Ever thought about how to establish a solid digital presence across multiple countries? It cannot be easy to follow SEO best practices and get your website to rank high in your country. But, it is possible to expand your digital presence to other countries.
This blog post will discuss the most important concepts to consider when you expand internationally. They are website structure and digital marketing maturity. I’ll walk you through the main options you have for internationalization and help you decide which approach works best for you.
First, look at some of the most popular website structures you should consider when internationalizing. Even if your website already contains content for multiple countries, it is essential to periodically assess your digital marketing strategy to determine whether you need to change the structure to accommodate regional range.
Country-Specific Domains (or the ccTLDs).
The website structure identifies that content is intended for a particular country. Not only will users in that country feel familiar and comfortable with the domain showing them geographically-relevant content, but search engines will automatically detect that content using this structure should be ranked and shown only in that country. This is the best way for country-specific content to receive the highest click-through rates. This approach is beneficial if your country’s business model, leading competitors, or product lines differ significantly. Establishing a unique, relevant web presence in these countries makes sense.
Do you recall how much work you put into setting up your primary domain to adhere to SEO best practices? This is the biggest drawback to using country-specific domains in your internationalization strategy. You will need to establish your SEO presence in every country. Your marketing team must invest much effort and time in creating localized content. Additionally, purchasing multiple domains for each country may prove costly. This method may be expensive initially, so ensure you are prepared to invest.
Subdirectories (or folders)
Subdirectories are a great alternative to country-specific domains if you need more time to invest the initial capital. You can leverage the strength and reach of your central part to build your presence in other countries. It’s usually easier and cheaper to create subdirectories. It’s easier to develop subdirectories than domains.
Considering this, you may wonder why you use subdirectories instead of separate domains.
Search engines prefer country-specific domains over more generic domains, such as captora.co.uk. Google UK would rank captora.co.uk above captora.com/uk if all other things were equal. To ensure that content in your country-specific subdirectory ranks well, you must use tools such as Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
In general, subdomains should not be used for internationalization because they have few advantages while facing some issues in both alternate approaches. Subdomains, for example, allow you to use servers from different countries to support your subdomains. Subdirectories cannot be separated similarly, so subdomains may be a good option if you have a technical requirement.
Subdomains typically inherit only a portion of the domain strength and require more maintenance than the subdirectories approach. Similar to the subdirectories approach, you will need to use an auxiliary tool for country-level targeting of each subdomain. Subdomains should only be considered if they are impossible to use.
Digital Maturity & Strategy
Let’s now discuss the most popular approaches that you might consider. Then let’s talk about your goals and ask questions to help you choose the best strategy.
Product and Business Differentiation by Country- Does your product or service differ significantly by country? Are your intended audiences searching for content in different ways and using it differently? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, having separate domains for each country you wish to market to may make sense. You’ll likely do much more than translate and localize existing content.
It’s a sign that you should build your SEO presence in each region. It would be best to consider using search engines’ preference for ranking country-specific domains rather than generic ones since this will require you to tailor your content and messaging strategy.
Marketing Resources – Do you have the resources to localize your content correctly? If your target countries speak the same language as your primary market, you shouldn’t use automated translations when building your pages. Content creators should be familiar with local markets to communicate the desired nuances to the target audience.
Will you also have the time and capacity to apply SEO linking strategies to new content? SEO is an ongoing and constantly evolving process, as we all know. Can you maintain your domains while creating new ones? Do you have the right staff? Subdirectories can be used if you believe you need more resources.
Current Demand – Have you ever looked at the geographical distribution of visitors to your pages? Are you familiar with keyword research tools that allow you to see historical search volume for the countries you are interested in? Are you looking to establish a digital presence in countries with less demand?
If there isn’t a lot of international demand for your website and your site doesn’t have digital maturity yet, you shouldn’t consider internationalization. You will get the highest ROI in your domestic market, so don’t forget that fact and do not spread too thin. If you’re happy with your current domain state, research to determine the best countries to expand into.