How to Win International SEO In 5 Easy Steps

Your business and everything you have to offer is amazing, and everyone who has come across your business knows this. But while you may have an existing outreach in the local community, there’s plenty of people who still don’t know how amazing all that you have to offer would be for them!

As the world goes digital, your business’s outreach potential has never been bigger, and while any successful business is aware of what gets them to rank in the searches local to their area or region, developing a winning strategy to rank internationally requires different methods, insights, and planning.

What are the benefits of international SEO?

Unlike local SEO, the possibilities with international SEO are limitless. There are billions of people out there, and an insanely high number of new customers waiting to be converted!

Besides that, International SEO makes it easier to get backlinks because there are more opportunities for collaborating. The profits from international SEO are also much bigger because of the sheer number of potential customers.

How to Do international SEO

1. Choose the right URL structure

The way your URL is structured affects how you rank in different countries. For example, a country-specific domain (such as .uk, .ru, or .ae) rank better in their respective countries.

While a separate country code top-level domain (ccTLD) isn’t always the easiest or even the best option, there are a number of other domains to consider that can optimise your site for international SEO.

An alternative option that would work much better for most sites would be to go with a subdomain ( Even though search engines won’t rank it as high as a country code top-level domain, it’s a better alternative in a lot of cases, mainly for two reasons: it’s cheaper alternative compared to a ccTLD, and no one would mistake for a government website (unlike with a ccTLD).

2. Use local search to find local keywords

As your content will likely be in a different language, you’ll need a different set of keywords. When it comes to international SEO, knowing the right words that rank is paramount.

Literal translations of the keywords that work well where you are now might not work so well in other countries – user search intent and behavior changes from one country to another.

In order to find the best keywords to use in international SEO, use a keyword search tool that allows you to specify a country or location for keyword insights, such as the Keyword Suggestions Tool by WebCEO. Use these tools to determine what variation of the keywords you’re currently using work better in your targeted country.

3. Avoid Machine Translations at All Costs

Google and other search engines can easily identify automatically translated content, and search engines mark it as spam. Nothing could hurt your SEO more than translating your content with a software or add-on.

The fact of the matter is that online content doesn’t need to be translated per se, it needs to be localised. Phrases, idioms, and other aspects of language can’t be translated by a software in a way that makes sense. To get a proper translation of your content, you’ll need to hire a translator who’s competent in the language.

Automatic translations have been improving year by year, but are still not good enough for a native speaker not to notice. Not to mention the frequent translation errors that could ruin the bigger message of your site or blog post.

4. Build Links From and To Local Sources

Link building is important in all kinds of SEO, but it’s especially important in international SEO. To rank well internationally, you need to build links from local sources. Google identifies pages with links that are local to the region as more useful to the searcher, and ranks it higher. It also identifies when your page links to other local sources and considers it more trustworthy.

In order to win the international SEO game, find local websites and get them to link to your page, and vice versa.

5. Don’t Auto-Redirect to a Translated Version of Your Site

Many websites out there redirect a user based on their IP address or location to a version of the site translated into the language of the country the user is in. This seriously harms your SEO because web crawlers can’t index your site and rank it properly with this technique. It also hurts your page loading speed, which is another important SEO ranking factor.

Instead, leave the choice to the user. Provide an option to change languages at the top of your web page and let your users choose which language they want to use.

Bonus point: some countries have more than one official language – this eliminates the headache of figuring out which IP addresses should be redirected to each language.

When a business expands into a new region, most of the time a whole new team needs to be hired in order to localise that business, and make it as trustworthy for the locals as possible. With the digital world and international SEO, you might not need the same amount of manpower, but you definitely need to be acquainted with the local community.