What is International SEO?

Before you can settle about the right approach to leverage your website abroad, you can do some basic study. In doing so, you will be able to make informed strategic decisions that will influence your foreign SEO approach. 

One of the main decisions you need to make is to set your international target: can you optimize for various languages or countries? To select the best choice, you must investigate whether traffic capacity and local market conditions warrant the development of different website versions for each region. 

When you discover the foreign audience, take a closer look at local online purchasing habits and cultural influences that can help you make choices that are better tailored to the real population characteristics. You can make a very well-educated guess easily by looking at the choices already taken by your immediate rivals or also by other foreign websites running in the same markets.

After looking at what other comparable foreign websites are doing and doing some keyword analysis for each language and/or region, you will know how to better organize your international SEO website – and you will have the details you need to optimize it. 

But before you can start refining your international models, you need to make a significant structural decision first. 

Structure of the Website for International SEO

Irrespective of whether you wish to divide your website by language or region, you will have to make a fundamental technological decision that sets the stage for International SEO: how to better arrange your website URL to sort the different versions that you will then customize for and geographical location or language.

To do this, there are three key choices available – CCTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains), subdomains, and folders. Let’s quickly take a look at each of these options: 

Choosing CCTLDs means registering a different domain for an international edition of the website, each domain having an appropriate local country code (yourwebsite.us, yourwebsite.co.uk, yourwebsite.it, and so forth).

At first glance, this might sound like a smart plan but it may entail rising costs when you start accumulating domain licenses, which could be especially costly in certain countries and include additional bureaucracies. In modern SEO, this alternative is really only feasible and useful for major budget organizations seeking to concentrate on individual countries separately. 

Using a subdomain to delete international copies of domains is a more common option that is technically less demanding and less costly. This involves the establishment of different subdomains 

Your website, each directed at a particular nation or language (us.yourwebsite.com, uk.yourwebsite.com, it.yourwebsite.com, etc). Each subdomain can host a separate edition of your website that is completely adapted for that language, making for more reliable and manageable foreign optimisation. 

The easiest alternative available is to use subdirectories in your domain to support various versions (such as www.yourwebsite.com/uk/, www.yourwebsite.com/uk, www.yourwebsite.com/it and so on). This alternative is the easiest to incorporate out of the three, but it can be tedious if the website has multiple iterations that require ongoing content development and optimization.

Any of these choices would enable you to customize each edition of the website separately with appropriate local keywords, meta tags and translated content. 

If you want to maintain all copies of your international website running from the same TLD (either by a subdomain or directory), you must use the hreflang attribute to explicitly distinguish each country-specific website. Here’s how it was done: 

Optimization of the Hreflang 

If you are not familiar with hreflang, it is simply an HTML attribute used to define foreign content by defining meta tags for each country and language in the actual webpage file. Is this achieved on individual pages by inserting the HTML lang=ш attribute? “Where are you replacing? The unique country/language meta tag (such as en-US, en-UK, it).

By using this attribute to announce the language associated to each HTML segment, you can help search engines understand how your website is separated into various languages, each customized locally with the necessary keywords and meta tag information. 

As you can see, International SEO is not even that complicated – it’s really just about using the same SEO practices as you know, except that you need to express them through various website markets and website iterations.
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