Most Common International SEO Mistakes

Bill Hunt has been working in SEO for more than 20 years and therefore cetainly knows a thing or two about International SEO. His company won Best International SEO Software for the HREFlang builder they launched in 2020. In this guide, Bill shares some of the most common International SEO mistakes to avoid ensuring you have minimum search visibility problems when going international.

1. Make sure that you understand the search landscape of the markets that you are entering.

Most SEOs, the objective is getting a page ranking as opposed to the right page ranking. It’s something you can do today, right after reading this guide, simply go into Search Console and take one of your top level pages for a product that you sell around the world, and simply look at that page, and especially if it’s a global page, like a /EN page and just look at it. In the example we went through in Tea Time SEO, this global page with no price and nothing uniquely local was shown 3.2 million times to people in markets where there was an existing website.

This right here means there’s something wrong with the approach. In most cases, this is an HREFLang problem, in other cases it might be a semantic problem. You might have wording on your global page that’s neutral English, and in the other markets it might skew maybe to local English or British English. So this is the first thing you should check is, how big of a problem do we have ? Is the /EN page showing in local markets where there is no existing website? If so then this needs to be fixed.

2. Fix errors in XML sitemaps and GSC to reduce wasted requests by Search Engines

One of the things Bill hears a lot is that, “We did HREFLang and it sort of sucks. It’s complex, it’s too hard.” HREFLang itself is embarrassingly simple. It’s our complex websites that make it a challenge. We see here a case where a site had 7.7 million tags, 580,000 errors. When you have that many errors, it’s your problem, not Google. Google’s told you the problems. The other one that Bill finds a lot when HREFLang or local market sites aren’t being indexed is a case like at the top; 131,000 pages were valid, but over a million were bad. So you have 10 times more pages that Google’s wasting resources on. So try to fix some of these and specifically focus around the world.

Watch our Tea Time SEO session here:

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3. Always make sure you are auditing a legacy or primary domain

Make sure your canonical tags for local language versions are correct.

For example this is the language version on a Lithuanian Site 

English – https://www.mysite.com/lt/home

Spanish – https://www.mysite.com/lt/home?locale.x=es_LT

French – https://www.mysite.com/lt/home?locale.x=fr_LT

Chinese – https://www.mysite.com/lt/home?locale.x=zh_LT

Lithuanian – https://www.mysite.com/lt/home?locale.x=lt_LT

BUT the Canonical tag INCORRECTLY points to English <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.mysite.com/lt/home” />

Make sure your canonical tags are set correctly, especially if you have parameterised or dynamically-inserted localised content.

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