Best Guide For Creating International SEO Strategies

Table of Contents

The concept of international and its related strategies may appear to be a foreign one on the surface, but it is likely that you are more acquainted with it than you are aware.

Consider international SEO to be a variation on geotargeting, except that instead of optimizing your site to get traffic from your state, you are optimizing it for visitors from different countries and different languages.

Devising international SEO strategies is an topic. Do not read this post before going through our basic SEO course if you are a beginner.

What exactly is international SEO?

International SEO is tweaking your site in a way that search engines might understand who you want to target and what your business operations are.

If you are running a simple blog where you talk about local news or topics specific to your country only, then this topic is of no good use to you. You can skip this post.

When your business is international and you deal with both local and international clients, it's time you increase your reach. No better way to reach more audiences than search engines.

To do this you don't have to travel internationally and spend huge amounts. Thanks to the internet, you can just browse or Youtube and learn more about the country you are targeting.

Once you learn about your next target country, you need to make changes to your website. These changes will be helpful for both Google bots and visitors from that specific country.

This is what we call International SEO. It is confusing, technical, and a little difficult. Because it also involves local keyword research.

Let's dive into the steps for making your next international SEO strategies.

Performing International

A major part of is its technical part. It doesn't have to be complicated but needs to be done right.

You can either build a completely new website for your target country. This can include a different language too. A completely new design.

Some languages are written from right to left. For example, the Arabic language. So a completely new design is helpful in this case.

But the problem with this is that a completely new has to be worked on for a new website. Because this is a new website in the eyes of Google crawlers. One of the drawbacks of search engines.

The best way to go for a new country target or a new language is to go with subdirectories on the existing website. This is done by creating new subdirectories for the target country and redirecting users of that country to it.

Let's go over the three methods before we dive into more details of our recommended way of international SEO strategies.

Creating new CCTLDs

In this way, you create a new domain with a country-related cctld. For example, underwp.fr, if ever we wanted to target France. Underwp.it if we wanted to go to Italy.

This is the same as Google. Google has its own CCTLD domain for almost every country. Try for yourself, go to google's homepage and search for the Settings option at the right bottom of the page.

GLOBAL SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

Select search settings and you will land on this page.

INTERNATIONAL SEO TACTICS

Now select any country and it will take you to the respective page of Google. Google is a step ahead now. It won't redirect the domain but only the country page. An advanced concept for webmasters.

But we learn from the masters that each domain carries its own importance in the eyes of search engines. If done right , this will result in increasing the authoritative score with search engines.

This type of strategy is perfect for businesses that plan to target 2 or 3 countries. But if you are targeting more countries, we wouldn't suggest this way as it will involve a huge technical work to be carried upon.

In terms of SEO, a huge number of strategies have to be placed and link building campaign on a large scale should be performed. Good for companies with huge budgets but not for regular websites.

Creating New Subdomains

This method uses gTLD (generic Top-Level Domain) with a country code subdomain. For example: fr.underwp.com for France or it.underwp.com for Italy.

This option is the next best option after our recommended way which we will discuss next. This sends the right signals for search engine crawlers to categorize the website for specific countries or languages.

This way of creating subdomains is also helpful in managing hosting and its files without any complex architecture. Easy to set up and manage makes this option user friendly.

The only point which keeps us from doing this to our clients is that in recent years, search engines have started to give less importance to subdomains. It is almost the same as creating a new domain.

A new subdomain is treated as a new domain when it comes to SEO. For example, every new blog on Weebly or Tumblr has its own value. They don't carry the same SEO value as the subdomain.

Gone are the days when subdomains used to have the same SEO value as the main domain. This makes it of the same value as the previously discussed topic of new CCTLD's.

Creating Subdirectories

Subdirectories are the country or language-specific directories created on your server to serve the respective content. For example: underwp.com/fr for France country or underwp.com/ae for UAE country.

There are many benefits of this structure as it does not show that it is a new CCTLD or subdomain. It shows the search engine bots that it is the same domain with different content. Also looks like a regular post or page URL on your website.

This is a very good choice in terms of SEO too. You can build links to one domain and different URLs which can include these subdirectories. For each country, a specific subdirectory can be created.

