Tag Archive | "International"

Digital Marketing News: International Women’s Day, Google Warning, Facebook Tops YouTube

McDonald's International Women's Day

McDonald’s Flipped Its Famed Golden Arches for International Women’s Day – McDonald’s made a major play to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, taking its famed golden arches and turning them upside down across social media and at an owner-operated location in Lynwood, Calif. The effort is getting both kudos and criticism as a marketing ploy. Of course it is, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s bad, right? AdWeek

Also drawing attention to International Women’s Day: Here are two thoughtful videos from TopRank Marketing co-founder Susan Misukanis and Content Marketing Manager Christine Berres on the importance of women in the workplace and how to be the best you.

The 2017 Inc. 500 & Social Media: Finding Its Place in the Marketing Mix – LinkedIn and Facebook are reported as the most effective social media platforms while Twitter and YouTube are ranked among the least effective platforms for the Inc 500 companies. UMass Dartmouth

Analytics 360 Suite customers can now set up ‘user groups’ in Google Analytics – Individuals on internal teams at agencies and consultancies often have various levels of access to a Google Analytics account. Overseeing all those individual permissions — particularly as people come and go — is getting easier with the introduction of user groups in Google Analytics. Marketing Land

Google Engineer Issues Warning About Google Crawler – A Google engineer issued a “public service announcement” notifying web publishers that Google does not support CSS custom properties which means that Google’s crawler will not be able to render the web page properly and that can mean a lower ranking. Search Engine Journal

Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones – Wait, what? Anybody else think Google should stick to search and Pixel phones? The DoD partnership is to help develop AI for analyzing drone footage and quite a few Google employees are not happy about it. Gizmodo

Pew Research Social Media 2018

Facebook Tops YouTube In Branded Video Space -According to a survey by video ad-tech company Clinch, Facebook’s platform is home to some 46% of all branded video campaigns, topping YouTube, which has 41% of the campaigns. Digital News Daily

Facebook’s Testing a New Option Which Enables Brands to Mass-Send Promotions via Messenger -Facebook’s rolling out a new test of a self-serve sponsored messaging tool, which will enable brands to mass-send promotional messages to anyone who’s already initiated a conversation with them on the platform. Social Media Today

Forget Facebook? Why Marketers are Embracing Both Pinterest and Instagram – Both platforms are interest based and both Pinterest and Instagram provide a better frame of mind for shopping and let’s face it – Facebook just isn’t what it used to be. AdWeek

Forrester Calls Amazon, Voice New Search Opportunities -Findings in a new Forrester report suggest that retail brands will invest 55% more in online marketing and advertising by 2023. Publicis, Omnicom, and WPP plan to boost their ad spending with Amazon between 40% and 100% in 2018, according to Forrester, citing online reports. MediaPost

On the Lighter Side:

  • Heinz Brings in a Real Hostage Negotiator to Resolve Parent-Child Standoffs at Dinner – AdWeek
  • Amazon Says It Has Fixed Randomly Laughing Alexa Speakers – Bloomberg

TopRank Marketing and Clients In the News:

  • 3M has launched the Champions of Science podcast series (client) – 3M State of Science Survey
  • Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips to Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy for 2018 – Marketing Insider Group
  • Lee Odden – Influencer Marketing Summary of Lee Odden at Social Media Marketing World: EAR Model – JM Internet Group
  • Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Linking Your Social Media Strategy – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog
  • Lee Odden – 20 Inspiring Digital Marketing Experts – VBout
  • Lee Odden – Top 55 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Follow in 2018 – Status Brew
  • Alex Rynne of LinkedIn (client) and Lee Odden – [Video] Millennials & Influencer Marketing: How To Organize & Optimize For B2B (client) – B2BMX
  • Lee Odden – Is less more in content marketing? A data-driven answer – Scoop.it

Be sure to check in next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories or you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for daily news. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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International SEO Study: How Searchers Perceive Country Code Top-Level Domains

Posted by 5le

The decision to focus your site on an international audience is a big step and one fraught with complexities. There are, of course, issues to deal with around language and user experience, but in addition there are some big technical choices to make including what domains to use.

Any authoritative
international SEO guide will elaborate on the differences between the options of subdirectory, subdomain, and country-code top level domain (CCTLD). One of the most common suggestions is for a site to opt to use a ccTLD (e.g. domain.co.uk) as the domain extension. The reasoning behind this is the theory that the ccTLD extension will “hint” to search engines and users exactly who your target audience should be versus the other, less explicit options. For example, a search engine and human user would know, even without clicking into a site, that a site that ends with .co.uk is targeting a user looking for UK content. 

