Starter's Guide to Global Website Marketing and SEO
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Starter's Guide to Global Website Marketing and SEO

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A guide designed for those looking to, or on their first towards marketing their websites online via SEO and content at an international audience. Great entry level tips covering your online and ...

A guide designed for those looking to, or on their first towards marketing their websites online via SEO and content at an international audience. Great entry level tips covering your online and offline profile, UX, using localization, cultural awareness and translation as well as basic strategies on taking your website global.

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Starter's Guide to Global Website Marketing and SEO Starter's Guide to Global Website Marketing and SEO Presentation Transcript

  • A Starter’s Guide to Global Search Engine Optimisation Using SEO for International Website Marketing
  • The international online space offers some great low hanging fruit for businesses; but to get your website seen in that crowded space you need an effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. Kwintessential have pulled together this Starter’s Guide to Global SEO to cover some of the critical steps website owners have to take in order to gain exposure in foreign search engines and in new markets. About this guide This guide does not require a high level of technical knowledge. Without being condescending, we have tried to keep it plain and easy to follow. If you happen to be technically skilled and confident you can follow up on design and coding issues in detail. There are links to other sources for those who want them. If you are not comfortable with coding you can still find plenty to think about that will make a big difference to your business with some fairly simple steps. You can pass the links to the people who poke about in the engine for you. Our guide has been broken down into 5 easy-to-understand areas of website management: 1. Web Basics 2. On-site SEO Keywords 3. Off-site SEO 4. Usability 5. Cultural Awareness Why go global?
  • Create a local version of your website A local website means creating a standalone version in each of your target countries. This can be done in three different ways. 1. A separate domain - for example www.mysite.es for Spain 2. A domain subdirectory - for example www.mysite.com/es 3. A subdomain – for example www.es.mysite.com Separate domain This means registering a new version of your name with the right suffix for each country, so that you own www.mysite.es for Spain and/or or www.mysite.ae for the UAE. You need to buy and renew each separate domain name and prices will vary widely. See, for example, http://www.europeregistry.com/domains/domains-search.htm or http://www.afridns.org/. Some countries have restrictions on the use of their suffix and might require residency or a local office address. For example, in Singapore you will need to appoint a local agent to qualify for www.mysite.sg. To use .co.sg you have to register with the “Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), IE Singapore or any professional body”. Domain subdirectory This just requires a separate section of your existing site, for example www.mysite.com/es or www.mysite.com/ae. It doesn’t require any permissions from other agencies as it is technically just a few letters added to your own site address as an internal filing system. You may have restrictions on the size of your single site but if not you can add several countries to one root. 01Web Basics
  • Subdomain This is a new and separate site in its own right but using a version of your existing name. For example, you might have www.es.mysite.com or www.ae.mysite.com. Google used to consider a subdomain to be quite different from the original site, which had implications for SEO, but the rules have changed and it is now less important. There are sometimes technical benefits to having a separate subdomain related to Google Analytics or the control of some complex programs, but from an SEO perspective the benefits are limited. Subdomains are technically slightly more complex for a novice to set up, although anyone hosting your site should also provide a simple ‘How To’ guide to help you get started. If your domain package has size restrictions then a subdomain counts against the overall allowance. Use local servers Website ranking will be affected by the speed at which your site loads for local clients and by whether search engines consider you to be truly local or not. Speed may be partly a matter of the original website design. You can get useful tips on speeding up load time from https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights. Their research indicates that even a small increase in time reduces active searching: add time and you lose searches 01Web Basics Gain 100-400 milliseconds Lose 0.2 - 0.6 searches When we say local, we mean local. Remember one country may use several languages, or use them differently. If you want to sell to China which language would you use? Would the same page be usable in Guangzhou as in Beijing? What about Hong Kong and Singapore? Do your research into the local language.
