SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a marketing technique used by many business, trades and organisations to get noticed online. It helps generate organic traffic into the website by increasing it’s ranking in the search engine’s listings. By doing this, the website is easily noticed by users. The higher a website is listed in the rank, the better chances it receives to be noticed by the user. This translates into traffic and a potential sale for the business.
The SEO marketing strategy totally relies on the search engine’s algorithm and its rules. Hence, the traffic generated into the website (by SEO) is often referred to as organic or natural. However, with campaigns such as Pay Per Click (PPC) , you pay the search engine to have your website listed amongst the organic search listings. In addition to this, you will also be charged when a visitor clicks on these paid listings, to enter your website.
Understanding the SEO Tactics
There are several tactics used in a Search Engine Optimisation marketing campaign. These can be broadly grouped into three groups:
1. Technical Optimisation
This is the aspect of understanding how well a search engine can crawl through the website and index its content. Optimising in this area will involve taking a look at the website’s coding (the HTML tags), its directory structure, and speed (how long it takes to download the content).
2. On-page optimisation
This evaluates the user experience by analysing:
- How easy it is to navigate the site
- The content and its quality (is it diverse, does it contain infographics and videos relevant to the content)
- How the keywords have been used in the content
3. Off-page optimisation
This evaluates the referrals received from other sources into the website. Other sources can include blogs, forums and social media websites such as Facebook and Linkedin. The rationale behind off-page optimisation strategies is that more referrals a website receives, the search engine will trust the website and this helps to achieve a higher organic rank, in the listing.
In order to get results, a combination of each strategy may be applied. It also largely depends on the goals and what you want to achieve from SEO marketing. Hence, it is always best to draw up objectives and goals before starting this exercise.
Local vs Global SEO
When deciding on an SEO campaign for your website, it is also important to consider what should be your reach. Should it be limited to the local area, do you want a wider reach by going regional or international. These are some of the questions that should be addressed at the objectives and goals stage.
Your decisions can also be influenced based on factors such as having offices in different parts of the world or you wish to enter a new international market. Once this has been determined, you can decide between local and global SEO.
With the local SEO strategy, all techniques will focus on getting your website ready only for a specific, usually limited to one geographic location or region.
For example, a cosmetic dentist with a dental office in Sydney, the keyword , “cosmetic dentist” is too competitive. However, optimising the content with keywords “cosmetic dentist Sydney” will be more relevant. Yet again this can be very competitive.
Say if the cosmetic dentist has offices in Parramatta and Sydney CBD, it might be worthwhile to use the keywords “cosmetic dentist Sydney CBD” and “cosmetic dentist Parramatta”.
If your organisation has a global presence with offices around the world you might want to consider using a global or international SEO campaign. This strategy aims to appeal the website for a larger global audience.
In a global SEO campaign, there can be a number of strategies. One such strategy is to have a localised version of the website. This will be in addition to the primary website. The localised version will be translated into the languages which appeal to a particular audience.
Another tactic would be to have a geographic specific website, which is tailored for a specific country. For example, if your an Australian company looking to sell wine in China, and the USA, ideally, you will have three websites, one global with Australian English and two geographic specific in their native main languages, Chinese and US English.
How do you Plan for a Global SEO Campaign?
If your choice is to proceed with a global SEO campaign, there are several things you need to consider, especially, if you are novice and planing to expand your organisation’s website to an international audience.
Here are few tips that you will need to take the into consideration, before going global:
1. Understand your audience, their behaviour, and your competitor
In order to understand the audience, you might want to ask the following questions:
- Is there a demand for my goods and services overseas?
- From which countries are potential customers visiting my site?
- Which keywords do they use? Which pages do they visit often?
A good start might be to check Google Analytics. It can provide insights and statistics about location, language, keywords and pages. Analysing the competitors in your domain can also help you to gather vital data. For example, analysing the traffic can help you to gather data such as languages and regions they are targeting. There are two ways to do this.
One way would be to inspect the HTML code in their web pages (especially the landing page) and check for the attribute “hreflang”. This displays the language code. This usually indicates to the search engine, which language is used. Moz has a detailed description as to how the attribute is used in Search Engine Optimisation.
