Need International SEO?

Before we move ahead with our discussion and understand how to avoid international SEO mistakes, you must know if your website needs International SEO. If it does, investing in the same is mandatory. But if it doesn’t, do not bother wasting your efforts somewhere that doesn’t benefit your business. 

It is always recommended to target bigger goals while formulating the SEO plan for your business. However, there are certain exceptions. For instance, if you own a business that serves only a particular location, working on international SEO would be a total waste. Your efforts wouldn’t deliver the results required. Likewise, if you run a business that gets a fair share of traffic from the countries that you are not targeting, it is your cue to work on International SEO. 

You might find international SEO to be a foreign term, but it is just as common as traditional SEO. The difference is, that you are now optimizing your website to attract traffic from the global market rather than your country.  

So, relax! 

You wouldn’t have to rewrite the codes or redesign your website to optimize it for the global market. Just a few changes and guided management of international SEO will do good. 

How to Avoid International SEO Mistakes?

All the prominent search engines including Google change their algorithm frequently to provide relevant results to their users. Eventually, the website owners must comply with the newly rolled out updates to ensure generating organic traffic and online visibility. Failing to do so may lead to a significant drop in SERP rankings, irrespective of the size of your business.

Avoid International SEO Mistakes
Avoid International SEO Mistakes

International SEO is an integral part of any marketing strategy. You could invest a great deal of time and money in international SEO to attract a global audience. But be aware of the common SEO mistakes. Falling prey to the SEO mistakes would direct months of your hard work down the drain in no time. Thereafter, you would not just pave the way for your competitors towards optimized visibility and SERP rankings but also, lose your current position. 

Here, I have enlisted some useful strategies on how to avoid international SEO mistakes. Digital marketers resort to these strategies to optimize their websites for new markets. 

Technical Alignment

Technical issues in the website can be a hurdle to the business’ growth. It can derail the entire marketing campaign in no time. Therefore, you must coordinate with your website developer to ensure that the technical elements of the website are aligned well. 

International SEO Audits

The SEO audits are of great help in bringing into notice the errors in your website. It includes SEO, page loading speed, content quality, search engine penalties, etc. If you are to skip the international SEO audits for any reason, make sure you conduct the same ASAP. 

Webmaster Settings

The leading search engines like Google and Bing facilitate you in targeting different regions directly via webmaster settings. However, the marketers often forget to tick this setting. 

User-Experience

When I say user-experience (or UX), I am talking about the factors that affect your impression of the mind of your user. It includes webpage loading speed, user-friendly interface, navigation, etc. No one adores a website that takes too long to load or has too many ad pop-ups. And a user would waste not even a single second to switch to your competitor if your fail to deliver satisfactory UX.

Automated IP Redirects

The naïve marketers believe automated IP redirects to be useful. Based on the IP address of the user, they arrange for the website to be redirected to local content. But that is not an ideal practice. Auto-IP redirects confuse web crawlers in assigning you a SERP rank. Also, they frustrate website visitors. 

At times, automatic IP redirects are helpful, and offering an alternative version of the website is always recommended.

On-Page Search Engine Optimization

Focusing on On-Page SEO might not deliver the desired results. You need to invest time in off-page optimization, social media optimization, email marketing, and more to generate better website traffic.

Reasons Behind International SEO Failure

Pulling off the international SEO strategy is not as easy as managing any digital marketing campaign. With each target that you add to your checklist, the complexities increase several folds. Also increases the risk of errors that can potentially damage your rankings. 

However, they are not the errors or the flaws in your strategy or its execution that matter. It is how you overcome them that counts. It is the measures that you put into practice during adversities that help. But before you formulate a methodology to overcome the International SEO failure, it is essential that you discover the reason behind it. Here are some common reasons behind international SEO failure. 

Technical Muddling

While managing International Search Engine Optimization, you are practically managing multiple websites at once. You are linking them together while ensuring that the correct versions of each webpage shows-up every time a user visits the website.

