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Any digital marketer will tell you, SEO is essential for e-commerce brands. But how are your international websites performing? Read our guide on how to maximize your results with international SEO for e-commerce.

As an e-commerce brand, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to click ‘add to basket’. An International SEO checklist can help with this.

With fully optimized e-commerce sites, you can maximize visibility in every market and smooth the path to purchase for your customers. Whether you’re launching in a new region or want to drive customers to your existing sites.

Most people prefer to buy in their own language, so it’s important to give your customers a localized journey to purchase. They need to be able to find and access information in their native language.

How do your international websites rank? Have you considered your customers’ journey? Optimizing your e-commerce websites can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps to a winning international SEO strategy that will drive global sales.

1. OPTIMIZE YOUR INTERNATIONAL SITES 

HOW ARE YOUR SITES PERFORMING?

Take a look at your current international sites. Identify top-performing pages based on unique visits, new vs returning visitors, session length and conversion rates. For e-commerce, remember that the move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will have an impact on your tracking.

GA4 doesn’t offer as comprehensive tracking for e-commerce sites as Universal Analytics (UA). For example, any backend views you have set up in UA won’t be available, meaning it’ll be more difficult to filter out internal traffic on your website.

For e-commerce brands, setting up GA4 and running it alongside your UA tool now is a good way to prepare for the change in July 2023. It means you can learn to navigate the new iteration while still benefitting from the platform you’re familiar with.

If you’re planning to launch in a new market, you can also geo-filter to get an idea of which pages and products users in that region are already familiar with.

Key page identification can inform the best use of your budget when it comes to localizing your sites. Avoid translating everything unless there’s a clear benefit. 

Which parts of your website are most relevant to your target markets? Focusing on key page content as a starting point can keep the translation process and budget manageable. And you can make sure you’ve translated and optimized the most locally relevant content.

Ultimately, translating smaller amounts of highly targeted, relevant content will give you the best short-term results.

WHAT DOES THE MARKET LOOK LIKE?

Before you start localizing or optimizing your sites, take the time to understand the market landscape in each target region. Depending on your products and target countries, this could be as light as a quick review of consumer trends with expert, in-market support.

Other markets might need a deeper dive to assess the competitive landscape. This will determine which products might be well-received – and which ones won’t. It will also give you an insight into how to drive traffic to your site via organic and paid digital marketing.

Taking the time to understand the local market landscape will help keep your localization and optimization process targeted and relevant.

2. BE SELECTIVE ABOUT WHAT YOU OPTIMIZE

Optimizing your local pages with culturally relevant keywords could cause keyword cannibalization. You’ll likely have tens – or even hundreds – of landing and product pages, all requiring unique keywords. 

But don’t fall into the trap of simply translating keywords. Use SEO experts experienced in local keyword research to help determine how best to reach your audiences.  And prioritizing select pages can help bolster your global SEO strategy, without having to tackle each page all at once.

CATEGORY PAGES

Category, or collection, pages are great to optimize with non-brand, relevant keywords. And they give you a chance to maximize their search volume. 

Your category pages are often the customer’s starting point in their journey on your site. They go from here to specific product pages. So it’s essential to appropriately localize and optimize them. 

Category pages also allow you to display your offering to an international audience. Even if they’re not yet available, you can use category pages to launch new products so they start ranking in your target market. 

PRODUCT PAGES

The next step is to identify and optimize some of your product pages. If you’re in a new market, you should also think about the product pages you need to localize. You’ll want to give customers navigating from a localized category page an optimal experience on the product pages too. 

Optimized product pages help your chances of featuring on Google’s Shopping tab. Make sure your product IDs, descriptions, availability and pricing information are all up-to-date. 

Don’t forget images too. High-quality, striking images make it more likely your products will appear on Google Shopping. 

For international e-commerce, ensuring the overall visual experience is culturally sensitive, relatable, and inclusive for target audiences is just as necessary. When selling in certain markets, ensuring you have appropriate model imagery on your product pages is key.

Think about the user intent and how you can gear your product page towards follow-through. Customer reviews and specific product details are a great way to optimize your page for the searcher who’s ready to buy. 

We know people prefer to read and buy in their own language. So translating your product reviews is a good step to ensure maximum ease in the customer journey. This will build trust, improve customer satisfaction and benefit your SEO ranking too. 

BLOG AND EDITORIAL CONTENT

It may not be first on the list, but localizing your blog content and optimizing it for international search is worth considering. It can be a game changer at the local level to have SEO-informed blog and editorial content when driving international growth.  

3. INTERNATIONAL ON-PAGE SEO

When optimizing your e-commerce sites, international SEO best practice principles still apply.

Your global customers won’t search, engage and convert online in the same way as consumers in your home market. To get it right, you have to address the local nuances, intent and behaviour in your target markets. 

International keyword research and search optimization are key. Working with in-market experts will help make sure you’re using the most popular and relevant keywords.

For e-commerce, you should also consider the following aspects to on-page SEO:

  • Where your keywords sit on the page. Google needs to know exactly what your page is about. 
  • Whether your site is localized for the best user experience. 
  • Tailoring your content to language and culture.

4. OTHER ELEMENTS TO CONSIDER

You should think about SEO as part of a holistic experience for your international customers. For e-commerce brands, it’s essential they reach the end point of their journey on your site effortlessly. 

Think about the ease and accessibility of your payment portal or purchasing engine. You should localize it in line with your international customers’ expectations – consider pricing and payment options. 

Are local search engines more relevant for localization and optimization in your target markets? Optimizing your Chinese e-commerce site for Baidu makes more sense, as only 3.56% of the Chinese market uses Google.

And although smaller search engines won’t hold as much market share as the giants, it’s worth paying attention to those gaining popularity in your target markets. 

For example, Berlin-based Ecosia has grown its market share over the past few years and is now the fourth most popular search engine in Germany. Not sure which platforms you need to optimize your content for? Local experts can help with this. 

Finally, make sure you’re monitoring your URL ranking, taking international keywords into account. This will help make sure your site ranks in the correct countries. 

FINAL THOUGHT

Getting your international SEO right is about optimizing the content you have – and taking a data-backed approach to localizing for new markets. 

Working with a partner with in-country marketing localization expertise will help lighten the load on your internal resources. And it will also provide critical insight to help drive results and sales in your target markets.

Get in touch to find out how we can help with international SEO and your wider digital marketing strategy