Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a valuable digital marketing discipline for growing your business and there are many ways to go about leveraging it for ongoing success. This is especially true when looking to expand into new countries and then it becomes a case of developing an international SEO strategy.

To be successful with international SEO, it’s important to know about the challenges that need to be overcome and the solutions that are available.

What is international SEO?

At its core, international SEO is about managing multilingual and multiregional websites, so search engines know which type to rank and provide traffic for.

Here are the differences between the two website types

  • Multilingual: A website that’s been optimised for different languages.
  • Multiregional: A website that’s been optimised for consumers in different regions.

To provide examples, a multilingual website has content that is in more than one language e.g., English and Spanish. Yet you could be targeting a different region like the US.

In the case of a multiregional website, you may have two separate versions of a website for two regions e.g. one for the UK and one for Spain. The content would be in English for both.

What are the challenges of international SEO?

Language barriers

A major challenge is understanding how to translate and localise all website content into a specific language.

While it may be tempting to think all of this can be solved by placing an existing website into an online translator, avoid at all costs.

This is because online translators often ignore key wording and cultural differences that could lead to later problems and cost a lot of money to fix.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is another factor that can affect SEO ranking. It’s worth noting Google doesn’t see website copy in a different language as duplicate content, so long as content has been written manually and with correct grammar.

So, it’s always better to rely on native speakers to translate content by hand to avoid any issues with duplicate content.

URL structure

Another challenge is determining the right URL structure for your international website, and this could range from a country code top-level domain (CCTLD) to a generic top-level domain (GTLD).

A CCTLD is a domain usually reserved for countries and ends with a country code e.g. A GTLD isn’t country-specific and may be paired with different types of organisations. This URL could be

There are pros and cons to each type of domain and here are advantages and disadvantages for both:

CCTLD advantages

  • Easy to rank in local search engine results
  • Has a fast load speed because of being hosted locally
  • Generally has more authority for local link building
  • Has default geo-targeting options

CCTLD Disadvantages

  • It’s expensive to buy multiple CCTLDs and keep them maintained for a long time
  • There’s less URL availability with CCTLDs
  • In certain cases, you have to be a citizen of the country you want to use the URL for
  • You need to keep separate Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts, which may slow down productivity

GTLD advantages

  • Easy to set up
  • Availability for hosting on different server locations
  • You can have a separate local IP for every sub-domain

GTLD disadvantages

  • A lot of time and resources need to be placed into SEO for building authority for every GTLD link
  • Expensive hosting and technical support costs

What are some international SEO solutions?

Localise your website for different countries

Website localisation is one of the most effective international SEO techniques. This involves translating all content into the correct language, using the right time zone, currency, product dimension measurements and adhering to a country’s regulations.

You may also want to do new keyword research to determine the kind of phrases that consumers in a specific country are using in search engines.

Embrace Hreflang tags

Hreflang tags are used in HTML code to determine which location and language a specific web page is aimed at. The tags enable search engines to provide a localised version of the page to your audience.

For instance, if someone in Poland typed a search query relevant to your online store, the hreflang tag would signal to the search engine the Polish version of the page should appear in the search results.

Account for cultural differences

It’s also important to think about the specific culture of a country when designing your website. Consumers in one country may react to website content in a different way to another audience.

For example, Western audiences prefer online stores that have easy-to-follow layouts with a mixture of high-quality imagery and text. In China, audiences tend to favour text-cluttered, link-rich websites because of the complexity of Chinese characters and other factors.

Build an international SEO strategy with Trio Media

As SEO specialists, we can help you develop a strong strategy for building your brand in different countries and markets.

Get in touch with us today on 0113 357 0440 for more information.