Gemma Houghton

New International SEO Challenges – But Help From Google Is At Hand

Geo-targeting is a common problem for organizations with an international website, who are targeting multiple languages and regions around the world. Making sure the right user sees the right content at the right time is the goal – but achieving that is not always easy. How do you ensure that all your UK customers aren’t seeing prices in dollars or that your Spanish users aren’t seeing product pages that are only available in Peru?

Well Google has recognised these challenges and has adapted the way website owners can signal the intended recipients of web content. It may appear confusing at first – it did for me at least – and does need careful implementation but Google is offering a helping hand to marketers struggling with geo-targeting and duplication issues.

There are several excellent explanations of what has changed and how it can be implemented on SearchEngineLand and SearchEngineWatch so I won’t replicate that here, but there are two scenarios where this new markup will apply:

  • Websites targeting multiple regions with very similar content in the same language (e.g. the US, the UK and Australia in English)
  • Websites that have fully translated content, targeting multiple markets (e.g. German, French and Spanish pages)

This change is mainly applicable to international websites hosted on dotcoms, with subdomains for each market rather than those on local domains, which clearly target a specific market. While local domains provide clear signal to both search engines and users that the site is locally relevant, and therefore, are is still a recommended strategy, Google’s changes will improve the targeting for dotcoms.

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Müller will be speaking at the International Search Summit at SMX Munich, where he will be discussing how to implement the rel=”alternate” hreflang markup and sharing examples of when to use it, as well as answering delegate questions.

The International Search Summit will be held on Thursday 29th March, as part of SMX Munich. It focuses entirely on international and multilingual search and social marketing and sessions will include International Link Building, International PPC Case Study, Global Social Media, and Yandex. Check out the full agenda and registration details.

Gemma Houghton

Gemma Houghton

Marketing Manager at Webcertain
Gemma has been working in international search for 6 years and leads Webcertain's marketing team. As well as managing Webcertain’s global online and offline marketing activities, she also organises and programs WebCertain's International Search Summit, a search marketing conference focusing on international and multilingual online marketing and contributes regularly to the Webcertain blog. She has also spoken at conferences such as SES and SasCon and writes regularly for State of Digital. Gemma holds a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a BA Joint Honors Degree in French and German.

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