Is International SEO More Important Now?

Ranking in search engines, particularly Google, is not getting any easier, but how often are you considering the search engines around the globe? Many in the industry see international SEO as only gai...
Is International SEO More Important Now?
Written by Chris Crum
  • Ranking in search engines, particularly Google, is not getting any easier, but how often are you considering the search engines around the globe? Many in the industry see international SEO as only gaining in importance.

    Do you think it’s more important for marketers to optimize for different search engines around the world than it used to be? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    A recent report from BrightEdge indicates that the majority of search marketers think that it is becoming more important for sites to rank in global search engines. According to the firm’s survey, six out of ten believe it will become either “more” or “much more” important this year, compared to last year. 36% said “more,” while 27% said “much more.”

    Global SEO

    “SEO marketers at global companies aspire to reach customers worldwide, and drive leads, revenue and traf!c through global SEO initiatives,” says BrightEdge in the report. “Looking beyond a single country also helps them demonstrate a greater ROI on marketing investments. Not only does this boost marketing ROI but also maintains global brand consistency while accommodating local nuances. A global concerted approach to SEO marketing addresses these needs.”

    Respondents were specifically asked about Chinese search giant Baidu, with 31% saying it would be much more important to rank in Baidu in 2013, and 10% saying “much more important”.

    BrightEdge - Baidu

    “With roughly 540 million internet users, 900 million mobile users and 388 million mobile internet users, China is the world’s largest internet market,” says BrightEdge. “Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, is one of the most valuable gateways to this large internet user base.”

    You can download the report in its entirety here. It deals with numerous topics, far beyond the topic of global SEO.

    Another recent report (via MarketingCharts) from Covario found that Baidu generated three times more global paid search clicks than Yahoo/Bing in Q1.

    “I no longer believe it makes sense for any company to roll out an international SEO programme to multiple countries without also having a PPC campaign in place,” writes WebCertain CEO Andy Atkins-Krüger in a post for Search Engine Land about multinational SEO. “In some cases, we would recommend leading with PPC and landing pages first, rather than full blown (and relatively expensive) international SEO.”

    He adds, “There are a number of reasons why we recommend this, but one is that user satisfaction on your site can be measured much more quickly with PPC than with SEO. Behavior really matters — so if you can study it first and quickly with PPC, your SEO efforts later will work out to be much more successful. I do worry that the association of search engine warnings with SEO being ‘bad’ are beginning to stick with people who are newer to the industry, and therefore, SEO is having a health warning attached.”

    Dave Davies has a great article on international SEO considerations at Search Engine Watch, in which he concludes, “While expanding one’s market is generally a good thing, what people often forget is that you still have to maintain what you have, so make sure you have the resources. Many wars have been lost simply by trying to fight them on too many fronts.”

    “If you have just enough resources to dedicate to a successful SEO strategy in your own country, it doesn’t make sense to expand in that you’ll be drawing resources away from the strategy that’s keeping the lights on,” he adds. “You need to make sure it’s the right decision for your business and if it is, make sure that you’re picking the right strategies to maximize your odds of success in the shortest period of time.”

    In your international optimization efforts, you may also want to keep in mind some recent changes Google has made to its indexing systems. They’re now treating some country-code TLDs differently in terms of geography vs. generic. The list will change over time, but right now, these are the ccTLDs Google is considering generic: .ad, .as, .bz, .cc, .cd, .co, .dj, .fm, .gg, .io, .la, .me, .ms, .nu, .sc, .sr, .su, .tv, .tk and .ws.

    Are you increasing your focus on international SEO, or are you simply focusing on your own region? Let us know in the comments.

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