Does your website do business in various countries? You may have considered creating country-specific pages on your website or purchasing country-specific domains like .au or .co.uk. We have worked with many clients who have been in this same situation and we thought it would be beneficial for us to combine our research on this subject in a simple, step-by-step guide.
1. Create Geo-Targeted Folders
Many clients wonder if they should buy country-specific domains (.au), create sub-domains (au.example.com) or use sub-folders (example.com/au). We’ve found in most cases you’re best off using a sub-folder. This will allow you to keep your existing domain authority and keep your online efforts consolidated. Where creating sub-domains or buying new domains can dilute your online marketing efforts because major search engines will see them as different websites.
Now, if you’re a large brand like Amazon, you probably have the resources to optimize 5+ different websites. In this case, country-specific domains can be a better choice. This is because you’ll be able to create an entire website that focuses on that location.
For example if you search “Pittsburgh Shoe Store” in Google you might expect to see big, national shoe stores like DSW or Payless. You’ll find that when you are physically IN Pittsburgh and you conduct a search, Google typically favors sites that are Pittsburgh-based. These sites probably don’t have the online popularity of the larger national brands, but since their site is so Pittsburgh focused Google deems it a better result for searchers.
2. Treat Country Specific Pages as Homepages
- Create an easy to spot “chose your country” option on your website template. We recommend using flag icons, as they are much more identifiable than letters.
- Build your site for each COUNTRY, not language. For example, the US pages should use American spellings such as “center”, and American measurements such as Dollars.
- You should also do your research to anticipate the phrases your visitors will employ. For example, a young person in one part of the world may search for shoes using a slang term, such as “sneakers” while a another may use “kicks.”
- Use the meta language tag to indicate the language used on each page. EN = US, GB = England, etc.
<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en”>
Give your position using the Geo Meta tags.
<meta name=”geo.region” content=”AU” />
<meta name=”geo.position” content=”-25.274398;133.775136″ />
<meta name=”ICBM” content=”-25.274398, 133.775136″ />
Geo-Tag Generator: http://www.geo-tag.de/generator/en.html
3. Get Country-Specific Links
Now that you have your country-specific pages you’ll need links from sites within that country. This will help search engines verify you are a credible resource for their results.
It is best to work with your SEO consultants when acquiring these links. If you do not have a hired SEO expert, then at least start with these techniques:
- Search for website directories “Australian website directory” – http://www.websitelink.com.au/. Only submit to free directories, paying for a link is rarely recommended.
- Find popular sites where you’re able to list your website. Try the Majestic Million tool this will show you the most linked to websites by domain extension. For example here are the top Australian domains.