Each subdirectory can have its own design and language too. It is easily manageable from one platform like WordPress with the use of plugins.

Some WordPress plugins also help in creating these subdirectories without actually creating a real subdirectory on the server. They are created using .htaccess rules or PHP techniques.

Subdirectories SEO is easy to build with only a few strategies rather than starting from scratch. This is because the main domain already carries the SEO weight and subdirectories just add more SEO weight to the main domain.

Hreflang Tags

Whether you go with any of the ways for creating a new page for your international audience, there are some other important concepts which we will discuss from here on.

These tags are important in cross-referencing pages with similar content for different audiences. It describes pages as same but for different target people based on country or language in HTML terms.

Hreflang tags tell the search engine crawlers that although the content on a page is same but it has to be served for different country. These tags are added at the beginning of a webpage in the

An example of hreflang tag is:

This hreflang says that the link to people from UAE can be found at https://www.underwp.com/ae

This page can be used to index in Google's AE search engine. The same will be reported in the sitemap of the website.

The X Default Tag

As the name suggests, this is the default tag which says to the search engines to fallback on this if no related country or language hreflang tag is found.

This tag is very helpful and considered among the best practices of technical SEO for any website. It says that if a visitor's country link is not found, then default them to this address.

An example of X default tag is as follows:

As you see from the above link, when you specify the hreflang with “x-default” value, any visitor from outside of the specified scope of languages or countries will be redirected here.

Meta Content Language Tags

With hreflang values, you can specify only the country for your website visitors. And with meta content-language tags you specify the language of the visitor.

The meta content-language tag indicates the written language of the content of the page to search engines. Which helps to classify the pages based on languages for each user in the search engine.

An example of meta content-language tags is:

In the above tag, we are saying the bots that this page content is written in French language, so it is useful for French people.

This is also a good practice of SEO. Always specify a language for your website and new international website.

Adding Scema Markup

Schema markup carries a lot of SEO points for any website. Optimizing and maintaining your schema markup file increases your website value for search engines.

With schema markup you show the search engines what your website is about and what content it has. This is recognized by every search engine on the internet.

Specify about your business and target countries in the schema markup. Also languages and its related subfolders or subdomains can be specified here.

Adding proper schema markup to your website increases the chances of SEO rankings. Google shows rich snippets from websites based on their schema markup values.

SCHEMA MARKUP FOR SEO

Microdata in schema markup is valuable in terms of SEO. Adding this microdata is not an easy task. When you have a website with a huge number of pages, it becomes more difficult.

We have discussed many tools in our post here: https://underwp.com/free-seo-optimization-tools-google-loves/ . Check this post and you will find a couple of tools which can help you with schema markup of your website.

How To Optimize For International SEO Strategies?

Optimizing your website for international visitors and bringing it on top of the respective country's search engine is called International SEO. Local keyword research, competitor analysis research, and international link building are the main parts of it.

Now below we will be discussing about these main topics and a few more important for your international search engine optimization.

International Keyword Research (Local Keyword research for specific country)

Using literal translations of your ranking keywords in a different language does not give same results in the search engine. So the first step is to find proper keywords in target language for which you want to rank.

There are many tools that can help you do this. Check out the keyword research part of our SEO tools loved by Google post here: https://underwp.com/free-seo-optimization-tools-google-loves/

Our favorite tool is the SEMRush for this. You can add many countries or languages side by side and compare too. Also possible to do this in their Free trial accounts.

International Competitor Analysis Research

If your business is product related, we suggest you do this step before anything else. This should be done the moment you think about going international with your business.

Analyzing the target market is best done with the analysis of your competitors. This will show you the direction which you need to take to compete with others.

Thankfully Google has got a tool that can help you do that. It is called Market Finder, part of the Think With Google tools. https://marketfinder.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en_gb/

Make sure you do a very detailed study of the top 3 competitors of your business. Everything related to their strategies, keywords, backlinks should be noted down.

One of the major help you get from market research is targeting the right keywords. Check your competitors top ranking keywords and start building your website pages around them.

Then go for low competition-related keywords and start pushing more content towards them. And with the right internal structure and backlinks, you should be on par with those competitors.

