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Using SEO to Expand Your Web Traffic from Local to International Audiences

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Thousands of searches are carried out every second on Google; everyone is either searching for information on services and products, and you may be offering some of these services as a business person. So how do you stick out amidst all the options available online? Having an understanding of the right channels for your target audience is key to making your online information visible. Here is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. 

Search Engine Optimization is increasing the website’s visibility to users of online search engines, so it pops up frequently at the top of the search page when specific keywords are entered into the search engine. When you use a search engine, you type in keywords to find the pertinent information related to what you need. It might be tedious for the search engine to sift through billions of data worldwide to supply you the most relevant results. Hence, complex algorithms of data rallied from various web pages around the world are used for this. For an algorithm to capture a website, it must have the necessary data; that way, it can appear when needed — to a user. While developing a website, page titles built into the code should reference the content on your site.

Another thing to note are the keywords used. Local keyword research is vital to understand what terms are prevalent in the market you are targeting. If you are hosting a food blog, you should have words like ‘recipe’ because it is a likely search word for most people. If you are having a dating blog, you can use words like “quick flirt”, “partner”, “relationship”.

Many business owners approach the idea of SEO without having any concrete plan in mind. Having good content is excellent, but you need the search traffic to target your specific audience. Once a strategic plan is in motion, you can almost guarantee a successful marketing campaign. For business owners that do not know how to go about developing and implementing SEO in the digital marketing arena, it is always a great idea to look into an SEO partnership or outsourcing.

The goal of a small business might be to create awareness within the local geographic area; for that, the local SEO is just sufficient. Search engines will take note of the location and will show your page to users around you more often than those outside your geographical area. Keywords that reference the work and place you are in should be the significant factors for building a Local SEO plan for your website. You should note that some keywords are quite common; hence it becomes quite tricky to be one of the top search engine results. In this case, it becomes imperative to find a “niche” which is a high volume, low competition keyword with a lot of search requests, but no meaningful outcome. Analytics software can be employed to oversee the website to track the number of guests to the site and their length of stay on it. If there is no significant improvement in the website, then it is time to review the keywords and edit the content.

For companies seeking to expand into the foreign markets, International SEO is critical in creating awareness for the product or brand. To optimize your website for overseas markets, you must carefully put a plan in place for an effective global SEO strategy

International SEO is the process of improving your search presence so that search engines can easily identify your target countries and which languages you use for business. International SEO merely is using geo-targeting: optimizing for different countries and its languages instead of optimizing for your local area.

Steps to Setting Up International SEO On Your Webpage:

Define your content

You can decide to narrow your search results based on geo-targeting or language or country. Boden, the British clothing retailer, customizes content by country with different sites for its customers in the US, Germany, and so on. eBay also has several sites in local languages for their audiences because they have a large presence in 100 countries. To maximize your international SEO, pinpoint the locations generating a lot of traffic to your site. Use the language report in Google Analytics to track the most used language by your users and their locations. Then, you can dig deeper into the pattern of your visitors by noting the pages they visited on your site, the services or products they purchased and the keywords they used in their search. This analysis will give further insight on the potential of your market in a country.

Structure your URLs for a Universal Audience

The structure of your URL helps Google decipher what parts to show to the visitor on your site.  You can employ several approaches to target a particular country using URL structures; you could use a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), or add a subdirectory structure on an existing website or use a subdomain. The preferred approach depends on the resources available to build and sustain the site. 

There are several ways to structure URLs to target multiple regions and languages:

  • Set Up Country-Code Top Level Domain name (ccTLD)

ccTLD is the domain name for a specific country; it employs two-letter ISO codes as an indicator of the site’s state or country. Content targeted to people in the United States would have its ccTLD written as “mysite.us”  For France, it is “mysite.fr,” “mysite.co.uk” for the United Kingdom, and Germany; it is “my site.de”.

Famous brand, Adidas makes use of ccTLD for their International SEO scheme. Their sites: http://www.adidas.co.uk/ and http://www.adidas.fr/ have different languages and currencies, and the products and offers are mildly different too.

