Post From SMX: International SEO Geotargeting

By Casey Davenport | Oct 4, 2012
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At SMX East Andy Atkins-Krüger, Group CEO of WebCertain, shared tips on how to fix geo-targeting problems for international sites in organic search.  So what exactly does “geo-targeting problems for international sites” mean?  Atkins-Krüger presented an example of a man searching “moveis para hotel” in Portugal and receiving a top result for the Brazillian version of the site (with a .BR domain) that presented prices in Brazilian reals and likely did not ship to Portugal.

He says that geotargeting matters to Luis! He then states that there are multiple techniques that can and should be employed to send signals to search engines about the country a website targets.  So which signals matter? Ordered loosely by weight, Andy outlined the following:

1. Local Domains or ccTLDs

Not only does a local domain act as a country-specific signal for search engines, but from a user-experience and CTR perspective, searchers prefer to shop locally and will likely select a local domain over a foreign one.

2. Webmaster Tools

If using a generic domain, webmasters can specify their targeted country within the webmaster tools platform.

3. Server Location

This ones a little self explanatory, but the location of your server can also act as a geotargeting signal.
4. Sitemaps , Hreflang Tags &Canonicals

Andy recommends implementing Hreflang Tags in sitemaps by creating a separate URL element for each URL.  Each URL has to include a loc tag that indicates the page URLs and an xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”XX”(where XX = language code) subelement for every alternate version of the page, including itself.

geotargeting within xml
5. Languages

Languages used on site give search engines clues as to the location they are targeting.  This is especially true of countries with national languages.  Andy urged the audience to use the “no translate” tag in order to prevent the “translate this page” link from showing up alongside search results.
6. Currency & Address Formats

Both the currency used on-site and formats of addresses on site will send signals about country location.
7. Inbound Links

Inbound links from another country-specific domain can send signals about domains orientation as well.

Can’t get enough of international SEO? Follow Andy Atkins-Krüger on Twitter @andyatkinskruge.  Can’t get enough of that SMX East coverage? Follow the Search Mojo Team on Twitter @CaseyDavenport, @ArielleMcWhinney, and @Davidson_JL.

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