3 Ways to Optimize for International SEO

Lucy Xu
September 18, 2018
4 min read

Companies with successful localization initiatives know that it takes more than translations to reach your international audiences. Beyond the content, your localization efforts must take into account the more technical aspects of making sure your localized content is properly set up so that it can be found by your global audiences. A big mistake that companies make when mapping out their localization strategy is overlooking key steps like setting up a proper international URL structure and optimizing for international SEO.

Achieving high natural search rankings in other languages may be the most challenging part of adapting your website for other languages. To overcome this, we’ve put together some tips for optimizing your international SEO. Couple these with the 3 Ways to Build an International URL Structure, and you’ll be set up for global localization success.

Conduct Your Keyword Due Diligence

Even if terms in your business category are easy to translate, phrase syntax, expressions, and unique terms will come into play when thinking through SEO. Once you have your prioritized list of target markets and identified the content you want to make available, you will need to spend some time doing keyword research in each of your target languages rather than relying on the results of translating your SEO-optimized source content.

Prioritize Your Search Engines

After you understand the translated that your business will need to hit on when localizing, the next step is to understand the search engine(s) used most frequently in your target countries. From here, you will then select your keyword research tools based on the specific search engines you’ll be planning for. As with the U.S., Google is dominant in much of the world, however, there are some notable exceptions. To get a better understanding of the dominant search engines across various countries, take a closer look the chart below (and find the search engine that is dominant in your target markets).

Source: ReturnOnNow.com


This research will provide you with a better understanding of the terms that resonate in each market, information that you’ll want to include in your translation glossary or style guide for on-going translations. As you can tell from the chart, Google Keyword Tool will still be a go-to resource as you localize and expand globally. Then for Russia, you’ll want to use Yandex Keyword Stats, for China, Baidu Index, and for South Korea, Naver Trends and Naver Keyword Research Tool.

Leverage Your Localization Efforts for Sales & Marketing

Getting familiarized with the most popular keywords and search engines of your target market will also give you a sense of how much traffic you can expect to receive based on the interest in your business offering. In turn, you’ll be able to adapt this research and use it to inform your sales and marketing efforts on the ground in your new international efforts. For example, if you have local offices either in or planned for your target markets, you can work with that staff to conduct this critical research; however, if you don’t have any in-house personnel with the appropriate foreign language skills, you will need to engage with either a translation provider or an international provider or an international marketing agency to conduct this research properly.

Explore the Full #TranslationMustKnows Series

This post is part of the #translationmustknows series, built to equip everyone in your localization process – from developers to localization managers – with the knowledge and resources necessary for achieving translation and localization success.

Explore the full #translationmustknows series to catch up on other posts and learn everything you need to know for translation success:

Achieve Website Translation Success

Website localization is a complex task. That’s why we’ve put together a guide that breaks down each key step of your software localization process from start to finish. Download our step-by-step guide to website translation for action items and best practices for website, and an overview of the results that effective localization can drive for your business. Whether you’re a digital marketer responsible for all the facets of your company’s website or a webmaster responsible for the infrastructure and processes behind the scenes, this guide will walk you through all the critical steps of localizing your content.

The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Website Translation

Lucy Xu

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