In a lot of ways, the landscape of search engine optimization (SEO) has changed immeasurably over the last 10 years. New technology, massive interconnectivity and better internet access around the world make SEO more relevant today than it’s ever been.
With hard work, it’s possible to climb to the top of your local and even national search rankings. But what happens when you decide to reach out overseas? Can your SEO pivot to help you dominate international markets?
Let’s take a closer look.
The State Of SEO
By this stage, it’s safe to assume most people reading this will have some familiarity with SEO. But since any article can be someone’s first, let’s dive into it briefly.
SEO is a popular practice for increasing the quality of a website so that it becomes more visible on search engines. Optimizing the content of a website in specific ways ensures that search engines pick it up and (hopefully) rank it before its competitors whenever a user searches for its content. So, for example, a local computer repair website might come up on the first page of Google when nearby users search for “computer repair” because this site is more relevant.
It’s understood that the United States is extremely competitive when it comes to keyword rankings. With other major countries like India, China, Russia and the U.K., the competition doesn’t let up. It’s up to you, as a content creator, to be aware of how many people in those countries are pursuing the same keywords. If you can secure U.S. keywords with global appeal, you can more easily secure those terms on the foreign markets.
But what does it actually take to rank a website in the U.S. in 2020?
Boosting Your SEO In The U.S.
When it comes to ranking a website, America has become one of the most competitive environments in the world over the last decade. The U.S. has more optimizers, more industries and more widespread access to technology than many other countries, which is great for SEO but also a challenge.
When everyone is fighting for the same market, you can’t afford to forget the small things. Comprehensive SEO work includes some combination of the following:
• A well-structured website.
• Mobile-friendly design.
• No long load times.
• Authentic, niche content.
• Proper internal linking. This includes on-page optimization, page titles and meta tags, which must be optimized to include the keywords you are targeting.
• Geolocation tags anytime local areas are targeted. It’s important for Google to physically know where your business is.
• Authority links. As mentioned, you’ll want to handle this before going international, but linking to websites in the countries you will be moving to will lend your site a lot of authority.
• Analyzing competitors’ backlinks for opportunities to take the lead. Figuring out exactly where the big players in your industry get their links from gives you the exact lead you need to approach those platforms on your own terms. Especially if you can start with a higher page authority, you can rapidly outrank your competitors with backlinks from their exact same sources.
• Using long-tail key phrases instead of shorter, more competitive keywords.
In terms of ranking from within the U.S., use the above tactics to rank your business both nationally and locally. The aim is to increase your domain authority and page authority to 30+.
Retargeting Your SEO To Foreign Markets
In the digital marketing industry, international countries tend not to be as saturated as the U.S. This is why it’s so important to set your SEO up in the U.S. before moving on to try for the overseas market.
Once you’re ready with a comprehensive digital presence, it’s time to create a service page for the area you’re going to be targeting. Branching out into a South American country? Trying to take the market in Brussels, Perth or even London? The first step is to create a page on your site, which hopefully already has a high ranking, so search engines can make a connection between your brand and the country you’re targeting.
Coming from a position of power is important to this style of ranking. Once your site has ranked in the U.S., it becomes exponentially easier to pivot to those keywords overseas. The exact key phrases you’ve ranked for in the States may have almost no matching searches in many other countries. This is case specific, so research is important, but it can inform your methodology if you keep it in mind.
You’ll want to use a tool like SEMrush to check for the word’s average monthly searches. If these numbers come in under a million, ranking for that word should be relatively easy.
The Secret Sauce
Ultimately, the best tip for ranking your website anywhere in the world is simple. Create great content, always and forever, and you will be more likely to bring in traffic. Now, the trick is to be able to point that content at the international market when the time is right.
Don’t bother with shortcuts. While there used to be many ways to “trick” search engines into giving you better rankings, Google has developed the ability to differentiate between “good” and “bad” content, and it will not hesitate to penalize you.
Don’t try to game the system. Put that effort into creating great content, and the results will speak for themselves. The secret here is to follow these guidelines:
• Increase how many relevant internal and outbound links you use.
• Divide up your content to make it easier to read.
• Make sure to integrate high-quality images relevant to your article.
• Balance out your keyword usage. Never overuse keywords; make sure to up their usage in longer articles.
Leveraging your SEO to perform better overseas starts with perfecting it at home. Coming from a position of power, targeting specific countries and creating quality content are all great ways to get the international edge.