Growth marketers are always on the lookout for new opportunities. How can we overcome the next hurdle or solve the next big problem? Generally speaking, that pertains to getting more users or increasing sales.

So I’m surprised that I don’t hear more about International SEO. When the Online Marketing Manager for SurveyMonkey, Eli Schwartz, came into Tradecraft to speak with my growth team he introduced us to optimization for markets outside the US. It’s definitely worth sharing, his process is straightforward and easy to understand and it can really be a game-changer for some companies.

In a nutshell, if you’re selling abroad, you should consider global SEO because…

  1. You don’t have to play in the big leagues to succeed
  2. SEO hasn’t saturated global markets like it has the US
  3. You don’t need to learn another language
  4. The principles are pretty much the same as local SEO

What makes International SEO so interesting for eCom?

Before going any further, it’s important to understand why you should go after international markets.

Beyond just reaching another group of customers, it’s about recognizing that if you don’t acquire those other markets, then your competitors in those markets will eventually be coming after your customers here in the US. So, it’s not just about expanding to get more users, it’s also about shoring up and protecting your current market share from unexpected competitors.

4 tips for International SEO

1. Ignore SEO best practices.

Eli shared his formula for how he expanded into new countries without ever learning a new language. After running through a list of best-practices for Global SEO (like local hosting and local links), he says:

“Ignore all that. The most important thing you want to know about International SEO is content. You want to make sure your content is targeted to your audience. So, just like in english, content is king.”
– Eli Schwartz

2. Do not machine translate your content

Google will know and natives will know. Seriously, don’t do it. Just hire a native speaker to translate your content and site.

3. Optimize for exactly what people are typing, down to the exact spelling.

Outside the US, Google isn’t anticipating searcher intent when serving up results so each word, character, and space matters in the query. You must make sure your content exactly matches what someone from that country would type. So is it ‘optimize’ or ‘optimise’?

Also, Google doesn’t ignore stop words outside the US, so prepositions matter. And you have to take into consideration that, as in the case of the Pop vs Soda vs Cola vs Coke, the same word in the same country can have different meanings by geography.

4. Google keyword planner takes a back seat.

It is better to google your experimental queries for different phrases until you find the right phrase. You know you are on the right track when your phrase pulls up correct Wikipedia entries, more than one page of results, and your competitors. You can also use Google Translate to find other keyword options. Then use Google Knowledge Graph to understand searcher intent. Once you have a large list of keyword options, then use Google Keyword Planner in conjunction with Google Translate.

Obviously, there is quite a bit more, but this is a good start. Check out Eli’s Slideshare Page for a ton of great information including Multilingual SEO: Stop Playing Soccer When The Rest Of The World Is Playing Football which goes into much more detail than this little article.

This article is based on a talk given by Eli Schwartz at the Tradecraft campus. Tradecraft is a 3-month immersive training program for soft skills in the tech industry. We’re becoming bad asses in Growth Marketing so we can take over the world one startup at a time.