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    Optify international-seo-starter-guide Optify international-seo-starter-guide Document Transcript

    • ®Marketing in Real Time International SEO: Starter Guide
    • ® International SEO: Starter Guide International SEO: Starter Guide Table of Contents: 3 Relevant Search Engines 4 Site Structure Strategies 7 Optimization Principles 10 Localization Guidelines 11 Don’t Translate, Localize! 12 Conclusion 2 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify®
    • ® International SEO: Starter Guide Think Global, Act Local: Factors of Successful International Search Engine Optimization (SEO)Expanding your web presence internationally can be challenging, especially without local resources at your dis-posal. But, with the right preparations it can be done. Understanding the basic principles of International SEO willready you to enter a foreign market successfully without the guidance of a local search agency.The four considerations, which need to be planned and accounted for prior to implementing an internationalSEO project, are: 1. Relevant Search Engines 2. Site Structure Strategies 3. Optimization Principles 4. Localization GuidelinesThis white paper will cover each of these consideration sets, highlighting the most important questions you shouldask and answer before you go global.Relevant Search EnginesWhen planning an international SEO campaign, first determine whichsearch engines are most popular in the countries you are targeting. TipDon’t assume the search engine landscape will mirror that of the United A good resource to deter-States. In many foreign countries, Google’s presence is far more pro- mine what search engines arenounced, while in others, a local or regional company dominates. For relevant in your local market isexample, in Europe Google accounts for more than 90% market share. StatCounter GlobalStatsIn Russia, Yandex is the most prominent search engine and in China, http://gs.statcounter.com/Baidu is the front-runner.When considering which search engines to target, take note: unless auser has unique personalized settings, most search engines default tothe user’s local browser settings. Meaning, if you are in Germany you willautomatically be directed to Google.de. As a result, it is essential to dokeyword research as well as rank checking on the local level.Regardless which search engines are applicable to your desired targetmarket, page optimization tactics will be similar. More tips on optimiza-tion and localization are discussed in subsequent sections. Relevant Search Engines 3 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideSite Structure Strategies TipNext, it is important to take stock of your larger web environment and A word of caution - don’tcurrent infrastructure set-up. You can do so by following these five rush through the process ofsteps: analyzing internal resources and determining roadblocks and1. Start by assessing your target market. requirements. Take the time to Are you focused on a region (Latin America), a language (Spanish fully assess all issues. Future speakers), or a single country (Spain)? These are important distinc- changes are likely to be costly tions that will impact all other decisions (content, development, etc.) and could negatively impact your to follow. rankings.2. Analyze the capabilities of your content management system (CMS) with your technical staff. Together you’ll need to assess and plan for various technical issues such as how you intend to handle subdo- mains and directories or if you’ll be able to localize URLs.3. Review external factors like legal requirements. Other examples of external variables might be whether local hosting is more of a good idea for SEO reasons or a necessity for legal reasons. Or, if specific advertising regulations pertain to your company’s products and/or services.4. Within the parameters of your technical limitations, choose the site structure that works best for your business’s goals; here are the four structural options to consider with examples of each: SITE STRUCTURES: Country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) STRONG Description: The strongest level of site localization. These are actual different domains that need to be purchased separately. They can be owned by different people and hosted on different servers in different locations. Examples: site.de, site.fr LOCALIZATION STRENGTH Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .com, .org, .net in combination with subdomains Description: The next level of localization strength. The sub-domain can be hosted on different IP addresses in different countries, but lives under the ownership of the .com, .org or .edu parent. Examples: de.site.com, fr.site.org Subdirectories with gTLDs Description: This structure uses the main domain and non-localized sub-domain structure to build content for many markets at the directory level (the level past the .com or .org). Examples: sports.site.com/de, www.site.org/ca-en/ WEAK URL parameters Description: The weakest of the four options and should be avoided if possible, as it doesn’t provide enough emphasis of the differ- ent language targets, and could be misleading to the search engines and users. Examples: site.com?loc=de, site.org?country=germany Site Structure Stategies 4 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideSite Structure Strategies (cont.)In addition to server location and other local indicators like local website hosting, local addresses, phone numbers,and links, the structure you choose will affect search engines’ perceptions of your target market. These inferenceswill, in turn, impact your search engine rankings in