Chapter 1. SEO Foundation

Geographical SEO: Local SEO and International SEO

Geographical SEO: Local SEO and International SEO
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Search engines have been evolving, and now they consider geographical context as one of the main factors in optimizing search results.

Geographical SEO is about ensuring that people find information, services, products, or businesses, whether they're local or worldwide.

There are two extreme cases in geographical SEO: Local SEO and International SEO.

If you are new to SEO, you may feel these topics are not for beginners. However, it is useful even for beginners to understand the outlines of two SEO approaches first and then learn the standard SEO approaches with more nuances.

How does Google handle search results in the geographical context?

According to Google's official document, context and settings are the key factors determining search results, and geographical context greatly influences them.

Google’s Ranking Result Factors and Geographical Context

In order to provide the most relevant information, Google customizes search results based on the geographical context of the user. This customization is achieved through several inputs, including:

  • IP Address: Google uses a user's IP address to determine their approximate location. This information helps Google present search results that are geographically relevant.
  • Search History and Behavior: Google also considers a user's search history and behavior to provide personalized search results. If the user's past activity suggests a preference for local information, Google is more likely to prioritize local results in future searches.
  • Explicit Location Queries: When users include a specific location in their search queries, Google uses this information to provide results specific to that area, regardless of the user's current geographical location.
  • Settings and Preferences: Users can also manually adjust their location settings in Google to see results for a specific area.

Local SEO

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is like ensuring your business is easy to find in your town or city when people search online. If you own a bakery in New York City, you want people in New York City to find it when they search for "best chocolate cake near me" or "bakery in New York City." Local SEO helps you show up in those search results.

Google Local Pack

The Google Local Pack, also known as the "Map Pack," is a section of Google's search results that displays local business listings that are most relevant to the search query. When someone searches for a service or product along with a location (for example, "coffee shops near me" or "car repair in Barcelona"), Google may show a Local Pack at the top of the search results.

This pack typically includes a map and a list of three businesses, along with important information such as their business name, ratings, hours of operation, and a link to call or get directions.

Google Local Pack Example on SERP - Car Repair in Barcelona

How to do Local SEO?

As the user's search intent and competition are more specific and granular in a local context, Local SEO requires particular approaches in addition to the standard SEO approaches.

Below are the five key considerations that are specifically required for Local SEO.

Local SEO Five Key Considerations

1. Google Business Profile Optimization

Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business, is a free tool provided by Google that allows business owners to manage how their business information appears across Google platforms.

GBP is essential in Local SEO as the information provided through GBP is a key input for Google to understand the small and medium businesses in specific locations.

2. Local Keyword Research and Content Optimization

Local keyword research is vital for local SEO. It boosts visibility to a geographically targeted audience, leading to more relevant traffic and higher conversion rates.

The primary goal of local keyword research is to identify search queries specific to a business's location and services using keyword planning tools, such as Google Keyword Planner.

Adding geographic modifiers, understanding local terminology, and monitoring search trends are typically effective. Once you define the target keywords, optimize content across websites, social media, and local directories to enhance relevance in local search results.

3. Local Listings and Online Reviews

Local listings and online reviews are key to local SEO, boosting a business's visibility and credibility.

Local listings like Yelp and TripAdvisor make it easier for customers to find your business in search results and maps, enhancing your search rankings through consistent, accurate information.

Reviews act as social proof, influencing customer choices and improving search rankings due to perceived popularity and quality. It is important to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

4. NAP Citations and Consistency

NAP citations are a fundamental aspect of local SEO and refer to instances where a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are listed on the internet.

These citations can appear in local business directories, on websites and social media platforms, etc.

The consistency and accuracy of NAP citations across the web can significantly impact a business's local search engine rankings.

5. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization is critical for local SEO, as most people use their phones to search for local businesses and services.

As Google applies mobile-first indexing and emphasizes mobile-friendliness in the ranking factors, you need to ensure the website has a responsive design, works well on phones, loads quickly, and is easy to use. This can help attract more local customers.

International SEO

What is International SEO?