We have solid data from
Google that a ccTLD does indicate country targeting; however, when it comes to users there is only an assumption that users even notice and make choices based on the ccTLD. However, this is a fairly broad assumption that doesn’t address whether a ccTLD is more important than a brand name in the domain or the quality of a website’s content. To test this theory, we ran a survey to discover what users really thought.

User knowledge of TLDs

Even before trying to understand how users related to ccTLDs it is essential to validate the assumption that users even know that general TLDs exist. To establish this fact, we asked respondents to pick which TLD might be the one in use by a non-profit. Close to
100% of respondents correctly identified a TLD ending with .org as the one most likely to be used by a non-profit. Interestingly, only 4% of people in the US stated that they were unsure of the correct TLD compared to 13% of Australians. Predictably, nearly all marketers (98%) chose the .org answer.

.org cctld survey

Another popular TLD is the .edu in use by educational assumptions, and we wanted to understand if users thought that content coming from a .edu domain might be more trustworthy. We asked users if they received an unsolicited email about water quality in their town whether they would place more trust in a sender’s email address that ended with .edu or .com.
89% of respondents in the US chose the .edu as more trustworthy, while only 79% said the same in Australia. Quite interestingly, the marketer responses (from the survey posted on Inbound.org were exactly the same as the Australians with 79% declaring the .edu to be more trustworthy.

.org cctld survey australia

If users can identify a .org as the correct TLD for a non-profit, and a .edu as a TLD that might be more trustworthy, it is likely that users are familiar with the existence of TLDs and how they might be used. The next question to answer is if users are aware of the connection between TLDs and locations.

Country relationship awareness

Next, we asked respondents to identify the location of a local business using a .ca TLD extension. The majority of respondents across all three surveys correctly chose Canada; and nearly all marketers (92%) got this correct. Oddly, more Australians (67%) correctly identified Canada than Americans (62%). We would have thought Americans should have been more familiar with the TLD of a neighboring country. Additionally, more Americans (23%) fell for the trick answer of California than Australians (15%). Regardless, we were able to conclude that most Internet users are aware of TLDs and that they are tied to a specific country.

canada cctld survey

To really gauge how much users know about TLDs and countries, we asked users to pick the right domain extension for a website in another country. In the US survey, we asked users to pick the correct TLD for an Australian company, and in the Australian survey we used a British company. In each of the questions we gave one correct answer possibility, one almost correct, and two entire wrong choices.For example, we gave .co.uk and .uk as answer choices to Australians.

In both the US and Australia, the majority of respondents chose the correct TLD, although Americans seem to have been confused by whether Australia’s TLD was .AU (35%) or .com.AU (24%).

There is a common practice of using country-code domain extensions as a vanity URL for content that is not geotargeted. For example, .ly is the domain extension for Libya, but it is frequently used on domains that have a word that ends with “ly.” Additionally, .me is the domain extension for Montenegro; however, the TLD is used for many purposes other than Montenegro content.

We wanted to understand if users noticed this type of TLD usage or if they thought the content might still be related to another country. We asked respondents what might be on a website that ended with .TV which is the TLD for the island nation of Tuvalu and is also a popular TLD for TV show websites. 51% of US respondents thought it might be a TV show and 42% chose the “it could be anything” answer. In Australia, 43% thought the site would be a TV show, and 44% said “it could be anything”.

tuvalu cctld survey

One of the answer options was that it could be a website in Tuvalu and interestingly twice as many Australian (9%) chose this option vs US respondents (4.5%). This question was one of the areas where marketers’ answers were very different from those in the US and Australia. 77% of marketers chose the TV show option and only 19% said it could be anything.

Based on the these three results, it is apparent that
users recognize TLDs, know that they are from other countries, and appear to make some judgments around the content based on the TLD.

Decision making using TLDs

Since users know that TLDs are an important part of a URL that is tied to a country of origin, it is important to understand how the TLD factors into their decision-making processes about whether or not they visit certain websites.

We asked users whether they thought medical content on a foreign TLD would be as reliable as similar content found on their local TLD. In the US, only 24% thought the content on the non-local TLD (.co.uk) was less reliable than content on a .com. In Australia, the results were nearly identical to what we saw in the US with only 28% answering that the non-local TLD (.co.uk) was less reliable than the content on a .com.au. Even 24% of marketers answered that the content was less reliable. The remaining respondents chose either that the content equally reliable or they just didn’t know. Based on these results, the TLD (at least as long as it was a reputable one)
does not seem to impact user trust.

