The SEO market, at least the Spanish-speaking one, is becoming increasingly complex due to several factors such as:
These factors, among many others, have caused many of the SEOs to have to migrate their projects to other languages or countries; due to the high competition existing in the Hispanic market.
Logically, they have not done this without thinking. They have seen positioning opportunities in other countries with a large target audience and a lower level of competition. And so they have pivoted towards other international SEO projects.
For this reason I am here today. To talk to you about the basic guidelines to follow in an International SEO strategy for your projects. And to open your eyes to explore new frontiers within the internet since, contrary to popular belief, not everything is done.
If you think that it can only be positioned in Spanish, you are very wrong, there are thousands and thousands of virtually unexplored markets, niches and sectors on the internet that are waiting for someone to get all their juice.
So I hope that after reading this guide on International SEO you will embark on the search for new horizons and SEO opportunities.
To the mess!
International SEO is a branch of SEO web positioning; specializing in web positioning of multi-language web pages or in projects based in other countries.
In other words, this branch is in charge of positioning web pages in languages other than the mother tongue.
Keep in mind that many projects for business, expansion or brand reasons; They need to have a presence in other countries and not only in the one where they were born.
For all this, International SEO will help you to position your web pages regardless of the language in which they are found.
Broadly speaking, and in most cases, the differences between the two types of SEO (international and traditional web positioning) are few.
The main feature or innovation of this branch of SEO is the creation of the Hreflang tag, which we will talk about later.
For the rest, the truth that international and traditional SEO differ in few ways. In the end, everything is based on following a logical positioning criterion and following the basic White Hat SEO rules that Google proposes.
Logically, this branch of SEO is broad and therefore not everything is 100% the same as traditional SEO.
In International SEO you should take into account the use of CDN to lighten the load on your website, the traditions and vocabulary of the market where you are going to enter, such as architecture your website, etc.
For all these reasons, below I will show you a complete guide on this curious branch of web positioning .
As you have seen previously, International SEO is based on Traditional SEO. However, it has a number of peculiarities that I will tell you below.
When creating an International aspect of a project, the same question always arises: how do I do it?
Do I make a directory, a subdomain or directly a new project in a new URL?
Well, let’s see the different alternatives.
With this system you will simply have to implement a directory on the web page which will contain all the pages of the new language. In addition, you must insert the hreflang tags and with this everything will be implemented.
However, the only but of this system is that by creating, so to speak, a “double” of your website in another language, you will be doubling the number of URLs and, therefore, you will need twice as many external links to position your website. .
If you carry out this strategy you will lose all your external strength obtained through backlinks or external links.
A subdirectory is a good way to keep the main domain and also get a totally different project of the web page under that same domain in another language.
However, the big disadvantage is that this subdomain will not have external force from the backlinks previously obtained for the main domain.
This system can sometimes be the best option. However, many brands do not allow it due to their own company policy, etc.
Also, it will happen a bit the same as with a subdomain. You will not have external force and it will be like starting a new project on the internet with all the buts that this entails: the need for time for the domain to become old, the need to get new backlinks, etc.
So what is the best option?
Whenever possible, I would carry out (ordered in order of preference) the following strategies:
1. Directory. For me it is almost always the best option.
2. Subdirectory. If you want to keep the brand in the domain.
3. New URL.
The Hreflang tag is the key to international SEO positioning.
This tag which must always be implemented between the tags will be the culprit in indicating to Google what the architecture of the multi-language portal is.
The operation of this label is simple.
When Google accesses a page, the first thing it does is read all the information contained between the tags to obtain key information about the page in question.
If among these labels is the Hreflang, Google will know that it is a page in different languages since it will find a code similar to this:
This is how two Hreflang tags would look inside the head of a web page.
This information will tell Google the following:
The first tag will say: “Hey Google, the Spanish version of this specific page you are visiting is https://domain.es/test”
The second tag will say to Google: “Hear the English version of this specific page you are visiting is https://domain.es/en/test”
In this way, several positive aspects are achieved at the SEO level:
1. You tell Google what is the version of each page for each language.
2. You determine which is the original version of the website so that there are no duplications of content.
3. Google understands that the pages of other languages do not have to take them into account for the content (eye, if to position them) and puts them a canonical.
4. You reduce duplicate and thin content levels.
When entering new markets and designing an international SEO strategy, especially if they are not our mother tongue, we may not know many aspects of the vocabulary of the country we are going to enter.
For this reason, when doing an international keyword study apart from using traditional SEO tools for International Keyword Research such as Ahrefs , Semrush or Sistrix, you should take into account the typical customs and vocabularies of the country to position.
For all this, it is recommended to hire native translators from the country who work closely with SEO to do the study of keywords and the writing of content.
In international SEO, almost the most important thing is to know the market and the population it is going to impact, since it can change a lot between one country and another.
If an international web positioning strategy is going to be carried out, you will have to know that the WPO or loading speed of the web page will be fundamental for this task.
For this, the best thing will be to hire a CDN service that is responsible for hosting backup copies of your website in different parts of the planet and that in this way reduces the distance between the servers where your website is hosted and the user.
Keep in mind that CDNs are especially relevant in projects whose target audience is international.
Logically, it will not be the same to consult the information to a server (if you are from Spain) that is located in Spain than to consult the information that is located in the USA. The distance is not the same and this will slow down the charging speed.
For all this, the CDNs in international SEO strategies are important so as not to scare the potential client by making him wait too long when it comes to loading the page.
The linkbuilding International also has its peculiarities as it is not as easy nor as expensive to get links in newspapers of Spain, to get them in newspapers of France or Brazil for example.
Following the previous example, in Spain there are many link buying and selling platforms that, if you have a good portfolio, make it affordable for you to get any link in national newspapers.
However, there are countries such as France or Germany in which these platforms are not abundant and the few that exist sell such links at a gold price (in the case of Germany).
In addition, when buying this digital product such as links, you must take into account the change and the cost of living. Therefore, a link purchased from Spain to Germany will be much more expensive than the other way around.
But hey, to finish this section, the main thing when doing international link building will be getting links with the following characteristics:
Often, most of the companies I know start suddenly with a project that barely sells in Spain. And they directly create 2 and 3 versions in other languages of it.
However, this is wrong. Since international SEO as you have been able to verify previously, requires resources and to do it wrong the best thing is not to even try it.
Therefore, a very useful trick to know if it really pays to create a web page in a specific language will be to create a landing page in the language that you think you will be successful.
In that landing it will be enough to attack the keywords of that language that interest you. For sales or business reasons and start collecting data.
If after a while you check that this landing page brings you conversions, visits … It will be time to consider whether or not to carry out an international SEO strategy for your website in that language that you have proven works.
With these tricks you will save resources and time.
Otherwise, chances are you’re wasting your time and money on something that may never work. Or it is too big for the resources you have.
As you have seen throughout the post, international SEO, despite being based on the basic principles of SEO, has its peculiarities and complications.
Many people think that carrying out a multi-language SEO strategy is simple and nothing is further from reality.
Carrying out an International SEO campaign requires effort, work and money.
Therefore, if you do not have these three factors I recommend that you apply the trick that I have shown you. And based on the data collected, you consider whether the International SEO will be profitable for you.