9 Checklists for Success in International SEO 2021

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Last year , People were pushed further online, which created new potential for businesses seeking to compete in markets worldwide.

In order to succeed in international SEO, one must understand issues of page experience, URL structure, keywords, SERPs, and more from a global perspective.

Building and expanding your company’s digital presence requires that you are able to get in front of audiences in each of the regions in which you do business, particularly in search.

SEO has grown more essential than ever before, with 68% of all online experiences beginning with a search engine.

Use this guide as a checklist for a more effective international SEO strategy today — and for years to come.

The Checklist for International SEO Success

Optimizing content to perform in several countries requires a solid strategy but in the end, it’s all about execution.

Run through this list of international SEO considerations to ensure your campaign and content are on point.

1. Hreflang – the International Setup

An hreflang is an HTML attribute that shows the language your content is displayed in and also the geolocation of the reader. It can look like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.site.com" hreflang="en-uk">

The HTML tail “en-uk” is used to tell search engines like Google the language and location you want to target with your content. This is important if you’re approaching a certain market and language.

Note: Hreflang doesn’t work with Bing or Baidu, which use the content-language meta tag:

<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-uk">

First, determine the search engine you want to focus on before going deeper into the technical optimization of your site.

2. Choose the right URL Structure

In order for your content to reach the audience you want, you need to consider URLs based on ccTLDs (country code top-level domains), subdomains, and subdirectories.

The method by which you will determine URL structure largely depends on your resources. In a perfect world, the best approach is TLDs—if you can manage several domains at the same time.

If not, subdomains are the next best thing. Lastly, you might choose a subdirectory if neither of the above options are suitable.

3. Prepare for Page Experience

With every update Google makes, it seems to focus more and more on on-page experience.

Case in point: Core Web Vitals become ranking factors in May 2021.

This is important to keep in mind, especially if you handle international SEO.

As part of the page experience, probably the most important thing to prepare for is mobile-first index (or mobile-only index). Mobile-first is a global issue and it is important to be prepared for it in every country in which you operate.

4. Avoid Machine Translation

Even though it may make life easier and translation quicker, you should really avoid machine translation.

I’ve seen it plenty of times.

A marketer wants to target more international markets and chooses to translate the whole site with a translation plugin.

Every time, content writers find translation errors (as I would call them). When translating from one language and dialect to another, there are language nuances that a machine won’t find.

A bad translation will not improve rankings.

Use local translators who also understand the importance of context.

This will protect your reputation with local consumers from their first interaction with your brand in search.

5. Understand That Keywords & SERPs Vary from Country to Country

Even though the Google algorithm may be universal, the SERPs vary widely on a local level.

Searching for any given product in Sweden will give you a whole other set of results than a search for the same thing in the U.S.

If targeting a specific keyword in several countries, begin by analyzing the SERPs.

Be aware of changes in search volume and the meaning of the term to locals for your target keywords, as well.

For example, the word “SEO” is a global term that is used in the same way in several countries. But searching for “football streaming” in the U.S. means something entirely different than “football streaming” in the UK.

6. E-A-T is Here to Stay

E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.”

Found in Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines, these qualities in content help build trust.

Here are some elements you should focus on:

  • Author names and biographies in editorial content
  • Cut or edit low E-A-T content
  • Build up a personal brand
  • Optimize technical security
  • Moderate User Generated Content (important in YMYL)

7. Don’t Just Build Links; Build Relationships

Yes, links are still important. And because links are based on the idea of recommendations, I don’t ever think they will leave the ranking factors.

Even though Google’s position is that you should not build links, there are still tactical ways to approach this ongoing gain of authority.

Focus on quality over quantity.

A relevant link from a site with a domain rating of 50 and few outgoing links will earn you better rankings than ten irrelevant links from sites with less than 10 ratings for domain authority.

But don’t be tempted by unsolicited LinkedIn connections asking you to buy their links. Instead, build relationships with marketers or people from the industry you work in.

Remember too that for international SEO, links have different values depending on the origin of the backlink.

If your site gets a lot of backlinks from URLs ending with “.it” it gives Google the impression that your site is relevant to audiences in Italy and it can therefore rank accordingly on those local SERPs. Local links will have the highest impact on search results.

It’s not about trying every single tactic. It’s about finding what works for you in each country and using that on a larger scale.

8. Keep an Eye on International & Local Search Trends

2020 brought us dramatic shifts in search volume and behavior due to the pandemic.

In general, however, our preferences are constantly changing and trends can vary widely from country to country.

Check out “working remotely,” for example, which increased from 22,200 to 40,500 in monthly searches in the U.S. – an 82% increase, from October 2019 to 2020.

In the UK, the search volume for the same term over the same period increased 175% from 4,400 to 12,100 in monthly searches.

Clearly, there is a larger market in the U.S.

9. Create a Plan & Execute

In the world of SEO, you’ll have a lot of analysis but in the end, it’s all about execution.

Based on what we just went through, you should now be in a better position to create a plan – a roadmap – and start executing.

Divide your punch list into technical SEO, content, and link building. From there, create your own optimization calendar.

Reference : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/international-seo-success-checklist/391088/