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International SEO and social media strategies – make yours effective

Image: ilkercelik via iStock
in Retail and Ecommerce

If your business wants to be visible and to grab the attention of customers online, effective search engine optimisation (SEO) is a must. If your ambitions extend to getting established and achieving success in international markets, your SEO strategies must be tailored accordingly.

Success in the digital space could also rely on how successfully you communicate and engage people via social media – the arena in which so much online discussion and consumer activity is conducted today.

Once you have decided that your business is ready to expand overseas, coming up with clear strategies for international SEO and social media communications should be one of your next key steps.

Driving traffic through international SEO

Tailoring your SEO efforts to increase your online visibility in overseas markets is one of the most powerful ways to attract more organic search traffic to your website. Growth in organic visitors brings many benefits, including better quality sales leads and therefore higher conversion rates.

Entering new markets opens up many more opportunities to bring this valuable traffic to your site.

As renowned SEO expert Neil Patel explains: "The international market for your content is huge, and remember: most of the world doesn't speak English. If you're only targeting English speakers based in your country, you're missing out on a huge audience."

There are many factors to take into account when devising your strategies for international SEO, including technical considerations such as using the appropriate URL structure to target particular countries and languages.

One of your biggest priorities should be to use language in the right way to improve your search engine rankings. This can be achieved through processes such as local keyword research and the creation of multilingual, localised content.

Effective international SEO will also help you to make a positive engagement with users when they arrive on your site. People want to feel that they are in the right place to find what they are looking for and to have their needs as a consumer fulfilled. Natural and accurate use of your target market's language across the site – from landing pages and promotional content to help and navigation pages – is essential in this regard.

Localisation of your online content is another important function. Individual markets will have their own cultural expectations and norms, so your webpages must be designed and populated in a way that reflects these nuances.

Getting social media communication right

Love it or loathe it, the fact is that social media has become a fundamental part of life for many consumers, particularly the younger demographic.

In a blog for BigCommerce, Justin Butlion of Yotpo, a user-generated content marketing platform, shared some key figures based on data from his firm's users. One statistic showed that online stores active on social media have 32 per cent more sales on average than those with no social presence.

Engaging and communicating with people on social media can be an effective route to building brand recognition, earning loyalty and forming long-term customer relationships.

Social media engagement is largely enabled through language, so when you are expanding into new markets and communicating with different international audiences, local understanding and expertise are crucial. There is scope on social media to be informal and use colloquialisms, but without proper localisation any attempts to take a relaxed approach could come across as unnatural or inappropriate.

Channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also provide a platform for consumers to give feedback, post comments and contribute their own content. When this is happening in various languages, you need local experts to respond to queries and moderate user-generated content to avoid compromising your brand.

Why machine translation is not good enough

Machine translation via Google or any other platform has come a long way in recent years, but it is still no substitute for human communication.

This is particularly true when you are attempting to engage with customers in several languages and thinking about the cultural idiosyncrasies of a number of international markets.

Given that we spend so much of our lives communicating with others, humans have an innate understanding for the natural structure and rhythm of language. This is a difficult concept to teach a machine.

Even the most minor instances of unnatural communication will be instantly noticeable to the average consumer. The moment people start to feel they are reading a piece of machine-translated content, their perception of your brand and overall user experience will be tainted.

To make your international expansion a success, you need the local market knowledge, language abilities and human understanding of dedicated experts to ensure you are attracting relevant online traffic and engaging with the right customers to take your business forward. Equipped with these advantages, you will be well-prepared to realise the potential of overseas growth.

Image: ilkercelik via iStock

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