Some of the steps that a company would need to take to internationalize their website if they really want to have some visibility on search engines in other countries. One of the main things that they’re going to need to consider is the structure of their domain name. Whether they have, for example, fashionretailer.com or whether they go for separate sites, fashionretailer .de or fr, that kind of thing. And that’s going to have quite a big impact. First of all, if you have the domain that’s relevant to that country… for example, fashionretailer.fr. From a search engine’s point of view, that does show that your website is more relevant to that market. And so it will give you a slight edge in terms of ranking higher in a search engine in that territory. That’s a consideration.
Another big factor that the search engines will look at is links coming into the site. Links are probably one of the most important things that affects your prominence on a search engine. And what they’re going to be looking for are links coming from other websites in that same country. So if, for example, you have maybe, 200, 300 links coming into your site, but not a single one of them is coming from a French website, that’s going to make it quite difficult for you to rank within France. So that’s another thing to consider. And also the actual content of the site. That really wants to be in the language, obviously, of the country you’re trying to target. But not just a direct translation. It really needs to be written by someone who’s native in that language and understands the cultural differences. So those are some of the key things you need to consider.
So how would you go about planning a search marketing campaign in another country? Some of the things you want to be thinking about here. First of all, want to be thinking in the same way that the search engines think. And what does a search engine want? Ultimately, they want to deliver relevant results to people, and also websites that are going to make their users happy. Those are their prime considerations.
And what you really want to do in terms of a strategy is rather than just duplicate what you may have done in the UK is you need to understand the market that you’re going into and really understand the subtle variations of that market and how people perceive things in that market and the kind of search terms they’re using. Apart from being in a different language, they could be structuring those searches in very different ways. Certain cultures will ask questions a lot more and will type fully qualified questions into Google. Things like, “How do I wear knee-high boots with a particular skirt?” Something like that. Lots of these kind of questions.
The first stage is really getting in there and understanding the consumer and how they behave. That’s the kind of the first part of the strategy. The second thing to do would be to make sure that your product pages, your category pages look relevant for the searches they’re doing, but also to have some really good content on that site; not just products, good blog art, calls, videos, images, all these kind of things, which will get people sharing that content on social media. And also get other websites linking into it because it’s really valuable content. And all of that is going to be pushing your ranking up higher and higher on the search engines. That’s some of the things you can think about.
So how would you optimize your website for different search engines around the world? So first of all, we got to look at the market share of these search engines. Certainly within Europe and within the US, Google dominates that market. It’s typical for Google to have the equivalent of 90% share of the search market in the UK, in Europe, and the US. The only countries where they don’t have that kind of share — the key places would be China, where you’re looking at Baidu — is the big search engine out there. And in Russia, you would have Yandex.
But I think focusing on the search engine and the particular technical variations of how they perform, for me, is quite a narrow way of viewing this. Because, essentially, they behave in the same way. What they’re really trying to do is show relevant results and pages that make their users happy. Pages that will engage people so that when they come to the website, they’re not just staying there for a couple of seconds and then clicking the back button and going away again. They’re actually engaging with the website, looking at the content, and having a good browse around.
So yeah, I personally wouldn’t advice getting too bogged down in subtle differences between the search engines. Make the website a really good place for visitors to come. Make sure that it’s relevant for the searches that they’re doing. And that’s going to work for you, whatever country you go to, whatever search engine you’re using.
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