UK cctld survey

Digging into the idea of trust and TLD a bit further, we asked the same reliability question about results on Google.com vs Google.de. In the US, 56% of respondents said that the results on Google.de are equally reliable to those on Google.com, and in Australia, 51% said the same thing when compared to Google.com.au. In the marketer survey, 66% of respondents said the results were equally reliable. The fact that the majority of respondents stated that results are equally reliable should mean that users are more focused on the brand portion of a domain rather than its country extension.

CcTLD’s impact on ecommerce

Making the decision to use a ccTLD on a website can be costly, so it is important to justify this cost with an actual revenue benefit. Therefore the real test of TLD choice is how it impacts revenue. This type of answer is of course hard to gauge in a survey where customers are not actually buying products, but we did want to try to see if there might be a way to measure purchasing decisions.

To achieve this result, we compared two different online retailers and asked respondents to choose the establishment that they thought would have the most reliable express shipping. In the US survey, we compared Amazon.co.jp to BestBuy.com. In the Australian survey, we compared Bigw.com.au (a well known online retailer) to Target.com. (Interesting fact: there is a Target in Australia that is not affiliated with Target in the US and their website is target.com.au) The intent of the question was to see if users zeroed in on the recognizable brand name or the domain extension.

cctld trust survey

In the US, while 39% said that both websites would offer reliable shipping, 42% still said that Best Buy would be the better option. Australians may have been confused by the incorrect Target website, since 61% said both websites would have reliable shipping, but 34% chose Big W. Even marketers didn’t seem oblivious to domain names with only 34% choosing the equally reliable option, and 49% choosing Best Buy. The data in this question is a bit inconclusive, but we can definitively say that while a large portion of users are blind to domain names, however, when selling online it would be best to use a familiar domain extension.

cctld trust survey australia

New TLDs

Late last year, ICANN (the Internet governing body) announced that they would be releasing dozens of new
GTLDs, which opened up a new domain name land grab harkening back to the early days of the Internet. Many of these domain names can be quite expensive, and we wanted to discover whether they even mattered to users.

gtld survey

We asked users if, based solely on the domain name, they were more likely to trust an insurance quote from a website ending in .insurance.
62% of Americans, 53% of Australians, and 67% of marketers said they were unlikely to trust the quote based on the domain alone. Based on this result, if you’re looking to invest in a new TLD simply to drive more conversions, you should probably do more research first. 

A new gTLD is probably not a silver bullet.


For this survey, I collaborated with
Sam Mallikarjunan at HubSpot and we decided that the two assumptions we absolutely needed to validate where 1) whether users even notice ccTLDs and 2) if so do they really prefer the TLD of their country. While we received 101 responses from a version of the survey targeted at marketers on an Inbound.org discussion, we primarily used SurveyMonkey Audience, which allowed us to get answers from a statistically significant random selection of people in both the United States and Australia.

We created two nearly identical surveys with one targeted to a US-only audience and the other targeted to an Australian-only audience. A proper sample set is essential when conducting any survey that attempts to draw conclusions about people’s general behavior and preferences. And in this case, the minimum number of respondents we needed in order to capture a representative example was 350 for the U.S. and 300 for Australia.

Additionally, in order for a sample to be valid, the respondents have to be chosen completely at random. SurveyMonkey Audience recruits its 4-million+ members from SurveyMonkey’s 40 million annual unique visitors, and members are not paid for their participation. Instead, they are rewarded for taking surveys with charitable donations, made on their behalf by SurveyMonkey.

When tested against much larger research projects, Audience data has been exactly in line with larger sample sizes. For example, an Audience survey with just 400 respondents about a new Lay’s potato chip flavor had the same results as a wider contest that had 3 million participants.

SurveyMonkey’s survey research team was also able to use SurveyMonkey Audience to accurately predict election results in both 2012 and 2013. With a US sample size of 458 respondents and an Australian one of 312 all drawn at random, our ccTLD user preferences should reliably mirror the actual reality.


There will be many reasons that you may or may not want to use ccTLDs for your website, and a survey alone can never answer whether a ccTLD is the right strategy for any particular site. If you are thinking about making any big decisions about TLDs on your site, you should absolutely conduct some testing or surveying of your own before relying on just the recommendations of those who advise a TLD as the best strategy or the others that tell you it doesn’t matter at all.

