5 tips to improve your international SEO

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  • September 19, 2023
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Expanding your web activity to different countries can be an effective option for reaching new targets, particularly in terms of SEO. But this approach requires complete adaptation to the specificities of the selected areas and languages: linguistic characteristics, search behaviors, cultural particularities, etc. This also requires making technical choices on your site, and opting for the appropriate tools. In this article, we offer you 5 tips to optimize your natural referencing internationally!

1. Adapt your content

If you want to make your website visible to foreign speakers, you will first need to offer a translation perfectly adapted to the language of visitors. So, it will be more about adapting than translating. To do this, several options are available to you:

  • Use a translation tool: by using a translation site, you will be able to offer your site in different languages, at a lower cost. While this option does not ensure perfect translation of content, many translators have experienced significant improvements in their performance in recent years. On the other hand, this solution can be time-consuming because it requires manual integration.
  • Hire a professional translator: by calling on a professional, you ensure that you obtain a translation tailored to the target audience. However, this type of service generally has a high cost and will require repeating the process, which is often long, for any new publication.
  • Use a website translation solution: this option is probably the most suitable if your strategy extends over the long term. Automated translation solutions integrate with CMS, offer SEO functionalities and allow you to control the translation using editing options. In terms of cost, a platform of this type is also less expensive than using a professional translator.

Furthermore, in addition to the actual content of your pages, you will need to think about the translations of various additional elements such as the footer, error messages, image descriptions or even meta descriptions.

2. Analyze the SEO of targeted areas

While some queries overlap between several languages, others may be specific to certain speakers. Therefore, it is essential for you to carry out an analysis of your SEO on your themes usingan SEO tool. You will be able to identify search habits specific to the language you are targeting or specific keywords on which to position yourself. For example, two translations of the same word may show different search volumes.

In addition, it is wise to carry out a benchmark of sites positioned in the same segment as you, in order to identify their practices (structuring of the site and content, type of writing), the keywords on which they are positioned as well as the traffic generated.

3. Integrate hreflang tags

When you adapt pages on your site to several languages ​​or regions, it is crucial to notify search engines of the presence of these different alternatives. This is where the hreflang attribute comes into play. Integrated into the tag of each page concerned, it indicates that it is a linguistic (or regional) version of content.

For example, if you want to specify that a given page is the English version of content, you would specify the following code in the tag:

These hreflang tags inform search engines of the relationship between different versions, helping to provide the user with the most relevant content based on their language or region. They also send a signal to Google that this is not duplicate content, which could be penalized from an SEO point of view.

4. Choose the right domain structure

Since your site is offered in several versions, which correspond to the different languages, you must select a structure for your domain, which will be visible in your URL. Three options are available to you:

  • Use a ccTLD: the use of a country top-level domain (or ccTLD) – that is, a URL ending with .Fr, .es, .be (etc.) – allows you to benefit from better geographic targeting, strengthen the trust of Internet users and be favored by Google in the countries concerned. On the other hand, this structure is more expensive and requires that domain names be available for each country. It is generally preferred by large structures, particularly if the contents are different depending on the country.
  • Use a subdomain: subdomains (indicated like this: fr.example.com) are sections that have their own domain name. They allow you to divide your site into subsites. On the other hand, just like a ccTLD, the subdomain is distinct from the main domain and therefore does not benefit from its SEO authority.
  • Use a subdirectory: the subdirectories (indicated as follows: example.com/fr-ca/) are also perfectly suitable if you want to offer the same content adapted to several languages. Their main advantage is that they benefit from the SEO authority of the entire domain and are simple to set up.

5. Implement a netlinking strategy

Netlinking is essential for SEO because links pointing to your site are considered by Google as positive signals about its content, especially if the third party site is itself considered relevant by the search engine. So, if you want to develop your natural referencing internationally, it is interesting to implement a local netlinking strategy by targeting specialized bloggers or by adopting a link baiting approach (offering content with high added value, likely to ‘be reshared).

But the internal networking of your site will also be of great importance. Make sure that the links on your pages are adapted to the translated language. For example, avoid keeping a link to a French source in your article translated into Spanish.

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