International SEO: Part One – Domains

This is a series of articles about the international SEO, in which we will consider the main factors of successful promotion to the international market.

In this part we will talk about total diversification and its advantages. This method is one of the most expensive, but at the same time the most effective.

We all know that the better the site is ranked by the search engine, the more organic traffic will come on it. If you would go deep into ranking factors, you can write a whole book and, to be honest, we are not in-depth experts in SEO optimization, we are experts in translations and will tell you how to improve your ranking positions and attract audiences from around the world.

For each country, their own domain zones are distributed. Domain zone is your Top-level domain (TDL) – the letters following the dot after the name of your site. For example, for Holland – NL (Netherlands), for Australia – UA, for Russia – RU, etc. It’s no secret that for the relevance of information for the user, the search engine in the first order shows those sites whose domain zone corresponds to the country where the user is located. Then, if possible, prioritization goes even more locally – region, state, city, and so on. It is very important to consider what kind of goods you sell or what kind of service you provide. For example, on request narrowing the search – “buy food” – and geographically related to the nearest user location with 100% probability will show the list of sites whose locations are closer to him. On request “buy sneakers” picture is already slightly changed, on request “promotion online” even more, etc. That is why, by providing services that do not restrict you territorially, you can and should enter the global market.

Your Country’s Domain vs. Domain of the Target Country

If your website is rapidly gaining momentum and you are thinking about globalization, do not rush. First of all, make sure that in your own market you have reached the top. There are cases when internal competition is so great that it is more profitable to invest in development in foreign markets. Whether it so or not you should carefully check and consult with several independent SEO experts.

Nevertheless if the choice has fallen on external development, you will face an interesting question: to buy a new domain name and create a new site or conquer foreign territories with the existing one. By the way, many people do not even think about it, just because they do not know. However, the more advantageous option is certainly to purchase the corresponding domain name. It is always more expensive, but justifies the investment, if you take the right steps. Whatever reputation your website has had on your market, on the foreign one you will prove to be a beginner and privileges are not shifted here. Your name can help you, if it is widely known, but it is a little far from our topic.

The good news is that it’s not necessary to create the whole site from scratch and to plunge into exhausting work from the very beginning.

First, you need to find out whether your domain name is already taken by someone else in the zone you are targeting. If not, you are lucky. All you need is to buy this domain. For example, at home you are “globalization.com”, in Holland – “globalization.nl”, in Australia – “globalization.ua” and so on. Next is the case for the translation. If the language of the user defined as the target country language (even if the user is not there) he will be shown that one of you websites that has its language.

An alternative is a subdomain. For example, “netherlands.globalization.com”, “australia.globalization.com”. With its help you will get small pluses, for example, you can place your site on the local server, what will add relevancy to the search engine for your site. However, the advantages of the unique domain zone, specific to a particular country, will always be more important. In addition, the address of the site with the subdomain looks very cumbersome, difficult to remember and type.

To clarify this moment we sort the advantages of different strategies for attracting a foreign audience from the best one to the worse one:

  • A separate domain with the appropriate domain zone for each country (unique content for each site in the language of that country)
  • A separate domain with the corresponding domain zone for each country (translated content of your main site in the language of that country)
  • Subdomain (translated content for each country)
  • Domain of your country (translated content for each individual language)
  • New domain (the language of the country in question)

Regarding the last two points there is a small but: you need to be object and assess how much your site is popular in the domestic market and take into account the features of the external one, on which you are targeting. In China, for example, their own search engine owns almost 80% of the market, in Russia about 65% are loyal to Yandex. No matter how good your site is for users in your country, in China, for obvious reasons, you will not succeed at once. On the contrary if Google keeps the trend in the target country, then it’s worth fighting. Here the important point is that in different countries there is a large percentage of bilingual population and they prefer to read all the content in their native language.

To sum up, it should be said that it is always right to consider several factors and make an in-depth study, at least independently. If you have available resources to apply to a marketing research agency that can roughly estimate the potential success of your product, brand and site on the target market, this will be a big plus. However, the amount spent on this additional research can be invested in development itself in this or that foreign market, if you make the initial research by your own employees.

It would be a mistake to assert that your success in the external market entirely depends on choice of a domain name and a zone, but choosing the wrong path can delay the result for up to a year. Here you should ask yourself the question of whether you can find the investments to wait for the return for so long.

In the next article we will consider the importance of creating the right backlink profile for your site, as well as the features of its building in different countries.

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