International SEO for global brands: how to leverage it to expand abroad?

Thomas LAPORTE • 20 April 2023 • 17 min read
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International SEO is the key factor behind the success of numerous international and global brands.

Thanks to such a sophisticated – yet powerful – process, indeed, global brands worldwide can reach new audiences, target new markets, and expand their whole market share.

But is it really that efficient?

And, most importantly, how can global brands use it successfully to their advantage?

Let’s go over what international and multilingual SEO is, what you need to know about it, and how you can use it to boost your brand’s marketing efforts.

The benefits of multilingual and international SEO

Before we dive into the benefits and wonders of multilingual and international SEO, let’s get clear on its definition.

International SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank in different countries and languages

It differs from local SEO, which is focused on ranking in a specific geographic area, has a narrower target, and is usually structured in one language only.

International SEO strategies, on the other hand, have a broader target and are generally more challenging to set, but can also help brands to have a much wider reach compared to local SEO approaches.

All these factors (and not only them) make international SEO a sophisticated process, but that can also help brands to drastically drive more traffic and revenue, and increase their market share.

Now, let’s see the benefits of international and multilingual SEO in detail:

  • Increased global visibility

    First and foremost, international SEO can increase global visibility and reach for a brand.

    Indeed, by optimizing a website for different languages and countries, your business can tap into new markets and audiences that it wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

    This means that international SEO can help to drive more traffic, leads, and conversions to a website, leading to increased revenue and profit.

  • Stronger brand identity, worldwide

    International and multilingual SEO can help to build a strong global brand identity.

    In fact, a strong online presence across different countries and regions can help your brand create a consistent image that resonates with users on a much larger scale than local SEO.

    This can help to build trust and credibility with customers, as well as improve brand recognition and awareness.

  • Better connection with new audiences and markets

    As we have seen in the first point, multilingual and international SEO can help businesses to connect with new markets and audiences.

    By understanding the unique needs, preferences, and behaviors of users in different countries, your business can tailor its marketing and sales strategies to better resonate with those audiences.

    This will likely help you build stronger relationships with customers and improve customer retention rates.

The challenges of multilingual and international SEO

International SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank in different countries and languages.

While there are numerous benefits to using international and multilingual SEO, businesses must also be aware of the challenges that come with implementing a successful global SEO strategy.

Some of the main setbacks of multilingual and international SEO include:

  • Cultural and language barriers

    When targeting audiences in different countries, businesses must consider the nuances of each language, including regional dialects, colloquialisms, and even slang.

    For instance, let’s say you’re an American company trying to sell products to a French audience.

    There are many cultural differences that could impact how your message is received.

    For example, French consumers may have different preferences for the style and tone of your website, the color scheme you use, or the images you display.

    Additionally, there may be differences in how people search for products or services in each specific state or territory.

    For example, in the United States, people might search for “plumbing services near me“, while in France, they might search for “dépannage plomberie à domicile“.

    While these queries share a very similar meaning, that’s not a literal translation, and they use completely different keywords.

    Understanding language differences such as this and incorporating them into your SEO strategy can make a big difference in how well your content ranks for your target audience.

    So, first of all, make sure to avoid any biased decision, and remember that what works in one country may not necessarily work in another.

  • Technical SEO

    There are several technical SEO considerations that your business must take into account when targeting multiple countries.

    One such consideration is geotargeting, the practice of directing users to specific versions of your website based on your geographical location.

    To implement such a process, a global brand must use hreflang tags, which signal to search engines which version of a website should be displayed to users in different countries or regions.

    Needless to say, incorrectly implementing hreflang tags can result in a negative impact on your site’s rankings – a mistake that many global brands still make today.

  • Limited resources

    Finally, limited resources can be a significant challenge for businesses looking to implement a successful multilingual and international SEO strategy.

    For smaller businesses, the costs associated with content localization, technical SEO, and market research can be prohibitively high.

    Additionally, finding and hiring experts with the necessary language and cultural knowledge can also be challenging and can threaten the stability of a brand’s marketing strategy in the long run.

Best practices for an effective global SEO strategy

We have seen the major perks of setting a multilingual and international SEO approach for your brand, and what its main setbacks are.

