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Foreign Search Engine Optimization – Everything You Need To Know About International SEO

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Foreign Search Engine Optimization – Everything You Need To Know About International SEO

Do you run a company in Singapore, but you want to increase profits and promote the offer or content on your website in other regions of Europe and even the world? For this purpose, you can use foreign positioning. Would you please read our article and find out how to successfully promote your site with SEO in other countries?

Perform two analyzes:

  • industry – the market and user preferences,
  • technical – your website, as well as websites of companies with which you will compete.

This will help you answer whether you can successfully fight to use the potential of foreign markets.
You can try to do the first analysis yourself, while an SEO audit should be commissioned to a specialist who will pay attention to the technical aspects of positioning and the results of the Google search engine in a given language for websites in your industry.

Market analysis and user preferences

Before entering foreign markets, it is worth checking how foreign websites are built and what content is on them and what language they are written in. When planning website positioning, for example, in Barcelona and Catalonia, it is worth checking whether the pages popular there has Spanish or Catalan text. It’s important to know as many nuances as possible before jumping into deep foreign water.

Therefore, before starting positioning of a website abroad, verify at least such issues as:

  • language and dialects spoken in a given country,
  • trust in foreign companies or websites that have a domain extension pointing to another country,
  • market share of various search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex etc.) in a given country, devices used,
  • potential traffic from organic results for a similar page, preferably your direct competition,
  • restrictions on the purchase of a domestic domain,
  • competition,
  • legal and accounting issues related to running a business,
  • habits of consumers to forms of payment and transport, returns, guarantees, etc.

If you get as much information as possible, it will be easier for you to decide whether it makes business sense to enter foreign markets. If so, you will already have the basis for further SEO activities.

SEO audit of the competition and your website

If you are prepared for possible changes in the website and business, and most importantly – you see opportunities for business scaling, the next step will be an SEO audit of your website and determination of potential competition in a given market.

This action is worth outsourcing to an SEO agency or specialist who will verify the target country regarding the required positioning activities. This is one of the most important steps, as it will serve as a starting point for your future SEO strategy.

The following issues should be addressed in the audit:

  • verification of a possible “entry barrier” (average time to achieve the first search engine transitions),
  • identifying pages competing with your website in a given country,
  • verification of technical SEO issues, including domain extension in search engine results, architecture and content volume,
  • verification of traffic sources and its estimation from the results of free search engines,
  • estimation of positioning costs based on competitors’ websites,
  • plotting the potential time to achieve effects based on historical increases in competitors.

After the SEO audit is completed, you can move on to further activities related to positioning.

First of all, you should start adjusting the website to conduct search engine promotion on a given foreign market. Here usually questions arise regarding:

  • a new domain or subdomains that will be used in SEO activities,
  • changes in the website structure in terms of language versions, translation management, etc.,
  • technical optimization, including hreflang and lang tags, linking between different language versions.

Why is it so important? For example, users in Germany are more likely to choose pages with a national extension, i.e. .de. The same is true in England, where .co.UK or .uk domains can be more trusted. Thus, by promoting the .pl domain, you can get less traffic from organic search engine results, even despite good positions.

Further work related to positioning

The next steps related to SEO are the same positioning in Singapore. According to the audit, major and minor changes are made in terms of website optimization.

Additionally, keyword research is performed (passwords are selected for specific addresses) to prepare new later or extend existing content, unless it was an audit element.

Of course, apart from works in the website (on-page), off-page activities are performed, which consist of gaining authority by the domain and website and acquiring external links. Examples of link sources can also be indicated in the SEO analysis.

Activities related to website positioning and its optimization are described in more detail in our SEO guide, which explains and guides you through the stages of the process and building the visibility of your website.

It is worth knowing about international positioning

Do you want to know more about foreign SEO? Check out the short FAQ, which collects the most important questions about international positioning.

Does the foreign positioning of the website have to be done by a local SEO agency or a freelancer?

From the client’s point of view (a person looking for a service provider), website positioning for a foreign market does not have to be carried out by agencies operating in the target country.

Sometimes a more advantageous solution is to choose the services of an agency with which you already cooperate or even another one that successfully provides positioning services on foreign markets.

The key factor in choosing the right company is an experience (it is worth asking about the possibility of presenting the effects for SEO projects, e.g. case studies for a specific industry) and the skills of SEO specialists employed in it.
They should have experience in positioning on foreign markets, e.g. in Germany or Great Britain. Why? Because apart from proven practices, positioning abroad may differ from that carried out in Singapore.

Why is it worth choosing a Polish SEO agency for foreign positioning?

Very often, the choice of a Polish interactive agency is better due to, among others, costs and practicalities, more on that below.

The local service provider operates in the same time zone as you. There are also no problems with communication when the person delegating marketing activities in your company does not know a foreign language. If you need to discuss an urgent matter, you will have an easier time contacting an SEO specialist, even on the spot in the office (although you can “do” everything online).

