Saturday, December 19, 2015


International SEO can be an important aspect of your digital strategy. The search engine market is still very much dominated by Google, however there are local differences like Baidu in China, Naver in Korea, Yandex in Russia or Seznam in the Czech Republic.

This chart shows this quarter's (4th quarter 2015) search engine shares across the world. 

The source of this chart is this site, where you can make your own search query and analyse the search engine market.

Each search engine has it's own specific (international) requirements but a few general important aspects to keep in mind with international SEO are these:

  • Always use real local content. Don't translate via "Google Translate" or similar tools. Use real local unique content, use translators who understand seo and give them access to for example a tool like www.brightedge.com, www.dragonmetrics.com or "search volume checkers", from the various search engines". Yandex has a search volume checker, Google has one and Baidu as well.
  • Image naming is more and more important in SEO, especially in some branches like clothing, design, home and garden etc. For image SEO there are three important aspects:
    • The name of the image, should be relevant and it should be a clean URL like /.../uselessbox.jpg. If you have multiple versions of an image just add f.e. 01.jpg like /../uselessbox-01.jpg
    • Alt-text. Each image should have a relevant alt-text. 
    • The text around an image should be relevant as well.
However if you have a webshop with several 1000 sku's and also in multiple countries, you cannot do this easily manually. It is easier to make some rules like to always use the product title for images and alt-texts. But be aware, make sure you can manually override the automatically generated texts. Most e-commerce platforms cannot yet handle different naming for images in a multi-country webshop setup. Usually it is necessary to rename and sometimes copy images in your PIM/CDN system per country,
  • The same goes for the following language specific aspects of a webshop:
    • The page title (appr. 56 characters with the focus keyword in the title)
    • The Meta Description (is about 160 characters maximum)
    • The H1 Heading (each page should only have one H1 heading)
It is essential that all of these aspects/attributes are written by someone with proper SEO knowledge and also that they can be manually overwritten. It is often the case that the page title comes from your PIM system.
  • Don't forget to use a local Meta Description for each page (<meta name = "description">). Also for pages like category pages, landing pages and all others.
  • Search engines need to "recognize" the country or language the website aims at. This can be done via several ways, for example:

    • Host the website at a server with an IP address in the country the website is aims at. There are services , like www.akamai.com that can help you with this. Using a local server is also better for the visitor at the other side of the globe as this really speeds up the page loading time (this is also a very important search engine ranking factor).
    • Both Google and Yandex use the "A-HrefLang" tag. A very important and easy tag to use and to tell search engines your localisation information. This article explains more about A-Hreflang. Bing does not recognize the A-Hreflang tag, see more information how to tell Bing your localisation information here.
    • Use the correct TLD's (Top Level Domains). It is still the best for SEO to have your local domains. Like zalando has, zalando.be, zalando.fr, zalando.nl. However there are maybe organisational , technical or branding reasons to do otherwise. If this is the case you can also use subdomains to make the difference. E-consultancy has made this infographic with some possibilities:
    • Tell the search engines geo location information via for example Google's webmaster tools, nowadays known as Google Webmasters.
    • Make sure you get links to your localised website from other (important) pages in this country.
    • Use XML sitemaps per country and import them via for example Google Webmasters . Usually the location in an international environment with one TLD of the XML sitemap is www.domain.com/de-de/sitemap.xml
  • Make sure you use clean URL's. Use lower case letters and a "-" if the page has a longer title (f.e. /international-seo-information/. If special characters are used like Ç or é convert them to normal characters like "c" or "e".
  • Make sure your product pages are available at only one URL. For example www.domain.com/p/product name/ If your product shows up in multiple category's just place it under these categories. 
  • If you use filters or facets (search and merchandising software) at your webshop platform make sure it contains the filter parameters, More is explained here. This is important to prevent duplicate content which is not liked by search engines. 
International SEO will be more and more important with cross border e-commerce rocketing the next few years. India + 500%, China + 125% and Mexico +96% . Read more details here.

Make sure you keep a close eye at the latest developments since things change very fast. Not only in a technical way but also in a user behavior way. Youtube is in some countries the number 2 search engine, Facebook is constantly improving their search engine and in China wechat can be used for searching and shopping. Localise wherever you can, it will always benefit you.


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  2. I am especially interested in the global differences in online marketing and export by using e-commerce. Greetings, ​new york seo company

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