Launching a PPC campaign with a landing page on a ccTLD and measuring CTRs against a control is far cheaper than replicating your entire site on a new TLD.

Based on our survey results, here’s what you should keep in mind when it comes to whether or not investing your time and money in a ccTLD is worth it:

  1. Users are absolutely aware of the TLDs and how they might relate to the contents of a website
  2. Users are aware of the connection between TLDs and countries
  3. Users do make decisions about websites based on the TLD; however there are no absolutes. Brand and content absolutely matter.

As to whether a ccTLD will work for you on your own site, give it a try and report back!

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Are You Avoiding These 3 Trouble Areas in International PPC?

What are some of the most common problems international brands face in their paid search management?
Search Engine Watch – Latest

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SearchCap: Google Quality Raters, International Targeting & AdWords + Google My Business

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Now Link Google My Business And AdWords, Get Account-Level Location Extensions Google is introducing the ability to set up location extensions at the account…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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Uncover high-performing keywords in international markets

Author (displayed on the page): 

Where do you find this data? Just log in to the Keywords Tool and click on Start your keyword research:

The Keyword Tool contains two datasets to search in, enabling you to compare the keywords and results returned, and helping you make informed decisions about your business. When you are researching your existing market, or new markets, using two datasets, rather than one, can show you a broader range of opportunities.

Wordtracker’s dataset comes from a major search engine advertising network and currently contains about 3.5 billion searches. It’s worth noting that our database is totally independent of Google, and so we have not been affected by the recent changes that they have made to keyword availability. The Wordtracker database can give you global search volumes and also has data for 14 different territories individually.

So, for example, if you have a bicycle business and you’re interested in finding out what people in, say Canada, are searching on, you’ll be able to see the most popular searches in that territory.

The second dataset, from our partners at SEMrush, has around 95 million keywords and eight territories to search in. In my SEMrush search, I chose to look at the bicycle market in Italy.

As you investigate international markets for opportunities, you can also delve into the long tail to find further potentially high-performing keywords. It’s a great way to explore new markets and see the opportunities for your business.

Looking at the near future, we’ll soon be expanding the list of territories available in the Keyword Tool, to help you take even more advantage of business opportunities across the world. In fact, we do already have over 200 territories in our API and we are working on integrating these into our Keyword Tool customers before the end of this year.

Drop us a line to support@wordtracker.com with your area of interest if you’d like us to let you know when we have the data in the Tool.

So, whether you’re selling marketing in Mexico, barbeques in Belgium or artwork in Australia, Wordtracker will help you find those high-performing keywords to make your business grow.

Sign up for a free 7-day trial of our Keywords Tool to test it out.

Wordtracker Blog

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40+ Tools to Advance Your International SEO Process

Posted by Aleyda Solis

One of the most frequent questions I get is about the tools that I use for international SEO, and although I included most of them in my international SEO presentation at MozCon, since I didn’t had the time to focus on them, I would like to share how I use them to support my international SEO activities.

There are tools to support every part of your journey, including identifying the potential, targeting an international audience, optimizing and promoting the websites, earning international popularity, and measuring and achieving benefit with the international SEO process. Let’s get started!


Your initial international search status

Identify your initial international search visibility, from the volume and trends of queries to pages’ impressions, clicks, and the CTR you get per country. Use the “Search Queries” report in Google Webmaster Tools and filter by location.

Google Webmaster Tools

In the Google Analytics “Demographics” report, check your current visits, conversions, conversion rate volume, and trends coming from different countries and languages, along the traffic sources, keywords, and pages used.

Google Analytics

Your international search potential

Beyond researching the search volume for relevant keywords in the language and country that you want to target (using the keyword tool of the most popular search engine in the relevant country), you can also use tools like SEMrush and SearchMetrics — which support many countries — to identify your current market activity and competitors.

To find out which search engine is the most popular in your target country, you can use StatCounter or Alexa, and then use their keyword tools to verify the specific search volume. It would most likely be Google Keyword Planner for the western world that mostly uses Google, Yandex Keyword Statistics for Russia, and Baidu Index for China.

SearchMetrics and SEMrush

Your international keyword ideas

Identify additional keyword ideas with Ubersuggest (where you can choose between many different languages and countries) and the Suggestion Keyword Finder tool.

