How to Improve and Implement International SEO

How to Improve and Implement International SEO

Local SEO vs International SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your website content for search engines like Google. SEO is an important part of your digital marketing strategy as it puts your business on the digital map, allowing customers to see you as the answer to their query. 

When we think about SEO, it’s easy to forget that our strategy needs to target customers beyond our immediate neighbourhood. International SEO is not necessary for every business, you might find that local SEO is more pertinent for you. But, in both cases, it’s crucial to analyse your current strategy and adapt for your target audience. 

Imagine you run a bakery that has recipes specifically from your hometown. Your SEO strategy will likely be targeting local and possibly national SEO, but certainly not international (unless you plan to send cakes on a ferry!) How would you adapt your current strategy to target your local audience? 

There are plenty of ways to do so, but here are 8 tips to start optimising for local SEO:

  1. Optimise for your profile on ‘Google My Business’
  2. Engage with your local community on social media 
  3. Ensure your name, address, and phone number are correct on your website and on ‘Google my Business’
  4. Research your local competitors and their messaging
  5. On your website, optimise URL, title tags, headers and meta descriptionAdd location pages to your website with relevent local content
  6. Ensure your website is both desktop and mobile-friendly
  7. Get inbound links with relevance and authority with local partners
  8. Engage with your llocal community through advertising, events and promotional acitivites. I.e. ‘Free tasting samples on Wednesdays’

You might wonder if International SEO is at all possible. Local SEO seems simple enough, but how can you adapt your strategy to target a global audience? International SEO is naturally a little more complex, with a large audience comes even greater responsibility. It’s important to think about how user journeys will differ from person to person in each country.  

Remember, international SEO is also about ensuring a strong search presence, but it aims to drive organic traffic from multiple countries (multiregional SEO) and/or languages (multilingual SEO). An international strategy ensures that search engines can easily identify which countries your business is targeting. It also shows search engines which languages you use to attract customers from different countries. With multilingual SEO, it’s best practice to have your copy translated by a fluent speaker. Stay away from Google Translate! There are many nuances in different languages that translation apps will not understand, and when we’re thinking about creating a great experience for users, technology is not always the solution.

Why is International SEO important?

The primary objective of search engines is to find the highest-quality answer as quickly as possible for its users. As such, they are designed to match search results based on the location and language of the user. If you adapt your SEO strategy for a global audience, your content will find users who require your products or services from different countries.

Imagine you are an e-commerce company that sells jewellery to the UK, US, South America and Asia. If your SEO strategy is only focused on the UK/US audience, you are missing out on millions of potential customers. By adopting an international SEO strategy you will improve the visibility of your products and/or services in global markets. Not only this, but you will also grow a loyal customer/client base and increase conversion rates. You need to ensure your target audience feels at home when they land on your site because you want them to trust your services and convert into a customer.

Improving your current SEO strategy

Changing the language of your copy is not the only way to improve international SEO. Whilst it’s key to reflect the cultural context of different audiences by writing copy that reflects their cultures, international SEO goes far beyond translation. It can feel a bit overwhelming to suddenly realise that you have to adapt your SEO strategy for a much bigger audience. But don’t worry, at My Bright Digital, we’re here to give you some guidance on how to start improving your international strategy. 

Here are some of our suggestions:

  1. Market research
    Learn more about what people are looking for in your market.
  2. Content research
    Find out what your audiences are interested and then tailor your content towards trending and relevent topics. 
  3. Keyword research
    Use particular key words for different locations
  4. Approach your strategy from a holistic perspective
  5. Consider the entire user journey!
  6. Use Multiple domains and Landing Pages
    Have different domains for different countries with optimized content in that language
  7. Seperate Local Content
    Use dedicated URLs for localised content
  8. Link Build towards pages
    Create a link building strategy for each market
  9. Define your websites language and geographical targeting
    Use the hreflang attribute, specifiy what language your copy is in and what locations your content is for
  10. Use culturally appropriate imagery
  11. Reflect culture in your website design by using local imagery of local people or scenarios.

