Gemma Houghton

Want International SEO Success? Then Understand Your Audience

International SEO will be a key topic at the upcoming International Search Summit on 24th November, where delegates will be guided through the challenges of marketing to a global audience by  international marketing specialists who have been there, done it – and survived!

Annabel Hodges, aka @searchpanda, will be speaking on the international SEO panel, where she and her OMD colleague Martin MacDonald, will share strategies, tips and techniques for successfully optimising multilingual websites. We chatted to Annabel ahead of the Summit.

What are the common mistakes you see organisations making in global search campaigns? How can they be avoided?
The most common mistakes are I think still the simplest and most obvious. E.g. assuming that because two countries speak the same language, they must be similar in culture. France and French Quebec are worlds apart! Despite this, people continue to treat countries of the same language in a similar manner.  How to avoid this? Well I’m repeating myself in another of your questions here but I genuinely do think it still boils down to the most simply (yet often ignored) steps of international search. Understanding your audience. Do the research, learn the culture, get experts on board.

How can organisations achieve scale in international SEO to improve cost and time efficiency?
Working for a company like OMD, our life is made very easy as there are so many international colleagues in so many countries available to reach out to. I would say that one new country-targeted site done well is better than 100 international sites rolled out with no strategy. Both from a branding perspective and an ROI one. Poorly translated sites are far less likely to convert!

Don’t do everything yourself, look for commercial partners that understand your target market. This doesn’t have to be a huge investment or an entire company, even having one local member of staff can have huge impact. It may seem like a waste of money but the benefits should outweigh the cost.

What role, if any, do you think social plays in international seo?
I think social is big now and will be huge for the foreseeable future . Facebook has taken over the world but that’s not to say that other smaller social sites like Ameba in Japan or Tuenti in Spain should be forgotten.
More importantly, the world’s population is growing increasingly used to being social. No matter their choice of platform – ideas like infographics and creating digital content in general can be easily (and cheaply) used in a  global manner. Much more so than traditional media.

What is the biggest challenge facing international search marketers in 2011?
I don’t think the biggest challenges for international search are really any different to those faced by SEOs in the English language. Crucial over the next few months will be adapting to changes on the search landscape – from recent changes to GA tracking to increasingly frequent and impactful algorithmic changes such as Panda. It’s not the language that is important here, it is the wider strategy and understanding.

If you could give marketers working on global campaigns just one tip, what would it be?
It’s been said a thousand times before but: “Understand your audience”!
I’ve seen and heard too many stories of companies pushing forward into new counties without stopping to consider cultural/language differences or even simply tax/finance rules – and being hit hard.

Finally, why attend the International Search Summit?
ISS allows marketers from around the world to indulge in their more niche search concerns . Although the wider strategies are applicable to all, I think it is both helpful and reassuring to be able to hear and discuss specifics that relate to building up an international business. Personally I’ve always found real case studies to be really interesting and inspiring, particularly when dealing with international expansion and succeeding in search.

Find out more about the International Search Summit and Register at the best rates

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.

One Response to Want International SEO Success? Then Understand Your Audience

  1. ralfjritter says:

    “Understand Your Audience” truly is and always will be the key to any kind of marketing success. Remarkable article!

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