Ubersuggest and SEOchat Suggestion Keyword Finder

Why I don’t recommend Google’s Global Market Finder

I’m also frequently asked why I don’t recommend (or recommend, but only very carefully) Google’s Global Market Finder in my International SEO advice, and here’s the reason: It’s frequently inaccurate with the translations and term localization, and can easily lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

The tool has an “important note” below the results:

“…since the translations are created using Google Translate, they are not always perfect so be sure to confirm that the terms you’re selecting are accurate…”

Even so, people usually assume that since it’s a Google tool the results should be okay. In some cases, though, when you’re not a native speaker of a language, it’s very hard to know for sure when it’s right or not.

Because of this, the tool is useless most of the time, since it only adds additional complexity to the process. In the end, you’ll need native support anyway, as well as validation with other keyword tools for more accurate keyword ideas and their search volume.

For example, let’s say I’m from an American company looking for the potential search volume in Mexico related to “apartments” and “rent apartments”:

Google Global Market Finder

The tool suggests “pisos”, “alquiler apartamentos”, and “alquilar apartamentos”. These results have the following issues:

  • The term “pisos” in Mexico is not used as a translation of “apartments,” but instead is what the “floor” is called. It is in Spain where apartments are called “pisos.”
  • “Alquiler apartamentos” is “apartment rentals,” and “alquilar apartamentos” is “rent apartaments,” but while these terms are popular in Spain (and some other countries), they are not in Mexico. In Mexico, for “Alquiler apartamentos” it would be “Renta departamentos,” and “Alquilar apartamentos” would instead be “Rentar departamentos.”

You can see how if you search for these Global Market Finder-suggested terms in Google’s own keyword research tool, their local search volume is very low compared to the ones I mention, which are the correct ones to use in this situation:

Rentar Departamentos / Alquilar Apartamentos Keyword research

Additionally, the term “Alquiler apartamentos” is not grammatically correct, since it needs a “de” preposition. It should be “Alquiler de apartamentos” (literally meaning “Rent of apartments” in Spanish). Although it’s true this can also happen with any keyword research tool, in this case it adds even more confusion to the process. As I mentioned before, you will end-up requiring native support to be accurate anyway.


Your international audience profile

Understand your target international audience’s demographic characteristics and online buying preferences not only by researching with studies like the Comscore Data Mine, but by browsing the TNS Digital Life and Google’s Consumer Barometer sites. These sites let you select and interact with their data for almost every industry, country, and demographic characteristic.

TNS Research and Consumer Barometer

Your international industry’s behavior and characteristics

Identify your competitors in the international market, including their characteristics and trends, by researching with Alexa, Rnkrnk, Google’s Display Network Research, and SimilarWeb.

You should understand which are their most popular products and content, their unique selling proposition, their weaknesses and strengths, which marketing activities they’re already developing, and a little about their online communities.

SimilarWeb Tool


Your hreflang annotations

Make sure to include the correct hreflang annotations on the different versions of your international pages, indicating the language and country targeting of each page, following the ISO639-1 format for the language attribute and ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 for the country attribute.

You can use the DejanSEO hreflang validator to check the usage on a specific page, or Rob Hammond’s SEO Crawler to quickly verify if all the pages are correctly featuring the notation. If you need to validate more than the 250 internal pages allowed, you can use the filters in Screaming Frog to specifically identify those pages which contain (or don’t contain) the desired hreflang tags.

hreflang Tools

Your country-targeted website’s geolocation

If you’re country targeting and using a top-level domain, you can geolocate it using Google, Bing, and Yandex Webmaster Tools’ geolocation features.

Nonetheless, the best way to geolocate a domain is by using the relevant ccTLD for each country. Take a look at IANA’s database with each country code registry operator that usually allows domains to be purchased on their sites, or feature those approved domain registrars in each country.

Additionally, although it doesn’t play as important a role as before, take a look at the example below. Minube, one of the most important travel communities in Spain, is hosted in Germany. If you can have a local IP for your website without much effort, that could be beneficial. You can check any website IP by using the FlagFox extension for Firefox or the Flag for Chrome extension.

Identify IP Tool

Your international web content

It’s important that you develop attractive and optimized content for your international target audience that not only includes the desired keywords, but is interesting, serves to connect with your visitors, and helps you achieve your international website goals.

For this, it’s fundamental that you have native support. If it’s difficult for you to find that, check out online translator communities such as ProZ.

In order to validate your content, you might want to use professional translation software (more reliable than Google Translate) that also integrates with Office for example, making it easier to use. PROMT is one good example.

