Search engine optimization is an integral part of your business strategy. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to find thousands of potential customers who’re looking for you on the web. Even if you’re running a successful physical business that gives you profit, your company won’t be capable of reaching its full potential unless it reaches out globally and builds an e-commerce brand.

Moreover, even if you already have a local SEO strategy in place, you need to know that that’s not enough when you want your company to climb the ladder of success. What your business needs is a global or international SEO strategy for e-commerce.

Though you may be happy with your current customer base, you need to remember that the international market can offer so much more. Also, because there are a few myths about international SEO, you need to know right from wrong. Though there are numerous things to consider when you decide to look into global search engine optimization, we will tell you about some basics which will set you off on the right foot.

So, if you can’t wait to learn how you can appeal to more clients worldwide, there are a couple of things you need to bear in mind. Nevertheless, first let’s take a look at what international SEO essentially is.

What’s different about global SEO?

There is not a lot of difference between the traditional type of search engine optimization and international SEO. Both these types require in-depth keyword and data research, analysis, the creation of relevant content, link building and other such technical strategies that help you get to the top ranks.

So, while both traditional and global SEO are same regarding the methods they use, the difference lies in their usage. Where international SEO is concerned, you alter everything according to the country and the goals you want to achieve. With the local SEO, you map everything according to your own country.

Developing international SEO strategies is tough and requires considerable time, effort and capital. Fortunately, it is worth it if you stick to it because the global market is growing at an exponential rate and it’s time you took advantage.

Research your market extensively

If someone says that all you need to for a successful global SEO strategy is to replicate your existing approach, then you need to find another mentor. Though you can use these methods as a starting point, you must remember that the needs, requirements, and language of your international audience is a lot more different than your local customers.

Therefore, the first thing you should do is to investigate your target audience and their needs. If you’re lucky enough to have already gained attention from the international market, then start analyzing your website using Google Analytics. Google Analytics will tell you all about the geolocation, the popular keywords used and the CTR and conversion rate.

For the keyword research, you need to depend on the keyword volume according to each country. It is what will tell you about the usefulness of keywords in the targeted region. Also, remember that while Google is the dominant search engine with shares of at least 67% in the global market, people around the world use different websites as well. For instance, while Yandex is popular in Russia, China has blocked Google, and people use Baidu as their primary search platform. So, widen your research and remember to bring this important factor into consideration when you’re finalizing the keywords.

Be careful about your targeting

Not every country that’s bringing you traffic is worth your SEO efforts. Bear in mind that you should steer your SEO efforts according to the volume of relevant organic traffic that you’re receiving and the keywords. If you feel like a country doesn’t offer enough organic search volume but warrants you to target a specific region, you can start targeting through language. Though this isn’t ideally how your website should appear to its target audience, it is a start. It won’t only help you save but will also asses the real potential of the country and what it can offer.

Once you feel like you are getting the desired traffic and conversion rates, you can start to migrate towards a full-fledged, country-targeted approach. On the other hand, if you feel like the conversions as well as the traffic volume is enough to start strategizing correctly, you can go directly to country targeting.

Decide on the targeting methods

For your strategies to work, you need to make sure that you apply the proper techniques which suit your business. While there is a lot of debate over whether or not you should use ccTLDs, you have to know that it all depends on you, your company goals and what you can spend. We’ve broken down targeting methods into two sections of country and language, so it’s easier for you to decide what you should do.

Country targeting



Country code top-level domains focus on a specific country and have dedicated domains other than the original one. You will need a lot of effort to get people to notice your efforts since you’re doing it all from scratch.

However, you must remember that because hosting a site considerably apart from your global targets can have a significant impact on your SEO. To provide your audience with less loading times, you should consider getting a good local hosting company. Also, bear in mind that Google treats some ccTLDs like .co or .me as gLTDs, and not country-specific, so you should check before you apply the changes.


Subdirectories are your best option to have a basic starting structure as they will get popularity equivalent to your original website. The only setback about this particular method for targeting is that it adds complexity to the web structure due to the addition of subdirectories.

Subdirectories are also ideal when you want to give all customers easy access to your website because operating a single site means they can choose their country and proceed forward without having to go to another domain entirely.


If you have a gTLD that’s giving you enough traffic, but you want to avoid adding an additional layer of depth to your domain, then subdomain is your best option. Although this will require indexing a lot of content and isolation of different web versions, it will help you keep things clean and friendly.

However, you have to remember that because these domains are seen as independent entities, you will need to give some extra effort to developing the subdomain’s popularity.

Language targeting



Websites, such as Skype, which don’t have a very high volume of content or resources use subdirectories for language targeting because it will be easier for them to combine the popularity as a single entity under one domain. Moreover, unlike country subdirectories which need a lot of work and effort, language-based indexes don’t require a lot.


If you have more content to index, subdomains are the best alternatives. Subdomains don’t add more depth to your web structure unlike subdirectories while providing more resources to help become popular.

Understand location metadata

After deciding the structure of your web domains, you need to start getting serious about the code. You have to know that while HERFLANG location tags are for Google, Metalanguage tags are used for Bing.

Moreover, if you want your chance at success, you need to ensure the implementation of these codes on every page across your website. Because these tags specify the country and language to search engines, they will help your searchers find you and not go to anyone else.

You can find out more about implementing these tags here. Remember that this process may take a little longer than you expected, but when added correctly you can reap a lot of benefits.

Don’t ignore web design

If you think that targeting a particular target audience according to their country and the language they speak is enough, then you’re wrong. Other than these two things, you also need to go an extra mile to capture customers from other regions.

Brands such as McDonald’s, Nike and Coca-Cola use this tactic to impress their potential clients. Depending on the country you’re targeting, you have to be more conscious about their local esthetic sense, their values, and other such relevant factors. Do some local market research and follow the standards set and it will have an interesting positive effect on your international SEO.

Content is the key

If you have been associated with the search engine optimization field for long, then you know that content is the key to its success. If you want to get noticed by your target audience, you need to design the material such that it is invaluable to the local public.

For instance, let’s say that you’re an American brand and planning to target the people in the Middle East. It is a good idea to share any news concerning your brand; however, the target audience in the Arabian Peninsula won’t be interested in something that’s happening in America.

Additionally, you shouldn’t just think about the content but the image as well and make sure that it represents the market. Moreover, because keywords are an essential part of SEO, you also need to ensure that your keywords are the ones used by the audience and implement them seamlessly in the text. The keywords will also give you a good idea about the topics you should write about and the ones that attract the audience.

Wrap it up with social media

The only way you’re going to make global SEO work is if you give your customers a chance to interact with you through social media. Invite your clients to write testimonials, reviews, and content for you through different social media channels. Apart from making them more loyal and invested in your brand, it also increases your chance of getting recognized and appreciated by others.

Remember that word of mouth is still one of the best advertising methods and is especially useful when you want to win over new customers. If you don’t want to go overboard, signup your brand with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as these are essential for your e-commerce company.

Final thoughts

Effective international SEO will take a lot of practice and effort. What must have been evident by this post is that global search engine optimization follows the same rules as one that targets a single market.

Requiring a different view and approach that adapts to the local styles and cultures, the essence of international SEO comes from traditional SEO. Therefore, ensure that you organize your team to work towards targeting the global market and expand your horizons. Understand that even though you’ll spend weeks and months on research, creating new websites, and content, the result will improve your company’s worth substantially.