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What is International SEO? Why Does It Matter?

What is International SEO?

International SEO refers to the process of optimizing your site in different languages & countries. This way search engines can find you easily and know what countries or languages you want to target.

Although, most people think Google, when it comes to search engines, but there are many other search engine alternatives.

For example, Yandex is the way to go for businesses in Russia while Baidu will help you out in China. People will always prefer to use their native language, so optimizing with unique keywords in each language is critical in the global market.

Why Does It Matter?

We are a global economy and targeting and reaching out to other language-speakers even within your country’s population is important.

For example, in the US there are 230 million people speaking English, BUT, there are also an incredible 37 million people who speak Spanish and will search for companies that can provide for them in Spanish.

According to Kinsta, sites that have translated its blog into more languages have seen an 18% increase in organic traffic. That’s impressive. Let’s jump in to see how you can take advantage of International SEO.

Top 3 Tips for International SEO

1) Analyze Everything

Before you do anything, you will need to understand and analyze your global audience. Understanding cultural insights are very important to communicate your brand and message to a global audience.

One campaign that reaches a large audience and engages them may be a flop in a different cultural setting.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do my products or services fit in with the language and/or culture of that country?
  2. Do my ads, content, and images have the same impact in that country?
  3. Do you have someone who can trans-create the keywords? This means not just translate them from English to other languages, but understand the SEO impact and find the right keywords that will be successful.

2) Know Your Search Engines

As mentioned Google is not the only player in the game. When it comes to international SEO, knowing and understanding global search engines will be critical to being found, reaching your targeted audience, and rankings. Here is a quick guide to a few big ones around the world:

  • Bing
  • DuckDuck Go
  • Baidu
  • Yandex
  • Pinterest
  • Yahoo

3) Different Tags are Critical

Here is a common and often overlooked issue. Let’s say you have a restaurant in California. You know you get a lot of tourists coming from different countries so you want to inform Google about multiple language versions. How? Hreflang tags

Hreflang tags are one of the most difficult topics in SEO and, also one of the most important.

Each page would need one of these to reference itself and the alternate language versions as well. Another type of tag, called the canonical tag, is the reference of your original URL of the alternate language. 

Bonus Tip: Make sure everything is 100% responsive, which means mobile-friendly for search, appearance, design, and more. The US and Japan especially do almost all of their searches on a mobile device of some kind.


International SEO comes with its own unique challenges. Make sure your site is optimized with keywords, tags, translations, and trans-creations so your message, media, and content are appropriate in each country.

Go beyond Google, as many other countries utilize different search engines, like Yandex in Russia or Yahoo! In Japan.

Tags are critical to ensure Google and therefore your audience knows what language and country you are communicating with.

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