  • If you are technically minded, you can engage with Google’s research at a technical level on http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/google_delayexp.pdf . If you are not, it is enough to realise that all web users are increasingly impatient. If they have to wait another 400 milliseconds they will carry out 0.44 % fewer searches in the first few weeks, then 0.76% fewer as they are increasingly discouraged and alienated. If you get faster later on it is too late – you’ve lost them and they won’t come back. Local hosting will not always increase the speed of download, although it can if the alternative involves sending packets of data through many different servers: However, many search engines will assign a location to a web site depending on where it is hosted. Thus, all other things being equal, a Norwegian site hosted in Norway will impress Google more than one hosted in the UK or US. So local hosting will not always increase speed of download, but it should always increase the amount of traffic trying to get to you. Major hosting services and their server speeds/downtime are usually reviewed on comparison sites such as http://www.hostsearch.com/review/arvixe_review.asp You may also be aware of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). These are linked data centres in different locations that can duplicate content then respond to a request using one of several servers, choosing the most local for the quickest response. They are explained in more detail and reviewed at http://www.cdnreviews.com Use local addresses and phone numbers Make sure your local website displays a local address and telephone number. It is critical for search engines and users alike that you are “local” in every sense. Google Places is an online display board for local businesses and listing is free. You should make sure your business is listed there and link to it from your own contact and/or about pages. There is, of course, a video to explain the service: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiCyQQ-67Vg 01Web Basics FAST FAST FAST SLOW FAST FAST FAST
  • Direct visitors to your local domain When a potential client searches the web they automatically declare their geographical position. It might be through use of WiFi/GPS (global positioning system) or just through the IP address. An IP or Internet Protocol address is a unique identifier for each computer connection and has a known location. It is possible to turn off the geographical idenitifier and to do so in Explorer you go to Internet Options/Privacy and tick the right box. However most people do not do so. This means you can react to a search with very localised responses. You can also use different index pages in a range of languages. On the other hand, you can’t assume all seekers from Italy want the information in Italian, so make sure they easily spot a menu for choosing their preferred language. Use UTF-8 compliant CMS/Software It may sound obvious but not every language uses the same characters. Even if you avoid Chinese, Arabic and Greek you have to allow for accents in European language options. The standard coding to read all characters is UTF-8 and if you use any non-standard software or content management system (CMS) then what ought to say meaning Press Send could end up as just , losing you orders. To make sure you get this right, the code in your header should look like this Content-type: text/html;charset=UTF-8. Incidentally, if normally you let someone else do your coding for you and you are not used to this area of the site, take a look at other people’s by pulling up any web page on Explorer then going to View – Source. This is a harmless way to explore the relation of code to display. You can get used to it without risking any nasty accidents to your own pages. And you can see what codes and keywords your competitors are using, which we’ll explore below. 01Web Basics
  • Use the language meta tag If you have a Spanish version of your site then you need to tell the search engines your header codes, but make sure you use the right one. There is lots of advice on the internet which actually is wrong. This code means the page is intended for Spanish readers, but it might actually be written in English: Content-language: es If the document is written in Spanish you need to use <html lang=”es”> If you want the react to the language the client normally prefers you can try <html lang=”${user.language}”> You can find a lot more technical information from http://www.w3.org/International/articles/language-tags/, which links to a standard language tag registry - http://www.iana.org/assignments/language-tags/language-tags.xml - so you know what code applies to which language. Understand local search engines Google does not rule the world. Make sure you research the popular search engines in the countries you are targeting. Understand how they rank websites and what they look for when indexing. You could start a search with something like “local search engine France” and quickly find yourself on a site like http://barometre.secrets2moteurs.com/ and if your French isn’t up to scratch just go to http://translate.google. com/ and it will translate the whole page for you. This means you can do quite detailed research into any market in any language. Which is quite useful, as more than half of China’s searching is done through http://www.baidu.com/, so you will need to make it look like this: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=zh-CN&tl=en&js=n&pr ev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2F www.baidu.com%2F Google Chrome offers automatic translation. 01Web Basics