International Link Building for SEO

The most essential part of any SEO strategy, link building. The technique which can bring up or down your website in search engines.

If you are planning to go with new CCTLDs or subdomains for your website, make sure to have an elaborate SEO link building plan. Because it is going to take time and proper strategy to build a new domain SEO value.

Link building will help your website rank higher in search engines, If content is the King, according to Bill Gates in his famous interview from 1999, then link building is the Queen I say.

Link building will bring your website on top of search engines and increase it's domain authority. This will get you relevant traffic to your website and help you increase your sales.

Building links in a different language for your target country can help boost your rankings in a short period of time. Also the same if the links are coming from country-specific TLDs. Make sure to keep this tip in your SEO plan.

Our SEO Link building service is a popular one among our clients where we built links for different businesses from various countries. Our team custom design's a SEO plan for every new client and get the maximum results for all our clients.

Check out our link building service here: https://underwp.com/seo-link-building-service/

Adding Your Business To Google My Business

By adding your business to Google My Business, it becomes easier for the Google bots to start tracking your website for that specific country. It also increases your brand's reputation.

These days Google shows local businesses on top of the websites for local product/service keywords. When you are added to it, the chances of ranking higher increase.

INTERNATIONAL TARGETING

You can also specify your new website or page in these local business settings. This is helpful for visitors to directly get to the target country page.

Plus when the search engine users see location on the map, it increases the trust value of your brand. Your business is not just a website but a real located office.

Another alternative to Google My Business is Bing Places. It is almost similar to Google's alternative. Works pretty well in some countries.

Final Words

What we have written here should be good enough to get started with your next Internation SEO plan. We have covered all the basics for it.

To get more advance tips and consultation, our support inbox is always open and welcomes all queries. We would love to help you out with your International SEO strategies. Because it is more difficult when you work on it than just read on it.

So get going now and start your international SEO adventure and let us know in the comments below if you found anything interesting and share it with our readers.

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  • Just-iko avatar Just-iko Thank you very much for answering ☑️ ✨
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Put your content in the right HTML tags and Google will show it this way.

    In the picture that you show, the first content is put in a list with bold headings.
    The second content is a FAQ on that page.

    Put in the right HTML tags and Google will pick it up nicely.
  • Just-iko avatar Just-iko Hello, I'm a newbie in this field, any guidance would be appreciated :) some questions please, is there any idea on how to make our website could appears like that in Google search? The one that I marked..
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Semrush or Ahrefs will help you for spying competitors.

    I think Semrush has a trial period as well.
  • Aadhi avatar Aadhi Buy semrush, you can buy it at cheap rate by using Group buy method
  • SG.CK avatar SG.CK Any free tool for spy traffic and ranking ?
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Search on google “htaccess redirect rules”
    Put them in your website’s htaccess file if you are using Apache
  • BrunoAfonso avatar BrunoAfonso how should I go to solve this issue
  • BrunoAfonso avatar BrunoAfonso Can you explain a little bit more? My website is not wordpress, I use amazon web services
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 You can make a 301 redirect to the correct page on your website.
    If you are using Wordpress then SEO plugins like rank math have this feature.
    If you don’t want to use SEO plugins then there are many good redirect plugins in the Wordpress repository.
    And if you are not using Wordpress then .htaccess file is your friend.
  • BrunoAfonso avatar BrunoAfonso For example, is this image, the second link "THU Main Event" goes to a different page that it's supposed to. How do I fix this.
  • BrunoAfonso avatar BrunoAfonso So I have a website and when you search for it, one of the hyperlinks that google provides goes to the wrong page, is there a specific way for me to change that?
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Need more explanation
  • BrunoAfonso avatar BrunoAfonso Hello people, does anyone know how to fix a hyperlink within a google search?
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Semrush shows you all the links that it considers as toxic in its domain overview dashboard. You can then use these website list to disavow in GSC.
  • rrakesharmaa avatar rrakesharmaa I want to remove high spam backlinks via Disavow tool. So i need these links.
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 extract high spam score backlinks.
    This is little confusing for me to understand

    Do you want to remove high spam backlinks to your website or do you want to receive backlinks from websites that have a high spam score?
  • yaswanth avatar yaswanth Now I use the Search console live URL inspector. It shows the page source and screenshot with an error(If any).
    Result: The page is not mobile friendly in the screenshot. All the element's styles are broken.

