Around 66% of today’s consumers do an online search before buying a product or using a service. That means billions of potential customers or clients for your business, whether it is B2B, SaaS, or any other type of company.
The catch is that all this traffic comes from many different countries, not just your local market. In other words, you need to make your website visible to a global audience if you want to get the most out of this massive opportunity.
That is where international SEO for B2B and SaaS comes in.
This marketing strategy will help you reach new customers from anywhere in the world, allowing you to take your business to new heights. If you are not implementing it yet, you are missing out.
In this guide, we will explore different ways to optimise your pages for other countries or languages. However, before we discuss the nitty-gritty of how to do international SEO, let us talk more about why you should do it in the first place.
What does international SEO do for company websites?
B2B companies generate two times more revenue from organic traffic than other channels. That’s how powerful a well-implemented SEO strategy is in drawing visitors and generating leads.
That said, not many people look beyond the first search engine results page or SERP. In fact, only 0.63% of all Google users click on the second page.
So if you want to attract more eyes to your website, the key is to get a solid search ranking. That’s exactly what international SEO can give you.
International SEO is the process of optimising your pages, making them easier for people from different countries to find using search engines. If done right, it can help you draw organic traffic from other regions by overcoming the following challenges:
Another question that we need to tackle is: do you need to implement an international SEO strategy? The answer depends on whether you’re planning to expand beyond local markets or not.
If you are, then international SEO is a must. Otherwise, it would just be a waste of your marketing dollars.
Questions you need to answer about your international SEO
International SEO for B2B and SaaS companies is a complex process that involves more work than local SEO, and you will find yourself asking a number of critical questions. The success or failure of your strategy will depend on how well you answer them.
To help you get started, we have outlined the steps that you need to take to launch a solid SEO campaign.
1. Where are you headed?
While Google still has a firm grip over the global search engine market, there are places in the world where it is not the top choice. In China, for instance, people “Baidu” stuff instead of “Googling” them. Therefore, your international SEO strategy will depend on what country you are headed to.
2. Should you target language or country?
Another decision that you need to make is whether to target a language or a country. If your goal is to reach a broad global audience, you should focus on language. On the other hand, if you are trying to penetrate the market of a specific region, then country-based SEO is your best bet.
3. What localisation factors matter the most?
When translating your content to another language, you need to look at two things: accuracy and common use. You can’t rely on literal translations alone, as locals use some words differently.
4. How can you build local links?
Link-building is a big part of SEO, whatever country you are in. So try to collaborate with local bloggers and websites to get local links.
5. Does social media matter?
Strictly speaking, social media won’t be able to boost your international search rankings. Nevertheless, it is a very powerful tool for increasing brand awareness, so you should not neglect it.
6. Are current keywords good enough?
Some keywords are very popular among users, but the competition for these search terms is often brutal. Try to find out if using other related keywords instead will help you generate better results in the long run.
7. Do you have the right tools and talent?
One last question that you need to ask is whether you have the resources to do everything in-house. If you do not have the skills, tools, or technology to take on an international SEO campaign yourself, you should hire an expert.
Factors that affect international SEO
International SEO is a complicated task with a lot of moving parts. The good thing is that you can make better sense of it by looking at each component that affects the whole.
Here are some of the factors that affect international SEO:
Customer reviews count as fresh content, which sends the right signals to search engines. By encouraging your visitors to leave their feedback, you will be making your pages more visible online.
That said, note that while reviews can boost your visibility, negative ones will discourage your other visitors. So if possible, try to attract positive feedback only.
Optimising your website for mobile devices helps improve user experience. Since 90% of all internet users go online with their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, search engines will reward you for taking the time to do it.
Google My Business account
Setting up a Google My Business account helps increase your click-through rate, links directly to your products or services, and shows the latest pieces of content that you posted. All these things can impact your SEO ranking positively.
When other sites link to one of your pages, they are telling their readers that your content is relevant and helpful. In effect, it is like they are giving you a vote of confidence, which search engines like.
Tips for International SEO
Now that we have covered the basics, it’s time to dive into the core of our discussion: how to launch an effective international SEO strategy. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Focus on language targeting
Before you can get started, you need to come up with a list of countries that you want to target. However, instead of focusing on the region, it is better if you optimise your content for the native language.
Note that some languages are spoken in multiple countries. For instance, you can expect people in France to speak in French, but it is also used in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Madagascar — the list goes on.
Language targeting allows you to connect with all the other places that also speak a certain country’s native tongue, which broadens your reach.
