A Beginner’s Guide to International SEO

Ayraxs Seo


Are you trying to expand your business beyond local markets or trying to reach audiences with different linguistic or cultural backgrounds? If so, then you’ve likely heard about the enormous potential of international SEO.

It is imperative for businesses of all sizes looking to exploit opportunities in global markets to understand the nuances of international SEO. However, we understand that navigating the complex world of international SEO can be extremely frustrating for beginners. Thus, we have carefully prepared a comprehensive guide to international SEO for your ease and benefit.

In this ultimate guide to international SEO, we will cover everything you need to know to boost your online presence on an international scale.

Basic Fundamentals

What is International SEO?

International SEO otherwise known as global SEO is the process of optimizing websites with multiple languages and/or locations to attract traffic from an international audience encompassing diverse regions, languages, and cultural contexts.

Who needs International SEO?

The following types of businesses need to be optimized for international SEO:

  • Educational institutions like universities, colleges, and online learning platforms offering courses to international students.
  •  Hotels, airlines, and travel agencies, trying to reach travelers searching for services in various destinations globally.
  • E-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba trying to attract customers worldwide.

Why do you need International SEO?

  1. To display the right content page to the targeted audience based on their language and location
  2. Websites often contain duplicate content on various pages. International SEO tells search engines what piece of content is unique for a specific language or country.
  3. To get increased visibility and organic traffic in international countries or multiple markets
  4. To reach an audience with different linguistic, and cultural backgrounds

The Benefits of International SEO

  1. Spot opportunities to fulfill gaps in market search demands
  2. Increased opportunity to get backlinks to build authority
  3. Decreased bounce rate and higher content engagement
  4. Increased conversion rates
  5. Market diversification and risk mitigation
  6. Competitive edge

Understanding Important Concepts

1.     Country Vs Language

  • A country can have multiple languages. For instance, in the U.S. people speak multiple languages such as English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Hence, if you have a business in the U.S. you may want to optimize your website for multiple languages.
  • One particular language could be spoken in different countries. Let’s say a business has a website in the English language but wants to target different countries that speak English such as the UK, Canada, and the U.S. Then international SEO would be required to optimize the website’s content for targeted countries.
  • A language can have different dialects in different countries. For example, if your website is in French and your targeted countries are French-speaking countries like France and Canada, you’d have to optimize the content for different dialects of French across these regions.

2.    Hreflang Tags

A Hreflang tag is a piece of code that goes into the <head></head> section of a website on each page. This tag acts as a signal that specifies the language or language + country of content to the search engines.

Let’s discuss this concept using an example:

<link rel=”alternate”


hreflang=”en-gb” />

This particular code will tell search engines that this page is in English and is meant to target UK customers.

3.    Website Domain Structures

When targeting multiple countries and languages you can use several domain structures. Let’s take a look at some common domain structures.

    1. Country-code-top-level domains (ccTLDs)
      1. e.g yourwebsite.us
    2. Generic-top-level domains (gTLDs)
      1. e.g yourwebsite.com
    3. Subdomains (a domain that is divided into separate spaces)
      1. e.g us.yourwebsite.com
    4. Subdirectories (a folder within the domain)
  • e.g  yourwebsite.com/us
    1. Parameter (a variable with a URL with a value)
  • e.g yourwebsite.com/?var=value

If your website is in one specific language only but you want to target different countries you could use the following domain structures:

  • ccTLD (yourwebsite.uk)
  • gTLD + Subdirectory ( yourwebsite.com/gb )
  • gTLD + Subdomain ( gb.yourwebsites.com )

If your website is in one specific country only but you want to target multiple languages then you could use the following domain structures:

  • gTLD + Subdirectory ( yourwebsite.com/fr )
  • gTLD + Parameter ( yourwebsite.com/?lang=fr )
  • gTLD + Subdomain ( fr.yourwebsite.com)

If your website is targeting multiple countries and multiple languages at the same time then you could use the following domain structures:

  • gTLD + Subdirectory ( yourwebsite.com/gb/en )
  • gTLD + Subdirectory + Parameter ( yourwebsite.com/gb/?lang=en )
  • gTLD + Subdomain + Parameter ( gb.yourwebsite.com/?lang=en )
  • gTLD + Subdomain + Subdirectory ( gb.yourwebsite.com/en )
  • ccTLD + Subdirectory ( yourwebsite.uk/en )
  • cTLD + Parameter ( yourwebsite.uk/?lang=en )
  • ccTLD + Subdomain ( en.yourwebsite.uk )

4.    Foreign Keyword Research

Doing foreign keyword research is mandatory for international SEO. For each country or language, do separate keyword research to find the keywords with the highest value and volume.

Foreign keyword research is important due to the following factors:

  • Varying words or spellings – e.g. “sweater” in the U.S vs “jumper” in the UK
  • Unique cultures – e.g Enchiladas in Mexico vs. Paella in Spain
  • Varying demands of different items – e.g. rice in Pakistan vs rice in Canada

5.    Machine vs Human Translation

Translating content from one language to another is also a key component of executing international SEO.

Machine translation like Google Translate uses software to translate, but as it translates word to word the meaning of the text is often lost.

Human translation is more accurate because the translators are familiar with the country’s unique lingo, dialects, and culture hence they can translate the content while preserving the actual meaning.

You can hire experienced freelance translators from platforms like Greelance, Upwork, or Fiverr.

Tips For Improving International SEO

  1. Avoid Machine Translation
  2. Analyze your future business objectives, budget, and scalability
  3. Avoid redirecting users to a different language based on their location
  4. Utilize Local Hosting
  5. Optimize Metadata

Dominate Global Markets With Ayraxs

If you are looking for a reputable international SEO services agency to skyrocket your organic search and brand visibility in international markets, look no further than Ayraxs. Our dedicated SEO team will meticulously analyze your business objectives and create a powerful SEO strategy that elevates your visibility without breaking the bank.

Need to know more about international SEO, read our related blog What is International SEO and why is it Important?

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     Define International SEO in layman’s terms.

International SEO is the process of optimizing websites to attract traffic from an international audience encompassing diverse regions, languages, and cultural contexts.

2.    How do I start SEO for beginners?

Start off by analyzing your business goals, budget, and future plans. Then research your targeted market for opportunity gaps, keywords, and content demands. Create localized content for your audience and build valuable backlinks to achieve domain authority.

3.    Does SEO work internationally?

It depends on the type of SEO strategy you are currently utilizing. If you are using local SEO practices then you will be only visible in your local area but if you adopt international SEO your brand will become visible internationally.

4.    What are some international SEO best practices?

The following pointers can be used to ensure successful integration of international SEO:

  • Use human translation
  • Create localized content for your targeted audience
  • Use an appropriate domain structure for your website
  • Use local hosting
  • Optimize the metadata of your website
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