Penetrating new international markets is much harder than you might think. Not only do you have to develop viable marketing and sales strategies, but you also need to consider language, culture, and customer preferences. These issues are especially noticeable during SEO campaigns, which tend to be extremely complex.

So, if you wish to make the most out of your search engine optimization, it’s vital that you get acquainted with these potential issues in advance. Understanding common international SEO mistakes and how to fix them is the quickest way to succeed in any target market, regardless of country.

Perhaps the most important thing is adapting to a foreign language. Each page must be modified for foreign audiences, thus ensuring maximum engagement. You also need to create a new domain that will work separately from your main website. Lastly, find the best search engine for that particular country and learn about its algorithms.

With that in mind, these are the most common issues you might encounter and what to do in these situations.

1. Using Wrong Keywords

As with any other SEO process, you need to perform extensive keyword research before creating your first piece of content. By focusing on specific phrases, not only will you drive more traffic to your platform, but you can also significantly increase your conversions.

When performing initial research, marketing experts usually struggle with the local language. They might misinterpret keywords or not understand why people use them. Because of that, their list of chosen keywords might be completely unsuitable for the SEO campaign, resulting in low traffic or poor conversions.

To get the most out of the process, you should first get acquainted with the target audience, their language, and their culture. Always keep in mind that a phrase that has received a lot of traction in English might not be suitable for a foreign market. For example, people might not be browsing this particular keyword or might use a similar but not the same phrasing,

In fact, using the same language keywords might even get you in trouble. Some phrases might translate into curse words or something else that is inappropriate. So, the last thing you want is to rank for these keywords as they might lead users to wrong conclusions about your brand.

Ideally, you should hire a translator to help you figure out these market keywords. First, you should go through your initial list of phrases and determine if these are even suitable for ranking. After that, you should analyze the foreign counterparts in tools such as Google Search Console and Ahrefs to see if you can generate enough traffic to justify the effort.

2. Not Working on Website UX

Having a website with poor UX is one of the biggest mistakes in any international SEO strategy. Most people falsely presume they should prioritize website speed, which is why they go with minimalistic design. While we can’t neglect this ranking factor, we still need to find a balance between UX and overoptimization.

The good news is that many UX practices come naturally when you have a well-optimized site. In the end, the main reason behind any SEO process is to make the platform more available to common users. We need to improve design, increase speed, and optimize for a specific country just so our visitors can properly enjoy content.

3. Disregarding Local SEO

Like in your home country, international SEO hinges on local optimization for high profits and exposure. People are looking toward brands in their city for products and services, which is something you can take advantage of.

It’s vital that you create posts that include the name of a specific city or region you’d like to target. These articles are vital for ranking in local markets and local languages, allowing you to generate more traffic from specific users. Furthermore, you should also run extensive link-building campaigns that revolve around these phrases.

It’s worth noting that you should also introduce other best practices for local SEO. For example, if you actually have a store or an office, you need to garner positive reviews from anyone who interacts with your representatives. Educate your staff about the importance of reviews and how to get them from people visiting your company.

4. Neglecting Unique Locations

If you’re trying to captivate the international market, you need to segment locations. Each country should be perceived as a separate entity, and, as such, you’ll always have to run different campaigns for each of them. Besides having separate domains (we’ll talk about this later on), you also need to implement the best practices according to regions.

The first and most important thing is to use different languages and adapt your content based on location. Cover topics relevant to the local populace to increase engagement on your pages and send a positive signal to Google. Furthermore, having everything in the right language also helps you sell more, increasing brand awareness and providing secondary benefits to SEO.

In some cases, you also need to pay attention to imagery. If you want to sell to the locals, you need to use visuals that focus on their ethnic group. Similarly, you’ll need to perform separate keyword research. Even if the audiences are looking for the same things, they might use different phrases to reach relevant websites.

5. Translating Content Directly

Every language has its unique traits and expressions that characterize it. So, if you’re looking to translate your existing posts into their international version in English, you need to be aware of these rules. Translating content directly (especially by using translation tools) can easily spell disaster for your brand.

