SEO for non-english foreign markets

The world has never been smaller with the rise of internet connectivity almost everywhere in the world.

English is the most widely used language online, and this helps UK based businesses enter other english speaking markets. An international marketing plan could be enough to achieve some great results oversea where english is the local language.

Internet World Stats says that English speakers are over 25% of all web users, but studies have shown that multilingual users place trust especially on native language websites. If you want to unlock the potential in the Internet for ecommerce you have to have a multilingual approach, before entering a foreign market where English is not the local language.

As a Digital Marketing Consultant expert in Italian Markets, I often help UK based businesses enter the Italian market which is rapidly growing and becoming an incredible opportunity. Unfortunately entering a non-english foreign market is not easy. Today I want to propose you this useful SEO guide to approach a foreign market with an effective and efficient  strategy.

Review your SEO strategy from scratch

Your local SEO strategy is useless for the new market you want to enter. Every national market has different trusted websites, search behaviours, search trends and in some cases even different preferred search engines! You need help from an SEO specialist that is expert of that non-english market.

Research for the right keywords and target the right search engines

One of the most common mistakes I have seen is translating the website without having a new keyword list dedicated to that local non-english market.This will bring you nowhere. Before writing your content, get an updated “keyword strategy”.

You need an expert of that local market to help you create an efficient keyword list. Remember that Google Keyword Suggestion tool, Google Insights and Google Trends will help you only if Google is the most used search engine in that country, otherwise you need to use other appropriate tools.

Google is the main search engine in almost every country in the world apart for 5: China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Taiwan. Remember that in some countries Google is the primary search engine but with only a small market share advantage from the second most used search engine. (I suggest you to read this wonderful article by Christian Arno to deepen this topic.) You have to know your new foreign market very well or you could lose an incredible number of opportunities.

Rebranding and local domain

Is your domain name good enough for the non-english market you are targeting? In most cases a rebranding is needed, especially if you have an english domain.

For SEO and trust reasons, it’s always better to associate your foreign version to a local domain, for instance yourdomain.it (Italy) or yourdomain.fr (France). Google and other search engines take location into account and a localised ccTLD will help with ranking within that market on Google’s local version.

If fore some reason you are not able to have a local domain remember to localise your pages into subdomains or folders, for instance it.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com/it. Furthermore, bethink to use the Google geotargeting tool in the Webmaster Central to “localise” your folders or subdomains.

If you have a .co.uk domain, this will not be enough , so the only option you have is to have a separate domain.

Are you censored?

Check if your website is visible in your new marketed country. Some countries have different laws and your site could be censored for many reasons. For instance, in China an unbelievable number of western (and not only) websites are censored. You can check if your site is visible with this tool.

I hope that this simple guide can make your internationalisation easier. If you need help with your Italian market don’t hesitate to contact me.

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