that country.If you have a site focused on customers in Spain, you should consider using a Spanish ccTLD, site.es. This sendsa clear signal to search engines that your website is geo-targeted to the Spanish market and will help improve yourrankings on Google Spain.If you do not have the resources to procure ccTLDs for each of your target countries or if someone else owns thesedomains, you should manually geo-target your subdomains or subdirectories. This option is a feature only avail-able in Google Webmaster Tools.If you are targeting a region or a language, rather than a country, manual geo-targeting is not a good option. Thetool only allows you to target one country, not entire regions or languages, per subdomain or subdirectory.There is no absolute “right” or “wrong” in terms of the different set-up options. What’s right for a global enterprisein 20 different countries may be not be the best option for a small business looking to attract Spanish speakers.That said; try to avoid URL parameters if possible. They tend to confuse both end-users and search engines. ccTLDs Subdomains with gTLDs Subdirectories with gTLDs URL parameters example.de de,.site.com site.com/de/ site.com?loc=de example.fr fr.site.com site.com/fr/ ?country=france PROS PROS PROS PROS (not reccommended) irrelevant geotargeting geotargeting locations (sometimes) CONS CONS CONS CONS geotargeting from the URL geotargeting from the URL URL is difficult alone (is “de” the language alone or country?) geotargeting from the URL (sometimes) alone Tools is not possibleSource: Google Webmaster Central Blog, “Working with multi-regional websites”, March 12, 2010.http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/03/working-with-multi-regional-websites.html Site Structure Strategies 5 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideSite Structure Strategies (cont.)5. Lastly, when developing your site structure strategy, determine if you want a consistent look and feel for all your target markets or if you’d prefer variations in terms of images and wireframes. Cultural and linguistic differences should drive these decisions. As an example, an image of a tall, blond wom- an may be right for a women’s magazine in Germany yet seem out of cultural context for Japan. You’ll want to be mindful of these cross-cultural differences when selecting images. Language localization requires advanced planning. Without it, your translators might encounter a space problem. Depending on the language, text may be significantly longer or shorter than in its original version. For example, on average, German words are 30% longer than English words. Changing script sized for dif- ferent languages can leave users with a negative visual impression, specifically when the design is otherwise the same across all languages and the content is accessible within the same domain. To avoid this misstep, determine if you plan to keep wireframes consistent across all languages; establish specific guidelines for style, script size, word or character count. Tips » Some languages require additional characters when compared to English (e.g., German). The length of URLs, title tags, meta-descriptions, etc. should stay within recommended parameters to avoid truncation. » Don’t use special characters (e.g., ö, ä, ü, etc.) or punctuation in URLs » Don’t forget to optimize pictures and videos with localized captions, headlines, and alt-texts. Image optimization is another source foro local traffic and is relatively easy to implement. For additional localization tips, see the Localization Guidelines section. Site Structure Strategies 6 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideOptimization PrinciplesAs with any SEO strategy your keyword focus will be the cornerstone of your success, followed by page optimiza-tion, link building, and elimination of duplicate content. The essential principles of SEO remain the same acrossthe globe. However, when expanding your online presence internationally, you may encounter a number of SEOpitfalls that aren’t obvious.Standard SEO tactics with an international approach: » Keywords » Page Optimization » Duplicate Content » Link BuildingKeywords are critical to international SEO success and you’d be wise to advocate for allocating proper localresources for keyword research. After all, your website will not drive quality organic traffic if it’s optimized for termsusers aren’t actually searching for. As you research strategic keywords, be sure to perform your analysis andsearch volume assessment on a local level in order to understand which queries are most relevant for your market.Using your target language consistently, rather than mixing English with other languages, will not only help thesearch engines define your local focus, it will also ensure a consistent experience for the user.While you should steer clear of mixing languages on a page, some keywords are considered universal regardlessof language. Especially in highly technical fields, the English keyword may have a higher search volume and rel-evance to your field than the localized version. Tips » Get insights on the regional level and see trends over time. Google Insights for Search http://www.google.com/insights/search/ » Use keyword research tools that provide local search volumes. Google Adwords Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal or Yandex http://wordstat.yandex.ru » The best Chinese keyword research tool is Baidu.com. They occupy more than 65% of the search market (note: only paid PPC advertisors on Baidu can use the keyword tool) Baidu http://index.baidu.com/ Optimization Principles 7 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideOptimization