When you first start marketing to different countries you will need to organize the information on your website. How do you go about doing that? If you have a website you will naturally have questions buzzing around your head about search engine results. You don't want to lose any of your Search Engine Optimization efforts.
In the very beginning you have two choices to prepare for international business development. You can decide to start with:
- A separate English language International website
- Internationalizing your current website
This is just the preparation. Internationalizing your website can even be compared to doing a little housekeeping. It simply cleans up your website.
The next step after this is to create country specific content for your international audience. Once you create country specific content, what do you do with it?
Website Localization is the next step. Website Localization usually refers to creating a website registered in your foreign market using the Top Level Domain (TLD) of that country. Your website would have create country specific content, as well as the look and feel that would match the country. This website would have a URL like this:
Website Localization might be too big of a step for you. Especially if you are just a small online business and not really sure where your international markets are. You might not want the extra website management tasks involved with Website Localization.
What do you do with your culturally specific content for different markets? There are different ways to target your content:
- Country specific product or content needs
You have three choices in separating the content that is culture specific on your website:
Or using the the Top Level Domain for the country after your regular URL. An example is fr for France.
Many people start here. This is very easy to set up.
This is an easy method to separate content. It is also a very easy way to manage your country specific content.
Companies choose this option when they want everything on one server, as opposed to using the Top Level Domains.
Top Level Domains
An option for someone expanding their business into the European region is the use the . eu top level domain.
This is what we just referred to for Website Localization.
Use this when you have enough different content for each country you are targeting.
Getting Good Search Engine Results
How do you get and keep good search engine results with multilingual content?
Doesn't this factor influence your decision in how you organize your country specific content online?
Many companies feel that starting a second website, or multiple websites, dilutes their SEO strength. Having all your content on one website gives you better search engine results. This can be a very important point for small and mid-sized businesses.
Before looking into the marketing factors, let's look at current international SEO.
Luckily Search Engines have become much better at automatically detecting the language on your website. This trend will continue even further companies translate their content into more and more languages.
You can help your foreign search engine results even further.
Google does a good job at detecting the language on your website. Google is also the leading search engine in many countries worldwide. Many of the other foreign search engines rely on Google for results. But not all of them. Google has serious competitors in a few foreign countries.
First you should check to see if Google, or a Google-based search engine, is one of the top search engines in the countries you are targeting. If it is, then you can rely on one of Google's tools to help you get good results in those foreign countries.
At www.google.com/webmasters you can do some geo-targeting for specific pages on your website. You can set select different parts of your website and tell Google to associate these parts with a specific language or country.
Google recognizes the countries people search from through their IP addresses. Your Google Webmasters settings make it easy for Google to put you in the right categories. Your results will come up higher in these country or language specific searches.
Guidelines To Choosing Which Website Option
The recent improvements in multilingual SEO will continue. Your choice on how you set up your different cultural content on your website becomes much more of a pure marketing choice.
If you are just starting out and have minimal content for each country or culture, you may want to use sub-directories.
- This is very easy to set up and gives you time to grow during your preliminary phase of international market research.
If your website is on one topic aimed at different audiences, it makes sense to go for Sub Domains.
- This keeps all of your content on the same subject on one server.
- You can guide your country specific SEO with Google Webmasters tools to get visibility in foreign searches.
If you sell different things to different countries, or if you have a strong business presence in a country, use a Top Level Domain.
- This often represents a distinct business advantage in most cultures where your company is recognized as a “local" company.
International Marketing Is Your Bottom Line
1 - If your content is on the same subject:
- Link everything to one domain name.
By keeping all of your content on the same subject on the same website you will have:
- Better search engine results
- Easier website management
2 - If your content is distinct due to different markets or different language:
- This merits a separate website
You will have one distinct advantage:
- Stronger cultural marketing
Improvements in international search engine optimization options will lead to better international marketing. What can you do today?
- Have a look at how your competitors are organizing their international content online.
- Sit down with your marketing team and brainstorm the consequences of each option available for your business.
This is how you will find the best solution for your company on where to put your country specific content online.
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