Make sure to target a specific country instead of a language with your international SEO campaign. The reasons for this are that countries may use differing terms to describe the same thing (for example a “pickle” in the US is a “gherkin” in the UK). Also, countries have specific indexes in Google as opposed to languages. I have been noticing that Google is putting allot of emphasis on localized results and this seems to be especially true for International SERPs. A few things to consider when targeting a specific country are as follows;
1. Get the specific Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD) of your target country
2. Get your site hosted in the target country
3. Localize your site for your target country (instead of translate)
4. Make sure your URLs are written in the target Language
5. Get links from sites located in your target country.
Having links from sites that are located in your target country is a great way to show Google that you are highly relevant for queries within the country.
When validating an international link, check to see where the site is hosted. Also look at the CCTLD of the potential link. You should also consider getting links from sites that are written in the same language as the language spoken in the target country.
International link building is very much like traditional link building with the added element of focusing on getting geo-targeted links. All of the major link building elements are the same, focus on quality over quantity as well as relevant and authoritative links. However, you also have to add links from within the target country into the equation. As you may have guessed, this greatly reduces the opportunities to get links. Since the options are so constrained, sometimes international link building will utilize some otherwise outdated link building tactics.
Do a backlink analysis on your international competitors that are ranking ahead of you and start looking at their quality links. Define which of those links are from sites within the country and look at each site to determine if it is a viable place to get links. This will often reveal social media sites, blogs and forums to comment on, directories, article sites and many other local sites to get links from. This also shows what your competitors are up to from a link building stand-point and allows you to assess your chances of catching up or surpassing them. One such analysis that I did recently, revealed that my client’s competitor had a significant amount of reciprocal links. So this otherwise outdated tactic still seems to be helping sites rank number 1 in international indexes.
The use of local directories is a great way to acquire geo-targeted links. Many times you will find these through your analysis on your competitors’ links. Also get Links from other countries but in the language from the country you are targeting. (So links from Argentina going to a Mexican site.) A few sites that I like are http://cv.com which is hosted in France, (I actually found this site from this blog and noticed that it was hosted in France.) I also like http://www.folkd.com which is a social bookmarking site hosted in Germany.
Next, get high authoritative links from the same places you would get links from if you were doing standard link building whenever possible. Some authoritative directories have specific regional areas like http://botw.org/top/Regional/Countries/ http://www.ezilon.com/ http://www.dmoz.org/World/ . The yahoo directory has a regional area but I would suggest submitting your site to the country specific yahoo directory i.e. (http://fr.dir.yahoo.com/) sometimes it’s free which is different from the US specific yahoo directory which will run you $199 a year or so.
This about covers the basics, I hope this post is helpful.
Post by David Isaac Lewallen of CybernautSEO
If you would like to learn more I write a blog focusing on international SEO and link building issues. Feel free to contact me there regarding any specific questions or follow on twitter; I also work at BusinessOnLine which is an enterprise level SEO agency.