The costs of running SEO activities may also be lower than in the case of foreign agencies. We are talking mainly about salaries of specialists or fees resulting from running the activity itself, e.g. renting an office in the centre of London.

An additional advantage of the Polish agency may be that you do not lose on converting the zloty into a foreign currency. This is another small saving.
Also, pay attention to the issues related to the settlement of service costs, particularly when you want to promote yourself in countries outside the EU and more exotic ones.

What about foreign SEO in several different countries?

Here, too, you do not need to hire separate agencies or specialists from each of these markets.
By outsourcing the entire project to one contractor, you often shorten the implementation time of selected positioning elements. An agency that will deal with foreign SEO may implement the same or similar technical changes globally. It can also establish one common strategy for acquiring organic traffic for various foreign markets, e.g. by changing the structure or expanding content for business-justified pages on the website, taking into account similar queries, only for different countries.

How to prepare a website for positioning for foreign markets?

Before starting SEO activities, it is worth analyzing the search results. Also, verify the competition operating in the location where you would like to promote your website. We talked about this stage during the SEO audit, which is worth doing before making any changes.

In the case of foreign positioning, just like in the Polish Google search engine, you need to ensure a solid foundation, that is:

  • technical optimization,
  • an appropriate website structure,
  • very often new content in the target language or their expansion,
  • support for indexing robots in terms of multilingualism,
  • and optimization for mobile users.

Google and other search engines place great emphasis on the high quality of websites. Inorganic results promote those that meet the expectations of the user and are the most friendly to him. Despite the differences between the markets, this rule does not change.

Google and Bing enable website owners and administrators to improve their quality by accessing free webmaster tools. For example, for Google, these are, among others:

  • Google Search Console,
  • PageSpeed Insight,
  • Structured Data Testing Tool.

They enable, in turn:

  • website monitoring for errors and recommendations regarding quality and usability, as well as verification of the current effectiveness in search engine results,
  • the ability to test website speed and Core Web Vitals elements (this issue has also been described in our knowledge base and blog article),
  • verification of the correctness of embedding structured data.

Does the Google search algorithm differ from country to country?

Yes, in part. It would help if you remembered that the search engine algorithm is not explicit but based on observing SEO activities and competition in different markets, you may notice some differences in project management. For example, in terms of obtaining external links to the site, the site in Germany will have a different link profile than its counterpart in Singapore.

However, it should be borne in mind that the rules of positioning a foreign site do not differ significantly from those in force in Singapore. The foundations of SEO activities are universal and will bring greater or lesser benefits to each country, depending on the nuances related to a given location and industry.

Do I have to buy a domain in the target country?

An important issue in the positioning process is the domain. The address of a foreign website affects both its positioning and its reception in the eyes of potential customers.

Usually, the preferred solution is to use a domain ending in a given region or country, e.g .:

  • .de for Germany,
  • .co.uk for Great Britain,
  • .fr for France.

In positioning for foreign markets, domain addresses ending with .com are also used, but such a variant is not always recommended. It is worth verifying it in advance in terms of a given market and the possibility of achieving the intended effects.

However, if you want to position different language versions using one domain address and thus one website, the .com extension is potentially the best solution. The .com domain, i.e. the top-level domain, has certain privileges due to its general nature – it can, in theory, be used in any country.

Using the Google Search Console tool, you can set predispositions towards potential recipients – country and language. Thus, as long as you do not have defined hreflang attributes, you can tell the search engine to whom you are targeting your website and the offer placed on it.

An alternative solution may be subdomains that are placed as an extension of the main domain. For example, you can place content in English on your website at en.nazwadomeny.pl.

Another way is to use directories in the website address, e.g. domain name. Pl/de/ or in the case of the .com domain, it will be domainname.com/pl/.

Both of these options are usually recommended for sites with the low or medium competition that are to be promoted for less popular keywords.

However, each time you have to remember that using a domain ending for a given country, e.g. .pl, will cause Google to assign it to the Polish geolocation automatically.

Similarly, the .de or .co.UK versions will be assigned to Germany and Great Britain.

Should you buy hosting for a foreign site?

Considering the effects of positioning, the purchase of a new server or hosting is not necessary but definitely recommended.
Hosting at the user’s location or using a network of proxy servers will shorten the loading time of resources and – therefore – the website. This will be a noticeable benefit for users who receive the website faster.

The hosting or server IP address is not a ranking factor in itself. By verifying your competitors’ websites that are at the top, you can draw similar conclusions yourself. It may turn out that the IP addresses of competing websites will not coincide with the country where they are visible and perform SEO activities.

Such observation will allow you to ensure that the server location issue will not affect the positioning effects, and its purchase will not translate into SEO effects.

An alternative to hosting overseas is to use a service like Cloudflare, which can reduce your website load times worldwide. Importantly – without having to purchase hosting in different locations.

Is the physical address necessary to position the website in a foreign location?

When implementing SEO activities for a given website, one of the elements is building authority in the search engine and among users.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) business cards are helpful, i.e. those containing contact details and industry directories with basic data. It is often impossible to add data other than from a given location/country.

