As an American, it can sometimes be hard to remember that over 85% of internet users live outside the United States- and that number is only growing. Over the past decade, Google has reported a 25% increase in non-English search queries- a trend that is likely a direct result of advancements in mobile communications, as well as data processing, storage, and manipulation. All this search traffic means that there may be higher demand for your website’s content among an international audience. Don’t let this potential demand slip away! Here are some moves you can make to ensure that your website is ready for an international audience:
Research your target international markets. You want to learn about the cultural habits and preferences of the particular country and region that you are targeting. This will help you to understand how your target audience is likely to interact with your website. You may also want to conduct some A/B testing to see if certain variables strike a cord more than others.
Use Either Subfolders or Country Specific TLDs. The use of subfolders or domain names under country-specific extensions are usually the best option for targeting an international crowd. Nike.com, for example, does a great job of segmenting their users by language and region, all using subfolders. Both options help to maintain trust with visitors, because they can see that the domain name is consistent throughout.
Translate your content. Hire an native speaker or a translation service to ensure that none of your content is being “lost in translation.” At the very least you can include a Google Translate Gadget on your site.
Research local keywords. Don’t assume that your keywords will just transfer over with an exact translation. They may have different search terms, nuances, phrases, and colloquialisms
Build country-specific links. Because Google puts so much emphasis on inbound links; it makes sense that local links (from authoritative websites within the same country) will hold the most value on an international SERP. Try to build your inbound links primarily from the country you are targeting, and if possible make sure to point those links to the respective subfolder, subdomain, or TLD for each country.
Use auto detection and page redirects. Use country, IP, and browser language auto detections with an automatic redirect to make sure your visitors get to the right page. This will create a better user experience, because your visitors will find the information they are seeking faster, and without having to choose their regional or language settings.