Remember that when optimising for different languages, you need to use hreflang tags. These tags are designed to help search engines tell the difference between similar pages that are meant for different audiences. In other words, they prevent your content from being seen as duplicates of each other, which is bad for your search rankings.
Also, do not redirect your users automatically to a site using a country’s native language, as this might be problematic for people who are just visiting the place. Instead, offer it as an option or suggestion.
2. Translate content into different languages
Once you have created great content, make sure that you translate it into the languages of your target countries. Doing this allows you to penetrate markets in these places, which maximises your reach. It also allows you to generate as many leads as you can from the same content.
If you are worried about being penalised for having duplicate content, remember that you have this covered with the hreflang tags. Google and other search engines will understand that you are trying to make your content available to different types of audiences.
Besides, there are both distinct and subtle cultural differences between countries that you have to account for in your translation. It means that you have to make key alterations in your phrasing to make your website more relatable and compelling to different audiences.
Keeping your visitors engaged is one of the most effective ways to boost your SEO rankings.
3. Avoid machine translations
As you may have gathered by now, the translation process is critical to the success of your international SEO campaign. That said, it is not as straightforward as expressing each word in another language.
If you make the mistake of doing a simple literal translation, you might end up with a lot of inaccuracies. As mentioned above, there are slight differences in the way people phrase things.
In this situation, you cannot rely on a machine to do the translation for you. Tools like Google Translate and Bing Microsoft Translator won’t be able to account for the way locals use certain words or phrases.
Your best bet is to put in the time and energy to do a proper translation. If you do not have the skills to do it yourself, look for a fluent or native speaker of the language. It is the only way to get your message across and provide the best user experience to your visitors.
4. Reflect culture in your design
Aside from the language of your content, you need to take care of all the other elements of your website.
A good place to start is the format. Make sure that the currencies, time zones, and contact details are correct. You would not want to create any confusion when people from certain places look at your website.
If possible, try to find out what designs and colour schemes are popular in your targeted countries. You can do this by talking to local experts, using secondary data from governments, launching online surveys, or testing some ideas on focus groups.
It sounds like a lot of work, but you’ll find that it’s worth it.
5. Create URLs for international pages
While it is possible to use a single URL for all languages, we highly recommend that you don’t do this. Instead, make the language clear for each URL that you use. This way, it will be easier for search engines like Google to figure out what page to redirect the users to.
When it comes to creating separate international URLs, there are three main routes that you can take: using ccTLDs, subdomains, or subdirectories.
A ccTLD is a two-letter code that indicates where a website is registered. It comes after the name of your site. So, for instance, a US site would look like “sitename.us,” while a Spanish site might use “sitename.es.”
For subdomains, the same example would look like “us.sitename.com” or “es.sitename.com.” It applies to pages instead of entire websites.
Subdirectories also focus on pages that are dedicated to certain countries or languages. Using the same examples, your site would be “sitename.com/us” or “sitename.com/es.”
6. Target country-specific keywords
When targeting keywords, remember that there are slight differences in how people use terms and phrases. For instance, trial lawyers in the US are called barristers in the UK. In other words, you will have to target keywords that are specific to a country.
International SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does international SEO work?
International SEO is the process of making it easier for search engines to identify and find pages or domains on your website that are made specifically to target audiences using certain languages or based on specific locations.
It allows you to attract more organic traffic to your site and generate high-quality leads for your business.
What are ccTLDs?
The term ccTLD stands for country code top-level domain, which is a combination of two letters used to identify the domain for a geographical area or specific country. Aside from the “us” and “es” in our previous examples, some of the most common ccTLDs are “uk” for the UK, “ca” for Canada, “au” for Australia, and “in” for India.
What is a multilingual website?
A multilingual website is exactly what it sounds like – a site that can display content in more than one language. However, it uses only one domain and just converts the pages using plugins.
What is a multi-regional website?
A multi-regional website is designed to target users from different countries by translating its content into different languages.
How much does international SEO cost?
The cost of implementing an international SEO strategy depends on a number of factors. This includes the size of your SEO agency, the scope of your campaign, the level of customisation that you need, and others.
Given all these parameters, it’s hard to predict how much you will end up spending. That said, it is generally higher than the cost of local SEO services. This is understandable, considering how much more difficult it is to do.
How do you manage duplicate content issues with international SEO?
Using hreflang tags is a great way to avoid indexing issues from search engines. You could also use a robots.txt file to block content that is automatically translated and might be mistaken for duplicate content.
If you want to put your B2B or SaaS organisation in front of a global audience, you need to implement a solid international SEO strategy. It will help raise your search rankings and win the battle for the top SERP spots.