    Now, I feel like, " What the hell is happening in rich result tester? The google bot shows everything is ok, and in the search console, this is happening."

    # Problem Digging Stage final stage - Solving the problem
    The easiest way to solve the problem is to compare the thing and find the difference.
    Is rich results tester a google bot? Yes!
    Is it owned by google? Yes!
    Is it have any link with the official search console crawler? No!

    Now, What is the difference between 2 crawlers?
    Their IPs are different. They work differently.

    Summary: Google bot (Offical bot) is not able to crawl all elements in the webpage. It is not able to read all styling files. All other bots(services that use crawl as Google Bot) can view/crawl the page.

    List of official google bot IPs: https://developers.google.com/search/apis/ipranges/googlebot.json

    Solution: Rather than digging into all files, we changed the hosting server located in the exact location.

    Thank you for reading this article. It takes a few mins to read this article, but It took hours to find the correct problem with a solution. If you find this article valuable, give it a like and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them.
  • yaswanth avatar yaswanth Solving Critical Indexing Problem (CASE STUDY)

    Last week I received a message from a friend he is requesting me to help him index a page of his website. I said, " Wait, sometime google will index automatically" Then he said he was getting problem with his homepage. So, I started digging. First, I want to find the problem. Then all other things were easy.

    # Problem Digging Stage 1 - Analyze the top layers
    Checking the basic things
    1) No Index tags
    2) Canonical tags
    3) Website page Age

    Result: Nothing Found

    # Problem Digging Stage 2 - Getting Deeper
    1) Checking status codes (If there is any redirects, 404 error, or soft 404 errors)
    2) Using an SEO browser to check the web page accessibility
    3) Trying with different user agents

    Result: Nothing Found

    # Problem Digging Stage 3 - Analyzing and
    comparing past and current stages of webpage
    1) Checking the Wayback machine for any spam content history
    2) Checking the search console for errors
    3) Other page's indexability

    Result: I got some clue. Search console shows "Page is not mobile friendly."

    # Problem Digging Stage 4 -Finding the reason for the search console error.
    When I checked the web page with SEO Browser, the page was mobile friendly, and I also tried "crawl as Googlebot." Everything looks good. Then where is the problem?

    One thing was confirmed google is not able to view the webpage clearly. And all other bots are not getting any problems.

    So, I decided to use only google properties in the further process (Because only the google bot gets stuck).
    I selected three tools to process further.
    1) Google page speed insights
    2) Google rich results tester
    3) Search console Live URL inspector

    First, I used page speed insights to check If the google bot can crawl/view the page or not(If there are any issues in crawling, then the tool returns a lighthouse error)
    Result: everything is ok

    Second I used Google rich results tester. It provides the page source and screenshot of the webpage.
    Result: everything is ok
  • achann avatar achann Backlink actually link that provided outside web, so if you use instagram and insert your web link that still counted as backlink.
  • achann avatar achann If you want to be free, why not using mailchimp for email blast. Or maybe you can use whatsender for whatsapp blast, there is nulled version I think.
  • achann avatar achann Um.. Maybe you can use whatsapp blast and give link? Or maybe you can use email marketing and give link to your web?
  • rrakesharmaa avatar rrakesharmaa How can I extract high spam score backlinks for my website? Is there any free tool that provides all high spam score sites HELP ME PLEASE 🙂
  • nkap avatar nkap <@211319858258771968> hey, would you be able to share the website that you want guest posts on? I’m in touch with a few fintech businesses and can ask them whether they’d be interested in putting a post on your site.
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 <@211319858258771968> it sure will work. Make sure to write that it’s free to post as guests. A lot of websites do not mention this and writers usually think it’s paid opportunity only.

    Keep us updated of how well this goes for your website.
  • soutaraku avatar soutaraku Thank you so much for the detailed guide. I'll see if I can put up the Guest Post page to start with! I hope my email gets bombarded in a good way haha
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 You should start putting up a page called Guest Posting on your other website where you put articles, etc.. and put all the requirements there which you are looking for in the guest posts. Make sure to leave your email as well for easier contacts.

