A Quick Guide to Getting Started in International SEO

If you are familiar with SEO and by using that you are not getting much traffic on your website or product then, it is the right time to focus on the International SEO.

What is international SEO?

In simplest of terms, the international SEO focuses on the global market or countries from where you can grab the traffic from. By internal SEO optimization, you can focus on the specific countries and their interests by which you can boost up the traffic of your website.
Assume, you are targeting China for getting the traffic from so you will use the content on your website which will be related to stuff they use or the language they speak. This will be the targeted audience, and the strategy will be according to that.

Why should we use international SEO?

Mostly, those people use the international SEO whose local SEO hasn’t brought up much traffic to their website or product. If for instance, you have a market locally and you want to expand it, then international SEO could be the right choice for you. Also, for those people who are targeting English speaking client or have the established clients who speak that language then, international SEO will help you out to grab more of that traffic. You can also hire an SEO services company to do your international SEO efficiently.

Do I Need International SEO?

Any business that is planning to expand globally and wish to reach out people in their own language must opt for International SEO. International SEO will be beneficial for you if:

  • You have a notable customer base across the globe.
  • You’re trying to reach out to new international markets.
  • You have offices in different countries to operate your business.
  • Your customers do not speak English as their first language.

Going About International SEO

To make a successful SEO strategy to be successful, it is important to come up with an effective plan. Here are some points to help you:

1 Research

First and foremost, you have to research on the country you are targeting to have planned to get the traffic from. You need to know, what is the language of that country, what demographics are easy to attract, what content they like and so on. Google keyword planner will guide you along with showing you the trending keywords of that country. You can use those keywords in your content to boost up the website and get the relevant traffic. Language is also a very big factor while searching for keywords. You need to make sure that, the keywords you are choosing is going to grab much of the English audience.

2 Targeting audience

After research, you will realize that you have options of finding the audience either by their language or by their country. Most of the people prefer to target the audience by language base. By doing that, you should be able to get the audience from one specific place. But, you need to check that the keyword you are choosing is enough to get organize traffic. The traffic which is not only relevant but also competitive.
If this strategy doesn’t work for you, then the best alternative is the country based targeting. By doing this, you will not only be able to get ore the traffic from the country you targeted, but you will not have to put much effort in choosing a specific keyword. This is what most of the people use, and you are going to favor it too, I HOPE.

3 Optimize

After all of the above steps taken now comes the time when you should optimize the website. I mean, you need to make sure that your website is searchable with relevant content. Your website doesn’t have the duplication issue with URL or content of others. Your website has the ideal content which will attract the masses with proper searches on the web.

Good hosting

If your website hosting is of the bad country or slow country, then no matter how much effort you put into it you are not going to get the traffic. Hosting from a country where the website loading is going to boom, is the right choice. The page speeds are the major factor in website Optimization so, if you are using a good hosting plan with good service, then it will affect your international SEO.


With search engine changing by the day, you can’t rely on one strategy to get the traffic internationally. But, no matter how much time it has changed if your domain will be relevant to the country you are targeting you are going to boost up the website for sure.
This is the example of the domain you could use to tell the audience whom this website is related to. This domain is used the most in the world and could grab much of your targeted audience by international SEO. This is the ideal domain choice if you are using the country based targeting

Best Practices in International SEO

To make successful international SEO plan, you’ll have to create a right URL structure, which targets your audience. The three different structures available are:

Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)

It gives you country specific extensions and hence is ideal for geolocation. However, to gain popularity with this domain, you’ll have to put in extra efforts as it requires you to start afresh as an independent domain.


It is a great option for those with a Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). It requires a lot of content indexing and is recommended when you have a unique identity or products. For example,http://drive.google.com is a subdomain while http://www.google.com/drive will add more depth to the structure.


It’s the best choice with business that has limited resource or content as it helps you carry forward the reputation of your current domain.

ccTLD, Sub-Domain, and Sub-Directory

Now that you know about the domain structures that you can use to optimize your International SEO content, here are the pros and cons that’ll help you decide.


