The importance of including localisation within your approach to international SEO cannot be understated.
You will likely have to partner with a localisation agency, or multiple specialist localisation agencies for different markets or regions.
It’s really important for you to partner with a localisation agency that can deliver efficiently, provide local search specialist natives, and follow a set brief closely.
What will your localisation partner support with?
Keyword research for local markets – your localisation partner will either be required to conduct a full keyword research in a local market from scratch, or localise the English language keyword research conducted by your company.
Our preferred approach is to manage the full scale English language keyword research build, and then use our localisation partner to localise the keyword research using the original structure.
This will involve the identification of accurate variations of keywords for the relevant market, because direct translations will fail to capture true local market search patterns.
It is worth localising keywords that return zero search volume, as these may still have a lot of value when going down to the local level.
Q&A of SEO optimisations – as part of your international SEO strategy, you will be optimising web pages. This will either involve metadata optimisations, on-page content changes or most likely both. Your localisation partner will be required to Q&A the optimisations that you implement.
Content production – another approach could potentially be for your company to provide SEO page specifications for your localisation partner to allocate a local market writer to produce entirely.
This will involve numerous reviews from localisation experts and search channel specialists to ensure the content is relevant for the local market, as well as aligning with the searcher’s intent.
Local market consultancy – your localisation partner should be able to supply local market consultancy. The local native that will be involved in the project should have a greater understanding of how search terms are used in their country.
We recommend that you transfer any provided consultancy into your international buyer personas, which should include nuances in search patterns for local users.
Which aspects of localisation will you have to manage?
Produce the English-language keyword research – our preferred approach is to conduct keyword research in English-language before sending it on to your localisation partner. This will mean that you have a clear understanding of the structure of the keyword research project, as the localised version will likely follow a similar structure.
By providing your localisation partner with an English-language keyword research, they will have clear direction when undertaking the localised research. It is important to tag all of your keywords and cluster them into different segments based on topics or intent.
This will help you with the user intent analysis of the localised keyword research upon return from your agency.
You should request for localised keywords to have the English-language equivalent or similar keywords listed in the research spreadsheet.
Map keywords to landing pages – once the localised keyword research has been produced, your next step will be to map the keywords to your website’s current landing pages.
We recommend using a ranking tracking tool, such as GetSTAT, to manage this part of the process. Upload your keywords and ensure you have the location set to the relevant local market so that you identify exactly which URLs are being served for the localised search queries.
This will allow you to analyse to see which keyword segments your website is ranking well for organically, as well as identify any inconsistencies in a search engine serving a non-relevant URL to a location – which indicates an error in your hreflang setup.
Review the user intent of keywords in the SERPS – the most important aspect of SEO is being able to decipher and understand the user intent behind a search query. This enables you to map keywords to various stages of the inbound sales funnel, and informs your SEO content strategy.
You should have produced a SERP user intent analysis for your English-language keyword research, and this can be used as reference during your local market user intent analysis. There will likely be consistencies in the analysis across the markets.
It is fundamental for your search marketing specialists to undertake this user intent analysis for your localised keyword research. You will be analysing to review the following:
- Which localised keyword segments are awareness, consideration or decision-stage? Use a combination of Google translate and an analysis of the page templates returned in the SERPs.
- Are there any local market entities, such as company names, that result in certain keyword SERPs returning entirely different results?
- Does the search engine that is relevant to the local market return a different web structure or is the keyword intent less obvious?
Write content specifications based on SEO research – you should have search marketing and content specialists produce content specifications for localised content based on the SEO research, international buyer personas and brand tone of voice.
These content specifications can be shared with your localisation partner for them to manage the production of the the localised content, whilst following the specification to ensure that content remains aligned with your overall strategy and consistent with your brand’s global tone of voice.
Your content specifications should include target keywords, semantic keywords, competitor analysis, content format information and questions that the localised content should answer to have the greatest chance of satisfying user intent.