The wide usage of eCommerce stores globally has created a tremendous opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses to sell their products or services worldwide. A fashion retailer based in Vancouver can sell their products via their online shop to customers in Berlin, Germany. A yoga instructor in New York can train clients in Kelowna online. This global usage of online technologies is fantastic for the global economy and minimizes the barrier to entry for small businesses to enter different markets.
To gain customers in another country, there are various digital channels and tactics a company can implement. For example, a company can use social media or influencer marketing to build awareness in another country and gain sales. Another example is to implement SEO best practices to improve the company’s search ranking in another country and generate quality, organic traffic.
To help you optimize your search ranking in specific countries, we have come up with five SEO best practices you can use. Check them out!
1. Use a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country, sovereign state, or dependent territory identified with a country code. For example, .ca in Nike.ca indicates that the domain is registered and based in Canada because .ca is reserved for Canadian websites.
Google uses a website’s ccTLD users and search engines in the country, sovereign state, or dependent territory where a website is registered. Note that some country codes, like .ly for Libya, are used so commonly for other purposes that Google treats them generically.
If your business is expanding to another country and you want to rank organically for relevant search queries in that country, purchase a domain that has ccTLD unique to that country and build a new website using the domain. For example, if you are expanding to France, buy a domain with its associated ccLTD, which is .fr, and build a site using that domain.
2. Write Content Using the Official Language in the Respective Country
Once you have a website developed using a domain that includes a ccTLD specific to the country you want to target, write content using the official language spoken and written in that country. Try not to use a translation plugin to produce the content because the plugin may not output words that customers in the country frequently use.
3. Use Hreflang or Language Meta Tags
Another international SEO technique you can use is including hreflang or language meta tags in your website’s header. Hreflang or language meta tags are HTML tags that indicate the language(s) in which your content is available. An example of hreflang:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/fr” hreflang=”fr-fr”/>
Adding hreflang or language meta tags in the website header helps Google understand the language on your website and display your website on search results in the country you are targeting. For example, if you indicate that your website’s content is in French and your ccLTD is .fr (France), Google will show your website for relevant search queries in its French Google search results.
4. Earn Backlinks from Local Resources
Each company has its own list of directories that you can submit your website to. For example, Yelp has Yelp UK that you can submit your website to by filling in a form with company information such as company name, phone number and email address. Gaining backlinks from a local directory helps Google understand that your website and business is serving a specific country (e.g. United Kingdom) and display your website for local search results.
5. Link to Local Content
In addition to earning backlinks as mentioned above to establish local presence and optimize search ranking for a specific country, you can link to local content to further achieve local establishment within that particular country. For example, if you are an organic food retailer and you want to improve your search ranking performance in France, you can link to nutrition websites that are based in France.
The rapid and vast usage of eCommerce and digital platforms has developed enormous business opportunities for small and medium-sized companies. Businesses can leverage digital channels such as Google search results to attract quality clients overseas. To ensure that a website can appear on Google search results for another country, and to improve your website’s search ranking in that country, implement international SEO best practices, such as buying a domain that includes the ccTLD of the country you are targeting, writing content using the language written and spoken in the targeted country, using hreflang, as well as linking and earning backlinks from local resources. These are all effective ways to improve your website’s presence in a particular country!
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Written by Ray Wang