In website localization, country-targeting can be a much more effective strategy than language-targeting. Not only can it boost your website's performance on the search engines, but it can also build more engagement with the international audience.
How impressive the result will turn out depends on how good you are in implementing the international SEO. As a guideline, here are the things you need to do:
While doing the website localization, it is best to focus on one country at a time because there are many details to work on. Besides that, you also need to run an evaluation to see how profitable it is. Improve it as optimally as possible before moving on to the next target country.
Localizing your website takes money and energy. Rushing it to cover multiple countries at a time might cause cost-inefficiency. It will also be more difficult to evaluate. Yet if you want to do it anyway, the least you can do is to have a different team for each country.
The first thing you should do with international SEO is to analyze your website's traffic. See which countries give you the most visits, engagement, and leads. Those are the countries you need to target for localization because they have the potential to give you the most revenue boost.
Each country is unique, and you must learn about it. Dig deeper into that particular area. Check out the demographics, trends, and market tendencies. The more you understand your target audience, the better you can engage with them.
Building your URL structure using ccTLD gives the strongest signals for international SEO. Hence, your website will likely appear on the first page of the SERP. Make sure you are using the right country codes because improper use of code will make everything useless.
You can either use subdomains or subdirectories to cut the budget short, although you shouldn't expect the results to be as excellent. Nonetheless, be consistent with the structure you have chosen. Using ccTLD for one country and subdomains for others will make your website messy and confusing to navigate.
Loading speed also contributes to your website's rank, and the distance between your hosting server to the audience determines how fast they can load your website. Even when someone finds your page, a slow loading time will bore them enough that they might leave even before your page finishes loading.
With a high bounce rate, your rank will go even lower. Using a local server to host your website will cut down the distance. Hence, your page will be significantly faster to load. As a result, your website might appear higher on the SERP.
Google is not the only search engine in this world. Several countries have local search engines that the people prefer, such as Naver in Korea and Yandex in Russia. In China, Google is not even available for the citizens to access. Hence, when targeting a country, you need to find out what is the most popular search engine there.
Search engines work differently, so you can't use your Google strategy for other platforms. If learning the algorithm and improving SEO on that particular system seems to be too difficult for your current team, consider hiring a local SEO specialist to get the work done.
Keywords are crucial. If you are not using the right one, your SEO will not be as excellent as you expect it to be. Interestingly, a keyword that is effective in one country could be not so relevant for others.
Different countries may use different terms for the same thing. Under the same niche, a topic that seems to be unpopular in one country could be a trending search in other countries. That being said, researching keywords for the specific country is a step that you should never miss when localizing your website using country-targeting.
Using automatic tools for translating your content might save a lot of time and money, but there is nothing much you can expect from it. Auto-translation will result in many odd phrases, grammatical errors, and even untranslated words. Your content might end up losing its meaning.
Instead of generating local traffic, this instant tactic might increase the bounce rate of your website, which will eventually lower its SEO ranks. The only way to get a high-quality translation is by hiring a local translator. If your budget is narrow, you can start the translation using tools and hire a local to proofread and edit it to make your content sound more natural and engaging.
Enrich your content with backlinks, but be selective on the web pages you choose. They need to be country-based and reliable. With strong backlinks, search engines will find your website trustworthy and give it a high rank.
Governmental or institutional websites can be reliable options for backlinking. If your business has a local headquarter, branch, or even just a small stall, creating a Google My Business can also help for backlinking. You can also use your social media accounts to support your website.
It is not easy for search engines to "find" new websites, crawl in their structure, and index their pages. To make this process easier, you can submit your website to the webmaster of each platform. For example, you can submit your website to Google Webmaster Tool to appear on Google SERP.
Not submitting your website doesn't mean search engines will never be able to find it. However, the submission can help to improve the results. Your website's crawlability also relies on how neat you are in structuring your sitemap.
Although your website is accessible to anyone in every country, there would still be a lot of foreign audiences that won't visit it. With country-targeting, your website would be much easier to find and more welcoming to visitors. With careful execution, a country-targeting strategy for international SEO will boost the leads your website can generate.