International SEO is about making your website friendly for people from different countries who speak different languages.

It helps search engines understand which countries you're targeting and which languages you use, so that your site can appear in search results worldwide.

How to do International SEO?

International SEO requires additional approaches besides the standard SEO approaches. The following are the key considerations you need to explore for successful International SEO.

International SEO Five Key Considerations

1. Country URL and Domain Structure Design

As you need to create localized content for each country, you need to prepare different URLs or domains to manage web pages for each country.

There are three major approaches:

Three Options for Domain and URL Structure for International SEO
Country-specific domains

This approach (e.g., example.uk, example.de) creates different websites for each country, like Amazon (amazon.co.uk, amazon.co.jp).

The advantage of this approach is that it sends a strong signal to users and search engines that separate websites target specific countries.

Subdirectories

This approach (e.g., example.com/uk/, example.com/de/) allows you to use the same website with different content for each country.

Many multinational corporations use this approach, such as Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Nike, and other brands.

This approach may be the most effective from the SEO point of view as it allows you to leverage domain authority.

Subdomains

This approach (e.g., uk.example.com, de.example.com) is a middle option between the two options above in terms of domain independence. It is less commonly used.

Site Structure and Internal Link Management

You need to design and manage the website structure and internal linking carefully as you need to manage a large number of pages in different languages.

For example, users should not suddenly jump to a page in a different language while they are browsing a website. To avoid this situation, you need to design the user flow carefully and add internal links properly.

2. Hreflang Tags Settings

Hreflang tags help search engines understand which language and regional version of a page to show in search results.

This prevents content duplication issues and improves search experience for users by directing them to the most relevant version of your content.

To implement Hreflang, you need to add the rel="alternate" and hreflang="country and language code" in the <link> tag while specifying the country URL in the head section of your webpage. To tell search engines which URL is the main URL, you also need to set the canonical tag. Below is an example of Hreflang implementation.

Hreflang Tag Example
<head>
:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.apple.com/">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/de/" hreflang="de-DE">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/uk/" hreflang="en-GB">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/jp/" hreflang="ja-JP">
:
</head

This article gives detailed explanations of how to implement the hreflang tag – Hreflang: The Easy Guide for Beginners.

3. Keyword Research and Content Optimization by Country

Each market has its unique language nuances, search habits, and preferences.

Conducting local keyword research ensures that you use terms and phrases that your target audience in each country is searching for.

This increases the relevance of your content to local audiences and improves your visibility in search results.

Usually, keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner have country filtering.

You can apply the same approaches to keyword research and content optimization as your standard approaches, which will be explained in the next chapter.

4. Link Building by Target Market Segment

Each country or market has different communities and popular websites, so that relevant backlinks can differ by geography.

You'll need to customize your link-building efforts to maximize your exposure to the target audience for each geography.

For example, you may need to collaborate with local bloggers, industry leaders, and news outlets to get your content featured in each target country or market.

5. CDN implementation

If users across the world access a website hosted in a single location, there will be a latency issue that will slow down page loading speed. This is not good from the SEO point of view as Google emphasizes page experience (Core Web Vitals) as a ranking factor.

CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a typical solution to avoid the latency issue. CDN uses a network of servers strategically located worldwide to cache (or store) copies of your website's content. When a user visits your site, the CDN delivers this content from the nearest server. This drastically reduces the distance the data travels, speeding up the loading time of your website. Essentially, caching your site's files on multiple servers allows for quicker access and a better user experience.

How CDN (Content Delivery Network) Works

To use CDN, you can choose website or app hosting service providers, such as Firebase, Netlify, or Vercel. When you use those providers, they manage your content using their CDN. If you are using a hosting service without CDN, you can implement CDN, using CDN services, such as Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront.

Conclusion

This lesson briefly explained Local SEO and International SEO with key considerations for each SEO approach.

When you actually implement Local SEO or International SEO, you may need to study each topic further as each SEO approach requires unique techniques.

However, if you have already understood what Local SEO and International SEO are, that's enough for now.

