Any good marketer knows that an effective SEO strategy will increase website traffic. But what is the best way to target country-specific website traffic?

Whether you choose to create localized SEO content or simply translate your website, it’s imperative to start with an international SEO strategy.

And like ALL good strategies, it starts with the consumer you are selling to.

Take a quick glance at the 6 steps you should follow to shape your international marketing strategy to target a specific country for your foreign market entry:

  1. Identify Your Target Audience
  2. Do Country-Specific SEO Research
  3. Set Up Website for Multilingual SEO
  4. Choose the Right Types of Media for Your Marketing Strategy
  5. Select the Best Social Platforms to Reach Your Audience
  6. Find an International SEO Consultant You Can Trust

Here’s a snapshot of all the steps below, courtesy of our Colibri marketing team!

guide to international seo strategy

The main takeaway of an international SEO strategy is that your new target audience will be different from your domestic audience, so you will have to take special consideration when targeting a specific country.

Now, let’s get into how to create an international SEO strategy so you can target the people from the country you want to expand to.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

First, you need to figure out your target audience.

It’s a common misconception that all markets of a country or region are made equally when in reality they can differ drastically.

For instance, the Colombian market differs vastly from the Mexican and Argentine markets even though they speak the same language. If we zoom in closer to one country even, we will notice differences in taste, values, and preferences. 

Now we’re not suggesting you re-write your website for each unique Spanish-speaking market you’re in, or that it would even make financial sense. But you should get a professional translation native from the country you are expanding to so that you can check if the copy is relevant to the culture.

When it comes to social media, you will have to tweak the copy on your FB ads or social strategies for your target audiences so you can drive tangible results.

Beyond the dialects and languages, SEO will vary between the countries you choose to market to. (More on that in Step 2!)

To determine your target audience, answer the following questions:

  • What country are you trying to enter? 
  • What language or dialects do they speak? 
  • What are the demographics? 
  • What are consumer tendencies, behaviors, and shopping habits?
  • What topics will you have to strategically stray away from or latch on to in your digital media?

The different interests of highly diverse demographics require vastly different marketing tactics. If you don’t find what makes your audience tick, or where exactly they are, then your expansion won’t stick.

Let’s look at an example of a company who got their target audience right:

International SEO Strategy Case Study: Puma’s Target Audience

Here’s a case study of a successful campaign that researched their target audience and tailored an advertisement specifically for those consumers.

Puma’s campaign in Latin America during the 2014 FIFA World Cup was phenomenal.

They took into consideration the almost 70-year-old rivalry between Uruguay and Brazil in their campaign. 

Since PUMA was the official sponsor for the Uruguayan team, they decided to make an ad teasing the Brazilians on their 1950 World Cup loss to Uruguay. 

As a result of their international marketing, PUMA’s apparel sales increased by 12.8%.

Ideas like these show how some insight into the culture and history of a country can take you a long way when trying to influence a market.

Now, let’s look at step 2 to find out more tangible steps to target country-specific website traffic.

2. Do Country-Specific SEO Research

While doing SEO research for international markets requires hard work, dedication, and some know-how, it can be done.

When looking into SEO of other countries, first, look at the current international traffic that visits your site (preferably the traffic from your targeted countries). 

  1. Go into your Google Analytics account
  2. Click on Audience
  3. Then click Geo
  4. Then click Location

With this information, you can see what keywords you are/are not ranking for.

Next, find other websites that are getting visibility in your international target markets and take note of the competition.

Check to see how they position themselves through their content. Look for the keywords they are trying to rank for sprinkled throughout their media and start hatching up your website traffic penetration plan.

International SEO Tools

Use tools like Google Webmaster Tools, SearchMetrics or SEMRush to find opportunities to figure out search intent with high volume that matches your service for your target audience.

In addition, look up international keywords that will work for the country you want to target. Websites like Ahrefs, KeywordTool, Google Planner, Baidu and Yandex should do the job. The best tools to use will depend on your market!

Since you know what keywords your competition doesn’t rank for, you can use those keywords to start building up a presence.

Pro Marketing Tip: Search keywords with a native of the region or a bilingual speaker to replicate how someone from that country would actually search for something on Google. In other words, go beyond isolated keywords to queries to really understand their local search intent. 

This way, you can find the best topics to attract your prospective clients and start crafting your digital content so you can meet them online!

Localization in Your International SEO Strategy

Once you have organized a list of keywords and topics, you want to identify the correct queries that match your product or service with your prospective consumer’s search intent.

This will vary across regions, industries, and even demographics in a country.

For example, if you sell shampoo and are writing an article about “how to get beautiful hair” for the Brazilian market, you might pop it in Google translate and find this Portuguese translation:

seo strategy translation screenshot

Note the verb obter, meaning obtain. However, if you cross-check this with a quick Google search, you’ll see that the verb isn’t used at all. 

seo strategy translation-explained-screenshot

Instead, the rich Google results produce videos with verbs like ter (to have), deixar (to leave), and conseguir (to get).

But let’s take it a STEP FURTHER and go down to the organic results.

seo strategy search results screenshot

In these top 4 search results, there are 4 different verbs to say the same thing. 

In the first result, we see our target word obter, but notice the URL: .pt (Portugal) while the other results are targeted at the .br audience (Brazil).

That’s because obter (obtain) is formal Portuguese (just like it is formal English) and would be used more commonly in Portugal. If you know about the culture of doing business in Brazil, where the language is more laid back and the grammar much more relaxed, then you would know that this sounds overly formal for some light reading. 

The catch? 

