Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 24th, 2010

Three Challenges of I-SEO and How to Overcome Them

Many companies with international ambitions are searching for new ways to spread their influence across the Web by optimizing their sites for global search. There are many barriers of entry into international search markets and without International Search Engine Optimization (I-SEO) services, nothing will be even remotely easy.

There is a comment misconception with SEO that it is easy. Just build a website that is search engine friendly and then sit back and light up that cigar. I hate to burst your bubble right before a holiday, but it’s a bit more complicated than it sounds. SEO takes in account many little things that one who doesn’t practice SEO wouldn’t even think about. The same translates over to I-SEO, with an added language barrier. Sounds fun, right?!

If you are intimidated by I-SEO, or just don’t know where to begin, have no fear. Here are three main challenges that companies face when they expand their website to international search markets and how to overcome them for optimal search presence in international search engines.

Challenge #1: Domain

When implementing “white hat” SEO practices, your domain selection is critically important. This is true whether it is for a small website in Utica, NY, or for a group of websites you’re optimizing for international success.

When implementing I-SEO, it is highly recommended that you have a TLD (top level domain) for each country you are targeting. This is complicated because many countries require that you have an actual physical business location in that country before you can get a TLD. For example, you must operate a business office in Germany to get a German (.de) TLD.

Can you really blame the search engines for this flaming hoop? Search engines want to rank the most relevant search results for the end-user, so it only makes sense to rank the domains that are specific for that country. If you were searching while in Canada, on, Google will rank anything with .ca higher than .com. The lesson here? Your domain matters.

Challenge #2: Hosting

If you work for a large corporation, chances are that your company’s websites are hosted in one facility, serving the entire world. Ideally, you want to host your website on a unique TLD in the country you are targeting. This is because search engines look at the host location (IP) of websites when they deliver the most relevant results for the end-user.

So, if you are targeting New Zealand, you need a website and host within’s indexing area. If you want to operate in, say, 15 countries, try rolling it out all at the same time globally. If you absolutely cannot get a local TLD, check out the advice of the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Challenge #3: Content

This is the single largest challenge in I-SEO. If you want to truly operate a global company, you need to localize your website’s content for each country you operate in.

Even if you are entering English-speaking countries like New Zealand, India, and Ireland, there are still dialect differences, idioms, cliches, cultural meanings, etc. that you may not know about.

Too often, a company takes the quickest and easiest path to international operation and republishes their original website in a the new country’s TLD. Not only are you going to be running duplicate content in this instance, but you’ll be running off your intended audience. This quick and easy path will actually cost your company tons of time and money, not to mention the number of opportunities lost to bad content.

Take the time and money to optimize your content for I-SEO the right way, the first time. Localization of content is the right way to penetrate international search markets. With a website that speaks to your international audience in their language, you can capitalize on the immeasurable opportunities that await you in these markets.

To implement a solid I-SEO campaign, you first need to search engine optimize your original website, then choose the international markets you wish to penetrate. A team of localized personnel translate and optimize your site for the intended markets and audiences. Once your site is ready to go global, expand your products and services to the world!

I realize this post didn’t go into incredible detail of an I-SEO campaign, but these challenges should give you an idea of the process required for global search engine optimization success. If you have any further questions, let us know in a comment below or contact us directly!

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