Question ‘’If I’m going into a new geography through an online marketplace then how can I best support this with international SEO for my own UK website?’’
Introduction. For UK based companies looking to grow internationally online marketplaces such as Newegg (US), Zalando (Germany) and Cdiscount (France) have established themselves as strong online sales channels that reduce barriers to entry and provide an established eco-system for UK companies to utilise with Pentagon at the forefront of this growth.
Listing on a new marketplace in a new country may be getting easier but this act in isolation, without any supporting activity, it’s not always a recipe for success especially for unknown brands. The following article will outline research undertaken by Pricesearcher and will provide actionable insights that you can take to improve performance on your own website in support of launching on a new international marketplace.
There is a huge amount of information online covering international SEO and domain strategy and there are many useful websites and blogs including (Search Engine Land, MOZ, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch) to help companies do their research. There is so much information available that it’s hard to draw out the key considerations so we’ve split this article into 3 sections and will discuss the most important factors in each:
- Web Domain Strategy – Read Blog post – Read Blog post – Part 1
- International SEO considerations – Part 2
- International Keyword research – Read Blog post – Part 3
International SEO considerations – ‘’Giving your site greater trust with search engines internationally’’
This part of the article will focus on the most important areas to ensure that Google can crawl your site efficiently and understands which parts are for which different territories and in which languages so they can be surfaced to relevant consumers.
The normal SEO guidelines will still apply and so it’s vital to remember that user and audience must remain at the forefront of your mind. If the required investment to generate quality local content, build links and domain authority aren’t in place then there is little point undertaking the technical SEO elements – this may well explain why a lot of companies in our research (Blog – Part 1) don’t submit sub-folders to Google.
- Architecture of your site – Google Webmaster Tools
Set-up your geo-location using the sub-folder option and submit these via webmaster tools. If you do move to a ccTLD in future, then new sites will have to be re-submitted but in both cases you can designate a specific geographic region and language. Our research has shown that a lot of companies have a .com but don’t go down this route but it does help SEO ranking outside of the UK.
2. HTML code – hreflang
Put simply it’s a snippet of code in the header (meta data) that tells Google which country and language the content is relevant to. Google has a special tag it suggests using for those targeting other languages. The “hreflang” tag can be used to tell Google which URLs it should index and display for searchers in different countries and means you don’t get hit with duplicate content penalties.
There are multiple places where you can use the hreflang tag, including:
- sites that perhaps only change the navigation or template for different languages – common for forums
- sites that have similar content that is re -written in different languages,
- and those sites that feature completely original content
You can also submit the hreflang code via a language-specific XML sitemap again to improve Google’s understanding of your site.
3. IP Address
A minor (and disputed) ranking factor is the host IP address of your site. Hosting your domain in the country it serves will give Google more confidence that its relevant to users in that country and may well improve the speed of the site. For websites in China hosting them inside the ‘’great firewall of China’’ (HK or mainland China) is important for page speed.
4. Google isn’t Google in every country
The advice above is based on Google Webmaster guidance but be aware that across the world different search engines are prominent and each has its own nuances:
China – Google does not have operations in China where Baidu is the market leader with 55% of the search market. Alibaba and its different marketplaces (TaoBao, Tmall) is commonly used as a top of the funnel product search engine as Amazon is frequently used in the UK.
Russia – Google does have operations and is the 2nd largest player with 34% but Yandex, the domestic Russian company leads with 58% of the market.
South Korea – Naver (77%) and Daum (20%) dominate in this hyper connected country where ecommerce is highly sophisticated and the country is a trend setter for countries throughout Asia.