November 14, 2014

Global SEO: Don’t Dream Small When You Can Dream Big

By Justin H. 

Local SEO and maps optimization are two of the most widely-covered topics here at the Tek Shouts! blog. They help small businesses by driving up online traffic and churning out more potential business opportunities, but you already knew that. If you own a small business such as a law firm, convenience store, dental office, diner or dog grooming service, then by all means local SEO is your ticket to the Promised Land.

However, what if your business plans on expanding one day? What if your business sells cunning, innovative products that have a market not just in your little town, but across the whole world? If your business is capable of providing services outside of your area code, then it might be time to entertain some broader techniques, known as global SEO.

Global SEO could be the key to unlocking your business’ localized handcuffs. Every business owner dreams of having tons of success. For some businesses, success simply means driving a bunch of customers to one location. For others, it is becoming optimized online in other continents. Global SEO techniques will not help your dog grooming business, aside from the off chance that a Beijing native coincidentally flies to your little town, and just so happens to bring one particularly fluffy canine with them. You are selling yourself short by doing this, and before you know it, you end up living a life full of settling and compromises, and turn into a real-life Walter White from Breaking Bad.

Gross exaggerations aside, global SEO has carved its niche in the search engine world just as maps optimization has. Its strength will only continue to grow. Global SEO shares many similarities with local SEO, namely when it comes to localization. Keywords are often similar between the two, with the difference being that global SEO keywords aim to target terms specific to markets outside of your immediate surrounding area. Global SEO also will often focus on large-scale, more generic keywords.

Some of the keywords and other optimization tactics might resemble one another, but there are plenty of other facets to global SEO that are unbeknownst to local business owners. Utilizing some of these techniques could help businesses dive right into untapped markets.

One aspect to note is language barriers. If your site is intended to be read by viewers in other countries, then you are going to have to go the extra mile and create separate domain names for each country. This may seem daunting, but it will pay off in the long run. Simply tossing all your site’s information into Google Translate will result in some of your content’s meaning getting lost in translation. For example, did you know that “finger-licking good” translates to “we’ll eat your fingers off” in Chinese? That could go over poorly for a fast food chain trying to reach out to their global neighbors. Less hostile, effective translation can be done using hreflang annotations, which will assist in specifying your language and the targeted country. Hreflang tags let you specify for each web page what language and intended audience is. You can also indicate to Google that your separate domains are simply different versions of your original website, albeit in alternate languages.

Like just about every other red-blooded American who doesn’t go to great lengths to shun societal mainstream practices, I search for things on Google. Call me a conformist, but it is just the way we do things here! If I intended to globally optimize my business, it would behoove me to accept that not every country is so pro-Google. Do you know what the world’s most populated country is? China. Can you guess what search engine is banned there? You guessed it: Google. According to, by the year 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be located in the Asia-Pacific, adding even more importance to utilizing global SEO if your business calls for it.

Baidu is the leading search engine in China. Japan uses Yahoo. Russia uses a site called Yandex, and South Korea uses Naver. When it comes to SEO, this just goes to show how crucial optimizing your site across all search engine platforms is. Social media sites act much the same way when it comes to this topic.

Common sense also comes into play with global SEO. The Internet may seem like magic at times, but if you start generating online traffic coming in from other countries, webpage loading time will be painfully slow, unless you find a web hosting company with a datacenter near your targeted country. Your click rate will plummet due to slow loading time, as impatience is a universally human characteristic.

Some of the other less-glamorous tactics to improve global SEO include using local link building, geo-specific schema tags, and setting up Google Places listings. Schema tags are used by webmasters in cohesion with certain content that allows search engines to understand the content better, despite the language. Many schema tags are used to further verify what the target audience of the content is. These tags can also be coupled with your Google Places listings. This is where you can stick to traditional local SEO tactics. You don’t want to get so caught up in global SEO that you forget the bread and butter of local SEO.

If you feel that your business has the wherewithal to make an impact outside of your physical location, then it might be time to start thinking outside the box in terms of SEO. Global SEO is crucial in expanding your product or services into separate continents and hemispheres, but it often seems like such a tall order. Once a business has a firm grasp on maps optimization and local SEO, there should be movement towards global SEO. Don’t be afraid to dream BIG!

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