international SEO services

Make the Most of International SEO Strategies

Brittany Charbonneau Writer at Pedestal Search

Brittany Charbonneau Writer

April 6, 2023 | 5 Min Read

Article updated on April 20, 2023

We’ve explained local SEO in the past and have shared our knowledge and expertise regarding its perks, strategies, and purposes. But what about international SEO? Businesses in different industries with different target markets will benefit uniquely from both local and international SEO. So, for those businesses that see potential in branching out with an international SEO content strategy, here’s what you need to know.

Local SEO versus international SEO

Local SEO focuses on a smaller-scale target market whereas international SEO branches out on a larger scale. Generally, international SEO strategies will cost more as additional resources are required to develop content geared toward different audiences and languages.

The content will also need a shift to match user intent across different regions as opposed to just one area. To better understand these unique audiences, more research is needed on the audience, competitors, and keywords in different languages

Local SEO

Local SEO strategies focus on improving ranking in local search engine results—for example, a user searching for a coffee shop near them. Google uses the location of the user to show them more relevant information. Some common local SEO strategies include managing a Google My Business account, geotagging images, and optimizing online business directories.

International SEO

At a larger scale, there’s international SEO, which prioritizes growth in international markets. It increases the reach of products and services, and establishes the brand in new areas. International SEO is how businesses evaluate how they can cater to different audiences simultaneously.

What makes international SEO valuable?

Consider the following statistics about online shopping languages:
  • Even if the content isn’t as great, 65 percent of users prefer to see it in their language.
  • When online shopping, 73 percent of consumers would at least like to see product reviews in their language.
  • Lastly, 40 percent of people won’t purchase a product in another language.
Based on these statistics, we can see users value seeing online content in their language so they can make informed decisions and fully understand a product. They’d even rather read poor content as long as it’s in a language they’re comfortable with. This is one of the first reasons international SEO is valuable to businesses that have an international audience or presence. More consumers will buy if it’s in their language.

One of the more obvious perks is international SEO strategies enable businesses to expand their customer base, and, if done correctly, increase conversions. More people will recognize the brand, which will help it become a global player. Take Nike for example, which is wildly popular internationally. They’ve become a leading entity worldwide, which increases their sales and encourages consumers to buy from them since they’re reputable and available.

For businesses seeing a lot of competition, international SEO can be a leg up in the market. Whether the competition is already taking advantage of this or not, starting an international SEO content strategy will help businesses compete and remain relevant.

Prerequisites to launching an international SEO strategy

There are a few questions to ask before jumping into an international SEO content strategy.
  1. Does the business have an international audience already? Check the audience section in Google Analytics for more details. The more international traffic there is, the easier it will be for a business to go international.
  2. In the same section of Google Analytics, determine what language users have their browsers set to.
  3. Are competitors leveraging international SEO? Using a VPN to search results in different countries can outline which brands have a strong presence.
  4. What are users searching for in different areas and languages? Conduct the same keyword research as before, but this time focusing on different languages and countries.
  5. Is the business prepared? Does the business already have success with traffic, conversions, and sales? Otherwise, it will be even harder to grow in an international market.

Implementing an international SEO content strategy

1. Start with research

Research for the home location of the brand has likely already been done. Now it’s time to research the language, location, and audience of the areas the business will be expanding to because not every country is the same. Users across the globe will use different keywords, phrases, methods, and trends when they search.

Use keyword search tools like Google Analytics or Ubersuggest to find out what search terms are relevant in different countries. This will also help determine whether a chosen country is actually good for the business or not.

Use VPNs to search for more similar products and services in other countries to see what results come up, and whether the business can compete with them and has something to offer.

Remember different countries and cultures will use different terms for some keywords. Maintain a list of keywords for individual countries; don’t use the same ones everywhere.

2. Update the URL structure

Users can either appreciate a URL or be turned away from a website because of it. One of the factors is location. Users searching for something relevant to France might not be as interested in a URL that ends with .com. There are a few ways to update the URL structure of a business to accommodate different countries:
  • Use a different ccTLD depending on what’s most relevant to that country (.ca, .uk, .de, etc.)
  • Use a subdomain instead of creating a whole new website, for example,
  • Use a subdirectory on the existing domain, for example,
  • Use a gTLD with language parameters, for example,

3. Use the right languages

Google shows users results in their native language, meaning it crawls websites, finds relevant ones in the correct languages, and displays those. If a website goes international, ensure the entire website is available in all applicable languages from headings to footers. Don’t use machine translations. To make things simpler for the user, provide an easy-to-find button to switch between languages.

Use hreflang attributes to inform Google about the available languages on the website. A hreflang tag shows Google the website offers the same information in the relevant language on a different page so Google can rank the correct page and display it to the user. Embed a hreflang tag in the <head> of the HTML, in the XML sitemap markup, and HTTP headers.

4. Publish specialized content

Search intent will vary depending on the region and language. Content should conform to those changes and match search intent. It isn’t enough to publish the same content in different languages. Various cultures will value different information, and perform searches in unique ways.

Keywords can’t be directly translated because that will change the intent. Rather, conduct keyword research and find the keywords and phrases that have strong intent, then build or update content around that.

Consider that other countries will find different topics more valuable than others. For example, a skin product business with a line for frostbitten skin won’t perform as well in hot, humid countries. Also, consider the statistics used in the content. Are the statistics from a source relevant to that country? Don’t use a Canadian source if a topic is geared toward Italian users.

5. Choose the right countries

Since international SEO addresses each country individually, it’s important for businesses to only choose and focus on those that will be beneficial to their growth. A Canadian business selling winter gear could increase its range to other cold countries, such as  Norway and Finland. However, it’d be a bad idea to invest in promoting winter products to countries like Costa Rica, Greece, and Cuba.

Using the conducted research, find out where users are searching from, and determine if there’s a potential audience there. Look for keywords being searched for in other countries to see whether the brand can address those inquiries.

Tips for international SEO success

  1. Make sure the entire website is available in each language offered, not just a page here and there. Allow customers to find all the information they need in their language.
  2. Don’t copy-paste existing content into every country’s content plan. Create relevant content in each case to properly appeal to the wider audience.
  3. Similar to the statistics strategy, use relevant backlinks for each country. Also, use local publishers to develop links of authority in that country.

Bonus tip

Use international SEO services available at Pedestal Search. Along with our expertise in keyword research, SEO strategies, and organic growth, we can help businesses take that big step toward launching internationally. Get that extra boost with Pedestal Search. Contact us.



Brittany Charbonneau Writer at Pedestal Search

Brittany Charbonneau