This structure might be the best option for businesses: 

1) that own companies across different countries and want to optimize one website;

2) have large audiences in each of its target countries; 

3) have the resources to build and maintain various sites with localized content written in the local languages of their users;

4) and produce different products and services for each region; but there are benefits and drawbacks for this approach:


  • Local ccTLDs perform better in some markets because users prefer a locally based website.
  • It is more dependable for users because only the content relevant to their country will appear on the site.
  • The server location is irrelevant as a geo-locating factor.


  • It might end up being expensive because of the purchase of several domains, and the authority for each website is different.
  • The SEO signal would be weaker than if a website was for different countries.
  • It is more tedious to build links to each country because of the separate sites, and hence a low overall domain authority.

Examples of companies that employ this approach for different countries are Disney, Sony, MacDonald.

  • Set up Sub-directories/Sub-folders with Generic TLDs

In a subdirectory structure, you create a folder on your website for each target country and label it with its ISO code. This approach targets users by either country and language or both. For it to work effectively, the site has to be on a top-level domain such as a .com, not a local ccTLD. Examples of Sub-directories with country and language targeting is:

For English users in USA – www.mysite.com

For Spanish users in USA – www.mysite.com/es/

For users in Mexico- www.mysite.com/es-mx/


  • It is cost-effective and straightforward because only one website domain is required, and it’s the easiest method to target multiple languages in a country.
  • SEO performed on the part of the domain automatically profits all the other folders since they are all on one site
  • It requires low maintenance since all files store on a single server.


  • Several international pages could wind up in the search results and make it difficult to get the right landing page for the relevant country’s search.
  • The International SEO signal is weaker than if a website was set up purposely for a country. Sometimes, from the search results, it might not be evident that the sub-folder is for users in a particular country.
  • The homepage is always almost the content for the country where the main office is situated; it is not specific to all the users visiting the site.

Examples of companies that use this approach are Spotify, Apple, Nike. 

  • Set Up Sub-Domain using a Generic LTD

This structure involves building separate websites using several subdomains. When using subdomains, the country’s code is at the beginning of the domain (de.yourdomain.com). An example of creating an international site via a separate subdomain is us.example.com and fr.example.com.   


  • Its setup is easy, and sites can easily be separated.
  • It is an efficient way to create sites as individual entities while maintaining overall corporate branding.
  • Several subdomains can be hosted on different servers in various countries and are perceived as a geo-targeting signal by search engines.


  • Its International SEO signal is weaker than that of a dedicated country domain.
  • It might be hard to take authority of the main domain for subdomains when compared to subdirectories.
  • It is not exactly user friendly and might be complicated for users to navigate the site without hassle.
  • It incurs more cost of hosting each subdomain.

The subdomain is not generally recommended over the other structures as its benefits do not outweigh theirs to make it a good option. It is best for companies that wish to keep their brand name in the main domain, but need particular international sites for internal business reasons. 

Set Up SEO for Language Targeting

It might be necessary to have a country’s site with different languages, e.g., Canada has English and French as its official languages. Hreflang Tags are a technical solution for websites that have similar content in multiple languages. They are small snippets of code that help search engines match up the correct language with the searcher.  They are useful in translating your content in subdirectories and subdomains, and they prevent duplicate content.

Finally, International SEO understands your audience and how best to serve them by customizing your content and search highlights to their needs. The site structure for your campaign is crucial, and it is advisable to weigh the benefits and costs with your business and select the most effective choice based on the resources available to you.


Sandra Manson is a passionate journalist who has been contributing to major media publications. She enjoys writing about human psychology and lifestyle. Sandra also runs her blog https://singlehearts.org where she covers topics of great interest in modern society.Longrich Business

Stanislaus Okwor is a Web Designer / Developer based in Lagos - Nigeria. He is the Director at Stanrich Online Technologies. He is knowledgeable in Content management System - Wordpress, Joomla and PHP/MySQL etc

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