The following are the technical problems you will probably deal with. And remember, one technical issue leads to a whole lot of technical mix-ups. 

  • Poor domain structure
  • Poor URL structure
  • XML sitemap conflicts
  • Improper use of tags
  • Muddled hreflang signals
  • VPN conflicts
  • IP issues
  • Duplicate content
  • Navigation problems

Unoptimized Page Experience

As the distance between your server location and your user increases, so does the webpage loading speed. And KPI tells that slow page loading speed does nothing but frustrate user visitors. And no one stays on such websites. Be mindful of the following factors while optimizing your website page experience. 

  • Reliable hosting service
  • Local servers for ccTLD domains
  • Content delivery network
  • Server requests
  • Redirects
  • JavaScript
  • Compressed code files
  • Images and media files
  • Browser caching
  • Loading times

Lack of Localized Content

The idea of localizing the content strategy to attract an audience of different locations and languages is undoubtedly underrated. As a matter of fact, the interests and needs of the users vary from one market to the other. And you are required to serve these needs and interests to encourage your visitors for desired CTA. As a result, you must localize your content strategy for your audience in each country/location.

Also, Check – Complete Local SEO Audit with The Ultimate Checklist

Overestimating Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting summarizes the concept of international search engine optimization pretty well. It is an ideal methodology to direct the user to the correct version of your website (depending upon his location). However, digital marketers often overrate geo-targeting. 

There are advantages associated with the concept and so are the limitations. There are scenarios where the idea of geo-targeting fails. The user visiting your website from a certain country might not necessarily be a native of that location. He could be a tourist traveling or a user covering his location via a changed VPN. Or what if your target country is a multilingual nation?

In cases such as such, you must use a user interface that allows your users to change their location, language, or currency manually. Be mindful that the user shall be able to change these settings without having to understand the default language of the website.

Automated Translation Tools

The automated translation tools make translating the website into multiple languages damn easy. But translation shouldn’t be your to-go option. While localizing the content is the need of the hour, you should trans-create them in the local language instead of translating them. 

While translation is a handy option at times, occasionally it can be more of a trouble than aid. Also, you should not rely on automated translation tools to localize your original and highly-crafted content.

International Marketing Experts on International SEO 

International Search Engine Optimization is an important part of any marketing strategy (global marketing strategy). International marketing experts have been emphasizing the importance of optimizing online businesses for global markets. In the following section, I have highlighted some evergreen global marketing strategies, as suggested by the international marketing experts. 

Strategy 1: Target Customers-Based Strategy

As a business owner and marketer, you must know who your customers are. You must understand what they need and when and how you can convince them to purchase your products and services. Entering the global market, you will be dealing with a highly bifurcated target. 

And the majority of this fraction will not visit you with a ready-to-purchase get-go mindset. You will have to encourage and guide them through the entire process. You will have to serve them with relevant content before expecting conversions. Using a customer-based strategy while managing global marketing campaigns is recommended. Rely on international search data to quantify marketing opportunities.

Strategy 2: Optimized International UX 

I have already emphasized the importance of user experience in the sections above. And that is because the satisfaction of your customer matters more than anything. The international marketing experts think no different. In a recent webinar, the leading marketing experts were in motion that the website owners prioritize UX a lot in the domestic markets. But for some reason, they fail to consider UX in new markets. 

Starting with device-friendliness, it is essential to optimize your website to function smoothly across devices. You must comply well with the page experience guide released by Google and other search engines. KPIs such as optimized page speed, device-friendliness, and user-friendly interface reward you with better SERP rankings. 

P.S.: Do not ignore factors that contribute to the visual of your website and landing pages. 

Strategy 3: Technical Elements are Aligned

Unaligned or overlooked technical flaws can hinder your growth not just in the global but domestic market as well. Therefore, you must work closely with your website developer and ensure that all the technical elements are exactly how they should be. Audit your website and prepare a checklist of elements that have errors or any room for improvement. Share your ideas with the developers and get the technical setup optimized. 