  • Keywords You want your site to come up first when potential clients enter a question or key phrase into their search engine. That requires you to match their keywords. There are several ways to use keywords and it is important to select and deploy them effectively. What are the keywords clients might use to look for your product or service? What variations or combinations might be used? How many people wanting their shoes repaired would actually type in “cobbler”? How many would use “heel bar”? You can ask which best describes you or ask which is most often used by your potential customers. When one term actually answers both questions you have the ideal key word, but you will probably need to use a spread to cover the bases. So the problem is not only what to say but how to arrange and deploy them. You can research this partly by looking at Google key word tool https://adwords.google.com You can also look at the source code of your main competitors (see above to find out how). At least one of your keywords should be incorporated into a key phrase and one of them may have to be your location if that is an important part of your service or criteria. If you are looking for appropriate words or other terms for the same idea, then most people know how to use a thesaurus, but obviously you wouldn’t use a word just because it is different. If nobody is likely to know it and put it into a search engine then it is wasted space. More advanced research might even take you as far as ontology tools, which are advanced software to look at how people ask questions and how knowledge is processed into words using categories and structures. If you wish to go that far you might start with http://techwiki.openstructs.org/index.php/Ontology_Tools. But don’t worry if you don’t go that far. Let’s focus for now on some simple places to put keywords. 02On-Site SEO Keywords
  • Use keywords in page titles Page titles help search engines determine what a page is about. These also usually show up in search results. Make sure you use strong, relevant keywords. Every page has a unique purpose and titles should reflect that without missing a chance to signal to the search engine. If you sell Retro Furniture in Paris then Retro Furniture in Paris ought to be part of a heading on page one. You might want to say “The Best Retro” but not “Come to X Y and Sons for the Best Retro”, because it has just pushed your key word too far from the start of the sentence. Use keywords in your meta data If your header code looks like this <title>Untitled Document</title> you could be missing an opportunity. The jury is out as to whether search engines now take any notice of keywords in meta data. However, we know some search engines still use them, and it costs nothing to take out insurance by adding them here. Above all pay attention to your description text. They should be short, sharp and enticing but must also contain your chosen keywords. By now you ought to know enough to be able to load our web site at www.kwintessential.co.uk using Explorer, look up the source code and see why we have made it look like this: <meta http-equiv=”content-type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8” /> <meta name=”description” content=”Translation Agency (UK) for professional translation services, interpreters, intercultural training, cross-cultural courses, localization services, website translation and more.” /> <meta name=”generator” content=”Joomla! - Open Source Content Management” /> <title>The Translation Agency for complete Professional Translation Services</ title> The red clues will help you. See how we carefully specify the character code then tell search engines that we offer a particular range of services using the terms most likely to be entered unto a search engine by potential clients. 02On-Site SEO Keywords
  • Use keywords in your headers H1 and H2 tags are of critical importance. Your H1 tag (main heading) should state the main keywords of the page and what it is about. The H2 tag (sub-heading) can then use complementary or related keywords as an H2 tag can help the page rank even higher. If your main title were “Graphic Design” your subhead might include sub-divisions of that service such as logo design or web design, stationery or internet marketing. Use keywords in page content Your website copy must also contain the keywords you use in meta data, H tags and URLs but the biggest mistake you can make is to litter a web page with keywords that appeal to search engines and forget you are supposed to be speaking to real people. Opinions differ on the best percentage to aim for. You might want a saturation of anything from 1-10%, depending on the number of variations you are using. If you have cobbler once, heel bar, once then shoe repair once, is that more or less effective than using “shoe repair” three times? If you used it ten times in a few paragraphs it would almost certainly look unnatural and read very oddly. Increasingly, web sites use articles just to pile on the keywords and the actual content is not even supposed to be read by humans. This will alienate any human who stumbles across it and can lose sales if badly done. The ranking systems of search engine giants like Google are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are better at weeding out all the cheap tricks used by black hat operators, so if it seems too easy it probably is, and not worth doing. Use keywords in ALT tags Pictures and images and just as important as words. As well as looking good they also offer some valuable SEO-juice. Ensure whenever you add an image to a website page that you include an ALT tag otherwise search engines can’t tell what it is about and therefore won’t index it. Also make sure the image is sized and optimised to load quickly. What is the ideal size and format for this image? Would the best ALT tag be “watch” or “pocket watch” or “hunter watch”? How would you know that? Use the advice above to know which words signal most strongly to your potential clients. 02On-Site SEO Keywords
  • Content is king It should go without saying, but often does not, so we’ll say it here – if you write useful and interesting stuff people will come to read it. Perhaps the most critical element of on-site SEO is your content. Make sure you post regular, quality content that people are searching for and the rest will take care of itself. Make sure your content is well-written, helpful and above all unique. Vary content from articles to blogs posts to PDF downloads. Always add value to any visit, and they’ll visit more often. 02On-Site SEO Keywords #content #quality #value
