4 tips to help you master regional SEO

If you find search engine optimization confusing, you aren't the only one. The process of creating content for your website or mobile app that organically drives traffic and downloads is influenced by many factors, and Google's search algorithms change regularly.

This can be compounded even further when you're trying to manage SEO across several geographic regions and languages. However, if you work with professional language translation from the ground up, you can achieve effective regional SEO that can give your small business a huge advantage in foreign markets.

1. Distinguish markets from languages
While geographic regions and foreign languages often correspond, this isn't always the case. Determine first if you want to target speakers of a specific language – for example, employing Japanese language translation to optimize your content for speakers of that language – or if you want to target a given geographic region. This subtle but important distinction will affect not only linguistic considerations like primary dialect, but also regional differences that a machine translation service may not catch. For example, English is spoken in both the U.S. and the U.K., but spelling, units of measure, currency and even popular colloquialisms are different between the two countries, meaning that a company that priced its services in dollars rather than pounds will likely be penalized on the SEO front if U.K. users attempt to search for it.

You should have a plan to optimize your content for SEO in any region.You should have a plan to optimize your content for SEO in any region.

2. Master your domain
If you want to expand your business into another country, one of the simplest steps to improve your international SEO ranking will be to register the correct domain. While you technically can take your company's existing dot-com address and simply provide content translation, that's not the most efficient way to handle SEO. It may be a good idea to register domains specific to each country you want to access. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers allows webmasters to register regional domains – like a .co.uk domain for sites operating in the U.K., or .fr domains for French markets. Not only is this a smart move from an SEO perspective, but it's also a way to maintain tighter control over your brand by snatching up any domain names bearing your company's trademark before somebody else does.

"Register domains specific to each country you want to access."

3. Link locally
A good portion of a site's SEO ranking is determined by its link structure. Google looks at what sites a URL links to and takes their credibility and relevance into account when determining how useful that URL is from a search perspective. In other words, if you're trying to publish Web content in a foreign country, but you don't connect that content to sources local to the region you're targeting, there's a good chance your site will lose some SEO relevance. By including links to regional content, you can boost your site's SEO score in a foreign market. As an added bonus, you may even spark a relationship with local industry leaders that can then use their regional clout to help spread the word about your company.

4. Separate your content
Dynamic Web design has led to aesthetically driven websites using features such as infinite scrolling to display all its content on one page. While you may think this is a great way to boost user experience, it's not doing you any favors when it comes to international SEO. Google will translate all the content on a given page at once, which means that if you have different language translations all on one page, you'll end up with a lot of duplicate content. This is one of the red flags Google's search algorithms look for when weeding out optimized sites from spammy linking practices. If you know that your content is going to be translated into another language, create a separate page where each language can live to avoid getting penalized by search algorithms. 

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