Chapter 2 - What Do I Need to Know About Market Entry?

When getting to grips with International SEO, understanding market entry is really important. Market entry and a market entry strategy considers so much more than just SEO. However, it is common, especially in today’s digital age, for business owners and stakeholders to put a lot of pressure on the organic performance of the site. They rely on this performance to succeed in their new country where they launch the site instead of properly understanding the new market and thinking the performance my be different than in their home country.

It is crucial to take a step back before launching a site internationally and think about the shared goal that you have with your client, stakeholders and other agencies, as well as understanding the wider strategy and all other external factors that could be affecting the organic performance of the site.

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Often, as SEOs and digital marketers we can get lost in the technical and site intricacies, but to get to the point of advising on relevant and successful SEO strategy, we need to understand the
business’ performance in other markets and the wider strategy.

Understanding the following will be key before getting stuck into an SEO strategy for their growth markets;

  • How have you grown your business in your current markets?
  • Have you focused on other channels and marketing methods outside of organic?
  • Do you have a lot of partnerships, referrals etc. that have led to business critical leads?
  • Have you invested in an organic strategy or has it been more holistic?

This is really important and not investigating the overall strategy and marketing plan can often trip up even the most experienced technical SEOs. You should also make sure that you are not isolating your SEO work.

Marketing managers or people that aren’t that familiar with SEO and search engines will often ask you to focus on one site, for one market, and that’s it. However, always thinking bigger than this considering all websites and channels that are affecting your organic performance will make sure you succeed in your international SEO strategy.

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

This is really important as you can’t assume that you can replicate what you’ve done in your current market with a completely different market; it has to be unique. Things can change.

An example would be if we were a home and garden ecommerce site and were looking at optimising our garden products. We would have to consider the differences between barbecuing and grilling because a grill and grilling means something different in the UK than in the US. It’s making sure that you’re optimizing for those specific terms and ensuring that you are not just duplicating content. This is also why translating keywords does not work without keyword research, search intent analysis and an understanding of the industry and products in that market.

2. Understand business goals and growth markets with market maturity

This comes down to understanding the key differences in different markets. For example, is the product range in the US going to be the same as in Australia? Do people even know that this product works? Are there any competitors that are dominating the landscape?

This will then allow you to understand what you need to include in your international SEO strategy. For example, will you need to include more informational content to educate your audience and users? These are the big questions that can be answered through using tools such as Searchmetrics and SEMrush where you can get a really good overview of the competitor landscape.

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

If you’re entering a new market, it’s likely, if you’ve got a main site, maybe a .com site, that the site is already ranking in that market already in some way. It’s critical that in your initial audits you are considering this site and understand its performance so that you avoid cannibalisation.

Even if a business owner or stakeholder says that they have no presence in their new market and have done zero work to have any presence in that market, it does not mean they don’t! Sites can easily gain traffic from many countries unintentionally, in a similar way to how sites can rank for keywords or gain backlinks unintentionally.

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