Do you want to sell your products online in different countries? Do you need to make your services known in different continents? Then you need to design an International SEO strategy for your website.

With an International SEO strategy you can make your products or services known in countries around the world and reach your target audience, regardless of where they are located or the language they speak.

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What do you need to develop an International SEO strategy?

To implement an International SEO strategy it is important to have a website in different languages or geolocalized in different countries, i.e. a multi-regional and/or multilingual website.

Multiregional and multilingual websites

To show different content or adapted by language or country we can have:

Multilingual website: website offering content in two or more languages. In this case, Google will show users the pages according to the language they use in their search.
Multi-regional website: in this case, different content will be shown depending on the country or region where the user who has made the search on Google is located.

A website can be either multilingual or multiregional, but it can also be both. That is, you can create content adapted to each country and with different languages.

Market research

How can it be otherwise, it is very important to carry out a market study prior to the development of our international strategy. It is important to know how people are and, especially our audiences, in each country where we want to increase the visibility of our website.

Isn’t it true that American and English have different words, or that the Spanish spoken in Spain uses very different words than in Mexico? This is very important to take into account when developing a successful International SEO strategy. We cannot use the same keywords in different countries, nor the same strategies. We must know what the audiences in each country are like before we start.

Likewise, we will also have to analyze what other languages are spoken in each country. For example, in Catalonia, a significant percentage of the population uses Catalan more when speaking than Spanish. But, really, how do they search for products or services on Google, in Catalan or in Spanish? All this we will have to analyze in order to design the right SEO actions!

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SEO Experience

If you are not yet familiar with the SEO concept and you have never worked on SEO strategies in your own country, it is better to start from the beginning. Design SEO actions in your region, and learn from the actions and mistakes -which you will surely make- and, as you gain experience, start working on International SEO. And, as you gain experience, start working with International SEO, it will be much easier then!

How to develop an International SEO strategy?

There are different aspects that we must take into account to develop an International SEO strategy, whether they are related to the technical parameters of the website or the content.

For this, it is important to know the main web options that exist, in order to choose the most appropriate for our international strategy, which will be different for each project or company, depending on the objectives, resources, audience…

Web Architecture for International SEO

As we all know, designing the right web architecture is one of the keys to success. And, when we design an International SEO strategy, it will not be less! For this it is very important that we develop the structure according to our objectives.

So, to begin with, we must ask ourselves: what kind of domain should we use?  

Web domains

The first thing we have to be clear about is the different types of domains that we can use for a web site. There are mainly the following two types:

gTLD or generic top level domains

The main generic domains, known as gTLD (generic top level domains) are the domains that are not linked to any country and have three-character endings such as .com, .org, .net…

If we use generic top level domains, but we also want to geolocate our site in different countries, we will do it with subfolders.

ccTLD or generic domains with country code

The generic domains with country code or ccTLD (country code Top Level Domains) are used when we already know the country or market where we want to expand. In this case, they are websites ending with extensions such as .es, .fr,, etc. With these endings, we indicate to search engines that this domain has to be the most relevant for searches in each country and we geolocate the pages according to the region where we want to have more presence.

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CDNs or local servers?

Another very important aspect to consider when designing an international SEO strategy is whether we want to host our website on a CDN (content delivery network) or on a local server. A decision that, as always, will also vary depending on our objectives.

If, on the one hand, we only want to target specific countries, such as Spain and France, we can host the website ending in .es in Spain and the one ending in .fr in France. In this way, the web page, among other things, will load much faster for people regardless of whether they search from France or Spain. But if with the international positioning strategy we want to reach many countries, the solution is to use a CDN. In this way, we will not have to host the website in each country.

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What is a CDN and what is it for?

CDNs are a network of interconnected servers distributed around the world in different data centers. Thus, when a user enters a website, he automatically receives the data from the server closest to him, which reduces the loading times of the website (very useful for image content, audiovisual …) and therefore, the user experience on the web. They are the ideal solution in case of using subfolders for international strategy.

hreflang tag, essential for the International SEO strategy!

The hreflang tag is used to indicate to Google that we have a website in more than one language or targeted to more than one region, and which URL corresponds to each one. Thus, it will be easier for search engines to correctly display the results in each specific country according to the region and/or language of the user.

This should be indicated with the following element in the header of each page:

rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-es (language-code)” />

For example, if the company addresses Spain (Spanish), Catalonia (Catalan) and United Kingdom (English):

Keyword research… By languages and countries!

Finally, and more related to the topic of content SEO, another key factor that we must take into account to develop a successful International SEO strategy is the keyword research. If within the same country, we already use different terms in each region to refer to the same concept, how can it not be different on an international scale?

What we can never do when designing an international strategy is to assume that in every region of the world the same concept (i.e. keyword) is searched for in the same way. So in the international case, it will be important to make an individualized and customized keyword study in each country and language if we want to have good results in them and not translate the contents based on a main country, even if these countries speak the same language!

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Designing an International SEO strategy takes time to see results worldwide, but I hope these tips will help you to better develop your digital strategy.

Do you want more information?

Contact me and I will help you to solve your doubts about how to develop an International SEO strategy.