Principles (cont.)Page Optimization basics apply regardless of whether your site is targeted towards the French market or theUnited States.Drive page optimization by inserting your target keywords in five strategic locations: » URL, for example if your keyword is “seo-help” you might use the URL site.com/seo-help in the U.S. or de.site.com/seo-hilfe in Germany » Title tag, which display at the very top of the browser and are critical for the search engines interpretation of the content of the page » Meta Description, which normally displays in the search engine results page with your listing and is a key contributor to click through rate » H tags, which are section headers within the site’s code » Page content, ensure your page content is rich, compelling, relevant, and aligned with what you are offeringDon’t forget to optimize pictures and videos with localized captions, headlines, and alt-texts.Duplicate content is an issue you may encounter when expanding internationally. This means having thesame or very similar versions of a page with different URLs. As a result, your page authority could be diluted. Youmay encounter this issue within a site (e.g. within your Spain site) as well as across markets (e.g. between yourSpanish and Mexican site). The path to resolution depends first on which type of duplicate content scenario youare experiencing.1. Duplicate content within a site: Just like on your U.S. site, duplicate content can be an issue within a separate country, region or language specific site. By having duplicates such as company.fr and company.fr/index with the same or very similar content, you’ll diminish the authority and search recognition of both pages. To resolve this issue, your best option is to set up a 301 re-direct. By doing so, the redundant page will be automatically re-directed to the other, rendering the duplicate obsolete. The link-authority of the two pages are then combined. If you are unable to implement a 301 re-direct, you can choose to add a “rel=canonical” link element in the page header code. A canonical page is the preferred version of a set of pages with highly similar content. In this case, you will have two similar pages in each locale. The two locales will continue to exist, but the search engines will combine and attribute the authority to only one page, the preferred page that you specify. IMPORTANT NOTE: while Google and Bing understand and respect the “rel=canonical tag”, some internation- al engines, like Yandex, presently do not. Optimization Principles 8 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideOptimization Principles (cont.)2. Duplicate content across markets: If you are unable to provide unique content for different country audiences that speak the same language (e.g., Germany and Austria), your best option is to use the geo-targeting feature in Google Webmaster Tools. For example, target your company.at site to Austria, and your company.de site to Germany. This option will also work for subdirectories and subdomains. It is neither necessary nor recommended to implement re-directs for duplicate content across markets. Translations are not considered duplicate content (however, if you have the resources to provide unique content for your different target markets consider doing so). The more compelling and culturally relevant the user experience, the stronger conversion you acheive. You should also consider localizing the English, French, Spanish, German, etc. to each region as the spelling and phrasing may be different..Link Building to your site from other locations on the web is crucial to any SEO campaign, regardless of whichglobal market you are trying to capture. The more quality links pointing to your website, the higher your recognizedauthority by search engines. Aim for link diversity, and try to gain links from high value sites in your field. Avoidutilizing link farms or purchasing links; these practices are frowned upon by search engines and are widely con-sidered unethical. If a search engine recognizes you using these tactics, you’ll likely experience an adverse reac-tion and your site could be negatively affected for an extended period oftime. TipTo gain authority in your target country or region, focus on inbound links If you are able to influencefrom local sites. For example, try to obtain links from French bloggers anchor texts (the text that isand newspapers if you are targeting France. As with link building any- hot-linked to your content) ofwhere, the more interesting and relevant your content is, the greater inbound links, make sure theyyour chance to earn a link. are localized and contain the keywords you are optimizing for. Optimization Principles 9 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideLocalization Guidelines TipCustomers expect you to deliver content in their language. However, Even if you use externalthis can be expensive and difficult to implement. Determining how to localization resources, you willapproach this task can be challenging. Similar to other areas of Interna- also need to allocate internaltional SEO expansion, planning ahead and thinking through the different resources to review, edit andlocalization options will determine success. sign-off on localized subjectThere are a number of solutions for localization, but using software matter.translation services like Google Translate to establish an internationalpresence, is not advised. While such instant translation tools are helpful,the result is unlikely to deliver the desired user experience. In fact, users will be less likely to provide credit cardinformation, sign up for your newsletter, or simply trust you, if their experience is flawed by a less