1.Key Takeaways:

International SEO has become the most profitable marketing action to gain traction in foreign markets. Defining the target audience on each particular market and delivering the right experience for the multiple search personas within each market is crucial to successfully expand your website presence in various countries and languages.

2.What is International SEO?

International SEO is the development of a global SEO strategy with a local approach to successfully increase business visibility on destination search engine results. This means making your business visible across the different countries and languages variations search engines like Google have, for search queries your potential customers use to express their need for a solution to a problem which your products and services can solve.

3.How is International SEO implemented? Required steps.

Step 1. Market Research

The first required step to successfully craft a plan that brings return is research. You need to analyse the different markets you have initially selected as potential targets and define individual goals for each.

Once you have chosen a number of countries to start with, it’s advisable to first analyse how users search for your products, services or problems these can help with, on each of those markets, and define if there is a potential demand that justifies the investment.

Check Current Visibility

It’s important to start checking international markets’ current visibility using data from tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. The Audience section within Google Analytics contains essential data about the location of your visitors and their behaviour. Within the GEO tabs we will find information about users’ language and location, together with some performance data such as traffic and conversions tied to those users, that you can use to gather information about the current situation regarding international SEO traffic.

Geo Tab in Google Analytics
Geo Tab in Google Analytics
checking the current visibility on international markets
Current Traffic from International Markets

Google Search Console is another key source of information about your current international visibility status. The Performance section within this suit allows you to find information about countries where your business is visible and which search queries generate this visibility. From the initial report, you just need to click on the country of your choice and then check the search queries triggered by your website on this country.

Search Console data about international markets
Search Console data about International Markets
Search Queries for Chosen Country
Search Queries for Chosen Country

This will give you an initial insight about the live situation regarding international visibility on search, however, in order to complete this information, we need to analyse each particular market and see if there is enough potential demand for our products and services, and for that, we need to conduct keyword research on each market and see the trend for our key terms to discover the best opportunities.

Defining Search Persona

Translating our buying persona into a search persona will help us understand how they use search to find answers. To do this, we need to look at the buying persona or personas defined in our marketing plan and think about how they possibly use search to find solutions. What is their role, what duties do they have, and what problems do they usually find which our products or services can help to fix?

Answering these questions will take us to the next step, keyword research for our destination markets.

Keyword Research on potential markets

For this purpose, tools like Ubersuggest, aHrefs, SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner will be most useful. No matter the tool we use for our keyword research, we need to look at keywords related to our products services and also keywords relating to the problems they solve for our search personas. For example, let’s imagine we have a Fleet Management Business we want to expand to EU countries like Spain, we would need to see the keywords our clients would use to find our products

International Keyword Research Example
International Keyword Research Example

Now, we know that there is a demand for our products and services in the target market. However, you also need to search for keywords potential clients use to find solutions to problems related to this topic. This is useful to create content towards generating awareness, and crucial in markets where products and services like the ones we sell are not well known, taking users to search for problems they have instead.

Analysing frequent customer questions in Google Search
Analysing frequent customer questions in Google Search

In these cases, you may end with no keyword data for your product and services categories and will need to find data about how they search to find a solution to their problems instead. For example, suppose we sell a specific solution for remoters which is new to the market. In that case, we could research questions remoters type on Google Search to find solutions, and use People Also Ask to find alternative keywords and questions.

Finally, you can check trends about the topics tied with your products and services in the destination market using Google Trends. This tool shows both, interest over time and by region for your keywords. With all this information you should now have a clear picture of how your customers use search and the potential demand for each particular market.

Analysing trends about topics tied with your products and services
Analysing trends about topics tied with your products and services

Step 2.  Prioritising Markets and Setting Goals

With the above information, you should have all the data you need to support decisions about choosing target markets. Once you finally decide the markets to attack, you will need to prioritise such markets and define goals for each. You should ideally set goals for each market and also for the different business areas on the back of your global business goals. The table below details an example of goals defined for different markets and business areas for an ecommerce site:


TV Sets+50%
HD Cameras+75%

Having a clear picture of what you want to achieve on each market through SEO will boost your chances of success massively. These goals will lead the actions defined in your SEO strategy and the priorities for contents and links.

Step 3. Define the International Strategy (Global & Local approach)

International SEO strategies are split into three areas that support each other. Click in the sections linked below and find detailed articles with information and frequent questions about each of these topics.

Technical SEO for International Websites

Funnel Based Content Strategy for International Markets

Outreach and Link Building with International Scope

However, the International SEO strategy’s cornerstone are the different search personas we can find on each market. Therefore, the three sub-strategies (tech, content and links) need to be built on the back of their different attributes.

International SEO is complex, and with this in mind, we have created the specific sections linked above, to detail all the steps involved and the most common questions that may arise when defining these three International SEO sub-strategies.

We invite you to continue reading about SEO for multinational business, in our site you will find most of the information you need to get a better idea about how it works. However, if you have specific questions that you can’t see or resolve here, feel free to contact us using the form below or emailing our Search Director Joaquin at [email protected]

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