International SEO : What it is and How to do it?

International SEO

International SEO is all about adjusting your website to reach people from different countries. This article deals with what is International SEO, what is its significance and how to effectively implement it.

International SEO goes beyond languages and cultures, bringing both challenges and chances for your website. This article is a complete guide for marketers and businesses aiming to boost their global online presence. It covers everything from improving content in multiple languages to understanding regional search engine preferences.

What is International SEO?

International Search Engine Optimization is a leading SEO strategy crafted to reach beyond borders and engage a worldwide audience. Traditional SEO is all about optimizing websites and their content to align with the algorithms of search engines like Google, ensuring maximum visibility. However, when expanding beyond domestic boundaries, the focus shifts to International SEO—a specialized technique with the dual objective of boosting organic traffic across diverse geographical regions (multiregional SEO) and linguistic groups (multilingual SEO).

The primary goal of International SEO is to facilitate the discovery of a website by search engines in various countries. By implementing this strategy, businesses open the doors to a broader spectrum of online audiences. This approach involves not only catering to multilingual audiences but also tailoring content to suit the preferences of specific regions.

One key aspect of International SEO is the ability to signal to search engines the languages targeted for international audiences or native speakers. This approach ensures that the website resonates effectively with users worldwide, breaking language barriers and enhancing user experience. 

Do You Need International SEO?

In the online world, knowing the demographics of your website visitors is essential for delivering the best user experience. If a significant portion of your audience hails from different countries, speaks diverse languages, or both, it might be time to consider international SEO. 

Despite its initial complexity, international SEO is similar to a familiar concept – geotargeting. Instead of tailoring your website to attract local traffic, international SEO optimizes it for a global audience, accommodating various countries and languages.

International geo targeting involves three key steps. First, use an international-friendly URL structure to specify your target country or region, aiding search engines and improving the user experience for visitors from specific locations. Secondly, employ language tags to clearly show the linguistic focus of your pages, ensuring effective communication across language barriers.

How to Implement International SEO?

Expanding your online presence globally requires mastering International SEO. The URL structure is crucial for an effective strategy, offering webmasters various options to target specific countries. These options include:

  1. Country Code Top-Level Domain : Utilizing two-letter codes in domain extensions, ccTLDs indicate the country or territory a website is registered in. Google treats some codes generically due to common alternative uses.
  2. Subdomain: Internationalized content is placed on a separate “third-level domain,” potentially receiving link equity from the root domain.
  3. Subdirectory or Subfolder: Internationalized content resides in a specific subdirectory of the root domain, providing a structured hierarchy.
  4. Generic Top-Level Domain with Language Parameters: A general domain like .com is combined with language parameters in the URL to target specific language speakers.
  5. Different Domain: Internationalized content resides on a distinct root domain, offering a separate online identity.

Each option comes with its pros and cons, including resource implications. Google recommends maintaining a consistent hierarchy across the site for intuitive navigation.

Language Targeting

To communicate the languages your website supports, utilize hreflang or language meta tags. These tags inform search engines about available language alternatives. For instance, the hreflang tag can specify an alternate French version of the content, enhancing user experience and search engine comprehension.

Additional Best Practices include:

– Ensure all aspects, from site navigation to content, align with the primary language of your target region.

– Avoid relying on machine translations for content, as they may not meet quality standards.

– Refrain from automatic redirection based on user location, providing language options without assumptions.

– Steer clear of using cookies or scripts for dynamic content, as it hinders search engine crawling and user visibility.

Tailoring Content to Users

Customize information to suit the preferences of your target audience by incorporating local language, currency, timezone, and contact details. Consider cultural differences in design and content creation, recognizing that diverse regions interpret elements like color, layout, and humor differently.

The goal is to create an unequivocal connection with users, ensuring they feel the relevance of your page to their needs, ultimately enhancing their experience.

Other SEO Signals for Internationalization:

Beyond URL structures and language targeting, several signals convey your site’s focus on a specific country:

Local Hosting: Host your site on a local IP to signal geographic relevance.

Linking to Local Content: Include links to locally relevant content to strengthen regional ties.

Building Local Links: Acquire backlinks from local resources to enhance local search engine credibility.

Ranking on Local Search Engines: Explore opportunities to rank on search engines specific to your target region, such as Yandex in Russia or Baidu in China.


Choosing a URL structure depends on your specific goals. If targeting a country, a ccTLD might be suitable, whereas language targeting may require alternative methods like hreflang, subdirectories, or subdomains. 

International SEO, when implemented well, remains inconspicuous to users. It is about ensuring that search engines deliver relevant content to the right audience, emphasizing precision over user awareness.

Becoming adept at International SEO empowers your website to reach beyond borders, leaving a digital mark that connects with diverse cultures and languages.


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