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The 6 Most Important Elements of a Global SEO Strategy

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Dominic Lill

28th April 2023

The online world is enormous and has the power to transcend physical borders, meaning many businesses are on the precipice of breaking into international markets. Still, they’re unsure of how to achieve the same levels of success they did domestically.

The success of your online business is largely tied to exposure, which means having a powerful search engine presence. Given that over 50% of all website traffic comes from organic search, to successfully enter an international market, you need to put together a winning global SEO strategy.

In this blog, we will cover the following topics:

  1. What is global SEO?
  2. Why is global SEO important?
  3. The 6 most important elements of a global SEO strategy
  4. Following international SEO best practices
  5. The 5 biggest challenges of global SEO

What Is Global SEO?

Google results in the UAE will vary drastically for the same search carried out in another country. This is because search engines use geolocation tools to determine the most relevant results. 

To allow your website the chance to shine overseas, you need to create a separate SEO strategy that’s centered around the target country. For example, if you’re entering the Russian market, your page needs to be optimized for the Yandex search engine, as well as Google. 

International SEO graphic

Why Is an International SEO Strategy Important?

International SEO is essential for driving your website content to the top of international SERPs. By implementing a solid strategy, you’ll be in a greater position to build strong relationships with your global customers, which will translate into more conversions, sales, and revenue. 

By targeting specific markets and tailoring content to the needs and preferences of local audiences, businesses will put themselves in a position to achieve global success. Users will always be more likely to engage with content that is relevant and meaningful to them.

The 6 Most Essential Elements of a Global SEO Strategy

According to our team of SEO experts in Dubai and London here at Trafiki, the six most important elements of an international SEO strategy are as follows:

#1 Hreflang Tags

HTML uses various tags to inform web browsers which information needs to be displayed. When it comes to hitting international markets, using “hreflang” should be used to highlight the content language and the geolocation of your audience. It may look something like this:

link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/” hreflang=”en-ae”

link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/ar/” hreflang=”ar-ae”

In this example, the first link points to the website’s default version in English, and the hreflang attribute is set to “en-ae” to indicate that this version is intended for users in the UAE who speak English. The second link points to the Arabic version of the website, and the hreflang attribute is set to “ar-ae” to indicate that this version is intended for users in the UAE who speak Arabic.

Note that the hreflang codes for the UAE are “en-ae” for English and “ar-ae” for Arabic. These codes indicate the language (en for English, ar for Arabic) and the region (ae for UAE) that the content is intended for.

Having hreflang set up correctly is essential for reaching international markets. When a foreign search is entered, the engine will search the hreflang code first before searching for an alternative language code match. 

Please note, hreflang will not work on Baidu or Bing – these use a setup called the content-language meta tag.

#2 Determine the Search Engine

Even though Google is by far the most used search engine in the UAE (95%) and all over the globe, there are a number of countries where alternate search engines are also popular. For example, in Japan, Yahoo has 24% of the market share, meaning you would need to account for this in your overall SEO strategy if you want to target a Japanese audience.

#3 SERPs and Keywords Differ

Google’s algorithm is the same regardless of the country you’re in, but the search engine results page (SERPs) for a given keyword will vary depending on the location. To understand the SERPs within your target country, you’ll need to assess their local SERPs, which you can do by using a tool like Screaming Frog

You will also need to consider changes in word definitions, even within same-language countries. For example, if you search for “football” in America and then in the UK, you’ll find extremely different results since, in the UK, football is the word used instead of soccer.

focus keyword diagram

#4 Avoid Translation Services

There are countless plugins and third-party tools that will translate a web page into a different language. However, you should know that more times than not, there will be a high number of inaccuracies. 

Therefore, if you’re serious about launching a serious international SEO campaign, you must hire native speakers of the languages you’re targeting. After all, if your website is riddled with language errors, it will tarnish your reputation within that market.

#5 Consider Local Laws

The internet has different regulations depending on the region, which means you may need to alter parts of your website designed for international audiences. The best example is GDPR, which is relevant in any EU country and the UK. Without diving too much into the policy, it essentially gives users much more control over how their data is processed.

#6 Still Follow the EEAT

According to Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines, users prioritize Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). When you’re targeting international markets, these are still extremely relevant. Therefore, you should be focusing on tasks like building your brand, including credits under articles, increasing information accuracy, implementing security strategies, and carefully monitoring user content.

Following International SEO Best Practices

When you’re building your global SEO campaign, everyone involved in the project must follow the same processes. For example, you need everyone on your team to follow the same URL structure, as even the smallest changes can slow down your website.

In some cases, URL differences can result in incorrect web pages being displayed, which will only damage your conversion rate. Therefore, you will need to put together an international SEO best practices guide and make sure your entire team understands it.

The 5 Biggest Challenges of Global SEO

Global SEO is about so much more than simply editing a website; it’s about aligning your business with the way the new market views the world. Here are some the biggest challenges that you face when attempting to execute a global SEO strategy

  1. Language barriers: Literal translations won’t always work because words have different meanings across languages – you may even need to change the name of products and services completely. 
  2. Cultural differences: Another challenge is navigating cultural differences. The content you release domestically won’t always hit the same in a foreign market. After all, the best content is often grounded in social experiences. Understanding these differences and tailoring your content to suit local preferences can be challenging.
  3. Technical complexities: Implementing global SEO requires technical expertise and knowledge of international SEO best practices. From implementing hreflang tags to setting up international targeting in Google Search Console, there are many technical aspects to consider.
  4. Search engine variations: Search engines may display different results based on the user’s location and language. This means that your rankings may fluctuate depending on where your users are located, making it difficult to track and measure the effectiveness of your global SEO efforts.
  5. Local competition: Finally, global SEO requires you to compete with local businesses and websites that are already established in the market. This can be challenging, especially if you are trying to break into a competitive industry or market.

Trafiki Digital: Global SEO Agency Services

Growing a business in an international territory is challenging, and that’s before you dive into the depths of global SEO. Aside from the important elements outlined above, the key point to take away from this article is to move further than simple website alterations; you need to align yourself completely with your new international audience.

Based in London and Dubai, we are a digital marketing agency with years of experience in turning brands into global household names through cutting-edge internal SEO strategies. Book a consultation with one of our SEO specialists today and find out what we could do for you.

2024-01-22T17:21:38+00:00April 28th, 2023|Blog|

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