Now, let’s dive into the best practices and tactics you can use to successfully structure your global SEO strategy:

1. Start with thorough market research

Market research is a crucial component of any successful multilingual and international SEO approach, as well as of any other winning strategy in marketing.

Indeed, it’s what provides valuable insights into your target audience’s search behavior, preferences, and trends in different regions – which you can use to shape your strategy effectively.

By conducting thorough market research, you can identify gaps in the market, uncover opportunities for growth, and tailor your tactics to meet the needs of your target audience.

You may start to structure it by identifying your target markets and determining the level of demand for your brand’s products or services in the regions you’re aiming to reach.

This involves analyzing the competition and identifying gaps in the market that your brand can fill.

Next, you must dive into researching the cultural and linguistic differences in each target market.

This includes understanding the language, customs, and values of the local population to ensure that the brand’s messaging and content are culturally relevant and appropriate.

The data you gather from market research will serve as the basis of your multilingual SEO strategy – an element without which your tactics will likely crumble.

2. Develop a comprehensive keyword strategy

A comprehensive keyword strategy involves researching and identifying the most relevant and popular keywords in your target languages and regions.

It takes into account the information you gather from market research, which will help you understand your audience in each country and the keywords they use to search for your products or services.

Basically, the process isn’t much different from your usual keyword research for local SEO.

The only – yet crucial – factors to keep in mind are to stick to what your market research shows, conduct separate keyword research for each country you’re targeting, and avoid any biased literal translation.

The combo of these three elements is a must for your multilingual keyword research, and will contribute to the overall success of your whole international SEO strategy.

3. Use hreflang and geotargeting

As we have seen previously, geotargeting is a crucial technical component of your international SEO approach.

For instance, think of what would happen to a Polish-speaking person typing your website address and seeing that the whole page is written in Tamil.

Wouldn’t they be confused?

To avoid situations like this – and thus not make users leave your website – make sure to double-check your hreflang tags.

With the proper HTML formatting, you can ensure each of your users is directed to a location-specific page, and that your website is not penalized by Google crawlers for the incoherency of its information.

4. Always measure the results of your tactics

Keeping track of the metrics of your global SEO strategy is crucial to ensure its effectiveness and make informed decisions for further optimization.

While your tactics may succeed anyway in the short term, without proper measurement your international SEO strategy is likely to crumble in the long run, as you won’t be able to understand what’s working and what’s going wrong.

So, here are some specific steps you can take to measure your multilingual and international SEO efforts:

  • Enable demographic and geolocation tracking on Google Analytics, to better understand the location and language preferences of your audience;
  • Use a reliable keyword tracking tool to monitor your website’s search engine rankings for your target keywords in different countries and languages;
  • Keep track of your website’s backlink profile (backlinks from high-quality websites will significantly boost your search engine rankings);
  • Analyze user engagement metrics, such as bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session to understand how engaged your global audience is with your content;
  • Conduct A/B testing with tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely to test different versions of your website and see which performs better in different countries and languages.

5. Use guest posting

Guest posting is a powerful, quick, and reliable way to build both your brand’s reputation and improve its SEO ranking in new and different countries.

Indeed, by publishing content that associates with your message on websites you know your public is reading, you will be able to access your exact audience in a natural, seamless, and non-aggressive way.

This is likely to direct them toward your offerings with a genuine interest in your products or services.

Furthermore, by accurately picking premium publishers to share your content, you will access high-quality backlinks in your target country, which will improve your website rankings in the market you’re aiming to reach.

These two factors make guest posting a quick, efficient, and cost-effective way to sustain your SEO efforts in the long run, as equally in the short term.

Luckily, you can access all of them with Getfluence.

Getfluence is the global marketplace that allows you to publish your content on 10.000+ premium publishers like Forbes & The Economist.

Thanks to its simple interface and built-in chat systems, you can directly interact with the world’s top publishers, as to make sure the final content complies with your needs and expectations.

Finally, Getfluence offers pre-negotiated prices for each of its publishers – meaning you will be able to access audiences all around the world for competitive rates.

Want to expand your reach, build a solid global SEO strategy, and improve your brand’s visibility worldwide?

Try Getfluence now and expand your global brand market share ↗️

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