Andy Atkins-Kruger

"Dear Gordon Brown and Barack Obama…You Both Need International SEO!"

Hurrah, the UK economy is out of recession. Boo, the UK economy is recovering so weakly from the global recession that it may be some time before things truly start to get better. Conclusion? Many experts say that Britain – and the US – really have to do better in export terms in order for the recovery to gain strength. No surprise there – but one step the UK and US economies could take, bearing in mind that they are both supporters of the digital world, is to support the world of online marketing to help generate more exports.

Of course, governmental organisations both sides of the Atlantic are working hard to promote exports – I’ve personally spoken to and advised many of them. However, some support – and promotion of – international SEO is required with some urgency. I, therefore, felt a letter to Gordon Brown and Barack Obama would be just the ticket to highlight the need. Here’s my letter:

Dear Barack and Gordon,

The global economic crisis – the worst since the second world war – places us all in exceptional times calling for exceptional steps. Both of you have said so in recent days. Clearly, growth in the US and UK economies is now, more than ever, linked to success in export markets. Both nations are great exporters – but sometimes the way that we, the British and the Americans, communicate with our potential customers in other markets can be rather ‘clumsy’. Let’s be honest, both nations are not particularly gifted at working in languages other than English.

Both of you are also well aware of the impact of digital marketing on present day business life – Barack you have used this tool very effectively to promote yourself during the presidential election. You are also aware of the growth of the use of the internet in corners of the world in the so-called BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – all of them economies which are performing relatively well despite the global economy.

Global Internet Economy Grows

The success of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex and Baidu is enabling internet-connected people to look well beyond the borders of their own nations to buy products and services or to compare other nations products and services and then to develop their own and compete. This easy access to the global village means there is an imperative to move forwards quickly with the development of the British and American approach to globalisation because the competition is actually growing every day.

Given that this threat is also an opportunity – there is no real option. British and American goods and services have to be marketed online and we have to act now to deliver the necessary economic growth. It is not acceptable for Governments to say, “If you’re having a hard time at home, you’d better export.” Although both governments do have very professional export support organisations, they cannot be expected to change the way they do things without either neglecting a service they already deliver today or falling behind the pace of other nations.

It Is ‘English’ That Puts Us At Risk

The English language is the US and UK’s big advantage in that everyone translates their website into English so if you’re English-speaking you can navigate around much of the internet-world and source products and services all over. In other words, English-speakers make good BUYERS. But that’s the rub! “If you want me to buy, speak my language!”. The big benefit of the English-language puts the UK and US at risk when it comes to export and to reaching the wider global market.

SEO or search engine optimisation – is a very effective and relatively low cost way for businesses to reach out to customers and, by localising and adapting websites effectively, this can enable businesses of every size from the smallest to the very largest to expand their export markets. Both the American and UK Governments should invest some of their export and trade subsidies specifically into ‘international seo’ or website localisation. This action would inevitably promote products and services very quickly.

Avoid The Risk-Averse Reaction

Promoting international SEO and website localisation would also help to counteract the risk averse reaction which potential new exporters have towards looking for new markets. Businesses in difficult tend to revert to their comfort zone and take fewer risks. This can be commercial suicide if your ‘comfort zone’ happens to be a part of the economy which is not doing well. It would also be relatively simple for government bodies to monitor the outcomes potentially even looking at international traffic generated to the websites.

I do need to declare a personal interest: my company delivers international SEO services and I would stand to gain from this. Nonetheless, my view that adopting a more aggressive national stance to use web site marketing and international SEO still stands. Britain and America need to expand their markets overseas in the most dynamic way possible. This is it.

regards, Andy

Andy Atkins-Kruger
Andy is the CEO of Webcertain. He is a trained linguist with 20 years experience in international marketing, having helped major brand leaders with their advertising and public relations projects on five continents. Webcertain has been operating multilingual search marketing campaigns for over 15 years and is one of few agencies which only deal with international campaigns; the company doesn't deal in single market projects. Andy speaks regularly at conferences around the world, writes for the Multinational Search column of SearchEngineLand.com and is the Managing Editor of the Multilingual Search blog.

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