How To Develop Your International SEO Strategy

International SEO strategies have to be designed with the specific needs of different countries in mind. With globalization and technology advancing rapidly, these techniques are necessary for brands who want to reach audiences across borders.
The rise of automation has made it harder than ever before, but there’s still a place for human interaction when developing an international SEO strategy.,
but you will need a budget on top of your normal marketing budget if you want to get it done right.

The “international seo checklist” is a helpful tool that allows users to create an international SEO strategy. The checklist will help you create a strategy that works for your business, while also following the best practices of search engine optimization.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story that first appeared on January 20th, 2016.

Your firm has been developing steadily, and you’ve chosen to expand internationally at some time. You’ve identified your general company plan, know which nations you want to target, and who you’ll be up against in new areas. The next obvious step would be to assess your SEO potential in your target areas and consider how you could structure your digital presence.

In this how-to, we’ll teach you how to use SEMrush and other marketing tools to plan your digital internationalization. We’ll use the example of a Canadian retailer who is developing plans to create a department store chain in the Netherlands.

The approach is broken down into five steps:

  1. Calculate your potential in the nations you want to go to.

  2. Examine the competitive environment.

  3. Conduct a worldwide keyword search.

  4. Localize your company’s image.

  5. Choose the most important technological features.

Calculate your potential in the nations you want to go to.

Google Analytics and SEMrush Domain Analytics are two options.

Begin by determining your website’s international SEO potential by looking at how it ranks in your target countries (for example, the Netherlands). Go to Audience Geo Language or Location in your Google Analytics account. The number of sessions from that nation will be displayed:


Let’s look into it a little further to discover which keywords your website is ranking for in your target nations. To produce an Overview report for your domain, use SEMrush Domain Analytics.

Click ‘Search’ after entering your domain and selecting your target database.


Examine the organic search report, which displays the number of terms for which you rank in the top 100 organic search results, as well as monthly traffic predictions for your domain. You could discover that your domain isn’t rated for any keywords in your target countries. In this scenario, you may continue with the analysis by typing in the domain of your local competitor:


For a more thorough perspective, click the slice you wish to investigate on the doughnut chart in the report’s left bottom corner. It is the dark slice that symbolizes the Netherlands in our example. Here’s a list of the keywords we found:


Examine the keywords to determine whether they are applicable to your industry, as well as their search volume (1). The domain is already ranked in for several brand keywords (such as’mac lipstick’) with a high search traffic, as seen in the sample above. It implies that once the local version is published, it will almost certainly get better ranks and more visitors.

As a consequence, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you already have organic traffic from your target nations (using GA), as well as the relevance of that traffic to your objectives (with the Organic Search Positions report by SEMrush).

Examine the competitive environment.

Organic Competitors Report from SEMrush

Regardless of the worldwide potential of your website, you must understand who you are up against in the new digital market. You’ll almost certainly be familiar with your country’s most vehement rivals. This does not, however, imply that they are as effective in terms of their online presence. 

On the other side, we’ll concentrate on your organic rivals.

Run a fast study of your rivals in the places you’re targeting using SEMrush’s Organic Competitors report. Go to Organic Research Competitors under the same Domain Analytics tab. Select the appropriate language database. The following report will be sent to you:


You should pay careful attention to the bubbles above and to the right of you. They are rivals whose overall traffic surpasses yours and who rank for more keywords than you do.

Move on to examining the ideal keywords to steal from your rivals after you’ve worked out who of your competitors to look up to in terms of digital successes.

Conduct a worldwide keyword search.

SEMrush Domain vs. Domain report is the solution.

Now that you’ve identified your main rivals, it’s important to figure out which keywords they’re indexed for in your target countries and choose the best ones to employ for SEO.

Your organic rivals are listed in the table below the bubble graph:


We’ll now utilize the Domain vs. Domain tool to compare your domain to the domains of your rivals in terms of common and unique keywords. To do so, go to the list and click on the number of keywords in the “Common Keywords” column for your most significant rivals (as stated in the previous stage). You will be led to the following report: ‘Domain vs. Domain’


Change to ‘Advanced mode.’ 

Next, set your comparison parameters to ‘Unique to the first domain’s keywords,’ since we’re more interested in phrases that your competition is ranking for but you aren’t. Make sure you enter in your competitor’s domain first:


You’ll be given a list of terms that your competition, not you, is gaining traffic for. Before you start pinching any of these keywords, you should figure out which ones have a large search volume and a low difficulty level – in other words, which ones are more likely to drive visitors to your site. 

