International Link Building Tactics & Strategies

May 19  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I wanted to start off with a quick overview of international SEO to make sure that you start your international link building campaign with a solid foundation.

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 Since the options are so constrained, sometimes international link building will utilize some otherwise outdated link building tactics.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 which is hosted in France, (I actually found this site from this blog and noticed that it was hosted in France.) I also like 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 . The yahoo directory has a regional area but I would suggest submitting your site to the country specific yahoo directory i.e. ( 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.

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About Ryan Clark

I'm the CEO of Linkbuildr Marketing and the brains behind our branding and blog content. I specialize in effective marketing strategies for hotels, luxury brands and real estate. If your brand is in need of a boost then don't hesitate to contact me for a free proposal. Follow me on Google+: +Ryan Clark Twitter: @Linkbuildr on Twitter. You can also come ask me a question on our Facebook Page.  

10 Responses to International Link Building Tactics & Strategies

  1. linkbuildr says:

    First post was comment spam..go figure :D

  2. Ninah says:

    Whew I've only just been "born" online and this new concept about geo targeted sites and backlinks is giving me a headache. My very first site is targeted specifically to my province but it doesn't seem to be paying off. I suppose one should also target countries that Google looks more favorably upon like the U.S. or European countries. Am I making sense? This is all still a bit confusing for me

  3. All excellent ideas. My current focused has been on getting those high PR links to boost my visibility and popularity. It is just a pain staking process that take a long time. Well it take a long time if you have a day job. The only country I noticed in my niche is India and those guys spend all day making my life hard.
    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Thanks for the great idea, "geo targeting" back links never occurred to me. But I can definitely see the possible benefits to doing it. Thanks again for providing a great overview of the process and places to get started. With how time consuming link building can be any good help that one can find is always greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again.

  5. Seo Agency says:

    great, that's what i need

  6. Susan says:

    Ok, this may be a bit off topic, but it's becoming clearer to me now I think. When I use Adwords Keyword tool, it shows 4 million global searches for a specific type, and only 800k for local searches. So if I SEO my site/page for this term, I will only hit around 800,000 searchers UNLESS I link build internationally to get the other searchers?


  8. Well in my personal opinion their is nothing like International link building every link building is international but if you are doing link building for some specific area than it will be considered as local link building and I must say you have an extra ordinary knowledge about local link building ;)

  9. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for a both informative and useful article!
    Would be more than good if you could shed some more light on this issue, using an example.Given two websites in German language – one for Germany (.de), one for Switzerland (.ch) and one in English language (.eu). The .de and .eu sites having the same content, but in different languages. Here some questions, all of them regarding listings in the respective countries:
    – What’s the impact of inbound links coming from US-sites? Do such links provide an advantage to the above websites compared to locally competing sites? What would be the impact regarding site prominence and relevance? 
    – What about a link from a US bases website to the .de-site, having an anchor text in German?
    – Of course a link to the .ch-site from another swiss website is better – but what when you have a link from a french website pointing to the .ch-site in french?
    – And the last question: as you know there are 3 languages (well, actually 4) spoken in Switzerland. Imagine the .ch-site is available in German language only – what’s the impact of an inbound link in French language (a) from a Swiss and b) from a French site)?

    Would really be a great help if you could extend your superb article a bit in that direction.

  10. Linkbuildr says:

    – Link location helps, but you’ll still see a rise if the link is from a quality site no matter where in the world.

    – Same goes I imagine although it might seem seem iffy…if you’re spamming and doing this then I imagine it’ll get notice eventually.

    – I think it would be totally fine and worth it if the site is related/on topic

    – same difference really…I’d get all three and keep it mixed up because that’ll really make your link profile diverse/natural looking!

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