Develop your website to reach out to international markets
Given that the web is a global phenomenon, there is a clear opportunity for business owners to harness their website presence and reach out to an international market. If you have a sound sense that your business can deliver a service in an international marketplace, and have the logistics and customer support to serve that market, then this guide should help point you in the right direction.
1). Have a consistent international domain strategy
Having a generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD), such as .com, .net and .org, will help position you as an international company, rather than connected with a particular country. It may also make your site more accessible from outside the UK and allow you to geo-target sections of your site for specific countries through sub-domains or language-specific sections.
It also maybe useful for you to protect the uniqueness of your domain buy purchasing second-level and lower level domains, such as .co.uk. If you do so, keep your domain strategy consistent by setting up 301 permanent redirects from any lower level domains to your main website.
2). Structure website content for international visitors
It’s important to provide an international message throughout the content of your website. Whilst it maybe difficult or limiting to focus in on specific international languages (see more about multi-lingual websites below), having an specifically International section on your site, with information written in Global English that is accessible to in countries where English is not the first language. The key to this is to write content that is well structured, simple and clear:
– Use short sentences and avoid obscure words
– Be concise: make one point per paragraph
– Use bold text, bullets and sub-headings to highlight what’s most important
– Add a glossary of technical terms
– Add frequently asked questions for international visitors
– Add product images/diagrams
– Quote weights appropriately (North America uses imperial; Europe, South America, Africa and Asia use metric)
– Quote measurements appropriately
– Quote dates appropriately (e.g. North America gives MM/DD/YY whereas N Europe tends to use DD/MM/YY)
Include on your Contact page:
– Address, including UK
– Office hours
– Languages spoken
Note: Be aware also of localised English. For examples, in Britain we use terms like “bespoke” and “stock”, whereas in the U.S they use terms like “customized” and “inventory” instead. Find the most straight forward way of expressing your services.
3). Appeal to your target audiences with more tailored content
Once you have a well-structured international website framework, it is worth investing some time in developing specific product/service pages for markets in particular locations. This needn’t be seen as conflicting with your international framework; it should work in conjunction with it.
For example, you could give relevant local applications of your services, or add sector-specific information for related industries in target marketplace. This localisation will help convince people that you are aware of the local conditions of the customers you are hoping to target.
4). Explain how you operate on an international level
Along with clarity of structure, you should also offer transparency in how your business operates on an international level. Two of the biggest barriers to trade between countries is logistics and trust. How does the product/service get delivered, and can we trust it will arrive? You can go some way to dealing with these questions by adopting some or all of the following:
– Show a world map showing where you trade from and how you are able to reach around the world
– Give details of any overseas offices you run or have connections with
– Provide descriptions of where your products/services are currently sold
– List details of any agents, distributors, partners, stockists, or resellers that fit into your business model and which may help potential customers understand your operation
– Collect and add relevant international case studies and testimonials and feature them on your site
5). Promoting your website to international markets
Keeping things simple for now, there are essentially two pathways to choose from when thinking about promoting to international markets: do you target by country or by language?
If you target by country, you are essentially thinking about a localised approach, possibly targeting key cities or towns in your website content. This doesn’t mean that you can’t also adopt multiple languages in your website. If you target by language, you are not restricting yourself to
Whichever approach you adopt, or however you mix up the two, it’s important to translate (if language targeted) or localize (if country targeted) the different elements of the pages of each of your international versions, using the keywords and phrases that you have identified during the initial research to attract international visitors:
– Title tags
– Description tags
– Keyword tags
– Alt tags
– Headings (h1, h2, h3)
– File/page/URL names
– In the website copy (page density)
– In glossary
– In frequently asked questions
– In sitemap
– One page per product/service (‘single-topic page’)
Other strategies you may investigate to help communicate to a specific international audience include:
– Adding a local-language sitemap
– Adding localised content (in the local language)
– Adding local contact details
– Geotargeting web pages, or hosting your website locally
– Using local social media
There is so much more that goes into international website marketing and SEO. A useful guide that we have found has been made by KissMetrics: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-to-international-seo/
6). Translating your site into other languages
Once you have written localised web content for target market(s), translate this into the appropriate language(s) and offer your website visitors a choice of different languages to view the site in, but always keeping your international content as the default.
The best advice for translation is to use professional translators, since amateur translators or digitised translation tools may not capture the nuances of a language as used by real people. For example, people searching on Google may drop accents and space words differently to the formally agreed style. You may also need to specify how misspellings and grammatical issues are to be handled. A professional translator will be able to act as your “researcher” in different target markets, giving you the chance to adopt more appropriate keywords and website content.