Country Code Top-Level Domain is designed for a specific region or country. Two letter ISO- country codes are identified by search engines to understand the target countries, website is targeting.Eg: http://www.google.in/

Pros of ccTLD:

  • Helps Search Engines (SE) and users to identify the region.
  • Makes your page rank higher for target users to find you
  • Gives a geolocalization signal.
  • Easily marketable
  • Isun-affected by Google Panda or Penguin update if otherccTLD is penalized

Cons of ccTLD

  • Requires a separate SEO strategy
  • subject to censorship measures
  • Separate crawling
  • Requires new links to gain a ranking


A sub-domain is a separate site that’s affiliated to your main URL. Eg: https://images.google.com/ and https://play.google.com/

Pros of Sub-Domain:

  • Easy to manage and maintain
  • Have local IP address
  • Easily track conversions and results using Google Analytics
  • Possible to have a separate local host
  • Best for new products or businesses

Cons of Sub-Domain:

  • Requires a separate SEO strategy
  • Local Optimization process is complicated
  • Hard to create country wise sub-domain for different versions
  • Users prefer browsing locally
  • Value of main domain can’t be passed on to sub-domain


A sub-directory is basically a directory within another directory. This allows you to create separate folder for different languages.

Pros of Sub-Directory:

  • Need just one technical support domain
  • Cost effective as compared to other options
  • Stronger domain authority
  • Simple to execute

Cons of Sub-Directory:

  • Sub- directories don’t have specific IP address
  • Weak signalled geo-localization
  • Users prefer local browsing
  • Difficult to maintain country directory for different versions.
  • Whole directory is affected by Google penalties

NOTE: If you are targeting a specific country then this could be the best choice. Because it is the telling the audience that this website is related to your country. But, if you are using the strategy which focuses on the language, then this domain is irrelevant or not good. In this matter, the underneath pic is the best choice for the domain you can use. It is showing that we have targeted a specific language and it is not going to confuse with any other thing.

Few Major Problem in International SEO

Duplicate content is one of the biggest problems in International SEO, which affects your SEO ranking. You can use a hreflang to sort this issue of duplicate content. This enables Google to sort out the version of your page that should be reaching the regional audience. This SEO practice is virtually mandatory and you can use this tag on all URL versions of your site.
Canonical tags can also help in preventing duplication of your content.

Problems which could arise in the international SEO

If you are wondering that is the international SEO without any hiccups or problems, then you are wrong. There are many factors which could make some issues or could be a problematic thing for you while using international SEO. You need to remember that like local SEO has some issues with duplication, international SEO also focused on that matter.
If your website or product is a copy of some website or content, then your whole plan to get the traffic could be ruined by the crawler google uses.
The best approach to stop that is by checking every part of the website and also the domain which should differentiate with the others.
If your website name is 123.com and there is another website named 123.com then even if your whole content is good, you should differentiate the domain name by adding some country based domain to it. Like, if your website is from Uk, then you could add 123.com.uk. This will tell the Google crawler that this web is different to the others and the duplication issue will resolve.

Essential Checklist for International SEO

⦁You need to research that why you are doing the international Seo?
⦁ Is doing the international SEO more beneficial than a local one?
⦁ Are you going to focus on language targeted audience?
⦁ Or you are choosing a country based audience for better traffic?
⦁ What country will you choose to boost your product or website?
⦁ What will be the domain of your website?
⦁ How are you going to alter the issues with duplication and all?


From the above-detailed guideline, we have realized that if we have the product or website and we want to boost it up in the internal market then, there are ways to do it. But it is not an easy road which every tom dick and harry could jump on.
There are ways, there are strategies which needs to be followed to get the right output. You might not get relevant and required traffic at the start. But, it is a must that eventually you are going to boost up the website if you are focusing on the right strategies with patience and effort.
Not to forget that not every website owner should work on the international SEO. If his business is relevant to the international market and he has the assets to empower and facilitate that, then international SEO could be chosen.

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