We recently published a webinar special, looking into the challenges with International SEO and how that impacts areas such as website structure, content and brand strategy.
Today we’re zeroing in on one of the topics discussed as part of the webinar: Should you try to establish a domain’s authority and relevance before launching a new website?
Jump straight this question in the webinar video below:
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Great stuff. So, say you’ve got a strategy already in place, you’re already in a few countries, but you’re moving into a new country. You’re going with a top-level domain strategy, so you’ve registered a new domain name for that new country. Do you think prior to launching in that country, it’s best to actually try and establish a website as being locally from that new country? If so, what are some of the best ways to deal with that? Shall we start with the other Michael this time? Michael F., what are your thoughts on that one?
MICHAEL FLEISCHNER: I definitely think that if you’re going to take that strategy, where you’re country-specific, again in the planning, and in the strategic development of that site, you really need to take into consideration, again, the tone. I know Lukasz talked about that earlier. You also need to make sure that you’re talking about your business, your products, your solutions.
Most importantly, you’re talking about your audience in a way that is localised, that is how they’re used to finding solutions for the problems that they’re seeking. It’s that strategy that honestly, most companies really don’t spend their time on. I’m sure the other guys have seen this as well. We’re called in after the fact, when they’re not getting the traffic, or they’re not getting the conversions, because a lot of this work wasn’t done initially.
They just went in and duplicated what they did in the previous country. They’re just replicating bad decision-making again and again and again. So I would definitely take that time on the strategy piece, to make sure that even before I launched a website or built the website, that it really was appropriate for the country, while implementing best practices that will ensure that it gets seen in search engine results.
DAVID BAIN: So Lukasz, prior to actually starting business in that country, if you’ve got maybe a six-month period, would you launch a website with a few webpages on it, and try and build links up to that site, local links, and demonstrate that that website is from that country? Or do you think just using Google Webmaster tools, and XML sitemaps, and things like that is enough to demonstrate to Google that that website belongs to that new country?
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: I think you need to consider this problem very, very broadly. So I would do everything multiple times. I would care about the content of the website, but also about technical things like sitemap, HREFLANGs, and making sure that Google Webmaster tools is showing the right thing. Then, of course, Google Analytics, where we can see if the traffic we’re receiving is the traffic we’re looking for. I wanted to tell you something more. I like this kind of comparison from the real world, because online work is very abstract. Do you like stand-up comedy, David?
DAVID BAIN: I like some stand-up comedy.
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: You like some stand-up comedies. Like, George Carlin, Billy Connelly, Richard Pryor, I love them.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah.
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: I love them, but you know what? I love English stand-up comedy, but I don’t really like Polish stand-up comedy. And you know why? Because this is wrong. You shouldn’t translate stand-up. Stand-up is a very English, American thing. The language needs to English, and the form, it’s much together.
Right now, when you go into Poland, we have cabaret. That’s our form, and that’s a bunch of actors who are doing this kind of sketch, and this is very funny. It’s more like Polish thing, and here it’s like an English thing. This is the kind of tone of voice we’re talking about. So I think again, I will get back to what we said about tone of voice. Translating this just quickly to large website, and gather some back-links, I wouldn’t say this is a good idea.
It is very like thinking about SEO like a sprint. SEO is a marathon. It’s 42 kilometres, and it’s a long, long, long journey to be strong. So I think that instead of doing something fast for today, and in six months maybe get back to this, I would rather take a little more time and start everything properly, from the implementation to getting the right results.
DAVID BAIN: So Michael B., do you think it’s actually reasonable to think of launching in a new country without having any local people employed from that country working in your business? Can you just outsource the content, get the content written for you, and publish without having that local understanding?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah. You don’t necessarily have to have somebody on the ground, in that market that you’re moving into. You can hire a company that has the resources that are on the ground. I probably wouldn’t recommend somebody who, for example, knows French, and they studied French in school, and they live in England, and you hire them to do your French site.
They may understand some things about French, but the best practice is really to have a local person provide and research the content, and provide the keyword research necessary for the client in that market, and to really provide a lot of value from a local standpoint.
So just like a Chinese person. If a Chinese site wanted to launch in the US, they can often do it. Unfortunately, they’ll hire somebody who’s Chinese, who lives in the US, to do it, and they’ll mess it up. They’d be better off hiring a US firm that knows the content and knows the culture very well, and knows how to talk to the audience here on the ground. It’s best for them to actually find somebody who knows the market.