Having read it so far, you have gained the basic knowledge about International SEO. You can coordinate with your digital marketer to formulate an international marketing strategy. However, read the sections below for efficient management of international search engine optimization. 

Managing International Search Engine Optimization

The efficient and effective management of any SEO strategy revolves around the ideation of avoiding pitfalls and mistakes. If you are wondering how to avoid international SEO mistakes, start with discovering the mistakes that you need to avoid. Once you know the path you must skip, you shall explore the path that leads to your target. 

Back again, as mentioned in the sections above, formulating an international SEO strategy is tough. And so is its management. There are pitfalls that you may fall prey to. But there’s always a solution to it. The following section talks about the most common international SEO mistakes. Also, it highlights the solution to get over each mistake. Keep reading to know more. 

Most Common International SEO Mistakes

-And How to Fix Them?

If you are seeking website traffic and conversions outside your native country, beware of the mistakes that might hold you back. The following are some of the most common international SEO mistakes the marketers commit. Read on to know the mistakes as well as the ways out of them. 

1. Geography Based SEO Strategy

Geography can be a true bummer, but not if you are careful. While targeting your potential audience, a geography-based SEO strategy is undoubtedly helpful. But be mindful to include all the target countries in your strategy. Do consider the different languages, cultures, search data, and local laws while formulating your plan. 

Solution: Think in Accordance with Geo-Targeting

One of the most common mistakes the marketers make is considering only one country in their SEO plan. To make the most out of your plan, you should think big and global. 

2. Targeting Google Only

Google is the biggest search engine in the world, no one dares contradict this universal fact. But Google is not the only search engine running wide and efficient. Several countries have their own search engine. And much to your surprise, these local search engines are just as good. For instance, China uses Baidu, South Korea relies on Naver for their searches and Russia uses Yandex just as much. Then again, we have Yahoo! and Microsoft Edge to compete. 

Solution: Although Prominent, Google Isn’t the Only Search Engine. So, Target All the Leading Search Engines. 

If you are targeting the international market, keep in mind to optimize your website for Google as well as the search engines mentioned above.

You might be losing a big lot of traffic and conversion by targeting only Google. 

3. Incorrect Keyword Targeting

You might not realize but while you are targeting multiple countries, you are also targeting multiple languages. As a result, the targeting KWs of one language shall be different from the other. And translating the KWs would be of much help. 

You must be familiar with the local culture and language to pinpoint the relevant KWs and trans-create your content accordingly. Incorrect targeting of Keywords can be a waste of your efforts. For instance, the Americans use the word ‘Trash can’ to signify dustbin while the Britishers say ‘bin or garbage bin’. The Indians call it a dustbin. 

Solution: Choosing the Right Keywords

If you are targeting any of these countries, you must use the KW that is relevant in the country, or else your efforts would pay off well. 

4. Using Automated Translation Tools 

The readily available automated translation tools have made the lives of marketers so damn easy. They are inexpensive, reliable, and easy to use. As a result, the website owners and digital marketers are excited to use the translation tools to translate their websites and webpages into foreign languages versions. 

They believe that in this way they can create locally optimized versions of their web pages and reach a foreign audience. Little they do realize is that translating the web pages doesn’t help their users. It rather frustrates and confuses them. And that is because the translating tools are nothing but AI. And the AI can’ be as good as you in creating or recreating your content.

Such web pages would not achieve high SERP rankings. They will be ineffective in generating traffic, leads, or revenue. They release an impression that the website owner doesn’t care about the needs and satisfaction of its users. 

Solution: Choose Transcreation Over Translation

Trans-creating your original content in the local language reflects your sincerity. 

