Putting together a domestic SEO campaign can be an extremely complex affair and one which takes a lot of time and effort to put together. Add to that different languages, cultures and target markets and you can imagine how complicated an international SEO campaign can be.

Below are 5 tips which will help you on the right track to a successful international SEO campaign:

Get Your Domestic Campaign in Order

Before broadening your horizons to an international market, it’s crucial you ensure your domestic SEO campaign is being carried out correctly and is ticking along nicely. There’s no point trying to roll out to different countries and languages if you haven’t mastered your local site. If you try to do so, it’s more than likely you’ll go down the wrong route and have a lot of things to fix further down the line.

Sub Domains or Sub Folders?

This is the big question that many SEOs ask, and Google have confirmed that it doesn’t matter, as long as the approach is clean and there is a clear separation between different countries and languages. Go with whichever you prefer – yoursite.fr or yoursite.com/fr – just make sure it is done in a streamlined fashion.

Correct Geo Targeting

There are a number of factors required to correctly geo-target your site. These are, in order of importance:

  • ccTLD
  • webmaster tools
  • server location
  • Rel-alternate hreflang
  • other signals

Duplication? Don’t Worry

Duplicate content on the different versions of your site which target each country won’t adversely affect your results. Google has a policy for identifying this and, as long as the site is set up correctly, you won’t suffer. This reiterates a point made previously – make sure the site is clean and streamlined and you won’t have any issues. If you want to make extra sure, using some international mark up will illustrate to Google where the duplicate content is present:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”zh-Hant” href=”http://www.mysite.com/fr”>

Links Are Still Important

As with a domestic campaign, high quality, relevant links are crucial to competing for rankings in difficult industries. ‘Relevant’ is the key word here: how do you make an international link relevant? Build it in the local language/TLD of course! Links on the same TLDs will illustrate your site’s relevance in that market, as will anchor text in the target language on pages which use that language.

International SEO is certainly a challenging and technical affair, but if you can get it right you open your business up to a worldwide market. Hopefully these tips will set you on the road to international success!