There's no escaping it: your prospective global customers are increasingly heading online to find what they want and you must meet them there, on their terms. In order to connect with your new clients or customers, and deliver the most relevant and seamless user experience to each user, regardless of location, language, and search engine, marketers must think about global SEO.

In order to understand how global SEO works, we must first look at why going global is necessary based on pure hard facts.

Global SEO: Why you need it

Let's crunch some numbers. If we consider that the current global population is around 7.34 billion and that the number of global Internet users is currently at about 3.61 billion, almost half the world population is online - 49.1%, to be precise.

An impressive figure, indeed. However, out of that three and half billion people, 2.66 billion are non-English. The people that sit within that last figure might be unable to initially find your content, read your online offerings, or make an informed decision to make a purchase.

As you can see, there are an extra 2.6 billion reasons why you need to tap into a global, non-English speaking marketplace. Doing so will increase leads, conversions and revenue.

Geo-targeting: What, why, and how

It's possible to have the websites you run deliver different content based on the location of the visitor. This is called geo-targeting.

For instance, your business might sell an item that's available in red, yellow, or green. However, the red item might not be available in Europe, and so you can have your website recognise the IP of the visitor as coming from Europe and automatically remove the red option. 

You can also deliver country-specific content this way, such as different languages, local currencies and contact details, and local offers.

For your content to be discovered and delivered by global and local search engines you must understand what people are searching for and on what platforms. 

Google may be the most popular search engine, but Baidu, from China, is the second. Therefore, if you want to reach audiences in China, you should ensure your content can be discovered by Baidu, for example.

Three main points to cover when globalising your SEO:

• Local language content. Can’t read, won’t buy

• Optimise your content for a target language and market, search habits differ greatly across countries. What matters to these different market buyers can greatly differ; is it brand trust, is it price, is it ease of access? Adapt your content and your search keywords for different markets by carrying out keyword research.

• Register with Googles Search Console, Yandex Web Masters, Bing Webmasters, Baidu Webmaster, and any other relevant local search engines. Most webmasters have English versions however Baidu webmasters is in Chinese only. If you are serious about gaining access to the huge Chinese market potential then I highly recommend working with a search agency that has expertise in supporting companies access the Chinese market.

• Establish accounts and submit your web site’s sitemap for indexing this basically describes your website structure and content to each search engine. Don’t reply, or worse assume, that these search engines will find and index your content.

Keywords are lost in translation

Relying on your English keywords to be translated and understood in different countries is an easy mistake to make, as this example from "Global SEO and Localization Excellence: What Localization Really Is" explains.

The now infamous example of an English tagline translation for "Finger-licking good" that translated to "eat your fingers off" when a chicken fast food restaurant was entering the Chinese market.

Even within the same language, you can have very different words or terms for exactly the same thing:

American - Trunk, Hood
English - Boot, Bonnet

Make sure you convey the correct linguistically and culturally relevant content and message to your potential customers. Getting the keywords and also the rest of the content right and localised will significantly help to increase your content discoverability, leads, and revenue.

For businesses, and the marketing teams within, to deliver the most relevant user experience while increasing leads and revenue, make sure global SEO is a part of your strategy.


By Aoife McIlraith, senior director of global search & marketing services at Lionbridge

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