How to Avoid the Most Common International SEO Mistakes
Updated: Jul 6
Dealing with International SEO mistakes can be challenging, though investing the time in your SEO on an international scale can actually be beneficial for you in the long run, allowing you to increase your sales and subsequently your revenue. International SEO practices are important for your business if you’re already operating on a global scale, but also if you’re thinking about market expansion for your business. That is why we outline some of the most common SEO mistakes and what you can do to avoid or prevent them.
7 international SEO mistakes
1. Geographically redirecting your page can block users from accessing different content on your website
When you make assumptions about the language of your users based on their IP location, you risk blocking them from accessing certain content on your website that they may have found through a Google search. The redirect stops your users from exploring your site fully and may even stop them from reaching the information they require. You can offer them to switch to a local site via banner or pop-up which can work just as well and not harm your overall bounce rate. Another important aspect is ensuring that you have a different URL for your country-based pages, it is not enough to rely on one URL and then allow the browser to localize your website. Having two or more different links is better for indexing search rank and minimizing confusion.
2. Not fully utilizing your Webmaster settings
It can be easy to forget that Google and Bing allow you to target different search areas in Webmaster and Search Console settings, this simple fix can be make or break for getting your search to appear in more than one location.
3. Not fully optimizing the site layout
When you take the time to create your website, you might think that it's a one-size-fits-all kind of deal, especially if you took loads of time to create and optimize your site. But the truth is, it’s not always the case, especially if your audience is from different countries. The cultural and linguistic background might make them interact with your site differently and what works for some might not work at all for others.
It’s important to test out how different audiences interact with your website and optimize their journey on your site in a way that would make the most sense to them. For more on how to optimize your landing page, check out our article on How to Optimize Your Landing Pages for Better Conversions. If you find a web structure and layout that works for your users, continue to stay adaptable because a website should constantly be changing based on the demands of your audience and the offerings of your brand.
4. Using machine translations
Machine translation should definitely be avoided. While it might seem convenient to take a DIY approach to localizing your website, especially if you’re thinking about how to optimize it, this is a common international SEO mistake. Machine translation might not only be inaccurate, and lack idiomatic phrases and figures of speech in a given language, but it could also affect your SERPs (search engine results page) and how your clients interact with your brand. Simply put, for the time you save on the convenience of this quick translation, the risk is too high.
5. Not conducting keyword research by the country
Not all keywords are equal, or equally relevant to your audiences! If you’re in the business of car rentals in Europe for instance, chances are, your audience might not be searching for the word “car rental” specifically in English (unless they are tourists!). Make sure you’re not alienating a portion of your audience and thus potential customers by only conducting keyword research in the primary language of your main site. This research is also essential to gain a full understanding of your target market in a given location.
6. Not maintaining navigation across countries
It can and will happen that your users will find a part of your site that is not in their preferred language. Rather than redirect them immediately to your homepage with their language it's better to allow them a way to access the corresponding page in a different language should they opt to change it. Landing them back to your homepage might risk them bouncing off your website.
7. No hreflang attribute
This is a common mistake and albeit a bit technical! It is an attribute in the HTML code that should be added to the code of your website in the header section. It lets Google know that there is an equivalent of the same page in another language and displays to Google the address of the foreign language version. The hreflang attribute allows you to strengthen the reputation of your national domain. Google’s crawlers can see different stores, but thanks to hreflang it knows that they are part of the same brand. To get the full benefits of the hreflang attribute, you must implement it on all pages and all subpages of your website.
Key Take Away: Adaptability Always
The name of the game is being adaptable! It is really important when you’re considering the recommended international SEO practices to remain open to changes, there is no final version of your website and with that in mind, there is always room for improvement! If you’d like to learn more about how to adapt your website, then schedule a call with us, and we can guide you through how you can reach your wide and varied audience