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International SEO: How To Optimize Your Website For Other Languages

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 5 min read
International SEO: How To Optimize Your Website For Other Languages


If you want to achieve significant growth in your website traffic, you have to consider one of the most important elements of an SEO strategy — international SEO. Targeting just one language is not enough when it comes to attracting visitors from all over the world: if your site is multilingual or you’re already reaching consumers in other countries, it could be time to work on optimizing your content for international searchers.

Here’s all you need to know about optimizing your website for other languages.

What is international SEO?

The main difference between _local _and _international _SEO is the specific audience you’re trying to reach geographically. Local SEO focuses on reaching people in your local area, whether that’s a city, town, or region — this is often used by small businesses that cover a specific geographic area. For example, a London-based plumbing company may use keywords such as ‘local plumber in London’ and utilize Google My Business posts.

On the other hand, international SEO involves optimizing a website to reach a global audience in the particular countries you want to appear in the search results of. If you run a blog, ecommerce store, or are already attracting global traffic, then working on an international SEO strategy could help you develop a greater reach.

Combining both local and global SEO strategies can be a powerful tactic for achieving the widest reach possible.

When should you focus on international SEO?

Not _everyone _needs to focus on international SEO, but optimizing your site to match international queries can make a big impact on sales, traffic, and overall engagement. There are a number of occasions when global SEO is a smart move, such as:

  • You’re planning to launch your business globally: A global business venture requires a strong SEO strategy and that includes identifying who you’re targeting and where they reside. In this case, international SEO is very important.
  • You’re already reaching an international audience: You may notice that you already rank in other countries or have consistent traffic coming in from different global locations. Good content is good content whether it’s read in the UK, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.
  • Your target audience uses another language: You’ll have a difficult time reaching your target audience if your website isn’t optimized in their language. Not only does your website need to be in multiple languages, but search queries can vary massively even if people from two different countries are searching for the same thing — so don’t overlook the importance of international SEO!

International SEO can be a little more complicated since you’re working in new languages, but when done with consistency and via thorough research, it’s a very powerful tactic in launching your website to new audiences.

When should you focus on international SEO? (Image credit: Pixabay)

How to check which countries you’re already reaching

Figuring out which countries you already rank in and where your traffic is coming from is a good place to start. Take a look at your analytics to see your audience or use SEO tools to track your rankings internationally — this will provide you with a good insight into your traffic.

If you’re already ranking in the countries you want to, great news! This is a great opportunity to improve your optimization, but if you’re looking to rank elsewhere that’s possible too. You can also boost the number of backlinks from international websites.

Should you create new websites for each country or focus on language?

When optimizing your website for other languages, you have two main options: creating a new website for each country, or focusing on language. Creating multiple new global websites is not a small task, so if you don’t have a _very _important reason for needing several different websites — for example, if you’re a travel site — then focusing on language can be easier and just as effective.

How to conduct keyword research for international SEO

Keyword research is an essential part of any SEO strategy, but when it comes to international SEO there are a few additional considerations to think about. Of course, you still need to do all of the usual research such as search volume, search intent, and keyword difficulty — but that’s far from all.

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People from other countries not only speak different languages, but cultural differences can also affect the way they browse online. Particular phrases and words may not be used in other countries, so including them in your keyword list might not resonate with your target audience.

Top tips for global SEO include:

Use professional keyword tools

As with local or national keyword research, you can’t simply guess which keyword may work. Instead, investing in professional keyword research tools will provide you with accurate insights and data.

This means you can examine the precise search volume for each keyword in each country and find out what their target audience is actually searching for.

Work with native speakers

Always remember that your optimization work is aimed at your target audience, so you need to use language that is fluent, readable, and actually matches the search intent of the audience.

Working with native speakers is a great way of avoiding problems with translations and gaining better insight into cultural differences that may affect keywords. You should therefore hand your keyword research and content creation tasks over to native speakers or collaborate with them to produce accurate translations.

Hiring an independent contractor is a great option if you need some temporary international expertise, and with a professional contractor management service you can easily hire and onboard contractors remotely from anywhere in the world: the contractor management service by Remote, for example, allows you to take on international contractors without excessive paperwork or admin.

Don’t use direct translations

International SEO research isn’t as simple as using a translation tool to convert terms from one language to another. Why? Well, direct translations are often incorrect. The last thing you want is to make grammatical mistakes or generate keywords that don’t make sense.

Not only will no one be searching for them, but using poor translations will make your website or content look unprofessional — which is likely to impact your brand’s reputation as well as your long-term SEO capabilities. SEO tools or native speakers are your best bet!

Don’t use direct translations (Image credit: Pixabay)

What are the benefits of targeting multiple languages?

There are many benefits of targeting multiple languages. Translating a website into a new language can give businesses the opportunity to vastly grow their audiences and brand reach, meaning they get as many eyes on them as possible.

Some of the top benefits of targeting multiple languages include:

Reaching more customers

The biggest benefit of international SEO is being able to reach more people — and that means more potential customers. Unlocking a whole new audience can push your business to the next level in terms of leads, sales, and brand recognition.

Gaining a competitive advantage

Targeting more than one language is a great way of having an advantage over your competitors. Not only can you gain more backlinks and traffic to your site, but you will be much more visible since you’ll be meeting queries from more than one location.

International SEO can be cost-effective

Depending on whether you decide to create new websites for each target country or you focus on language, global SEO can vary in price. However, a strong strategy is well worth the cost. With consistency, you can experience a huge boost in traffic and sales, which makes this tactic very profitable.

Opportunity for more brand awareness

Are you trying to build a brand that’s recognized on a global scale? Well, targeting new locations can help! Of course, SEO alone won’t improve your brand visibility (social media and PR can help, too) but it does play an important role. Before long you could gain a loyal audience from the other side of the world!


Optimizing your website for other languages is a powerful strategy if you want to gain global reach. Be sure to do your research first to identify where you need to target, do your keyword research and, most importantly, be consistent to see the best results.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins


is the Co-founder of Ranktracker, With over 10 years SEO Experience. He's in charge of all content on the SEO Guide & Blog, you will also find him managing the support chat on the Ranktracker App.

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