  • Register with local directories Business directories and others offer a great way to build inbound links to your website. We have already mentioned Google Places above. Suppose you want to find a directory in Finland. You type in Business Directory Finland and this link is near the top: http://www.ezilon.com/regional/finland/business_and_economy/index.shtml. If you are into Electronics it shows you 16 firms operating in Finland, but note that the language of the site is English. How local can you get? Should you be looking through Finnish eyes and wondering what Finns would enter? What are their favourite directories? Research and register on relevant in-country directories ensuring you use your keywords in link titles and description text. Acquire in-country links and consider links from related sectors One of the best ways of ranking your website high is to acquire links to your website from others based in the country or region you are targeting. This all adds to developing your website as being truly “local”. Directories will help, and an outbound link to you from a number of directories will help your profile even if it is only a search engine that reads it. But recommendations help more and getting a local source to put your address on their site is a recommendation by implication. Who can you find to swap links with? What can you offer in return? If your website complements other sectors such as tourism, health, business then target websites that will see the benefit in pointing their visitors to you. This helps develop the strength of your keywords through peer recommendations. 03Off-Site SEO
  • Write articles for others If able to, commit time to writing articles that you can publish on others’ websites such as blogs or information websites. Publishers will usually give you a link at the bottom of your article to your website. But note what we said above about the value of content. You can’t just post up a few hundred words of waffle then put your link at the bottom. Focus on some quality information or point of view that only you could offer. Hone it, so you stand out and your link is valued. Create social media profiles Use social media to create foreign language landing pages for your brand and website such as on Google+, Linked In, Facebook, Twitter or You Tube. These show search engines you are ‘real’ as well as offering the opportunity to bring in traffic and generate links. Also, it puts a human face to your commercial presence. You are not just a sales force but a familiar voice from a friendly dialogue. Again, you have to make sure you include quality content. It has to be suitable for the markets you are developing (see warning about cultural sensitivity below). If you allow others to comment you have to moderate the responses to guard your reputation. However it can pay off once it takes hold and it costs time not cash (unless you need to hire a translator). Adapt social media campaigns Once your foreign language social pages are set-up, use them to develop your brand, spread your message and engage with your specific audience in their language. Translating tweets, for example, can gain good traffic as well as demonstrate your ability to work in that country. You weave yourself into the fabric of your local market 140 characters at a time. Here’s our own example - https://twitter.com/_kwintessential 03Off-Site SEO
  • Avoid cheap link building offers Paying for links more often than not leads to a flurry of links from low ranking and irrelevant websites. Stay away from such offers. If you do wish to pay for link building, advise your supplier what you expect, i.e. quality websites (Page Rank 3 or above), in-country and relevant to what you do. This is what Google has to say about it: Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links influences your ranking. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site, or outgoing links from your site. Manipulating these links may affect the quality of our search results, and as such is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356 They go on to give examples of the kind of trickery they don’t want and promise to improve their algorithm so they can detect anyone using them and punish their ranking accordingly. Analysing statistics When you first designed your website you should have been thinking about where you want your visitors to go and making this as easy as possible for them. How easy is it to get here and do it? Once you have launched, you need to monitor responses so you can see what works and what could be im- proved. Who responds to what signals how often? Where do visitors enter your site and from what sources? How do they behave when they get there? Know where people are entering your site and where they are leav- ing it. Try to understand why they are leaving and fix it. If you trade heavily through your sites you may want to look into Google Analytics - http://www.google.co.uk/analytics/. You will certainly want to know how you perform on any search engine results page (SERP). Something simple like Site Meter will give you basic information free and is easily attached by even the least technical site builder - http://www.sitemeter.com/. 03Off-Site SEO “ ”
  • Remember you want to know about searches made by local clients using local engines (see above).One of the most common alterations is likely to be your keywords, which you can alter or reposition. They are most likely to be an issue in markets using another language. An easy way to see how different keywords perform is to create different pages and monitor differences in traffic and bounce rates. Localise your keywords and beware of language variations Don’t translate keywords carelessly from English into other languages. Many will get lost in translation and become ineffective. Look at what people are searching for in their native tongue and use these to drive traffic to your website. Many languages come with regional variations. English for example offers different spellings and meanings whether you are in the USA, the UK, Canada or Australia. Other languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc also have such differences. Make sure your language is appropriate for the local visitor. 03Off-Site SEO Localise, don’t translate
