Managing standard SEO strategies can be challenging enough, but the task becomes much harder when you go international and attempt to deliver better experiences for visitors in other regions around the world.
If you have recently started optimising your website to help search engines deliver content to users you want to target in different countries and languages, then you will be better prepared to succeed if you know some of the reasons why strategies can falter.
You need search engines to access and crawl your webpages so that you can feature in rankings.
This process is known as technical SEO, and it requires more work when you are managing multiple versions of a website based on locations and languages.
With more to optimise, there is a greater likelihood of technical mix-ups that can hold your international SEO strategies back.
Two of the most prevalent problems that webmasters run into are poor domain and URL structures.
Don’t worry, as even the biggest companies run into these issues.
Netflix had indexing problems back in 2017 and struggled to deliver content to each of the 180-plus countries it operates in.
In addition to optimising domain and URL structures, try to correct any XML sitemap conflicts, poor use of tags, internal linking issues, and mixed hreflang signals.
Slow loading times
A report by Unbounce found that 81% of marketers believe that page speed has a direct impact on conversions, but just 3% focus optimisation efforts on loading times.
Google prefers to serve content that loads quickly, and you will benefit in search performance if you can reduce the time it takes for pages to be usable.
You can improve your page speed times by compressing images, using the best hosting service available to you, reducing the amount of server requests, and minimising redirects.
Strategies that have not been localised
Cutting and pasting a domestic SEO strategy template for international efforts rarely works as it does not take into account the cultures, needs and interests of audiences in each market.
You need to localise your SEO and content campaigns so that they are tailored by language and location.
Merely translating copy with Google is not enough either – you need natural content crafted by native speakers to really engage with audiences overseas.
This will boost your international SEO as content will be search engine optimised for the country and language you are targeting while retaining the authentic and authoritative voice you want to present.
Relying on geo-targeting
Geo-targeting and the practice of delivering content to visitors based on their location is cost-effective and very useful, but you need to be aware of its limitations.
For example, there are countries where multiple languages are spoken or a large expat community does not speak the national language.
This is where website accessibility comes in.
You should try to offer an accessible UI that allows users to change language, location and currency via an intuitive dropdown menu. By doing this, you reduce the risk of alienating visitors who may not be able to navigate your webpages.