How To Get Your International On-Page SEO Right The First Time

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International On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is an important thing to consider when optimizing your site for international markets. Also known as on-site SEO, on-page optimization includes writing relevant, informed content and using meta titles, descriptions, and alt texts. These elements come together to present a website with vast industry knowledge that Google recognizes with ease. This encourages Google to rank the site highly in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and raise awareness of the website. In turn, this helps to deliver more organic traffic.

What Factors Do You Need To Consider With Internationally-Focused On-Page SEO?

Key things to consider are translation, localization, geotargeting, and really getting to grips with the market share and its demands.

Localization is particularly important when optimizing on-page content. That’s because each language, and even similar branches of the same language, uses different keywords. Simply translating from one language into another just isn’t enough. To properly optimize your on-page content, there needs to be comprehensive research done on keywords in the target language. This is called localizing, rather than translating. This technique also takes into account colloquialisms, tone of voice, and text optimization for search engines.

Geotargeting is another particularly useful technique to get on top of because it also helps improve conversions. Stripping it back to its bare bones, geotargeting is delivering different content to visitors based on their country of origin. This is done in many ways, including experimenting with languages and landing on the one that suits the target audience best. For example, if someone in Rome visits a site, then best practice suggests redirecting them to the site’s Italian version.

You could also use local currency to help signpost to Google that you’re serving a certain country. Similarly, using keywords like “London” in the on-page content is one clear way to show you’re a local business.

Why Is International On-Page SEO Different From Local SEO Strategy?

Other than translating your website, there aren’t many differences between international and local SEO. Of course, if you’re targeting local regions, then you’ll use more specific place names instead of a whole country. Similarly, keywords and the intent behind them will be somewhat different but the goal and techniques are the same.

Are There Any Quick Wins When It Comes To International On-Page SEO?

There’s no such thing as a “quick win” when it comes to SEO, internationally, locally, or otherwise. It’s often a long waiting game and takes up to six months to start seeing changes. Saying that, make sure your website has a solid structure, optimize keywords for target audiences, and offer informative content to get ahead. A great network of backlinks and internal linking never hurts either.

What Should I Focus On To Prepare My Website For International On-Page SEO?

The top three things to focus on for international on-page SEO are localization, hreflang and geotargeting. As covered earlier, localization and geotargeting are crucial to international success. They offer Google clear signposts as to the audience you’re targeting, and hreflang is no different.

Hreflang is a simple HTML attribute that signals to Google what language and geographical region your website is targeting. For websites with multiple languages, this is an essential part of international on-page SEO. By including an hreflang tag in your HTML, search engines can present the most relevant version of a site to each visitor. This means a lower bounce rate, more time spent on each page, and higher conversions.

Google’s John Mueller notes that hreflang can be tricky to master, it “feels as easy as a meta-tag, but it gets really hard quickly.”

If you’re uncertain, it’s always worth enlisting the services of an experienced SEO consultant to help with international SEO strategy and hreflang.

What SEO Tactics Should I Ignore For International On-Site SEO?

There aren’t any outdated tactics as such when it comes to international on-page SEO, but there are plenty of misunderstandings. For example, many sites forget to add an hreflang tag to every page. This means content might look like it’s duplicated and could mean Google won’t pick up on region-specific blogs.

Similarly, plenty of brands assume using a .eu domain will target all EU member states, but that isn’t the case. A domain needs to have a much more specific name to properly geotarget a country or region.

What Should I Look Closest At When Auditing My Website For International SEO?

The importance of hreflang can’t be stressed enough. It’s often forgotten on pages like 404s and should be something to check when auditing your site. Similarly, content pages should be fully translated, not partly in English and partly in French, for example. Proper localization of content pages is worth the added effort involved for both attracting traffic and encouraging conversion.

Overall, international on-page SEO isn’t that different from normal SEO, but there are key things to focus on. These include properly localizing the site, using hreflang tags, and geotargeting your target audiences well.

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