SES NYC 2011: ‘Key Points in Launching a Global Website’

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Key Points in Launching a Global Website

Session description: As the world becomes smaller and search marketing becomes more complex, the era of “ranking well in Google” is over. This is especially true for companies who are targeting multiple markets or countries. This new opportunity also brings many new complexities to be considered other than standard SEO. This session tackles these key issues critical to successfully developing, optimizing, and launching the global websites that would meet those next generation marketing goals, without losing control or your mind. Topics include: keyword research, language and cultural issues, geographical issues, issues involving different engines and platforms and copy writing for multiple audiences.

Moderator: Crispin Sheridan, SES Advisory Board & Sr Director of Search Marketing Strategy, SAP

Motoko Hunt, Founder, Japanese Search Marketing Strategist, AJPR LLC
Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board & President, Back Azimuth Consulting

Quotes are direct quotations. Things not in quotes are paraphrased.

The skinny

As Crispin said, “Welcome to the last session between us and the beer.” Also, the presenters are a husband-and-wife team!

What they said

Bill: Are you global ready?

Questions to ask first:

  • Is there a need or awareness for your product or service?
  • Are your products adapted for the local markets?
  • Do you have the ability to take money from local markets?
  • Are there restrictions on importing or excess tariffs?
  • How will you handle customer service?
  • How will you handle shipping and delivery?
  • How will consumers learn about your products?

Motoko: Optimizing for global markets

Know the search engines. When you start going outside of the U.S. market, Google is not always the majority search market holder. Some of them have totally different algorithm setting… which doesn’t necessarily mean that a site optimized for Google is going to do well in other markets. Optimize for the target market.

Understand search behavior. Where are they looking for information—from search, from social media, from print ads? Are they looking from home, from work, from the Internet cafe? People in other markets may not have computers at home, but it doesn’t mean people are using. Finally, outside the U.S., people have been relying on mobile search for a longer time.

Understand seasonal behavior. If you’re aligning all of your campaigns to the U.S. calendar, even the seasons, then you’re missing out. Fiscal seasons are different. Holiday seasons are different. Do research and pinpoint the opportunities for SEO and PPC.

Know purchasing options. What credit cards are people using? What currency?

Know the regulations. Are there tariffs, or regulations against the products? Also, be aware of registration issues: someone else may have registered your brand name in that country. Laws are different from country to country.

Understand reporting differences. Many of the tools you use in the States might not use the same character set, or might have incorrect ranking data depending on the source. Be aware of the differences and choose your tools wisely.

Consider your customer service. You may need to provide 24-hour customer service, or customer service in different languages.

Beware translation. 1. Get good translation from a local source, not word-for-word programs. 2. Know that your product name may be offensive in another language.

Choose keywords carefully. Correct translation does not mean it’s the correct keyword to use… there could be three accurate translations for that keyword, and you could be missing out on the most popular. Use keyword research tools, set to the proper country and language, to get an idea of good keywords. Another idea: Identify top “shared” keywords in each market, and optimize for those to save money.

Regarding link building. Own the domain name for each country, if possible. Link them to each other contextually.

Bill: Potential problems

  1. So you bought the domain in another country, but it redirects to your .com. No!

  2. Barriers to getting global sites indexed include:

  • Popups can’t be indexed
  • Pull-down country maps can’t be crawled
  • Restrictive JavaScript for language detection
  • Restrictive Robots.txt and meta robots
  1. Detection and serving challenges:
  • “Spiders typically crawl from few locations and don’t have a language preference.”
  • Can a spider from the U.S. find your other language content? Use the Firefox User Agent Switcher
  • Does the spider need to accept cookies? Use the Firefox Webmaster Tool
  • Do you have unique country/language URL’s for each page? You should, so that you can link.
  1. Domains and hosting—simple answers:

Use top level domains and host in the local country wherever possible. Be careful with proxy serving sites to fool the engines. Ensure ALL variations of your site URLs are set in Google Webmaster Tools.

  1. Google’s “Local Determination Hierarchy:”

Your site is LOCAL to a country when…

  • You use a ccTLD:
  • You host a .com in a country: hosted in U.S. is a U.S. site; hosted in France is France site

Bill: How to scale content for global reach

  • Focus on top level templates. If it works in German and Arabic, you’re probably safe.
  • Leverage style guides and business rules. Force overseas office to comply with optimized formats, which helps you monitor implementation.
  • Share the SEO and content plan.