If at some specific point in the process (hopefully not for long) you don’t have direct access to a native language speaker, or you just want to double-check something specifically, you should take a look at the WordReference forum. There’s an amazing number of threads around phrases and translations for many languages.

On a day-to-day basis, you should also keep updated with the international trends and hot topics in order to identify new content for the website. For this, you can use Google Trends (take a look at the Hot Searches per country); Twitterfall, which lets you to easily follow up with a specific topic and has geotargeting features; and Talkwalker, a tool that supports many languages and easily generates alerts via email or RSS.

International Alerts and Trends


Your international popularity analysis

To research and understand your international competitors’ link-building strategies, sources, and the popularity gap you have with them, you can use the same link- and social-analysis tools you likely already have, like Open Site Explorer, MajesticSEO, LinkRisk, and SocialCrawlytics.

Nonetheless, in this case, you should pay extra attention to the international audience’s preferences, beyond link quality, volume, trends, sources, and types. Look at the social activity and profile, the most linked and shared content, the seasonality, the terms used and sites shared, the local industry influencers, and the favorite types of content, topics, and formats.

International Link Analysis

Your international link-building

Promote your international website assets by leveraging relevant local sites, understanding cultural factors, building relationships with local influencers and media, and identifying what works best in each country to scale and track the response to each international version.

For international prospecting you can use Link Prospector, FollowerWonk, and Topsy, and then follow up and manage your links with BuzzStream.

International Link Building


Your international search visibility

To easily verify how your international search audience sees your site ranking in their search results, you can use I Search From or Search Latte to quickly get the desired country and language’s results.

Nonetheless, to make sure you’re really seeing what your audience from other locations is seeing, it’s best to do so with a local IP by using a proxy service. This will also let you verify your website from the desired international location and check to see if there’s any types of settings for them, like a redirect, for example.

For this, you can use a free proxy browser add-on, like the ones from FoxyProxy, along any of HMA’s Public Proxy list. If you want to have more reliable service, better speed, and select between many IPs, you also have paid ones, such as Hide My Ass or Trusted Proxies.

Geolocation tools

Your international search results

Measure each of your International web versions independently, from the rankings for each relevant country and language to the visits and conversions. Remember to pay extra attention to the currency settings, cross-domain tracking, and the country and language traffic alignment.

For each of the international versions, segment and analyze the rankings, visits, conversions, average conversion value and rate, the used keywords, pages, sources of traffic per languages, location, and devices.

For your search rankings, you can use web-based tools like Moz Rank Tracker, SEscout, and Authority Labs, which support international search engines, or use desktop applications such as Advanced Web Rankings, along with a proxy service to avoid being blocked. For quick revisions you can use free browser extensions such as Rank Checker for Firefox and SEO SERP for Chrome.

For the site behavior with the search engines, it is important that you also follow up with Google Webmaster Tools (or the Webmaster Tools of the relevant international search engine) along with Google Analytics, from a traffic and conversion analysis perspective. That will let you to continuously follow-up with your International SEO results, and allow you to make the appropriate decisions.

International Search Rankings


Your international SEO ROI

Calculate what’s required in order to achieve your conversion goals and a high ROI in your international SEO process while taking the SEO process costs into consideration. You can use the International SEO ROI calculator to facilitate this activity.

International SEO ROI Calculator

Always use your brain

Last but not least, let’s not forget that despite all the help that these tools might give you the most important tool you have is your own brain.

Unfortunately I’ve seen how we forget sometimes about turning on an “autopilot,” missing great opportunities (or even making mistakes) as a consequence.

Tools are not meant to replace you, but to support you, so do your own analysis, test everything and validate frequently, using your brain.

Tools are meant to help not to distress. Never stop using your brain, is the most important tool.

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The International SEO Checklist

Posted by Aleyda Solis

In less than two weeks I will have the pleasure to speak at MozCon about international SEO, in a session called “International SEO and the Future of your ROI.” Before I do, I wanted to compile a checklist of the most fundamental aspects to consider when developing an international SEO process — something to which we can quickly refer that can facilitate our everyday work, and something that would also be easy to digest for our clients at some point.

As a result, I’ve created this International SEO Checklist, with a step-by-step guide to everything from assessing the international SEO potential to targeting our international audience and the development of an internationally targeted site:

I’ve also uploaded a higher resolution version of the checklist image, in case you want to download and print it.

