International SEO: A Guide to a website without borders

by Salman Al Assaf

Need International SEO?

Chances are, if you’re planning to add a second language to your website, more will follow. International SEO is the art of focusing on more than one language and culture to target the entire world.

What most people don’t realize is that when you translate your web content into another language, you’re never done there. You need to employ an expert to convey the meaning of your content–and not just transport the words of one language into another.

You also need someone to ensure that you’re not offending your audience in any way with your content, and this takes an intimate familiarity with the culture in question.

Professional Content Development

We focus on English and Arabic content development, but we also have the capability to create content in other languages for you, and we can certainly advise you on strategy for International SEO.

Laying the Foundations for International SEO

The first thing we’re going to tell you is that if you’ve been working on a local basis up till now, and have decided to expand, you may have a country-specific domain, such as We prefer not to use local domains for International SEO: you need a generic domain name such as .com, .org, .biz, and even .travel. This sends a signal to the search engines and to your visitors that you are an international company and not just local. In addition, it maintains domain authority across your selection of languages, so it’s much stronger for SEO purposes. Also, no matter what your local language you’ll also need a version of your site in English (that goes without saying I know). You may decide to have other languages too. The preferred way to do this for many International SEO consultants is with the use of folders, as described here by Search Engine Journal.

You can also achieve this objective by using separate domain names for each language. For this, you would use the local domain names, such as, etc. I prefer not to do this because it brings us back to the impression of local SEO. Again, this is the weaker of the two options as far as SEO is concerned. Generic domain names are the way to go.

What You Need to Know about International SEO

More than ever before, it is now possible for companies to go global, tightly targeting their markets in their own language and on their own terms. The knowledge is all there because hundreds, if not thousands, of companies, have done International SEO before you.

So how did they do it?

Take a look at any successful international business and you can be sure they’re using SEO and using it well. Now as companies expand more and more into foreign markets, it’s critical to get your International SEO right. This means localizing your website and not just a translation of the content on your website.

It pays to get a really good translator–forget about Google Translate because your business is far too precious to leave its success to a robot! A great translator will transform your content into highly readable content in your target language, and will also give you a heads-up if any of your words or concepts are red flag areas for your new audience. Occasionally it is necessary to drastically edit text for a new audience.

Like any good SEO campaign, International SEO starts with strategic keyword research. Just translating your keywords into the target language may not get good results. It’s necessary for a native speaker to make sure that the keywords you use are relevant and highly-searched. Again, investment at this stage will save you frustration later.

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