Each piece needs to be well-packaged for the local users so they would ultimately understand it and buy from your company. Small mistakes can be costly and alienate website visitors, especially when you’re translating product descriptions and other landing pages.

Besides proper translations, you also need to consider whether a certain text is relevant to the local audience. For example, there’s no point in covering specific services and products that you’re offering in the US but not in the international markets. Similarly, you don’t want to want to talk about religious holidays in the US on your international web version.

Once again, this is one of those issues that are easily remedied by hiring a foreign translator. Make sure you always have a solid writer on your team who understands nuances of English as well as their own language.

6. Single ccTLD for All Countries

If you’re a large international brand, you need to have a separate website for each country instead of creating several language versions for different markets. So, instead of having a .com site for all locations, you will need to have sites such as .de (for Germany), .uk (for the United Kingdom), and .fr (for France).

By having with multiple ccTLDs, you can cater to local audiences and search engines. Google will recognize that this site is intended for a particular country and will give you a boost in rankings accordingly. However, don’t forget to use the local language as your main website language.

You shouldn’t tackle this matter with a simple abbreviation, as Google will interpret this as a translation of your English site. Instead, make sure to create a separate domain that will engage with foreign visitors. Even though this approach presumes more work, it will ensure better placement in the results.

A nice trick in this situation is going to domain auctions and finding a domain that has existed for a while, has a name relevant to your business, and has accrued lots of quality links. While such domains are usually expensive, they will give you the necessary edge to start your campaign on the local market.

Read more: One gTLD vs. Multiple ccTLDs for International/Multi-Language Business: Impact on SEO

7. Introducing Wrong Hrefland Attribute

The hreflang implementation process is one of the more important things you’ll need to cover. We implement these tags for sites that have similar pages and content but focus on different countries and languages. With the hreflang tags, you can “explain” to search engines that a site includes international web versions.

By using this tactic, Google can understand users’ language preferences and connect specific pages with specific searches. As a result, your site will be visible to all users coming from aboard, which will result in much better conversions for your brand.

Through the hreflang attribute, you can avoid a nasty issue that comes in the form of duplicate content. A common international SEO mistake is using several versions of a site in the same language. Although these versions target users in different countries, there’s minimal difference between them.

Luckily, with the implementation of the hreflang tags, Google won’t think of your international content as a simple copy of the original version. Instead, the search engine will understand that each version has numerous modifications meant to cater to different audiences. If you don’t know whether a site already has the hreflang tags, we suggest you use some of the web checkers.

8. Implementing the Same URL for Different Versions

With ULRs, search engines can find unique resources on the web. Each ULR address consists of several distinct elements, including the name, the protocol, the top-level domain, and the resource name. When we combine all these textual pieces, we get a full URL of a specific page.

The best SEO policy in this particular case is using a clean URL. When a page address is simple yet descriptive, it encourages users to visit the platform. Solid URLs should properly explain the content on a page so there’s no confusion. Furthermore, when everything’s clear, you can be certain that a person won’t bounce back after reaching the website.

When it comes to your international SEO strategy, you need to make sure your URLs are modified for different languages and regions. That way, Google and other search engines have no issue ranking the site the way it should be ranked. On top of that, users will have much more clarity regarding the page’s content.

Avoiding International SEO Mistakes

We’ve already mentioned numerous ways that will help you avoid these mistakes. The first thing you need to do when creating a new domain is hire translators and writers. These professionals can ensure everything on your website is properly modified for international audiences, ensuring maximum engagement and conversions.

It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire consultants, salespeople, and marketers who have previously worked with a market you’re targeting. Given that these experts know what works and what doesn’t, they can save you a lot of time and resources. Partnering with external professionals is especially vital if you’re going to use a search engine you have no experience with.

With that said, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire a veteran, international SEO company. Partnering up with brands like MiroMind will give you a major headstart on a particular market, ensuring faster results with less resource waste. Experts from our company are well-versed in search engines such as Yandex and Baidu, which can come in handy when penetrating these markets.

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