The key to building a strong international SEO strategy is to get to know your audience and anticipate their needs. All international strategies are different, and the amount of research you put in is reflected in the outcome. At My Bright Digital, we have plenty of experience in international SEO and are here to help if you want to take a deeper dive into improving your strategy.

Many different tools can help with international SEO and save you time during the research process. This list is not extensive, but these are some of our favourites.

  1. Google Search Console
  2. Google Analytics
  3. SEMRush
  4. Moz
  5. Ahrefs

The Benefits of International SEO

First and foremost, SEO that is optimised to an international audience will grow your business, increase revenue and expand your customer base. These seem like pretty worthy trade-offs for some research and improvements to your SEO strategy. The truth is that the benefits of international SEO are limitless, by establishing your business in the global markets you are proving yourself to be a trust-worthy company that is worthy of the loyalty your customers/clients have for your brand. 

Furthermore, with an effective strategy, you can discover where your wins and losses are coming from. For example, you can discover if specific keywords are ranking higher than others, and use trending keywords to create content. You can also understand precisely what stops your potential customers from proceeding to the sales cart, or if they do reach that stage, what stops your customers from making the purchase. Having greater insights into your customers can only bring good things and international SEO can expand the horizons of your business permanently.

Advice From the SEO Experts

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What are Core Web Vitals?

What are Core Web Vitals?

Are you drawing a blank when you think of the words Core Web Vitals? What do they do, why are they important, how could this affect your business? Well we are here to explain exactly what they are, and how you can use them to your advantage.

Google officially launched Core Web Vitals in 2021, as a new way of ranking website SEO, with the ultimate goal of giving a user the best experience possible. These three metrics ultimately determine the visibility of your website, and therefore the amount of people that can find your business online. 

The three metrics that make up core web vitals are Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. Whilst this jargon may sound highly technical, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to ensure your website scores highly for each one. 

What is the Largest Contentful Paint?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is effectively content loading speed, how long does the largest image on your website take to load for the user. Content forms include both media and text, what’s important is ensuring users aren’t left waiting to see what your website has to offer. 

To get a healthy score for this metric, your page’s content must load in less than 2.5 seconds. Anything over 4 seconds will receive a poor score. Think of it this way, don’t you get frustrated when you click onto a website and it takes ages to load? You are making the user’s journey inherently easier by giving them access to the content they want quicker, meaning it’s more likely they’ll stay on your website for longer.

So, how do you prevent long loading speeds? By ensuring the sizing of your media is optimised for your website hosting, which suggest the recommended dimensions for you. Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) is another way to make images load faster, companies like Image Engine optimise your images for you.

Other quick wins are avoiding JavaScript to load your images, let your browser do this and prevent possible loading delays. Make sure to choose a good hosting service for your website, one that is suitable for your website’s size and volume of content. Finally, choose an appropriate image format like JPEG, that can be compressed easily. Avoid PNG files if you can, as they are larger files that result in higher load speeds.

The key with this metric is speed, we want to make our user’s journey as quick and painless as possible, so continue to check the health of your website and optimise it’s content for Largest Contentful Paint.

Largest Contentful Paint Example

What is the First Input Delay?

First Input Delay (FID) is the metric that measures interactivity on your website. Essentially this measures the time from a user’s first click on the page to when the browser responds. Examples of first inputs are clicking links or buttons, pressing a key command, clicking into a chat box, etc. 

First Input Delay is measured in milliseconds, and it measures the delay of the input not the actual processing. This metric is important in helping you ensure the loading of important information on your website doesn’t feel unresponsive or slow. A good score is anything less than 100 milliseconds, and a poor score is anything over 300. 

Similar to LCP, this metric is about giving users the information they want as quickly as possible. The quicker it is for a user to access what they want, the more likely they are to return to your website. Google is prioritising websites that give users high-quality content quickly, when we live in a world where we are overwhelmed by choice of content providers, speed becomes a crucial factor. 