    Build up some links to this page. Because most of the writers are looking to write for high metrics website that have good DA, TF, etc...

    Once you have a page setup it will help you get attention from people who are searching on Google.

    Next you can start sending the URL of this page to people whom you think might be interested to write for your service on social networks like twitter, linkedin, etc.

    Also list this page URL on websites that have posts like free guest posts list in SaaS, free guest posts list in "your niche", etc. Something like this: https://underwp.com/the-best-free-guest-posting-websites-list-in-2022-over-3000/

    These will get you enough traction to attract guest posts from various contributors over the time. Your email will be bombarded with emails following the above tips.
  • soutaraku avatar soutaraku I can translate guest post to Japanese and put it on our website to share stories from overseas. I thought it would be interesting for our readers and a good way for link building.
  • soutaraku avatar soutaraku It's not titled as contribute/guest posts page, but there's a website we put interview articles and such. We surely can put guest posts on that website.
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 <@211319858258771968> does your website have contribute/guest posts page?
  • soutaraku avatar soutaraku Hi guys! I'm a Japanese SEO specialist/ content editor working for a fintech company, and looking for someone to put guest posts on our website (preferably about fintech or SaaS market). Are there any good place to look for people willing to guest post?

    In Japan, not many people write guest posts, so I'm kinda lost. Twitter trick is only guiding light to me, <@838326478924021760>. Thanks for sharing.
  • Deleted User avatar Deleted User trying it out right now
  • nkap avatar nkap Great idea! Will definitely try it out. Thanks mate.
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 A good trick to get guest posts for your website. <@456226577798135808> <@755307075625549854>
  • Büşra avatar Büşra Thank you very much. I'll try 😊
  • nkap avatar nkap Yeah me too!!
  • naaz avatar naaz <@755307075625549854> Thank you for the detailed answer. Hope <@341197404302737408> finds the right solution for this.
  • nkap avatar nkap <@341197404302737408> Just these:

    You can try 3 things: (I suggest you try the 3rd option first)

    1. If there are any links in your coverage report that’s actually not from your domain/property, I’d recommend you use the Search Console’s removal tool to remove these from your property.

    2. If you’re using any page builders like elementor etc make sure you turn off search engine indexing for things like templates. You can find this in Yoast SEO settings. With this setting your templates and unnecessary pages won’t be indexed. Are you using elementor by any chance?

    3. It’s also possible that your site has been hacked. If random URLs are appearing in analytics and search console the first thing that you should do is check your .htaccess file to see if someone has put any rewrite rules.
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 <@755307075625549854> got any views on this?
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 did you change your permalinks sometime back in last few months?
  • naaz avatar naaz <@838326478924021760> bringing to your attention on this.
  • Büşra avatar Büşra hello guys! I need to help about SEO optimation. I'm using wordpress Yoast. I saw dummy link like as ``` https://myURL.com/cuisine/35/17498``` I haven't these in page. Btw ı'm using google search console. Why may be this? Is anyone has idea about that?
  • ankit662003 avatar ankit662003 does anyone know how to create seo silos?
  • ankit662003 avatar ankit662003 hi
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Just know that we are all here to help each other
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 No worries mate.
  • Alex25 avatar Alex25 The thing is idk what to ask .
    I'm just stuck
  • ddev66 avatar ddev66 Drop your queries here

4 Responses

  1. You are right, creating new domains for each country is a lot of work. Subdomains are the best way. But some say that subdirectory is better than subdomains.

  2. I agree with you, subdirectories are the best way to go with international SEO practices. It also helps in easy management of different country pages from one WordPress backend.

  3. I saw a lot of companies moving from subdomains to subdirectories. This is a sign that subdirectories are more effective. Plus they carry the SEO value of the main domain.

    The only situation where your main domain is penalised by Google or has a bad reputation or reviews, moving to a new subdomain and starting the SEO from scratch is the way to go. Though most of the people say to go with a new domain in that case too. Subdomains are a thing of the past in SEO.

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