I hope the checklist is useful, and if you’re looking to learn more about international SEO or ask me anything about it, I look forward to seeing you at MozCon! If for some reason you’re not going to MozCon and have a question, please let me know in the comments. :)

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Discover your International Online Potential

Posted by Aleyda Solis

One of the major advantages of having a web-based business presence is the opportunity to reach a global audience, eliminating many of the restrictions and costs that a “physical” international presence might have. Nonetheless, from my day to day experience I’ve found that there is still a lack of vision of opportunity to target international markets.

Ask yourself: when was the last time you checked how many visitors were coming to your site from other countries? Even if you have a small or mid-sized business, do you frequently check what's the percentage of your current conversions coming from other countries and languages than yours?

Besides being an International SEO, I consider myself a cultural broker: I'm a Nicaraguan living in Madrid. I speak English and French in addition to my native language, which is Spanish. I love to travel and I've had the opportunity to do it because of work (and also for pleasure) to places like Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Turkey, Tunisia, Montenegro, and Russia (on top of other, more common destinations such as the UK, US, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.). I've had Nicaraguan, Argentinian, Dutch, Spanish, and German bosses in the past, and now I have an American one.

I've also worked in the past as an SEO for:

  • A Dutch owned online marketing agency in Spain with clients from all over Europe
  • A Spanish owned Vertical Web portal targeting eight Latin American and European countries
  • An online marketing provider for Spanish small businesses owned by a French group
  • A Russian company targeting the European market

Currently, I work for an American online marketing agency targeting international clients. As you can see, the “international” component has been a common characteristic in my personal and professional life, and I cannot imagine how there's still a lack of vision and openness towards international activities, which at the end means lost opportunities for businesses and a less rich and competitive market that will end up also hurting the audience.

Unfortunately, this frequently happens because of misconceptions about expanding internationally. I want to share and clarify here three of the most common misconceptions I find in my every day work. 

Misconception 1: I'm already in the most profitable market so I don't care about the rest

I'm not telling you to leave your current market (and lose your current profits), but to take others into consideration. At the beginning, it will be only to assess the opportunities there, so really, you don't have anything to lose. I also know that we all tend to feel like we're already in the "center of everything," and a couple of World Maps from different countries are the best proof of it:

The World map according to our perception

According to a recent eMarketer study, B2C E-commerce sales will grow 18.3% to $ 1.298 trillion worldwide and Asia-Pacific will surpass North America to become the world's No. 1 market:

B2C Ecommerce Sales Share Worldwide by Region

Additionally, in the same study we can see how Asia-Pacific and Western Europe as regions have both more digital buyers (Internet users who buy goods online) than North America:

Worldwide Digital Buyers

As you can see, nowadays no one is really in the "center." There's enough globally "distributed" potential out there, and the highest growing ones are in countries like China. Wake up! This means more exciting possibilities for your business internationally.

Misconception: Local Businesses don't need to have an International Online Presence

You don't need to be a large international corporation, an E-commerce business, or a completely online based business to benefit from a website version in other languages, or targeting to other countries.

Although from a business perspective it can be more straight-forward for these type of sites to identify an international potential, there are also different types of local businesses that have an international audience, or that can additionally benefit from having an international online presence since their target market can be also abroad or from abroad. For example:

  • Language schools: such as Spanish language schools in Spain or Latin America targeting US, German, or UK students
  • Summer camps: like international summer camps in Switzerland targeting children from abroad
  • Centric hostels and apartments rentals: located in touristic or centric areas that can be attractive for tourists
  • Traditional restaurants and bars: that usually have tourists as clients 
  • Volunteering organizations: looking to attract volunteers from abroad
  • Gift and flower shops: which might also suitable to send from audience abroad
  • Traditional art and crafts shops: that look to sell typical local goods to foreigners 
  • Traditional food and drinks shops: like cured ham factories or wineries in Spain looking to sell their products abroad  

You need additional incentive? Check-out a mobile search engine result page for a local query in Google.es for "restaurantes en brooklyn" (restaurants in Brooklyn), that in English would be usually taken by Google maps results:

Local SERP for Spanish Query

There's a huge opportunity, indeed. You can definitely achieve additional benefit targeting an International audience even if you are not a big company or based internationally!

Misconception 3: Expanding Internationally is Expensive

It's true that expanding your site presence internationally might have higher costs than your local language version. From deploying the web platform in a new ccTLD (or subdirectory if it's not a country but a language targeted version) to localizing (not only translating) the content, having native language support to expand your content and social media marketing strategies (that also need to take into consideration the local audience behavior, using the criteria I've previously shared in this post), as well as to support your outreach and community management efforts in this other language. 

Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that expanding your site internationally should be non-beneficial for you. When you implement complete research to identify the potential organic traffic and conversion from each language and country and on the other that you validate from the start, this potential revenue will surpass the costs related to your international web presence:

International SEO: Revenue vs Costs

With this information, you will be able to calculate the expected international presence (as well as international SEO process) return on investment:

International SEO ROI

I've seen too many situations where this type of initial assessment hasn't been done, and because of this, there are businesses that have ended up with many languages or country site versions that have been developed without any clear strategy. They don't  answer to a business related goal and are simply the "literal translation" of the main site version. Of course they're not profitable! But it's because the international web project hasn't been correctly developed.

Another common signal when an international site presence hasn't been effectively planned or executed is when the site owner tells you that they have their UK site version with the exact same content than the US one but they cannot afford to update it to make it unique, specifically targeting the UK audience.

If they cannot afford it, this means that they're at the moment not getting any or enough benefit from it; whether because they likely don't have any strategy behind and this presence is potentially not optimized, or because there's not enough potential in this market and they haven't been able to identify this since they didn't do any research previously. It's also our work to advise our clients effectively from the start, validate the potential benefit from any international development or SEO project, and warn them if, for some reason, there's no potential.

Additionally, we can run pilot projects to test the market, just with the most important product or services categories with targeted landing pages, so as you can see there's no excuse for a non-successful international web presence that has been effectively planned, well developed, and optimized.

International SEO Potential

With a couple of very simple analysis steps that shouldn't take much of your time you can have an overview of the potential your business might have internationally:

Google Analytics International Traffic

Check your International traffic status

Go to the Audience > Demographics > Location & Language reports in Google Analytics to check the percentage of your website visitors coming from other countries and using browsers in other languages.

Verify the volume and trends from the last couple of years for all of your traffic as well for only organic and compare them:

  • Is there a high or growing percentage of visitors coming from other countries? 
  • What's the volume and trend of conversions and the conversion rate of visitors coming from other countries?
  • What's the traffic source of visitors coming from other countries? Direct, organic, referrals?
  • Which are the keywords and pages attracting this international traffic?

You have a bit more of time? If so, go to Google Webmaster Tools to validate the visibility you're getting already in Google search result pages from other countries, along with the queries and pages impressions and clicks.

International Search Queries

This is just your starting point that will help you to prioritize the international markets where you have already have activity and might be initially easier to start with.

Nonetheless, if numbers are not high it doesn't mean you don't have potential, but that maybe your efforts have been highly targeted to your current audience and haven't had a high international impact until now, so you will likely need to work harder at the beginning.

International Keyword Research with Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Identify your International Organic potential

Prioritize the countries that you have already identified with higher traffic activity in your Website before and do a quick keyword research for each one of them by selecting the desired location and language from the Google's Keyword Tool Advanced Options and Filters.

You can use the keywords that you have identified in the previous analysis that are already giving visibility and traffic from these countries and languages. If you didn't identify any keyword information in the previous analysis and the country you need to research is non-English speaking (or in other language than yours), then the best option at this level is to take the keywords in your current language, use Google Translate to quickly translate them to the desired one and use them for this initial and quick validation and overview (It's important to note that this is ok just for this initial, quick analysis, since these keywords will likely have errors and missing opportunities. You can do a complete international SEO research and process without speaking the language but with the right process and local language support, as I've described in this post).

Use the exact match type (to get more "realistic" data that you can expect for each specific keywords) and check:

  • What's the local monthly search volume for the relevant keywords in each of the countries and languages?
  • Are there more suggested keyword ideas with a high level of search volume?

Refine and expand the research according to the suggestions you get for them.

You have a bit more of time? If so, go to SEMRush or Search Metrics Essentials (that support many countries) to identify more keywords opportunities:

Additional Keywords Ideas from SEMRush

Is there a high search volume potential for the verified countries and languages? If so, congratulations! This are great news.

It's time then for you to develop a full International SEO research to understand, validate and plan your strategy, and verify your potential costs, revenue, and ROI, taking into consideration all of the necessary aspects, from a business abd language to technical capacity, restrictions, and requirements.

To do this, take a look and follow the step-by-step guide I published some weeks ago about it: 

How to start your international web presence

International SEO Doubts? Let me know in the comments!

Images under Creative Commons taken from Flickr.

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