Set up sophisticated filters to do this. Include keywords with a search volume more than 500 and exclude those with a keyword difficulty level greater than 60 as a starting point. Select ‘Apply’ from the drop-down menu (1). 

Then, by clicking the box to the left of each term, you may pick the keywords you want to borrow (2) and export them to an Excel or CSV file (3):


Investigate numerous rivals in the same manner to get a large number of keywords to use in your article. Use them in product descriptions, news stories, blog posts, and other material.

There are a variety of alternative ways to locate keywords for your content. Use the SEO Keyword Magic Tool, for example, to uncover long-tail matches and similar keywords in your target language. Once your website is up and running, you can use the tool to monitor the performance of your keywords.

Localize your company’s image.

You’ve compiled a list of useful keywords, and now it’s time to start writing content in the native tongue. However, just translating the original sentences and stuffing them with keywords would not enough. What works for Sweden may or may not work for Russia. On the other hand, many sorts of material, such as technical explanations, need precision and explicitness.

Read Martin Kura’s comprehensive post ‘Web Localization Strategy: How to Localize Material Like a Marketer’ to have your ducks in a straight when it comes to translation, localization of technical sheets, banners, conditions of use, and other content. It will assist you in determining the appropriate process for each piece of content on your site.

Take into account any unique local features. When speaking to someone you don’t know, for example, you should use the polite form of ‘you’ in Germany, Italy, Spain, and many other nations. Also, bear in mind that Germans, for example, are considerably stricter than Italians when it comes to the usage of formal ‘you.’

We invited 32 experts from all over the globe (literally: from Japan to Brazil) to contribute their best practices in the article “How to Localize Your Global Brand” to assist you obtain some insights into essential details that only locals are aware of. Many important advice on how to construct a successful SEO strategy in various nations may be found there.

Choose the most important technological features.

Finally, you must manage the technical aspects of your foreign SEO. The following are the most important factors to consider:

  • Choosing a website structure that is appropriate for your business

  • Choosing a location for the server

  • Assuring that the hreflang implementation is right

Structure of the website

Define your purpose before deciding on the structure of your website: are you targeting a language or a country? Use the language targeting strategy if you want to target nations that share a common language. If you want to target a certain audience or nation, country targeting is the ideal option. Our store, for example, is focusing on the Netherlands, therefore nation targeting would be an excellent strategy.

Then, depending on your intended audience, decide on an international site structure. There’s a lot of disagreement over whether to utilize country code top-level domains, subdomains, or subfolders for better SEO results. Check out our post on How to Choose the Right International SEO Site Layout for additional information on the benefits and drawbacks of each site structure, or look at this chart:


Hosting on a local level

The location of the server has a big impact on your rankings. The slower the site, the worse the user experience. The further away the server, the slower the site, the worse the user experience. In this post, you’ll learn which web hosting package is suitable for your foreign website: Is Server Location Really Important When It Comes to International Web Hosting? Martin Kura shows why server location is crucial to search engines and examines how IKEA, Lush, and Google approached the problem.


Implementation of hreflang

When international SEO is done correctly, your users in each target country or language are sent to the appropriate country or language version of your website. Hreflang annotations are vital in this process since they are used to cross-reference pages with comparable content but distinct target audiences. Incorrect hreflang implementation may have a significant negative impact on your rankings and user experience.

The Hreflang Tags Generator Tool by Aleyda Solis may be used to rapidly and simply produce hreflang tags. After that, utilize the SEMrush International SEO report to verify and rectify any errors with hreflang tags you’ve previously set on your website.


You’ve assessed your SEO potential in your target countries, researched your competitive landscape, compiled a list of the most lucrative keywords for international SEO, and even considered the technical requirements of constructing a website with an international audience. Now go out there on the global SEO battlefield and good luck!

Once your foreign website is up and running, use the tools outlined in this SEMrush solution guide on how to execute international SEO to evaluate its performance.

Get a 7-day trial for free.

Begin to improve your web exposure.

ADS illustration

The “international keyword research” is a very important step in the process of developing an international SEO strategy. The article will discuss how to do this.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I improve my international SEO?

A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not easily found on the internet. Searching for international SEO will bring up many different answers from various websites with inconsistent information.

What is an international SEO?

A: International SEO is a term referring to search engine optimization, the process of improving how your website ranks in Googles results for specific keywords.

What are some unique considerations for international SEO?

A: The most important consideration for international SEO is that search engines are using different rules and algorithms to rank websites in their respective countries. This creates a complex web of ranking factors, which can make it difficult to take action on your website without looking at all the possible variables.

Related Tags

  • international domain strategy
  • how to create seo strategy
  • international seo semrush
  • international seo keyword research
  • international seo agency

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