SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to a set of techniques that improve the positioning of a site in search engine results. SEO allows to meet the requirements of search engines: the site content is relevant to user queries and is popular. A website that meets these requirements is very likely to be well positioned in search engine results, therefore generating high quality traffic.

A few steps to follow

Make a semantic study by country

This study will allow you to know your target audience, and reveal the different keywords to be used for each country. Indeed, for a given subject, a keyword may vary from one country to another for a number of reasons, such as differing meaning, levels of popularity and/or user expectations.

Ensure a high quality translation

It is important to have a quality translation, carried out by a professional or a bilingual person, in order to obtain natural and grammatically correct content. To achieve this, avoid automatic translation to prevent miscommunication , and losing the trust of your visitors. In addition, Google may consider your content as spam if it is not well translated.

Prioritize URLs

There are 3 different ways to submit URLs for linguistic or geographic targeting:

  • Display a domain name with a geolocalized extension: example.uk, example.de, example.fr

This will make it possible to indicate the geographical location to Google which will be able to index the site more quickly. Each domain name with a different extension is a completely independent website, which allows you to modify each structure to suit the target audience. However, this also means a multiplied budget and management scheme.

  • Use a subdomain: fr.example.com, de.example.com

Through Google Webmaster Tools, you can create subdomains to target each country. The advantage here is that you have a single domain with multiple subdomains that Google will be able to differentiate and associate with each language.

  • Use a directory: example.com/fr, example.com/de

Much like creating subdomains, this method is very economical and easy to implement. However, it does not take geolocation into account. It is also possible to combine two of these solutions. For example, you can use both geolocated extensions by country and directories for language variants within a country.

Use the canonical and Hreflang tags

The hreflang tag is used to tell the search engine that equivalent versions exist in other languages or markets: <link rel=’’alternate’’ href=’’http://example.com/fr-be”    hreflang=’’fr-be’’ />

It is therefore possible to point out that the same page exists for several markets: French language for Switzerland, French language for Belgium, etc.. Since these tags are integrated in each page of each site, Google will know, not only the language, but also the specific country targeted by each version of the website.

You can use the canonical tag <link rel = canonical /> if you have the same content for two different URLs. This will avoid duplicate content by designating a single reference URL for both contents. The engine will only keep one of these 2 URLs in its index.

Server hosting

The IP address of the server hosting the site can also help to facilitate international targeting. You should locate your servers in the country that hosts the main version of your site or, if possible, locate each version on a local IP address.

Other indicators, such as local phone numbers, use of a particular currency, netlinking (ingoing and outgoing links) to local sites and using Google My Business, also improve international targeting.

 

To conclude, in order for your SEO actions to be as effective as possible, your network of sites must be managed in an intelligent and hierarchical way. Consequently, each site must be given special attention: content and organization adapted to both market and target audience are essential.