International SEO: 4 Tips For Increasing Your Search Rankings In Multiple Countries

International SEO

Table of Contents

We all know the importance of SEO, and most of us understand the basic concepts behind ranking a site for a given key phrase.

Most of our knowledge, however, is usually limited to ranking in our home country. What happens when we want to rank in multiple countries simultaneously?

On the one hand, the core practices of SEO will be consistent regardless of how many countries we target. On the other hand, international SEO can be a bit different and requires a shift in our mindset.

Fortunately, that’s what we’re here to talk about today: 4 tips for increasing your search rankings in multiple countries.

Each Country Requires Its Own Unique Strategy

For SEO experts in the post-Penguin & Panda world, consolidation is usually the name of the game.

Creating 10 different websites is no longer more effective than putting 10 websites worth of content on the same site. In fact, it is usually a big mistake to pursue this type of SEO strategy.

Successful SEO in 2016 is about coming up with a single, coordinated strategy that involves every aspect of your marketing.

Unless we’re talking about international SEO…

When it comes to ranking multiple countries, the rules change a bit. We now have to consider factors like server IP addresses, country-specific domains, language-specific wording, Google’s international search algorithms, and the dominant search engines or social media platforms in your target country.

For example, it doesn’t make sense in China to invest all your time in ranking on Google when the Baidu search engine accounts for nearly 80% of the market share.

China Search Engine Market Share by Revenue in Q2 2015

Simply put, each country requires its own unique branding, marketing and SEO strategy. To be successful, we need to change our game plan and create unique strategies for each country we’re targeting.

One of the best ways to do that is…

Create A Different Website For Each Country

The first thing that factors into your ranking is your top-level domain (TLD). Your TLD is represented by the letters after the final dot in your name. For example, at, “.com” is the TLD.

Certain countries have TLDs that are dedicated to that country, including “.in” for India, “.uk” for Britain, “.au” for Australia, etc.

While you don’t need a country-specific domain to rank for terms in that country, it does help. This is why one of the best strategies for multi-country ranking is to create a unique website for each country you are targeting, using country-specific TLDs.

This is the optimal strategy for hosting the tailored marketing & SEO plans I mentioned in Tip #1. Each website acts as the hub for your efforts in its country.

Google also takes server IP addresses into consideration, so having a unique website for each country allows you to host each site on local servers, giving you that added rankings boost.

Alternatively, you could use subdomains for each strategy. For example, or This strategy still allows you to take advantage of country-specific IP addresses, as you can host each subdomain on a different server, but it will NOT allow you to utilise country-specific top-level domains.

Coke Localization

Either way, the most important thing is having a separate online base for each country’s marketing, branding, and SEO strategy.

Run Language-Specific Link Building Campaigns

When building out link campaigns for multiple countries, it’s important to differentiate by language.

For best results, each campaign will need a host of language-specific content, which is a fairly intuitive strategic decision. What might be less intuitive, however, is the importance of obtaining backlinks from sites using the same language.

As SEO expert Joshua Jacoby says:

“A lot of the benefit comes from the location of links you get. For instance, if your links come from Indian websites, and they link to your Indian landing page, then that landing page will likely do well in India, but those links would likely affect your rankings in the US less.”

For example, if you are seeking to rank a site with French content, you will want to write out a lot of content in French and then obtain backlinks from other French sites or sites with significant levels of French content.

This will be much more effective than backlinks from only English sites.

One easy way to go about this is to find English bloggers or writers with existing, popular content in your niche who would be willing to let you translate and distribute it in a different language via your site or as guest posts, provided you include a link to the original. This provides additional exposure for them and low-cost content for you.

All you have to cover is the cost of translation, and speaking of translation…

Prioritise High-Quality Translation

It might sound a bit biased to say translation is very important in an article published on our site, so let me take it straight from one of the most popular SEO sites on the planet: Search Engine Journal.

“This step is one most often outsourced; making sure it is done properly will be crucial to not only your SEO, but your conversion rates as well. Remember, at the end of the day rankings are meaningless if the traffic you are getting does not result in the visitor taking some sort of action.

Make sure the content you’re translating is taking into consideration user intent and variations of keyword phrasing (which by the way should help you in finding new keyword opportunities). Have real people who speak and understand the language help rewrite this content properly– you don’t want the success of your efforts relying on poor translation or JavaScript auto-translators.”

Proper translation can make or break a marketing campaign, and yet many businesses – even multi-million dollar corporations – are often guilty of taking shortcuts through this process.

We often laugh about it when we see mistakes made in translating to English, but the exact same thing is happening on the other end.

In order to make a meaningful impact with your brand in a new country or new language, you need the wording to make sense to the user base. This means you need native speakers to ensure that your copy and content is communicating, rather than confusing users with poor phrasing or misplaced wording.


Pursuing international SEO rankings can be a bit more complex, but it can also be a lot more rewarding. Certain types of key phrases that are saturated in one country might be wide open in another.

Be sure to follow these 4 tips in planning out your strategy:

  1. Create a unique SEO strategy for each target country
  2. Create a different website (or subdomain) to serve as the hub for each country
  3. Run-language specific link-building campaigns
  4. Prioritise high-quality translation in your branding, copy, ads, and blog posts

If you target each country separately, you can then use the same core process you would use for any single country. And you’ll be well on your way to positive results.

Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is an expert copywriter with over 7 years of freelance experience through his venture, which helps businesses improve their online customer journey through focused copywriting.
Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is an expert copywriter with over 7 years of freelance experience through his venture, which helps businesses improve their online customer journey through focused copywriting.

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