From the next chapter, we'll explore how to execute on-page SEO.


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

Search engines have been evolving, and now they consider geographical context as one of the main factors in optimizing search results.

Geographical SEO is about ensuring that people find information, services, products, or businesses, whether they're local or worldwide.

There are two extreme cases in geographical SEO: Local SEO and International SEO.

If you are new to SEO, you may feel these topics are not for beginners. However, it is useful even for beginners to understand the outlines of two SEO approaches first and then learn the standard SEO approaches with more nuances.

How does Google handle search results in the geographical context?

According to Google's official document, context and settings are the key factors determining search results, and geographical context greatly influences them.

Google’s Ranking Result Factors and Geographical Context

In order to provide the most relevant information, Google customizes search results based on the geographical context of the user. This customization is achieved through several inputs, including:

  • IP Address: Google uses a user's IP address to determine their approximate location. This information helps Google present search results that are geographically relevant.
  • Search History and Behavior: Google also considers a user's search history and behavior to provide personalized search results. If the user's past activity suggests a preference for local information, Google is more likely to prioritize local results in future searches.
  • Explicit Location Queries: When users include a specific location in their search queries, Google uses this information to provide results specific to that area, regardless of the user's current geographical location.
  • Settings and Preferences: Users can also manually adjust their location settings in Google to see results for a specific area.

Local SEO

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is like ensuring your business is easy to find in your town or city when people search online. If you own a bakery in New York City, you want people in New York City to find it when they search for "best chocolate cake near me" or "bakery in New York City." Local SEO helps you show up in those search results.

Google Local Pack

The Google Local Pack, also known as the "Map Pack," is a section of Google's search results that displays local business listings that are most relevant to the search query. When someone searches for a service or product along with a location (for example, "coffee shops near me" or "car repair in Barcelona"), Google may show a Local Pack at the top of the search results.

This pack typically includes a map and a list of three businesses, along with important information such as their business name, ratings, hours of operation, and a link to call or get directions.

Google Local Pack Example on SERP - Car Repair in Barcelona

How to do Local SEO?

As the user's search intent and competition are more specific and granular in a local context, Local SEO requires particular approaches in addition to the standard SEO approaches.

Below are the five key considerations that are specifically required for Local SEO.

Local SEO Five Key Considerations

1. Google Business Profile Optimization

Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business, is a free tool provided by Google that allows business owners to manage how their business information appears across Google platforms.

GBP is essential in Local SEO as the information provided through GBP is a key input for Google to understand the small and medium businesses in specific locations.

2. Local Keyword Research and Content Optimization

Local keyword research is vital for local SEO. It boosts visibility to a geographically targeted audience, leading to more relevant traffic and higher conversion rates.

The primary goal of local keyword research is to identify search queries specific to a business's location and services using keyword planning tools, such as Google Keyword Planner.

Adding geographic modifiers, understanding local terminology, and monitoring search trends are typically effective. Once you define the target keywords, optimize content across websites, social media, and local directories to enhance relevance in local search results.

3. Local Listings and Online Reviews

Local listings and online reviews are key to local SEO, boosting a business's visibility and credibility.

Local listings like Yelp and TripAdvisor make it easier for customers to find your business in search results and maps, enhancing your search rankings through consistent, accurate information.

Reviews act as social proof, influencing customer choices and improving search rankings due to perceived popularity and quality. It is important to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

4. NAP Citations and Consistency

NAP citations are a fundamental aspect of local SEO and refer to instances where a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are listed on the internet.

These citations can appear in local business directories, on websites and social media platforms, etc.

The consistency and accuracy of NAP citations across the web can significantly impact a business's local search engine rankings.

5. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization is critical for local SEO, as most people use their phones to search for local businesses and services.

As Google applies mobile-first indexing and emphasizes mobile-friendliness in the ranking factors, you need to ensure the website has a responsive design, works well on phones, loads quickly, and is easy to use. This can help attract more local customers.

International SEO

What is International SEO?

International SEO is about making your website friendly for people from different countries who speak different languages.