Our recommendations for optimising your FID score are as follows. Remove third-party scripts, or certainly the ones that aren’t crucial as they can delay your own scripts’ actions. Prioritise which scripts provide the most value for the user, and remove the ones that do not. Minimise and compress your code which will reduce the file size and make the code perform quicker. Remove any unused CSS, this gives your browser fewer actions to perform which increases the speed of FID. 

Again speed is crucial for this metric, but it all comes down to the coding of your website and the list of tasks your browser has to perform before it can load the content a user has clicked on. Make the browser’s job as easy as possible by giving it only crucial tasks. When optimising this metric, always choose what to remove by considering the impact it may have on both the user and the score.

First Input Delay Example

What is Cumulative Layout Shift?

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) focuses on your website pages’ stability. A particularly important one for mobile users, this is about ensuring your website content is optimised for all devices. When a user loads a website, or clicks on a link or even scrolls down the page, sometimes the website layout will shift on the screen which can confuse and frustrate the user. 

This issue generally affects mobile users more than desktop, as many websites are only optimised for a desktop device. Scoring positively on this metric can prevent users from accidentally clicking on the wrong link or being shown content they don’t want. This can result in frustrating users losing out on potential customers.

A score of 0 means the page is completely static, but a good score is anything below 0.1 and a poor score is anything above 0.25. To improve your CLS score, always include width and height dimensions on your images and videos, this means the browser will allocate the correct amount of space for your media to load. Ensuring the browser knows the aspect ratio of your website’s media also helps improve CLS. 

Ads tend to be the biggest troublemakers for CLS, prevent ads negatively impacting the score by statically reserving space for the ad slot. Eliminate content shifts by reserving the largest size possible for the ad slot to cater for any potential ad layout errors. Avoid placing ads near the top of the viewport, if they are lower down on the page they are less likely to shift. The same goes for embeds and iframes, make sure to reserve enough space! 

Font is the final piece of the puzzle, downloading a new webfont can result in FOUT or flash of unstyled text, where the default font flashes before displaying the new one. FOIT or flash of invisible text can also cause problems, where ‘invisible’ text is displayed until a new font appears. Font loading API’s can help resolve these problems, and improve your CLS score.

The layout of your website is what matters here, but crucially that it remains static and displays the correct information to the user. We want to make their journey as easy as possible, poor CLS could affect not only a single user’s experience but potential users also as your site could garner a negative reputation. Regularly audit your website using Google Lighthouse to ensure you are optimised for Cumulative Layout Shift.

Cumulative Shift Layout Diagram

How can Google Lighthouse Help?

Google Lighthouse is a great tool that generates reports which specifically focus on the core web vitals metrics. It shows you the performance of each metric and offers optimisation suggestions to help improve your score. Although for the most part the issues that impact core web vitals are what we’ve mentioned in this blog post, we recommend diving into the depths of a Lighthouse report to get a detailed breakdown of what can cause poor scores.

It is important to ensure all three metrics are performing well, as they naturally work in tandem with one another. Approach your core web vitals optimisation from a holistic perspective, and ensure any new content you upload to your website is optimised for Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift.

Future-proof your SEO Marketing

So what does this tell us? Clearly, mobile-search is the future. Google prioritises websites that cater to mobile users which means fast load times, smart design layouts and an easy experience for the user. If you are a company who values your presence on Google Search, then future-proof your marketing strategy by running a regular health check of your website. If history tells us anything, it’s clear that Google is continuing to focus on a user-centric approach. 

With this in mind, when creating new content, consider the impact it will have on the user’s journey. Not only in consuming the content, but from the moment a want enters their head that you can supply. From first google search to clicking checkout, prioritise your user’s journey and optimise your content for core web vitals.

Speak to the My Bright Digital Team about how we can optimise your website for SEO and improve your core web vitals.