Over the past two years, the digital landscape has rapidly accelerated, opening up more opportunities for companies to go global. As brands increasingly look to expand their products and services into new markets, they need to ensure that they have the right content and website to match.
In this blog, we will explore some of the key challenges brands face when creating an international search engine optimization (SEO) content strategy and offer key insights on best practices.
What is international SEO?
Entering a foreign market can be a daunting task for any marketer, so it’s important to create a strong foundation to build upon – this is where brands can lean into international SEO. International SEO refers to the optimization of your website to improve organic search across multiple countries or languages. This gives brands the opportunity to boost their ranking on search engines and meet their consumers where they are in terms of language, dialect, tone of voice, customs, cultural nuances, etc.
Why is it important?
Brands can easily be missing out on opportunities to drive revenue by presenting their target audience with unlocalized, irrelevant content. This can lead to missed opportunities to connect with consumers, and even a loss in consumer trust with your brand. Failure to effectively communicate with your audience could easily cause your campaign to fall flat and fail in delivering results for your business, so it’s crucial that brands study consumer behavior within the given market to understand how their content may be received.
For example, a movie streaming service may want to begin expanding its services into several new markets. While horror movies may have proved to be one of the most popular genres within the US, comedy movies may be preferred in countries like Thailand or Brazil, signaling to marketers that they should be creating more content focused on this genre for these particular markets.
At an even more granular level, marketers for this brand should keep in consideration that different cultures have different types of humor; while comedy movies might rank most popular in both Thailand and Brazil, each country may be attracted to a different selection of comedy movies with varying types of humor. Understanding these types of local preferences can allow marketers to maximize their campaign strategies, effectively reach their target audience and rank higher on search engines.
Challenges of international SEO content
Building and implementing a successful international SEO content strategy is a labor of love, which means a lot of manpower is needed to support such a task. There is often a misconception that larger organizations have the right teams and hands on deck internationally to produce the global growth that’s desired. But the reality is that many of them don’t, which often leads to marketers struggling to wear multiple hats. This makes it all the more important to team up with the right agency partner who can help you reach your business goals.
At Croud, our teams specialize in powering international growth with the help of our global network of 2,400+ on-demand digital experts, or Croudies. With expertise across every digital discipline, including SEO, localization, copywriting, videography, and more, the Croudie Network enables Croud’s internal SEO teams to provide clients with the support they need.
In addition to the many resources needed to create an effective international SEO content strategy, marketers may also struggle with the lack of local insights they have access to, especially when expanding into several different countries at once. Without the right in-market insights, consumers won’t find your brand to be personable, and you may run the risk of launching content that is inappropriate, offensive, confusing or irrelevant to your target audience. Thankfully at Croud, we have our Croudies who work in 118 markets around the world across 86 different languages, and are able to provide our internal teams with the right local insights needed to build a successful campaign.
Best practices for international SEO content
Holistic, yet flexible
When a brand is looking to grow globally, it’s important that they approach their SEO content strategy with a holistic, yet flexible approach. In addition to the usual SEO considerations, international SEO content marketing requires a broader discussion around the overall business strategy of the brand in each international market.
Oftentimes, the market maturity of each geographical location can be different, so taking this type of information into consideration and layering it over the brand’s overall content strategy as a whole will help them facilitate the user journey for audiences in each market. They must be careful to maintain brand consistency across all markets, while still recognizing areas of opportunity to tailor their content for each specific geographical location they are marketing to.
Build a data-driven strategy
Data should be at the core of your international SEO content strategy. Conducting thorough market research to collate local insights and keyword research to identify key trends is crucial to understanding your audience and their preferences. For example, if most people in the UK are searching for ‘best history books’, a book company looking to expand into this market should be optimizing existing content and building new content around history books. This will help them provide their audience with more relevant content and rank higher on search engines.
Localize, don’t translate
While using Google Translate may be a quick way to repurpose existing content for another market, this has proven to be an inaccurate and risky way to create localized content, as every region has its own unique set of idioms, analogies, dialects and nuances. Simply translating a phrase from Hindi to Spanish won’t necessarily result in the same meaning that was intended to be conveyed, so it’s important for marketers to understand each country’s language and culture to best connect with their target audience.
However, it’s also important to realize that localization isn’t just limited to the copy. Imagery is another way of communicating with your audience, so localizing the visual assets that are being presented to them is equally important to deliver content that resonates with them. For example, if you’re looking to expand your European fragrance brand into Japan, you may want to consider hiring different models for your visual campaign that are more ethnically and culturally representative of the Japanese consumer. This will make your brand feel much more familiar and relatable to the target audience.
Map out your content ecosystem
Building out an effective, timely content strategy is no easy feat. It doesn’t just stop at creating some content. This means doing everything from writing the copy and designing the creative, to establishing a publishing schedule, deciding where it will all live on the website, and pushing the content live. Without a carefully planned out strategy and system, anything can fall through the cracks and leave you with the potential to run into some unwanted road bumps.
If your brand is ready to expand abroad, there are a flood of considerations that need to be kept front of mind. Developing a successful international SEO content strategy can come with many challenges. However, selecting the right agency partner for your business goals, effectively localizing your content using data-backed insights, and mapping out a comprehensive strategy for expansion can ultimately lead your business to global growth.