Look before you leap – How taking your business international will affect your search marketing
We often get approached by brands looking to 'go international' – a term that can run the full gamut of possibilities for search marketing, from minimal impact to one requiring a total rethink of strategy and significant investment. So if your brand is thinking of moving into the international landscape soon, make sure you stop and think about how it will affect your search visibility. International SEO and PPC aren’t to be taken lightly.
How international is international?
First off, it is important that all the stakeholders in your business understand exactly what you mean when you say “going international.” Are you just adding international currency support, or a wider range of delivery options, or are you actually going to be creating versions of your website that need to specifically attract users from certain parts of the world?
This doesn’t even need to mean you’re going into a completely new language – something that seems simple, like providing a version of your UK website for Australians, can be deceptively dangerous if you don’t go about it in the right way.
If you do want to provide multilingual support, what parts of the world will you end up marketing to? There are a lot of cultural and infrastructural variations across the globe – not just your language but your imagery, messaging and even server locations might need to be tailored depending on whether you’re going into the USA, Russia, mainland China, Australia, Brazil or the UAE. You might even need to get your website designer involved if you’re moving into a Semitic language like Arabic or Hebrew.
- Do you actually need international SEO advice? If all you are doing is offering additional delivery options or currencies then as long as things are handled sensibly content-wise you might well not need specialist advice.
- How many locations and languages do you want to get visibility for? Which ones? Will your search strategy need to adapt purely by location (Australia, USA, UK) or will it need multiple languages as well?
- Do you have the right assets and collateral to market your brand in your target locations? Be wary of cultural differences, as well as legal ones, which might mean that you need to tailor your messaging and content to be successful.
- Can your website handle the required variations? Semitic languages, for example, read right to left so you will need a “flipped” version of your website that many content management systems will struggle to accommodate.
- Can your CMS (and developer) deal with the technical requirements for international SEO – hreflang rel alternate tagging, XML sitemaps and so forth – that will send all the right signals to search engines to serve local versions of your content?
- Can your infrastructure handle the need for multiple websites or top level domains, local servers, content distribution networks and the other miscellanea of ensuring an optimised user experience around the world?
Above all, are you prepared to take not only your website but your entire search strategy into the global market? It isn’t enough to just translate and launch – aside from the technical considerations involved; are you prepared to invest at the needed levels to really capitalise on this new market in terms of your content production, outreach, PR, social media and all other channels both online and off?
Whatever you do, don’t plop an automated translation mechanism onto your site and expect the world’s dollars (or other currency of choice) to roll in automatically.
Do you have access to native language capabilities for the countries you are trying to reach? This will help to ensure that your international strategy is appropriately adapted to suit the culture and language of the target country.
If you are a brand considering moving into international markets, there’s a lot that you need to have on your radar when it comes to international SEO, PPC and the full spectrum of search visibility worldwide. If you would like more information on the steps you need to take before going international, please get in touch for more information.
4Ps Marketing is the largest independent search agency in London, creating intelligent search strategies for international brands. To speak to one of their search strategists to develop your online presence, please email Hello@4PsMarketing.com.
Ruth Attwood, advanced search consultant 4Ps Marketing
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