5. Leaving Local Legal Issues Unnoticed

Overlooking the local laws and regulations that govern sales and marketing in any country can be yet another pitfall. You can get into serious trouble for avoiding or neglecting the local legal laws. 

Solution: Confirm with Local Data Security and Privacy Protocols

While managing an international SEO campaign, the marketers must ensure that your content, products, and services comply with the local laws, governing data security and privacy.

6. Ignoring the Local Content Market

Publishing high-quality and originally crafted content is the biggest USP of any business. Quality content is the founding pillar of a business. This thumb rule is no different in the international market. While you might be a champion of your niche in your country, the same might not be true when you enter a foreign state. The need is for you to market your content locally. But language and culture can be a barrier to communication. 

Solution: Invest in Local Content Marketing

It is suggested to employ the local copywriters and editors fluent in the native language to trans-create your content. The newly-employed copywriter must understand your offerings and the target audience. 

7. Mishandling Technical Issues

International optimization of websites is tough and daunting. Handling multiple domains, URL structures, geo-targeting, and language, all at once can pave the way for several technical issues. When hit with multiple technical issues at once, we might panic and mishandle things. Luckily, hiring professional help can sort things just right. 

Solution: Proper International SEO 

Invest in a long-term SEO marketing strategy for the right international SEO optimization.

Other International SEO Mistakes to be Avoided

The following are some other frequently committed international SEO mistakes

  • Failing to Align Technical Alignments
  • Skipping International SEO Audits
  • Webmaster Settings
  • Neglecting UX
  • Geography Based Automatic Redirects
  • Prioritizing On-Page SEO Only

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I get international web traffic on my website?

Expecting international web traffic on your website indicates that you are willing to expand your online venture into new markets. The ideal methodology to open your business to an international audience is by investing in International SEO. 

International Search Engine Optimization of your website informs the search engine about the countries you are targeting. Thereafter, according to your content, the web crawler assigns you the suitable SERP ranks. Soon, you can enjoy the traffic from your target audience.  

2. Is international SEO expensive?

Entering the global market is neither easy nor cost-effective. You must be willing to invest time, effort and of course, money to do international SEO.

However, the cost of international SEO shall strongly depend upon the scale of your marketing campaign. If you focus on one country the cost shall be relatively less in comparison to a marketing campaign that targets multiple countries. 

3. How much does International SEO cost?

The cost of international SEO depends on multiple factors. The first one is the size of the SEO company you hire. Next comes into play the magnitude of your marketing campaign. A typical international SEO campaign can cost you around $2500 to $5000 per month.

This cost can vary upon negotiation.

4. What are the most common International SEO mistakes?

The most common international SEO mistakes include:

  • Failing to Align Technical Alignments
  • Skipping International SEO Audits
  • Webmaster Settings
  • Neglecting UX
  • Geography Based Automatic Redirects
  • Prioritizing On-Page SEO Only

5. Why did my International SEO strategy fail?

To begin with, International SEO is a complex and tricky task. A little neglect on your part can lead to the failure of your hard work and efforts. The following mistakes can pave way for the failure of international SEO strategy.

  • Failing to Align Technical Alignments
  • Skipping International SEO Audits
  • Webmaster Settings
  • Neglecting UX
  • Geography Based Automatic Redirects
  • Prioritizing On-Page SEO Only

6. Do I need international SEO?

If you plan to enter a new market beyond your country or have a potential audience in the international market, you need to optimize your website with international SEO.

Digital Danishhttps://thedigitaldanish.com
Danish Khan is the owner of Digital Danish, Co-Founder and leads SEO trainer at India's fastest growing e-learning platforms, Digital Marketing Certification and Workshops (DMCW) For the past four to five years, Danish has been working as an SEO expert, blogger, and organic marketer. In today's world where digital marketing is one of the most in-demand skills, Danish is one of the very few people who believe that anyone with a passion can learn and gain skills. A vision of making this possible drove him to found DMCW in 2021.
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