A client asked yesterday, “What if you optimize our content for America? Will that make it unoptimized for Asia?” That’s a great question. Fortunately, international SEO relies on the same principles as local SEO.
SEO is about communicating well with search engines, while also communicating well with human beings. Assuming that your website is in English — even if people access it in other languages — decisions about when to serve it to searchers are made in the universal language of mathematics.
Communicate well with search engines.
The highest priority is to make sure we’re communicating well with the search engines. If Google knows exactly what we have to offer, Google will be able to recognize the people who are searching for our products — even if they’re using another language.
Google uses a lot of factors to decide which page to present to which individual. If I’m in Fayetteville, Arkansas, looking for a dog groomer, Google will not offer me a dog groomer in Champhasack, Laos. Or in Little Rock, Arkansas, for that matter. Location matters for services like dog grooming. But if I’m looking for a special product that I can order online, Google will offer me an online source.
We can check keywords internationally through Google Trends. For the example below, we can see that eye cream and eye serum is a more popular search in Singapore, as well as several other Asian countries, than in the U.S. Like other health and beauty products, people tend to search for the problem they face — in this case, dark circles under the eyes — along with product names. So we can see that globally, “eye cream” and “dark circles” have the highest search volume, followed by “eye serum,” and that all three terms are increasing in popularity.
Now we can zero in on specific geographic areas. Here we can see search trends in Singapore:
Singapore’s data is smaller than the global data, so we should not be surprised to see a spikier line. Overall, we can see that all three of those globally popular terms are also popular in Singapore.
Here’s Thailand’s data, coming specifically from Bangkok:
We can see that “eye cream” significantly outperforms the other two terms, “dark circles” is not as popular as “eye serum,” and we are not seeing a rise in search volume. We can get more detail by scrolling down the page, where we see that specific brand names are among the popular searches in this city.
If we are selling these specific brands, that’s good news for us. If not, it is not relevant to our SEO strategy.
Here’s the data from the United States:
With a larger sample, since U.S. searches will outnumber searches from Bangkok or Singapore, we see a pattern closer to the global pattern. Again, “eye cream” and “dark circles” are the top keywords from our group, followed by “eye serum.”
Google Trends is just one of the tools we can use to tap into actual search volume. In this case, we may have data suggesting that our specific audience will be more likely to search for “eye serum” than “eye cream,” because we are targeting a young, hip audience.
But what keywords should we work with? Whether we’re talking to customers in Bangkok or in Trenton, it’s clear that we must not ignore “eye cream” or “dark circles” in our SEO strategy. We should also include “eye serum.”
And then, once we’ve made clear to the search engines that we’re offering an eye cream or eye serum that helps with dark circles, we must be sure to track our own website data to make sure that we’re getting the results we want. We can segment our data geographically and tweak our content to perform well in each area.
Data from our own website will give us the best data for our International SEO strategy.
If you need a solid SEO strategy for your digital marketing, contact us.