How to boost export sales through international SEO marketing

Planning to sell your products overseas or looking for new users? Here's how to make sure your website doesn't let you down

Successful SEO marketing is as vital for increasing export sales as it is for having a well-optimised site for the domestic market. If potential customers can find your website easily it will help establish your trust and authority.

However SEO is never simple and multilingual SEO adds even more complications. Expanding your website abroad will need some careful planning. In this post we will look at some the main issues you will need to consider.

Domains

Do you just expand your current website or do you create an entirely new website for each country you are hoping to move into? Creating a new website for each country might be time consuming and expensive but in the end it will have the best results. For example a search for ‘Travel Deals’ on my UK-based computer produced seven .co.uk domains and three .com domains.

The reason for this is that URLs are used as a relevancy signal by many search engines. A country specific top level domain (the .com bit) helps the search engine locate where your website is targeting.

If the cost and time of creating a new website is too much, then creating a set of localised pages is vital. These serve the same purpose as the top level domain, but don’t seem to provide such a strong signal. All things being equal, if your site is example.com then in the UK example.com/uk will rank better and example.co.uk will rank highest of all.

Content

Content is vital to do properly, not only for SEO but also to get your customers to convert. After all there is little point getting to number one in the rankings if your site can’t convert visitors into customers.

The best way to create compelling consumer centric content is to employ native speakers of the language that you are trying to interpret into and do this for every country. They will provide a clearer translation than a non-native speaker and will be more sensitive to unfortunate implications of apparently innocent words. For example the Chevey Nova didn’t sell in Spanish speaking countries because nova sounds like ‘doesn’t go’.

You should also do your keyword research with native speakers to ensure you are targeting keywords that would be searched for in that language. For example if you are trying to sell business cards in Holland the obvious translation would be ‘zaken kaarten’ or ‘bedrifskaarten but the Dutch actually use ‘visitekaarten’ (visiting or calling card).

Similar issues apply with link building; articles written by native speakers are more likely to attract the links you need. Native speakers are also likely to be aware of which tactics work best in their country. For example in South Korea guest blogging is almost unheard of whereas it is common in the UK and US.

Technical Issues

So you have all your websites set up. You have your content prepared, you’re all set right? Unfortunately not, search engines, Google in particular, hate duplicate content. So if they see the same information coming up on different pages they are likely to penalise the ‘copycat’ websites.

Say we have three websites. www.example.com, www.example.co.uk and www.example.es on the US website (.com) we need to put the following code to differentiate between the three versions of the same article:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://www.example.co.uk/” />

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-ES” href=”http://www.example.es/” />

For the UK and Spanish websites you will need to put in the same code, but substituting ‘en-us’ for their respective language. This effectively tells Google that each page is a translation of the others. I included the US and UK pages because this bit of code allows you to serve up very similar content on both sites without being penalised. For example if you have the same product description but different prices.

This post is written by Daniel Frank an SEO executive for multilingual search marketing agency Search Laboratory. www.searchlaboratory.com

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