International SEO: A 2021 Guide to Taking Your Business Globally

Author : Revathy Hemant Kumar

Insight by: Revathy Hemant Kumar

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the system of optimizing your website in such a way that it increases the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. The widely used Local SEO optimizes a website to increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness from local search. Study suggests that around 76% of consumers that search for something local on their phone visit a store that day. 

However, business owners offering their products/services to more than one country will want their websites and other marketing strategies in all the targeted market locations. Local SEO in such cases will not create much impact. It is best suited to those that are smaller in size who want their main customer base to be within a specific area. Here comes the International SEO for the companies who require to offer their services to the global markets. 

What is an International SEO?

International SEO is the process of optimizing the website so the search engine can identify which countries you want to target & which languages you use for business. In short, international SEO is mainly about Geo-targeting. When a user enters their query in the Search engine, Google uses its search algorithms and finds results that match the language and location of the user. Specific signals like multilingual and location-oriented features will let the search engine know that your page has content that answers the user queries. So, by using the International SEO guidelines, your website can gain traffic from multiple regions and multiple languages instead of confining to the limited options. 

Keywords are as crucial to International SEO as Local SEO. However, the main difference comes in optimizing the page enough to appeal to different cultures and demographics that you intend to target. Import and Export organizations worldwide, and well-established e-commerce service sites, are a few examples that make use of International SEO guidelines.

How to Implement International SEO?


  • Determine What International Content You Will Provide

To implement the SEO guidelines, first, determine whether you want to optimize search results based on language, geo-targeting, or both. For example, Facebook allows users to choose the language of their comfort. Also, travel websites enable users to pick a specific language and narrow their search down to a particular country or a region.

  • The URL structure for international websites

This part of geo-targeting focuses on location. Your URL structure helps Google figure out which of your pages to show searchers in different countries. Domains like Country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) are applicable for a specific location.

For example: &

Top-level domains (TLD) are made use of for targeting specific countries. Most businesses either set up a whole new website for each target country or add a subdirectory structure on their existing website. 

For example, Sub-domain:

To set up a subdirectory structure, create a folder on your website for each target country labeled with that country’s two-letter ISO code.


  • Hreflang Tags

HrefLang is for business owners who have a multilingual website. It wants search engines to send people to the content in their language. HrefLang Tags allows cross-reference pages with similar content for different audiences. The information under this signals to search engines that target the audience for the page. Hreflang tags are in the <head> of a website. 

Example: <link rel=” alternate” href=”https://www.abcdcom/” hreflang=”en-US” /> (American version)

  • The X Default Tag

The X default tag is a default version of the site you can choose to serve people when the language or location tag does not match any of the available ones, and no page is better appropriate. This page will be alike for all users. 

  • International Link Building

Getting links from foreign markets might be one of the most complex activities in an International SEO project. From different competitive landscapes to cultural and language barriers, international link building will likely require extensive research, more time, and more coordination to achieve success. If your budget and other resources do not allow you to conduct such activities in-house, then go for a manual link building agency for your specific requirements.

  • Consider Additional Local Signals

Additional geo-targeting signals can work in your favor. Consider using the following strategies to signal the country or language of your users:

1. Display prices in local currencies.

2. Include location data such as address and phone number for your regional offices.

Optimizing a website for the local audiences concerning their respective countries will benefit your website and reach tremendously. However, it is equally vital to get the localization of website content in the first place. The whole performance of your website matters for the aesthetic appeal or the user experience. Else, the different versions of your website(various locations and languages) may compete against each other for rankings or may not be listed at all. The notable difference between local and international SEO is the language and the impact it has on everything. Language affects culture, the decision-making process, how a user searches for products or services, how people purchase products or services, and why they think the way they do. 

Form your International SEO strategy rightly

 On the surface, international SEO may seem like an alien concept. However, in reality, it is similar to our local SEO manners. Instead of optimizing a website to attract traffic from your city or state, you’re optimizing it for different countries and languages. In order for your international SEO to succeed, you need to know your target audience and their language inside out.

  • Choose your global target and provide content accordingly.
  • Establish which languages your page is targeting and show that to search engines using language tags.
  • Try not to use cookies or scripts to show different-language versions of the page. Search engines cannot crawl that type of varying content, and users may not be able to see it either.
  • Localize all content and branding using the local language, currency, and time zone with contact information like addresses and phone numbers.
  • Domain strategy can make a significant difference to your international SEO strategy. Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are reserved for a particular country and have an extension of a country code, like These specific extensions make this the ideal structure for geolocation and can be used for targeting the audience based on their location effectively.
  • Acquiring International Links- There are link opportunities such as directories for submission, relevant conversations to join in comment threads, and links/resource pages where the link builder reaches out with an email and requests a link. The user engagement and the ranking may be positively triggered if the links provided in your webpage belong to a local resource or in the local language of the audience you target.

The notable difference between local and international SEO is the cultural design and the impact it has on everything. In that case, language affects culture, the decision-making process, how a user searches for products or services, how people purchase products or services, and why they think the way they do. 

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