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Four Crucial Truths About Global SEO

The world’s been flat for a while now, but global SEO has only recently become a hot-button issue. As content claims an ever-larger portion of the marketing budget, getting that content found in organic search is an increasingly top priority for digital marketers. For anyone hoping to compete on the world stage, that means global SEO.

When it comes to tackling global SEO, it’s always helpful to have expert advice. We gathered our favorite global SEO experts to talk about how you scale your strategies up and out (of the country). You can view the full webinar here:

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But optimizing for new markets, search engines, and cultures can seem overwhelming when you’re used to Google’s backyard. So we’ve put together the four fundamental truths about global SEO to help you get started.

Global SEO is Increasing Non-Optional

25% of internet users are in China, and the ubiquity of internet access is only going to increase among its 1.3 billion citizens. If you were running brick-and-mortar retail, you’d be out of your mind to ignore every fourth customer who walked in the door — the necessity of global SEO is now a reality.

Total internet access in a handful of developing nations is expected to add billions to their GDP, and that rising middle class, armed with new internet access, means a lot of search queries.

If that seems overwhelming, take some free advice from Crispin Sheridan, VP of Digital & Social Optimization at SAP: focus on what’s actionable. Pursue Precursors to Revenue, or PTRs, and don’t chase every shiny global object that passes by. Global SEO is an endeavor, but an achievable one, as long as you stay focused. Which brings us to our second point:

Great Global SEO is Built from the Ground Up

Why can’t you just port your Google SEO strategy to Baidu or Yandex? The short answer is, it won’t work, says Simon Lesser, Founder and CEO of Asian market SEO platform Dragon Metrics. As a leading expert in Baidu and other China market search engines, Lesser says that the way APAC search engines work couldn’t be more different from Google.

For example, Baidu distrusts 95% of backlinks, and includes a thumbnail with nearly every result. It doesn’t crawl any JavaScript, and requires that your site be in simplified Chinese. So even a cursory examination of how global SEO differs from domestic reveals that it requires a ground-up strategy.

As a solution, both Sheridan and Lesser recommend a harmonious blend of eagle-eye strategy from HQ and autonomous implementation and advising from local experts. For example, a global SEO specialist based in South Korea might need guidance on brand goals, KPIs, and overall business momentum, but the remote supervisors likely wouldn’t know the specifics of the on-the-ground market among Seoul consumers.

Global SEO is About Going Local

Good localization is good global SEO, says Lesser. They’re synonymous. From specifying the correct hreflang to getting currency and language right, the most important thing is to remember that global SEO is something of a misnomer — the world is just a collection of localities. An internet user in Bangladesh doesn’t think of herself as a global customer; from where she’s sitting, she’s a local.

In the most extreme cases, that can mean drastic steps like locating your servers in China (no small feat) for a bump from Baidu.

But more broadly, it means understanding that if you want to market to someone, you have to speak their proverbial language. For example, in the west, vertical video is largely disdained. But among Japanese women, it’s actually the preferred format.

Like any word in German, it’s easy to put together a literal translation of a word like mobile phone. But if you say you’re selling mobiltelefons, you’ll miss out on the people searching for “handies,” the actual German slang for cellphone – an English word (for more intriguing examples of real-world translation, try a tool like DeepL).

If It Doesn’t Get Measured, It Doesn’t Get Managed

As with any arm of digital marketing, reporting is crucial. Especially when you don’t have built-out, dedicated teams for every locality you’re marketing in, you need a comprehensive reporting strategy and the right tool for the job so you have total visibility.

It’s best to have a mix of global standards and localized KPIs, so you can lead from the top with business-relevant strategy, while measuring success via results that makes sense in local context.

For reporting, consider a tool like Conductor’s FlexHub Global Local Visibility Report, a breakdown of your global performance on a hyper-local level. You can measure your business impact around the world from a single view with data-rich insights, so you always know how your global SEO efforts are going.

Global SEO might seem daunting and impenetrable at first, but with the right tactics and understanding, you can break into any SEO market and — dare we say it — rule the world.

Looking to expand into global markets? Find out the 3 keys to global marketing success.