  • Don’t make things hard for yourself or your visitors. You can be impressive without being over-complicated. Use standard fonts Ensure you use universal fonts such as Times, Arial and Verdana so that your text is displayed properly. Some fonts are automatically installed in every computer but many are not. If you choose one the reader has not installed they won’t see what you intend. There are technical ways round this by installing fonts for them but why make yourself a problem? Different browsers and different languages could render your page unreadable or at least less impressive unless your font is guaranteed universal. Underline and colour links to increase click through rates. Analyse your site’s design Sites that are first built in English have to be adapted to cater for other languages. This can cause havoc with your design due to text alignment. It may sound obvious but Arabic and Hebrew read right to left. German usually takes up more space but Chinese may take less, so all your design has to be moved about to cater for this. A flexible design in the first place could have allowed for such variations by not boxing you in. Ensure your website is localised It is important that elements such as dates, times, currencies, phone numbers, measurements and payment methods are all as local visitors would expect. There is no faster way to lose potential business than not allowing visitors to shop, buy, etc in the manner they are used to. Christmas shopping in London may be heavy on 3/12/2012 – in New York it would be 12/3/2012. Not every country has PayPal so check if they can use it locally. 04 Usability
  • Use Call to Actions A ‘call to action ‘ or CTA provides a real focus for your site – drawing people in and persuading them to commit. It also gives you a very useful measure of success. But you have to prepare the ground. You might, for example, identify a problem, persuade them it matters to them, persuade them you have the remedy then ask them to enter an email address and press send to get it. If you ask too early they won’t be convinced but if you wait too long they have stopped reading. So ensure your CTAs are clear, enticing, simple and explain how the visitor will benefit from clicking through. You might use incentives and you might want to alter the language to sound more urgent and compelling. Do you want then to register, ask for an estimate, buy now? But don’t say your offer expires on two weeks if it has already been up there for six months. Web clients are not that daft anymore and some CTAs can sound tacky. Tone matters. Don’t appear to offer something free then ask for credit card numbers later on. Design also matters so make it high, central, big enough, in stand out colours etc. Think about attractive buttons to push. Check out marketing sites for good examples you can learn from - http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30691/5-Real-Life-Examples-of-Fantastic-Calls-to-Action.aspx - but also see what works in your chosen market, not just at home. One language per page Avoid using more than one language on one page. This is bad for SEO and even worse for usability. Your visitor needs to trust your website and this can only be achieved if they understand it’s designed and aimed specifically at them. Keep all your foreign language versions separate but give them the option of swapping if they choose. Display language options clearly Although your geo-targetting may push a visitor to your Spanish website, that visitor could simply be an English speaker in Spain. They may not speak any Spanish. Display the different language options clearly on every page, i.e. such as the top of your pages. Make it obvious and easy to use. 04 Usability
  • Avoid flags The use of flags to portray language options can be difficult. Arabic, French, Portuguese, Spanish and many other languages span country borders. A Spanish flag may not attract a Venezuelan client. Israelis may prefer Hebrew, Arabic or English. Political divisions are more fiercely expressed in flags than in something relatively inoffensive like an international code. To avoid alienating visitors, look at other ways to display languages such as simple text or ISO codes, i.e. ES for Spanish, DE for German. Understand local preferences Different cultures expect different things from websites. Some like little text and strong images, others not. Some expect all the answers to be on your website, others expect to contact you for this information. In a short guide we can’t generalise – the whole point is to be more specific ß- so you could start by looking at the sites dominating the local market. Get to understand the navigational psychology of the country you are targeting. Or ask us about a specific market. Get your cultural lenses on Many elements of website design will be impacted when taking it abroad. In China dark blue is associated with funerals but also therefore with immortality; red is a bridal colour for good luck. It is easy to be careless with colours, symbols, icons or pictures. On your Arabic website would you refer to the Persian Gulf, Arabian Gulf or simply The Gulf? Humour is especially dangerous. The Chinese People’s Daily printed an article stating that the North Korean ruler Kim-Jong-Un was declared ‘sexiest man alive for 2012’. The article was accompanied by “steamy” pictures of the dictator. But the paper’s source was The Onion, a spoof website. They just hadn’t realised it was a joke, although it would have been horribly obvious to UK eyes. 05Cultural Awareness ES
  • Research local use of devices In some countries the majority of web surfing is done on a PC, in others on mobile and in others tablets. Make sure your website is compatible across browsers, operating systems and devices to maximise traffic retention. 05Cultural Awareness
  • If you are planning on taking your website global speak to us about any of the services below: • Translation • Localisation • Keyword analysis • Copywriting • Social Media • Landing page design • User Experience Testing For more information on what we do or how we can help please contact us. +44 1460 279 900 info@kwintessential.co.uk www.kwintessential.co.uk @_kwintessential http://www.linkedin.com/company/kwintessential/ 06Going Global