International SEO   9 comments

Targeting different markets offline requires separate strategies such as distinct branding and packaging, targeting different online markets requires distinct Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies for each market, you can call it international SEO.

Faces of Google search: Google geo targets search results at two levels. First, country specific portals such as and, serve as the default for users from a specific country, and return search results that are localized and tailored for their respective countries.

Then, there is within the US and abroad. Example, if you are in Canada and go to, that doesn’t  mean you will get “US”  or  “international” or “objective” search results. Rather, you will, get results that blend results from Canada and abroad.

International rankings: How foes Google decide what to include in its different search engines? Their are four main factors.

(1)Site domain: TLD vs ccTLD-  Simply put, a TLD is the extension that appears at the end of your domain name such as .com, .org etc. The more relevant your TLD is to a geographic market, the more likely your site is to rank on searches for that country.

First, there are general TLDs. These are better for ranking internationally, and include extensions such as .com, .org, .net, .edu etc,

Then there are country code TLDs (ccTLD), which are better for ranking within a specific country. Examples for ccTLDs are  .ca for Canada, for UK and .de for Germany.

(2)Site IP address:  Search engines also consider the IP address of a site. Essentially every website is hosted on a web server, and every server has an IP address. The IP address indicates which country the server is located in. So if you want a site to rank well within a certain country, you should host that site on a server in that country.

(3)Onsite content:  The  reason “content is king” is SEO. If you are targeting different markets, you will need page titles, meta descriptions and page copy (product descriptions) that reflect the different vocabularies and languages your targeting.

(4)Backlink profile:  Targeted backlinks from relevant and related sites are a fundamental part of SEO. The more backlinks you have from related sites, the better your site will rank overall. Google also looks TLD, IP address and the onsite content of the sites linking back to yours.  Getting a backlink from a site that is hosted in the UK will boost your rankings in the UK more than a link from .com that is hosted in the US. So the big part of ranking in a certain country is getting links from other sites that are relevant to that country.

(5)SEO with borders: You should not invest more SEO resources  into targeting a market than that market is worth. If a specific market doesn’t yield  sufficient sales to warrant investing in and maintaining a separate site, you might opt for  country specific subdomains (, which offer reasonable trade-offs, or subdirectories (, which are least optimal.

If you are targeting multiple markets, you will probably end up having country specific sites  for some but not others depending on the ROI it yields.


9 responses to “International SEO

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