5 Best Practices For Deploying An International SEO Strategy


Being visible in Europe and abroad is the challenge of any SME wishing to export its concept, to be known by all and found by qualified visitors or not in their mother tongue. A quick tour of SEO best practices to gain unprecedented visibility on the global and national search engines.

1. Choose The Domain Name Extension

To choose a domain name, three options:

  • By language or country, also called ccTLD type www.domain.us
  • By a common domain name with subdirectory by language type www.domain.com/en/
  • By a common domain name with sub-domain by language type en.domain.com

2. Define A Language Technique

From a technical aspect, it is necessary to show to the search engines what is the language in force on each page of the site. Two essential elements here are the lang attribute of the HTML tag and the hreflang attribute placed on a link tag.

The lang attribute placed on the <html> tag makes it possible to fix the default language of the complete content of the page and it’s not only intended for the search engines but also for recognized browsers. It fills the attribute using the IANA Language Subtag Registry’s coding. It looks like this: <html lang = “en”>

The hreflang attribute of the <link> tag is only for search engines. It makes it possible to indicate to the engines the different linguistic variants of the same page in the ISO 639-1 format. It must indicate each variant, including the current page. This last point is important and has a rather positive edge effect: the hreflang will be identical on each language variant, which facilitates the deployment of this element.

Here is an example of setting up for an existing site in English, French and Spanish:

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “en” href = “https://www.domain.com/en/page.html“/>

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “en” href = “https://www.domain.com/us/page.html“/>

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “es” href = “https://www.domain.com/es/pagina.html“/>

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “x-default” href = “https://www.domain.com/en/page.html“/>

We notice the appearance of a hreflang = “x-default”; this one indicates a version by default so that Google knows which page to position on another linguistic version of its engine, Google.it for example. This one is optional.

Besides languages, it is possible to target regions, in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format, to differentiate, for example, content intended for the US and content intended for the UK:

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “en-us” href = “https://www.domain.com/en/page.html“/>

<link rel = “alternate” hreflang = “en-gb” href = “https://www.domain.com/en/page.html“/>

If the language is mandatory, geographic targeting is optional. When the latter is present, it is important to put the language in the first position and the geographical targeting in a second.

Note: The implementation of hreflang will not the better position itself on Google, however, it will present the right version of the site on the good localized version of Google.

3. One Language Per Page

Although few sites describe the features of a product in multiple languages ​​on a single page, many posts-consumer reviews in different languages ​​on a single page.

It should avoid multilingual notices on the same page, several methods exist:

  • Automate their translation by leaving the possibility to the user to display the original version.
  • Display only reviews written in the current language and leave the option to post reviews written in other languages.

4. Translation Or Localization?

If the border remains held, the ambitions and stakes are very different.

  • For a site in several languages ​​that do not target one or another geographical area, translation is often sufficient.
  • While for a site targeting a particular geographical area, localization goes beyond simple translation and requires cultural adaptation. Only a semantic analysis will confirm the need for localization.

In both cases, current translation software is not efficient enough.

5. Language Selection

Defining the language according to the language of the browser or the IP are excellent solutions from the user experience but are not recommended from an SEO aspect: most of the crawlers, based in the States United States are not yet ready to interpret this dynamic content.

The best solution is to let the user choose the language via a tunnel page or even a pop-up, the main thing being to make sure that from a technical aspect, the crawlers have access to the different languages ​​available.


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