Another simpler way would be to scan the competitor’s website through SEMrush. They provide an itemised list of the regions and countries they target. Simply copy and paste the competitor’s website in their web portal to identify the target language and region.
2. What are the target search engines, find out their rules
When dealing with languages and different global regions, beware that there can be different search engines for different countries and markets. In China, Baidu is the equivalent of Google. In Russia, the main search engine is Yandex. Each of these search engines have different rules and algorithms. Thus, the same strategy may not fit all.
For example, for a website to ranked higher in Baidu, the web server must be located in China and in the Chinese language. You can read more about the rules and characteristics of the Baidu search engine.
Another example is the use of the “hreflang” attribute. This attribute is recognised by the search engines Google and Yandex. However, this is not the case with Bing. It uses a host of different methods and for this reason, you must understand the target search engine.
3. Is the website’s structure SEO friendly
The website’s structure plays an important role when implementing a global SEO campaign. The structure of the URL is something to be concerned. There are two options. Each of these methods have their own merits:
- Geo-tagging – If you have decided to have separate websites for each geographical region, you will need to use a country code Top Level Domain (TLD), some examples are:
- com.au for Australia
- co.uk for the United Kingdom
- com.sg for Singapore
- Language tagging – If you have decided to have localised versions of your website, you can adopt the sub-domain or the sub-directories structure based on the language. For example, sub-domain (en.website.com), and sub-directories (website.com/en)
Website hosting is yet another aspect to consider. Instead of having a central server hosting the country or language specific websites, it can be beneficial for them to be located in several geographical sites that are closer to the audience or the geographic location. This will ensure the site:
- Adhered to the rules of the particular search engine (if any)
- The download time is much quicker
4. How do you build links for a global SEO campaign
The link building task for a global SEO campaign should be carried out in the same manner as a local SEO campaign. In other words, you must have a good understanding of the underlying rules of the target region’s search engine. The following are some questions that you can ask, when drawing up the link building strategy:
- How relevant is this information for users in a specific region?
- Do the users in the specific region consider (your) website as a good resource to look up for information or to learn?
- What referrals does your regional site receive from external sources (such as social media)
5. Where do you find the correct staff
In addition to hiring staff or an SEO agency to help devise and execute a new global SEO campaign, you will also need staff to monitor the progress and maintain these sites, on the long run. For example, a blog posts made on the main website about a new product launch, should be also announced in the localised version of the websites. For this task, you will need to hire translators, ideally, those who are local and are knowledgeable about the local lingo.
A classic example is the use of colloquial terms. For instance in South Asia, the local term (in English) for the stock market is “share market”. Thus, it pays to have someone who understands this in order to incorporate this into the SEO strategy.
However, if you are considering automatic translators using services such as Google, beware that this can be a bad idea. The auto translators not only provide poor translations, you may also lose any current rankings due to the poor quality of content.
When considering on expanding your organisation and reaching out to a global audience, you must incorporate a marketing plan that includes strategies and tactics that are ideal for global SEO. However, before setting up a plan, you need to perform a series of activities that can help you understand what is at stake and how you should go about doing it.
Some tips in this regard would be:
- To research and analyse your audience and competitors
- To understand the target search engines
- To adopt an SEO friendly website structure, which can be easily transformed
- To have a smart link building campaign that is relevant to the audience
Once this analysis has taken place, you will have all the information needed to start the process. If you are a new business and decide to go ahead and implement a global SEO strategy, it might be worthwhile to start small perhaps with a single localised website, with a key service or goods available. This would be in addition to the main website, which operates in its intended state.
Once this website is operation, you can use the statistics from this single localised website to further analyse and forecast if there is a higher return on investment, before expanding to other languages and markets.
What do you think about going global? Do you think your business has the potential to go global? Let us know in the comments below! We would like to get your feedback and hear what you have to say about this interesting topic.
Charlotte is a digital marketing and communications practitioner working in our Sydney office. She takes on a range of roles relating to SEO and has a keen interest in studying the SEO industry and its future direction, particularly in relation to content marketing. Charlotte takes her writing very seriously and always seeks ensure the content she produces is of a high standard of quality.