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International Marketing and SEO:
A Dynamic Duo

There are 192 regional Google search engines in the world, which means if you’re selling on a global scale, you need to tailor your marketing to suit particular countries or regions. Otherwise, you risk alienating your target audience, and you may end up losing out on business.

While it can sound like quite a tall order to do international marketing, it is possible and will give you a fantastic return on investment (ROI). By understanding the key elements of international marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), you can come up with a strategy that not only attracts the local market, but also the global one.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of doing both.

What Is SEO?

Before we tackle international marketing, it may be beneficial to understand SEO first. Search engine optimization is where you use popular keywords on your website, both in the front and the back end.

Basically, you place yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about what they’d type into Google to find your services, and those are most likely the keywords you should use.

Of course, there are ways to confirm whether or not these keywords are popular, such as keyword research tools (many of which are free).

By utilizing best practices for these keywords, you can send your website soaring on search engine results pages (SERPs). Users rarely look past the first page, and even there, they typically only consider the first 5 results or so. So if you’re not ranking in the top results, then you’re probably not even visible to your target audience.

This is why it’s vital you diligently practice SEO, especially when it comes to expanding from a local to a worldwide market.

What Is International Marketing?

International marketing is very similar to geotargeting. This is the practice of tailoring your marketing to suit different target audiences, based on where they’re located. For example, if you’re selling beach umbrellas, you’d make different references regarding a Californian customer vs a Floridian one.

In the case of international marketing, you’re pulling back your lens and targeting both local (such as California) and international (such as Spain) markets. As you can guess, the marketing approach for each will be very different, which means you can’t just use a scattergun technique on both. If you do so, you risk alienating both markets, which is detrimental to your business.

The Importance of International SEO

Remember how we said you need to do your research and find out the popular keywords your target audience searches?

These are almost guaranteed to be different when it comes to an international audience, especially when it comes to local slang and nuances in language. If you ignore this, search engines won’t be able to tell which countries or regions you want to target, which may cause your campaign to either fail or be very ineffective.

To be successful in using international SEO, you need to carefully tailor each part of your SEO strategy so you can rank highly in SERPs, no matter where in the world your prospects are searching the internet. To do this, you need to consider the factors that set international SEO apart from local.

Factors That Set International SEO Apart From Local SEO

So you’ve decided to do international SEO because you feel you have a chance in the global market. You can’t just jump in feet first without any guidance or direction, as your marketing spend may be hugely wasted with barely any ROI.

Once again, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. Otherwise, you’ll miss your mark and end up not engaging with them in the way you want.


One of the most obvious differences will be language. Sure, you can always throw your text into Google Translate, but it’s guaranteed to come out garbled and awkward.

Even if you have an inkling of how the text should be translated, chances are, you’re not a native speaker. It’ll be evident in your translation, as there are nuances to language that only native speakers are aware of.

In addition, there may be a variety of different dialects within a country or region. What may seem like a decent translation in one region may be terrible just one town over.

With international SEO, you need to be mindful of the subtleties of each language and dialect, and form your marketing strategy around that. For instance, if you’re planning on marketing to China, there are anywhere between 7 to 10 main language groups, plus subdialects within these groups. With so many variances, you must be conscious of these differences and make sure you get it right in every area.

In some regions, you’ll also have to consider the literacy rate. It’s a sad fact, but in some countries, very few people can read, even at an elementary school level. In this case, you’ll have to ensure that the text on your website isn’t too complicated and that you use plenty of visuals to connect with your audience.

Cultural Differences

When it comes to copywriting, you can’t just solely draw in customers by writing in their language. Take the US and the UK for example; these two countries speak the same language, but there are massive cultural differences between the two.

For instance, Americans tend to be more open and “loud,” while the British tend to be more reserved and “quiet.” Believe it or not, this can be reflected in writing! So if you’re originally writing in English for an American audience, you still have to tweak it before targeting other English-speaking audiences, as their cultural differences will affect how they perceive text.

Usage of Different Search Engines

If you live in any Western country, then you may think that Google is the king of search engines. And you wouldn’t be wrong.

However, there’s some hot competition in other countries; some even completely dominate Google! For example, Baidu has an 82% market share in China, while Google only has 0.61%.

There’s also the search engine called Yandex, which is a Russian search engine. And within Western countries, many people favor Bing as an alternative.

As you can see, there’s not just Google that you should be optimizing for. Each search engine has its own criteria and algorithms for ranking websites, so you need to be prepared to alter your strategies to fit each one for the best results.

So if you’re planning on marketing to customers in the United States and China, you’ll have to alter your SEO strategies for each market, as you’ll rank differently on Google (or Bing) as opposed to Baidu.

Age and Demographics

You may have an inkling of how to personalize your content for audiences of different age groups and demographics. But will this hold up in other regions or countries? Probably not.

For instance, if your product is tech that spans across all age groups in the US, it may not be the same in say, a third-world country. There, you’d have a much lower chance of appealing to higher age groups. This is because the literacy rates aren’t as high and there’s less disposable income to spend on technology that’s seen as a luxury, not a necessity.

Or maybe you have a product that’s for mothers, and your target demographic in Western countries is women in their late 20s or early 30s. But this demographic may not necessarily be the same in South Africa, where most women have their first babies around the age of 22.

Hit Your Target Audiences More Effectively With International SEO

A single marketing strategy may work for you on a local scale, maybe even a national one if you’re lucky. But when it comes to worldwide expansion, it just simply won’t suffice. With so many different factors at play, you need to customize your approach in each market to ensure you’re making a connection with your target audiences.

International marketing and SEO may seem like a humongous task to take on, but by taking the time to do it right, you’ll quickly see an increase in web traffic and leads. Without a clear strategy, it’s likely you’re setting yourself up for failure when you decide to expand to the global market.

So make sure your company is successful by keeping all this information in mind about international SEO and cater to your global market by honing in on a local scale.

Would you like some assistance with our international marketing strategy? Then schedule a call with us now. We’ll be more than happy to lend you a helping hand.