In the digital economy, expanding overseas should be simple. We can sell wherever we want, ship to any country, and make content available instantly across multiple sales channels. So what’s stopping us from attracting audiences in Brazil, France, India, or Ukraine?
Nothing, in theory. International expansion is within the reach of every business, but it’s not as easy as it might seem. Companies need to ensure that they communicate across different cultures, fine-tune their content for international SEO, decide whether to go for an international website or various national sites, and master customer relations everywhere they work.
So, there’s a lot to consider, and in this blog, we’ll try to briefly cover every aspect of international expansion. But before that, let’s quickly run through the pros and cons of internationalizing your marketing practices.
Why Should Your Business Internationalize?
Put simply, if you want to maximise your sales abroad, you need to internationalize the way you sell.
It’s no good to create English language web pages or rely on a single stock of Amazon listings. Instead, you’ll achieve much better results by formulating country or region-specific strategies that really connect with buyers in those places.
Internationalization also goes beyond simple translation. That will achieve a bit more penetration overseas, for sure, but by properly researching SEO and creating compelling multilingual content you’ll see far better conversion stats.
How to Implement an Internationalized SEO Strategy
So, what are the building blocks of a successful international SEO strategy? We can’t be too detailed here (be sure to contact greatcontent’s team for advice about content production and SEO). But here are some essential pointers to get started.
1. Don’t Skimp on Keyword Research
When you enter new markets, don’t assume that the same keywords will apply there as worked in your home country. Much of the time, directly translating keywords is a dead-end, missing important terms that are actually used in everyday searches.
Generally, it’s not hard to use Google Analytics to break down existing visitors according to the search terms used to reach your site. That’s a good start. But it needs to be combined with deeper keyword research via tools like SEMRush, which covers 25 major nations.
Be careful not to use tools that rely on automatic translation. Every time you enter a new market, tread gingerly at first, and try to come up with keywords that are genuinely valuable in that location.
2. Tell Your Brand Story in Country-Specific Ways
Internationalization also involves transcreating your existing brand identity so that it appeals to buyers in the target market. By “transcreating”, we mean taking any content that tells your story, and employing skilled creators to convert it into a form that’s readily digestible in the market you want to conquer.
McDonald’s “glocal” marketing techniques are a good reference point here – offering dishes and stories that are in line with the restaurant’s brand, but are totally tailored to local situations.
3. Choose an International Website or ccTLDs
Companies also need to work out how they will structure their content as they expand. Broadly speaking, there are two choices here: a single international website based on a generic domain name, with sub-directories for localized sites, or a variety of ccTLDs (country code top-level domains).
If you are willing to invest a lot of time and effort into each market, local ccTLDs will work best – as they optimise local traffic and provide a distinctive local identity for your brand. But they will need to be built up from scratch. By contrast, generic domains can be added to an existing site, and piggy-back on its traffic.
4. Structure Your Site for SEO
Finally, it’s really important to optimise the structure of websites for international SEO. If you use a single website, it needs to be linked together, with easy to read hierarchies that can be crawled and indexed by major search engines.
From meta descriptions and URLs, to image descriptions and headers, double check that every element is properly translated, and turn on IP detection if possible to direct visitors to the relevant country-specific pages.
As we said earlier, this is a basic introduction to internationalizing your SEO and online marketing strategy, and we could say a lot more about how to attract locals to your brand. If you want to learn more, contact the experts at greatcontent directly, and we’ll come up with a way to create multilingual content that makes expanding overseas as easy as possible.
Text: Sam Urquhart