How you shape your digital content will depend entirely on your target audience(s) and your product!

For instance, if you were to switch your product in the same country and find yourself in the B2B world selling a software management tool, your content would change dramatically.

How, you ask?

Well for one, your target audience might be using words in English to find this type of product even though the country you are targeting doesn’t use English as a native language. Do you see where this can get tricky!?

Bottom line is that the accuracy of localization is crucial in creating an effective international SEO strategy to drive country-specific website traffic. We recommend speaking to an international SEO consultant to get this right!

3. Set Up Website for Multilingual SEO

You want to make sure that your website tells search engines all the information they need about what market or country you are targeting.

From domain names to the kinds of backlinks you should acquire, there is so much to consider when driving international traffic to your website.

One of the hottest debate is whether you should buy country-specific domains or not when entering a new market. The answer to this question is a hard and resounding: “It depends.”

I know it’s not an answer you like to hear but this one requires some more strategic thinking. Talk to one of our international SEO consultants to figure out which route would work best for your business.

Other international SEO considerations you should look over to include in your international SEO strategy include:

  • Google Places
  • Google Trends
  • Web Hosting Server Location
  • Country-Specific Backlinks
  • Country Name in Website
  • Website Submission to Directories

Not all of these will be necessary to consider depending on what your goals are in your new market.

4. Choose the Right Types of Media for Your Marketing Strategy

Toying between the cost-benefit analyses for video vs. graphics vs. photos can be challenging, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the preferences of all your different audiences.

Lucky for us marketers, numbers don’t lie. You can look at different regions and find which content does better among your potential new market(s).

Videos

For example, video is unsurprisingly king in the Americas. Latin American consumers, in particular, engage at a much higher rate with video than other demographics around the world.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s as effective (aka worth the investment) in every country. 

Blogs

Organic blog traffic is great for building yourself up as an authority on a topic. Once you do that, you’ll have a valuable site that more than pays for itself over time. While increasing blog traffic takes time, it is the cost of creating a valuable resource hub that will reap more benefits in the long run. 

The lifespan of a good article can be 2 years or more (as long as it is updated from time to time with fresh links and updated info). This lifespan is why organic blog traffic is worth it in the long run.

Now, let’s pause briefly to review some examples of companies that studied the local market and those who didn’t when crafting their international marketing strategies.

International Marketing Fails & Successes

In 1995, Walmart entered the Brazilian market. In 2018, Walmart sold 80% of its stake in Brazil.

internatinal marketing fails

The reason for this failure?

Walmart didn’t research the Brazilian market and its shopping habits.

Brazilians are very attracted to timely promotional deals. Because Walmart consistently had everyday low prices as a part of their business model, Brazilians didn’t see the value in the prices. 

They actively look for the best deals by shopping at different stores. While Walmart’s style of shopping works in Mexico and Chile, a lack of market research resulted in them losing roughly $4.5 billion.

On the opposite end, when Coca-Cola wanted to market to Chileans and Argentinians, they did their research first.

They found a survey that showed that Chileans and Argentinians care a lot about eco-friendly and low-calorie products.

So Coca-Cola went and did their thing.

seo strategy-coca-cola-life-bottles

It was called Coca-Cola Life. The beverage contained a mix of stevia, a natural extract from an indigenous Latin American leaf, and sugar, all while boasting a 60% reduction in calories. The Coke Life bottles were 100% recyclable and made of up to 30% plant materials.

Massive success! By May 2014, they had gained more than 35,000 Twitter followers for the campaign.

5. Select the Best Social Platforms to Reach Your Audience

Different countries have different types of social platforms they prefer to hang out on. When deciding to target country-specific website traffic, your social media presence will play a role in your online marketing results.

Search engines will connect the dots where you are establishing yourself when it comes to social media platforms. So check if you need to market on Wechat or Tumblr and get to socializing!

For example, Facebook in Latin America is huge, and it has more users than Instagram. If you want to increase your visibility, Facebook is the way to go.  If you want to target young adults, Instagram is a more popular platform. 

Also, Ads on Facebook and Instagram are better if your aim is to target a specific audience in a precise market quickly. But be aware that in some countries you might have more restrictions compared to other places with your features.

More than anything, you should do in-depth research on your target audience to better understand their social media habits. 

Match Your Media to Your Consumers

Here’s an example of how to utilize the right media and cultural references for your target audience.

If you’re trying to target Latin Americans you will focus your attention on Whatsapp and Facebook. Social media marketing in Latin America is huge and those two platforms rake in the largest numbers.

It makes less sense to focus on LinkedIn or Tumblr which are only used 4% of the time collectively.

And what about influencer marketing? 

Just like how celebrities change from country to country, so do influencers. 

Knowing who is trending in which country can portray you as a company that is in the know and takes their job and audience seriously. 

For example, you wouldn’t talk about Yuya, a popular Mexican beauty vlogger with almost 24 million subscribers, when marketing to Brazil. 

Why?

For starters, Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish, and they are more likely to relate to influencers from their country, like Flavia Calina or Whindersson Nunez.

6. Find an International SEO Consultant You Can Trust

The wrong strategy can compromise your transition into any foreign market. An error when adapting your product or marketing your service in a new country will tell your audience you don’t know anything about them.

Make sure to find high-quality international SEO consultants or new market strategists you can trust to help you avoid making mistakes when entering a new market.

Target New Countries to Reach New Markets! 

By following these steps and sticking to a strategy, you can begin to conquer the world, one country at a time. 

For help with creating your international SEO strategy so you can target country specific website traffic, message our SEO specialists at hola@colibricontent.com.


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