The Sauce for SEO Success When Selling to International Customers

Optimizing your website to push it higher on search engine rankings can seem a gigantic challenge in English, let alone in a foreign language.

However, for those businesses who sell to international customers, overcoming this challenge is crucial.

Without it, you cannot succeed.

Because although English remains one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, you’ll be surprised to know that only 27% of web users speak English.

The non-English speakers who are using the internet (and there are many) won’t prefer reading your content if it’s in English.

Would you prefer visiting a website that is in Japanese?

Of course, not.

Even if you know Japanese, you won’t, or at the very least you’ll be wary of making a purchase from a Japanese website. After all, it’s not your first language—you could easily end up ordering something that you did not intend to.


As always, search engines understand this well. They can see you are not serving your international audience in a way that they would prefer to be served. You are disappointing them (your audience), and so, search engines won’t look at your website favorably whenever a customer in Japan (or in any other non-English speaking foreign country for that matter) types in a search query.

This brings us once again to the point that we made earlier:

If you sell online to international customers, and you want your business to be successful, it’s vital that you practice foreign language SEO.

And you know what, mastering foreign language SEO is much easier than english SEO.

Here, the competition is less.

Even basic strategies such as keyword incorporation, link building, domain name optimization etc., can significantly boost your website ranking.

We discuss a few of these foreign language SEO practices next, to help you optimize your website for international audiences.

Keywords research and incorporation

Like with English SEO, foreign language SEO also heavily relies on keywords. You need to find out what are the keywords your international audiences use most frequently when making a relevant search.

Some businesses, what they do is, they use the most searched keyword in English, translate it into a foreign language and incorporate it into their content.

This strategy is not advisable.

It works sometimes, but it does not work in all cases.

For example, English speakers usually use “cheap flights” when searching for affordable flight packages. It’s one of the most highly used keywords in that context. If you translate it into Italian, it gives “voli a basso costo” in translation. You might assume that Italians would use “voli a basso costo” when searching for travel packages. But results from Google AdWords reveal that Italians instead prefer to use “voli low cost”.

You can try it for yourself!

The key takeaway: don’t translate English keywords into a foreign language and use them for your content pieces. Instead, do keyword research for your international niche and use those keywords in your content.

For help, you can hire SEO specialists. However, if you have a limited budget you can also do it on your own. Simply use Google Adwords to perform your keyword research, and the results you get, discuss them with a native speaker and make a list of other similar words and phrases. Use the list for content creation.

Secure a country specific domain name

A country-specific domain name is one which has a country code in its domain extension. Examples include .fr, .ca, .de etc.

Websites that have country-specific domain names are ranked higher by search engines. For example, Baidu, the most used search engine in China, favors sites that have local domain names.

So it’s important that you secure a country specific domain name for your website.

Plus, you are also likely to find your preferred domain name in a country-specific extension as the competition for such domain names is very low. You can also incorporate keywords into your domain name to give it more visibility.

Other foreign language SEO practices

Besides these, you can also try to build in-country links, optimize your content for different dialects and study about how country-dominant search engines prioritize ranking a website and use the knowledge to optimize your website accordingly.

thumbs-upTo serve your international customers successfully, you need to prepare the right SEO sauce and adding these elements to your international SEO success will make it traffic-central!

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