How to Avoid International SEO Mistakes
International SEO has long been a hot topic for corporate brands and global businesses. But, the increased ease of connecting with people around the world means that these tactics are becoming vital for a growing number of businesses.
International research experts Clayton Warwick and Gary Reilly of Wordbank and Jeramie Heflin of Safeguard Global recently presented a webinar that highlighted some of the most common pitfalls, and their solutions, when it comes to optimizing for researchers who live in different countries or speak different languages.
Here are three important tactics from the panel on how marketers can prevent international SEO mistakes.
Implement an international strategy based on personality
“As marketers, the most important thing we can do is understand who our customers are and when and how they buy,” Heflin said. “By entering new international markets, you will most likely develop targeted personalities.”
“It’s okay if those personalities are different than they are in your core markets; in fact, they probably will,” she added.
Most of these new customers aren’t ready to buy right off the bat, so marketers need to guide them through relevant content and experiences before pushing conversions. To facilitate this process, Heflin recommends leveraging customer personas when addressing international markets. This can help marketers better understand the needs of their new audience.
However, to ensure that these personalities accurately reflect audiences, marketers must pay attention to international research data to quantify market opportunities for their brands.
“We’ve found a good tool to quantify this is Google’s Keyword Planner,” Reilly said. “It’s fantastic for gauging interest within a market. We recommend that you use the Planner to research country and regional keywords within these new markets. »
Optimizing the international user experience
“While we look at user experience domestically, it’s often overlooked in other markets,” Warwick said. “We’ve customized our UX based on what Americans like, and having that level of consideration of what users in new markets want their journey to be is critical.”
Warwick recommends that marketers consider the usage of devices in the market for their product or service. Mobile, in particular, accounts for a large portion of the organic search market (61% in Q2 2021). And while there are certain industry sectors where more people search via desktop, marketers would be wise to optimize for these devices.
“There have been a number of updates from Google that focus on the importance of mobile user experience and the impact it can have on brands that don’t prioritize it,” said Reilly.
One way to optimize user experience is to follow Google’s page experience guidelines. The Page Experience Update, which began rolling out in June last year, rewards sites with high-quality user experience signals, such as reliable security, optimized page speed, usability mobile and more. Marketers can check the Page Experience report in Google Search Console to ensure their content is providing a good experience for international users.
Beyond that, Reilly says marketers should focus on maximizing desired actions with their international audience: “For low-funnel content or conversion content, it’s a good idea to test a range of cultural UX considerations on key landing pages, especially when dealing with a new market and you’re not 100% sure of the best type of design elements you should use based on the target audience. “
Paying attention to text styles, color palettes, image types, and languages used on your landing pages can help you ensure your content resonates with these new audience groups.
Ensure technical elements are aligned
Marketers need to work closely with developers when optimizing their content for international audiences, as overlooked technical issues can often derail campaigns.
“Start crawling your site to see areas where you could improve your technical setup,” Warwick said. “Fill in this list for your developers so they can start eliminating items.”
To be more specific, he highlighted the importance of page load speed in the market: “We all know how important page speed is for SEO and paid efforts. We’re not going to want to waste media money by sending someone to a site where it will inevitably bounce.
Tools like PageSpeed Insights (shown below) can help marketers gauge their site’s performance against Google’s Core Web Vitals and recommended load times.
Pagespeed isn’t the only factor marketers need to consider. When looking at international markets, CMS and multilingual plugins have the potential to make or break campaigns. These technological frameworks must be able to adapt to the region and language of the researcher to avoid bad experiences.
“CMS and localization plugins can have a big impact on the effectiveness of search campaigns,” Reilly said, “They can impact how many things you can optimize and test.”
“Depending on how the CMS and translation tools are built, you may not be able to fully optimize the technical aspects, which could impact search performance,” he added.
At a minimum, marketers should use a CMS that allows them to set language and region information in the hreflang tag. This helps search engines understand the linguistic and geographic context and ultimately deliver the most relevant results to your international audience.
Our world is more connected than ever and a growing number of brands need to ensure that their content meets the needs of internet users outside of their local markets. Ignoring international SEO considerations could mean wasted research efforts and missed opportunities.
Watch this webinar presentation at Digital Marketing Depot.
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