More and more industries are waking up to the importance of digitalisation as consumer habits – accelerated by the pandemic – increasingly shift online. From legal and financial services to healthcare, we’re doing far more than shopping on our devices these days. 

For businesses with international ambitions, the potential rewards of an enhanced online presence are even greater. SEO can be a vital piece of that puzzle – especially given 93% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Images and Google Maps

In short, international SEO is a strategy for building sustainable online visibility in different countries. It involves an ongoing focus on technical setup, positive user experience, relevant content and authoritative backlinks. 

It’s much like regular SEO in these respects, but with a greater focus on regional relevancy. Whether in tandem with other digital efforts or separate, these broad practices allow businesses to scale their reach significantly by targeting potential customers in their native countries and languages. 

Yet as simple and appealing as that sounds, over 90% of web pages see no organic search traffic at all. Below, we look at the potential role of international SEO in company growth and identify the key tactics helping businesses make themselves heard in competitive online environments.  

What are the advantages of international SEO?

Providing a business can determine the demand is there, be it through its own user data or a competitor’s, the rewards of ranking well abroad can be plentiful. 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine after all – yet less than 1% of Google searchers click on results beyond the first page.

International SEO has the same “trickle-down” effects as regular SEO, just on a larger scale. By showing up for relevant search terms, a business can increase its brand awareness among potential customers in new markets. Greater awareness could turn into more leads, many of which can in turn, be converted into sales. 

And more of all the above provides valuable customer data which can be used to continually optimise the customer journey from start to finish.  

Plenty of businesses are already reaping the benefits too. In just one year, international law firm Withers increased organic traffic in the US, UK and Singapore by 33%, 90% and 105% respectively.   

Effective international SEO tactics 

So what are the key tactics that can drive this kind of company growth? With a foundation of in-depth local and competitor research in place, much of it comes down to a website’s technical setup, content and backlinks.   

Technical SEO considerations

Technical SEO is what goes on behind the facade of a website to make it easy for search engines to find and understand it. 

Any international site will need an international URL structure. Country specific top-level domains, or sub-domains / sub-directories of a generic top-level domain (for example a .com) are the leading options depending on your proposition, infrastructure, expansion plans and budget.

‘Hreflang’ tags can then be put in place to make sure search engines serve the correct language version of a page for users based on their language and/or location.

Unique and relevant content 

International content efforts should be first be guided by region-focused keyword research that factors in the nuances of linguistic and cultural differences.

With unique lists for each targeted region, content should be created that truly caters for local searchers and their intent when searching. Whatever that means writing about, this content needs to be unique – not duplicated across multiple international sites – and written accurately in their native language.  

International outreach 

Building backlinks from authoritative local sources relevant to your niche can then further establish the authority of an international website. Search engines reward credible sites with increased visibility, and links often play a huge part in building that trust. 

Establishing international relationships and generating local links can rely on in-depth knowledge of local audiences, so it pays to immerse yourself or engage an outreach specialist.

With these three pillars paid attention to on a consistent basis, international SEO can allow companies to supercharge their growth in a sustainable and cost-effective fashion. Has your business opened its eyes to these opportunities?