The Internet as a global network gives the opportunity to create websites and stores for international markets. In this way you can present the offer to users from any country in the world. If you want to attract users to the site via a search engine you must take into account its SEO guidelines. But what if you want to position the website in several countries at the same time?
First of all if you want to position a website in a selected country you should check which search engine is the most popular. Google is the leader in most countries, but not everywhere. In countries such as Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic or China, Google search engine is not the most popular or it is not used at all. Use The Statcounter tool to check which search engine is popular in the country you are looking for. For example in Russia the popularity of search engines looks like this:
It is respectively: Google: 51%, Yandex.ru: 45%, Mail.ru: 2.1%. Interestingly only in the last few months Google has overtaken Yandex.
What to do if in a given country a lot of traffic is generated by a search engine other than Google?
Refer to the Webmaster guidlines published by the search engine or look for good practices. However most search engines work on very similar algorithms. For example, by optimizing the website under Google, if you want to use it with the Bing search engine as well all you need to do is just cosmetic changes.
When creating SEO campaign for foreign markets you must consider the directions in which you plan to target the campaign. These may be selected countries but also regions in which the same language is spoken. This decision determines the strategy of website preparation, domain selection and content.
I often come across the question: what path to choose when building a page if I want to attract users from countries other than Poland? As it usually happens in SEO the answer is "it depends".
We have 3 options when building pages:
In my experience - it's best to build pages based on separate domains. Why?
This gives the possibility of each page to exist as a separate entity that can be optimized separately for which links and analitics can be obtained separately. This solution is good in terms of usability. Users in individual countries have greater confidence in domains with country-specific endings. It also enables outsourcing separate SEO activities to various agencies that specialize in positioning in a given country. The disadvantage of this solution is that it generates higher costs. Each domain should be paid annually. In addition, depending on the CMS system used one should take into account that each language version will be maintained on a separate CMS.
If you have a strong domain that has been on the web for a long time and ranks good in a given country, you can use its strength and put foreign language pages on subdomains or subdirectories. You need to keep in mind further guidelines regarding the hreflang code and tags (which are discussed later).
Pay attention to the visual aspect. Creation in the form: de.mydomain.pl in my opinion does not look good in terms of usability. With a .com, .net, .info domain it looks much better now. The advantage of this solution is also that it does not generate additional costs in the form of purchase and extension of domains.
When using subdomains, you have the advantage that Google treats the website as a separate entity for each language version. In the case of using subdirectories, page with all language versions is treated by Google as a whole, hence it is more difficult to separate individual language versions when analyzing the situation of the domain.
Another element to consider is the choice of server and IP number for our sites. The best solution is to have a server (IP number) in the destination country. This allows keeping the order - both for us and for the search engine algorithm. In addition, it has a significant impact on the speed of page loading in the selected destination country - and this is a very important element for users. However, this is not a requirement. You can easily position the site in the selected country, even if it is on remote servers. Also remember that the solution based on subfolders will not give you the ability to set the server for selected destination countries.
An important element of building the page code for language versions is the use of the "hreflang" tag to indicate to the Google robot individual language versions of one website or subpage. This tag is inserted into the page <head> header and it should look similar to the following example for the main page:
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_adress.pl/" hreflang = "pl-pl" />
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_adress.de/" hreflang = "de-de" />
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_address.fr/" hreflang = "fr-fr" />
Similarly for subpages:
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_adress.pl/subpage" hreflang = "pl-pl" />
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_adress.de/subpage" hreflang = "de-de" />
<link rel = "alternate" href = "https://www.site_address.fr/subpage" hreflang = "fr-fr" />
If you want to direct the page to a selected language region, then instead of for example: de-de, we use the entry: de.
You can also tell Google which language version is superior. This will be useful if the site is being searched by a user who is from a country not specified by the above:
<link rel = "alternate" hreflang = "x-default" href = "https://www.site_adress.pl/" />
When creating a page you can prepare a site map in XML format for the search engine. For language versions indicate URLs for subpages in different language versions. For the example given above it would look like this:
If you use these markers you can track any errors or warnings in the International Targeting report in the Google Search Console.
When running a multilingual website you must give users an easy way to switch between different language pages. Put links to language versions preferably somewhere in the header so that they can be accessed from anywhere. Take into account that the user being on the selected page should be able to go to the same page in another language. Therefore, when he clicks on the flag you should not necessarily move him back to the main page.
The content on the site is another important element. The language version, e.g. Polish has only Polish content and the English version only English. It should not happen that the foreign versions have the same content as the other versions. Main principle is that content must be unique - and this should be strictly followed. However the content can be translated. For Google, such texts are not considered so-called duplicate content. However, two things should be noted: The texts must be useful - we advise against all sorts of automatic translators: content of this type is not of the highest quality.The amount of text should be adjusted adequately for a given market based on the analysis of competition in a given country. If content in one country ranks well, it does not mean that it will work well in another. That is why it is worth doing a competitor analysis here, e.g. using Surfer SEO.
Generally speaking - positioning a website abroad is governed by similar principles as in your country of origin. However when preparing a website in several language versions you must remember Google search engine guidelines so that the algorithm understands your site and separates it into individual countries and regions. Therefore, if you are building a site from scratch - pay attention to it.
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