than professionaltranslation. Also, automated solutions do not provide careful keyword selection, nor grammatical and syntacticalintegrity in translation.As budget is almost always a limitation, consider the following four factors when determining how to localizeyour international presence: » Availability of in-house staff vs. external resources » General translators vs. experts who have specialized knowledge or familiarity with technical or industry specific terms » Language differences by country such as French vs. French Canadian » Translators who are familiar with SEO vs. translators who require SEO trainingYour ideal translator would be a native speaker of the new language with a near native command of the originallanguage. In addition, they would have critical subject matter expertise or knowledge of your field and a rudimen-tary understanding of SEO techniques. (Most translators can be trained in SEO best practices.)Depending on your translators’ levels of expertise and your grade of comfort, you’ll be able to determine how muchauthority to give your translators regarding final decisions on keywords and copy. Localization Guidelines 10 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ® International SEO: Starter GuideDon’t Translate, Localize! TipFor those translators who are not SEO savvy you’ll need to educate them In some languages grammaron the fundamentals. Start with the following: and syntax can change keywords. » Review basic optimization elements that help search engines find Advise your translators to keep your page. them in the original form and order whenever possible. For » Explain the importance of keyword competition and search example, “play chess” vs. “play a volumes. game of chess.” » Ask translators to think of themselves as prospects entering search engine queries. A perfect translation may not offer maximum value for search optimization. For example, more colloquial terms frequently have higher search volumes. Using a keyword more than once may be better than using a synonym that is rarely searched for. Striking the right balance between an SEO friendly localization and an eloquently worded translation is key. If you have the resources to support different content for different markets, consider cultural factors when deciding how to allocate funds. In depth product research may be more important in some countries than in others. China is an excellent example of a market where you may need to spend more resources to understand the nuances of the consumer psyche. Allocating sufficient resources towards understanding Chinese social, political and historical complexities and how they affect purchasing behaviors, will certainly impact how you position your product online. Remember, cultural relevance and content quality will affect conversion rates. Don’t Translate, Localize! 11 © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®
    • ®Conclusion Contact UsWhen expanding internationally, whatever options you choose Call: 1-877-2-OPTIFYfor site structure and localization remember these factors for Twitter: @optifysuccess: Email: info@optify.net » Plan ahead and always keep the end-user in mind. Visit our website: www.optify.net Start Free Trial: www.optify.net/sign-up/ » Provide interesting content that is culturally and linguisti- cally appropriate Follow Optify » Employ the basic tenets of SEO, (keywords, page optimi- optify.net/facebook zation, link building) but make adjustments depending on optify.net/twitter the region, country or language you are targeting. optify.net/linkedin » Win the trust and confidence of visitors to your site by optify.net/blog providing a professional, quality experience.If you don’t have the resources to properly set-up and maintain International SEO Referencesa foreign language site, you’ll be better off providing a first classEnglish language experience on your established domain. Structural Advantages and Disadvantages http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.By systematically following these crucial steps, you’ll achieve com/2010/03/working-with-multi-regional-web-SEO success in driving visits to your new global venue. sites.html Keyword Research ToolsAbout Optify Google AdwordsOptify enables business to increase traffic from organic search https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolEx- ternaland social media, convert traffic to sales and share results with Google Insights for Searcheasy-to-use, real time marketing software. Optify’s integrated, http://www.google.com/insights/search/hosted service enables professional marketers to find and track Yandex search requests and keyword statisticstarget keywords, optimize their website for search engines, http://wordstat.yandex.rumonitor website visitors, automate Twitter campaigns and track Baidu Search Ranking and Search Indexresults, and gain insights into which online marketing channels http://index.baidu.comare driving the most qualified leads. Sales teams can automati-cally qualify and score web leads, focus sales efforts with real If you have any questions or would like moretime lead scoring and alerts, align marketing and sales, and detailed guidance about International SEO orclose more deals by assigning the right leads to the right sales additional consultative services to help youperson. Optify is simple to set up and includes free phone, e- maximize your site’s SEO and brand positionmail and Web support. For more insights on how to market in in international markets, please contact usreal time, visit the Optify Lead Generation Blog. today via email or call us at 1-877-2-OPTIFY. © 2011 Optify, Inc. All rights reserved. www.optify.net 1-877-2-OPTIFY @optify ®