It helps search engines understand which countries you're targeting and which languages you use, so that your site can appear in search results worldwide.

How to do International SEO?

International SEO requires additional approaches besides the standard SEO approaches. The following are the key considerations you need to explore for successful International SEO.

International SEO Five Key Considerations

1. Country URL and Domain Structure Design

As you need to create localized content for each country, you need to prepare different URLs or domains to manage web pages for each country.

There are three major approaches:

Three Options for Domain and URL Structure for International SEO
Country-specific domains

This approach (e.g., example.uk, example.de) creates different websites for each country, like Amazon (amazon.co.uk, amazon.co.jp).

The advantage of this approach is that it sends a strong signal to users and search engines that separate websites target specific countries.

Subdirectories

This approach (e.g., example.com/uk/, example.com/de/) allows you to use the same website with different content for each country.

Many multinational corporations use this approach, such as Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Nike, and other brands.

This approach may be the most effective from the SEO point of view as it allows you to leverage domain authority.

Subdomains

This approach (e.g., uk.example.com, de.example.com) is a middle option between the two options above in terms of domain independence. It is less commonly used.

Site Structure and Internal Link Management

You need to design and manage the website structure and internal linking carefully as you need to manage a large number of pages in different languages.

For example, users should not suddenly jump to a page in a different language while they are browsing a website. To avoid this situation, you need to design the user flow carefully and add internal links properly.

2. Hreflang Tags Settings

Hreflang tags help search engines understand which language and regional version of a page to show in search results.

This prevents content duplication issues and improves search experience for users by directing them to the most relevant version of your content.

To implement Hreflang, you need to add the rel="alternate" and hreflang="country and language code" in the <link> tag while specifying the country URL in the head section of your webpage. To tell search engines which URL is the main URL, you also need to set the canonical tag. Below is an example of Hreflang implementation.

Hreflang Tag Example
<head>
:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.apple.com/">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/de/" hreflang="de-DE">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/uk/" hreflang="en-GB">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.apple.com/jp/" hreflang="ja-JP">
:
</head

This article gives detailed explanations of how to implement the hreflang tag – Hreflang: The Easy Guide for Beginners.

3. Keyword Research and Content Optimization by Country

Each market has its unique language nuances, search habits, and preferences.

Conducting local keyword research ensures that you use terms and phrases that your target audience in each country is searching for.

This increases the relevance of your content to local audiences and improves your visibility in search results.

Usually, keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner have country filtering.

You can apply the same approaches to keyword research and content optimization as your standard approaches, which will be explained in the next chapter.

4. Link Building by Target Market Segment

Each country or market has different communities and popular websites, so that relevant backlinks can differ by geography.

You'll need to customize your link-building efforts to maximize your exposure to the target audience for each geography.

For example, you may need to collaborate with local bloggers, industry leaders, and news outlets to get your content featured in each target country or market.

5. CDN implementation

If users across the world access a website hosted in a single location, there will be a latency issue that will slow down page loading speed. This is not good from the SEO point of view as Google emphasizes page experience (Core Web Vitals) as a ranking factor.

CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a typical solution to avoid the latency issue. CDN uses a network of servers strategically located worldwide to cache (or store) copies of your website's content. When a user visits your site, the CDN delivers this content from the nearest server. This drastically reduces the distance the data travels, speeding up the loading time of your website. Essentially, caching your site's files on multiple servers allows for quicker access and a better user experience.

How CDN (Content Delivery Network) Works

To use CDN, you can choose website or app hosting service providers, such as Firebase, Netlify, or Vercel. When you use those providers, they manage your content using their CDN. If you are using a hosting service without CDN, you can implement CDN, using CDN services, such as Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront.

Conclusion

This lesson briefly explained Local SEO and International SEO with key considerations for each SEO approach.

When you actually implement Local SEO or International SEO, you may need to study each topic further as each SEO approach requires unique techniques.

However, if you have already understood what Local SEO and International SEO are, that's enough for now.

From the next chapter, we'll explore how to execute on-page SEO.


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

Tag: