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ISEO: 4 Steps to Reach Foreign Markets with an International Website

December 15, 2010 By Liz Elting
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In this age of global business, engaging only one nation’s consumer base is a sure way to plateau revenue and growth. Customizing your website to suit the linguistic needs of each international market can result in significantly increased Web traffic, as well as increased revenue per order and improved international brand recognition.

However, merely translating a U.S.-based website into another language isn't enough to take advantage of the potential in foreign markets. Tapping revenue streams from across the world requires a combination of website localization and International Search Engine Optimization (ISEO). ISEO is a key ingredient to success, and it’s attainable for any company willing to embrace four important guidelines.

1. Use ISEO as a Web Foundation
Though companies might be tempted to start with website development first and optimize later to keep initial costs down, there is little value in developing a website that is not optimized for ISEO. Instead, use optimization best practices to guide your company’s entire content development and site-architecture strategy. Today’s search algorithms place a great deal of emphasis on how quickly a page loads in a particular market, how many other reputable sites in the market and industry link to it, and the extent to which the content addresses what a user is seeking. It is important that you build your sites with this in mind:

  • Free your code from unnecessary information that will delay page load times;
  • Build proper alt image tags and anchor text;
  • Create links with reputable in-market sites; and
  • Develop content relevant to your target audience.

Only when optimization and design are done in conjunction can a business clearly answer the question, “Have we created a site that will attract customers and appear prominently in search results?”

2. Choose Your Words Wisely
Copy optimization and proper keyword selection should be priorities for companies moving into foreign markets. It is vital in website localization projects to validate keyword choices before going live in other languages. Adapting communications for other cultures must be handled carefully by people who understand the nuances of word choice and connotation in any given language. Step one is to make sure the linguist tasked with the job is a native speaker in the area you are targeting.

Ask that professional to put himself in the position of the user. What would he search for to find what he’s looking for? For example, if you are trying to sell desk chairs in China, the linguist should imagine that he is a company looking to buy chairs. What would he search on to do this? It can be a taxing process, but settling for anything less puts the effectiveness of international campaigns and SEO at risk.

 

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