In addition, address data are used to verify Google My Business cards, increasing the chance of acquiring customers locally and from Google Maps.

It is also advisable to include basic contact information on the website and mark it with structured data. These will increase visitor confidence in the website and can break fears of unknown brands and sites.

If you do not want to incur the costs of maintaining a branch office, you can use a cheaper alternative – purchasing a virtual office service in a given country.

Of course, SEO activities can be carried out without a physical branch of the company, but it can help acquire links and plan local positioning strategies.

Can a Polish agency choose the right keywords for foreign positioning?

Definitely yes. In selecting keywords for SEO projects carried out in Singapore and abroad, SEO tools with extensive databases of keywords and statistics are used.

With tools such as ahrefs and SEMrush, you can accurately choose the terms for which you will ultimately promote the page in Google or another search engine (more on that in a moment).

When positioning abroad, you also need to define a strategy for gaining traffic visibility. It is worth focusing on promotion for keywords different from the point of view of the competition. Of course, the number of phrases included in the strategy and their difficulty will depend, among other things, on the authority of the domain, its optimization, as well as the budget and goals set with the client.

Are websites only positioned abroad in the Google search engine?

Optimization and positioning of websites in Singapore are inextricably linked with the promotion in the Google search engine. It is the most popular search engine in our country. It is used by over 95% of network users (based on https://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share/all/Singapore as at the article’s publication date). When conducting SEO activities, their effects are usually monitored based on the positions or traffic coming from Google.

However, in the rest of Europe or the world, effective SEO efforts to gain visibility and traffic may also rely on other alternative search engines that you may have heard of.

See the table below for more information. Dominik presented this topic in the browser ranking on our blog.

Search engine nameYandexBaiduBingYahoo!
CountryRussiaChinaUnited States, FranceJapan

The basis of foreign positioning is to verify the popularity of search engines in the location for which SEO activities will be carried out.

Choosing the right person or agency is crucial. Specialists should advise you on which search engines your potential customers use. For them, it is worth conducting SEO activities and monitoring their effects.

It would help if you remembered that Google, Baidu or Yahoo! differ in the search algorithm. Therefore the activities carried out in them may differ slightly. What it comes from? Each search engine uses different factors that assess the website’s usefulness with the user’s query and its importance. As a result, the same page may list different positions in individual search engines.

The popularity of a given search engine is not always related to the users’ preferences or their preferences for devices or operating systems where browsers are pre-installed with a default search engine. Political issues should also be taken into account.

For example, Google is hardly used in China due to internet censorship by the government there. The local Baidu search engine is mainly used there. Google is also not the key search engine in Russia, where Yandex is popular for similar reasons. In turn, in the United States or France, apart from the global giant – Google, several per cent of the local market is taken by the search engine from Microsoft – Bing.

Can you also position yourself locally abroad?

Earlier, you have already read about NAP and Google My Firma business cards, which are useful in foreign positioning to perform some SEO activities in link building and building user trust in the website.
If you have a branch office in a given target country, you can use the local SEO strategy to promote your goods and services in a given city or neighbourhood.

For this purpose, an appropriate content structure should be used to place phrases related to geolocation in them, e.g. “car hire London”.

Both the principles of website optimization and the selection of keywords are analogous to local SEO in Singapore. We need to match the page to local queries, i.e. made using the location name or by users with a location specified by the search engine.

What does the cost of foreign positioning depend on?

The cost of positioning on foreign markets is influenced by the specificity and scope of SEO activities, which include:

Apart from other factors, such as tough competition or goals, the price of foreign positioning is usually higher due to the costs incurred for the content in a foreign language or the costs of obtaining links on foreign portals.

However, specialist copywriting in English or French is necessary to optimize your website properly and for the brand to gain visibility in search engine results. It would help if you did not lower the positioning price at the expense of the quality or volume of the prepared content per page. It will be the foundation for gaining traffic from organic results.

How much does website positioning on foreign markets cost?

The cost of foreign positioning in our agency starts from about 3,000 – 4,000 net per month. This is usually the minimum budget allocated to SEO to think about the effects in the form of increased visibility and – potentially – traffic, as well as future conversions in the perspective of at least a few months.

The price includes the following SEO activities:

  • website SEO audit,
  • technical optimization of the website or preparation of optimization guidelines for developers,
  • preparing an SEO strategy,
  • content optimization – preparation of new ones, extension of existing ones or their optimization for SEO
  • obtaining external links,
  • a number of minor activities such as verification and installation of analytical or webmaster tools, optimization of the GMF, monitoring of effects, etc.

Is it worth positioning yourself abroad?

Positioning in foreign markets is an opportunity to reach new users as well as potential customers. Thanks to it, you can increase brand recognition in foreign markets and use the potential of new regions to attract customers.

Of course, you have to consider the costs and possibilities of achieving results, but positioning in new or new countries is an opportunity to scale the company through increased revenues.

As you can see, it is worth investing in SEO for foreign markets.

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