With each new SEO process you enter to a new world: A new online business, Website, usually a new industry and if we talk about an international SEO process this also means a new country or language, with a different audience behavior -even if you have implemented the same process for other countries in the past-.
It then becomes critical to understand the local audience behavior and industry activity -beyond the initial international SEO analysis, that we do to assess the opportunities and establish the best overall setting and strategy for the project-, in a more granular level, to drive the process activities: To create and optimize content to make it relevant and attractive to local users or identify how to better develop the link building process for effective outreach and relationship efforts.
Here are 7 fundamental aspects to identify of your site audience and industry behavior for each language and country:
1. Seasonality & Trends of Industry Local Search Terms
Although you will likely ask your client about the seasonality in its business -and verify the present site analytics data, which is also a good additional starting point- is very important that you validate this specifically for each specific country that you’re targeting, since it may vary, along with the type of local growing trends in the demand of specific type of products.
Use Google Trends limiting the research for the desired country and industry category to start identifying the type of top searches for the relevant category along with their trend and seasonality behavior over the years:
2. Localized Language Terminology
When you develop your international keyword research -using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool and other tools, like SEMRush or Search Metrics Essentials that also support many countries- for languages such as Spanish, English or Portuguese that are official in many countries, you will identify the usage of “localized keywords” in the different countries you’re targeting, that are equally correct and accepted.
Some of the terms will only change in the way they’re written (optimization vs. optimisation or behavior vs. behaviour), some others are more used in some countries (flat vs. apartment or rubbish vs. garbage) but sometimes the meaning for the same word might be even totally different (or don’t even exist) in other of your targeted countries, for example “pulpería” is a Spanish word that in some Latin American countries means a small grocery store, but in Spain is used to call restaurants specialized in octopus cooking (octopus in Spanish is “pulpo”) so we need to take these differences also in consideration and validate well the type and meaning of terms used in our targeted countries.
This is why it’s always important to have not only native, but local language support and validation for each country along with a good tools and working methodologies.
In Spanish, you can always refer to the Royal Spanish Academy online dictionary (the dictionary of the official institution that regulates the Spanish language in all the Spanish speaking countries) and use other online references showing also local slang, for example, Tu Babel:
Additionally, since I’m a visual person I like to use Lexipedia -a visual dictionary and thesaurus-, that supports many languages, to easily visualize the relationships between terms:
3. The Language Context of Searches
Beyond the local usage of specific keywords or terms, it’s also important to identify the context where they’re used -to better understand the intend behind the searches, the audience specific behavior and long-tail type of opportunities-.
Ubersuggest -that also supports many languages- will allow you to verify this with its phrases suggestions:
4. Competition per Country
Now that you have the most relevant and popular keywords for your languages and countries you will also need to validate the competition for each one of them, since they might change from country to country.
The Keyword Difficulty Tool of SEOmoz gives you one of the easiest -if not the easiest- way to validate the competitiveness for each one of the keywords you’ve identified before, for the country you want to target, showing a list of the sites that are already ranking and you’re competing against for each one of them, along with their authority and link metrics:
This will not only allow you to verify how competitive is your own site for these terms, but also to identify which are the sites you’re competing against for each type of keywords in each country, analyze how they’re optimized and their link profiles, to check for opportunities to apply in your own process.
You can also use RnkRnk (along with the Alexa top sites per country) to complete your “local” competitor research. This tool will show you which are the top sites in your country for your specific category and provide you direct accesses to their Alexa profiles, the number of unique visitors, impressions, country rank and links to their LinkedIn searches, showing the users that mention them:
5. Site Audience Profile for the Specific Country
To analyze deeper and validate each site demographic profile (beyond the data of your own Website that you can check with Google Analytics) you can also use Google’s Display Network site profile, making sure to select your desired country from the “View Data For” drop-down menu, to obtain not only the specific country traffic statistics for each site but the age and gender of the audience, along with other related Websites and its audience interests:
6. Country’s Audience Online Behavior
Additionally, it’s recommended to have an overview of how the online country audience behaves in your specific sector and interacts with your relevant products or services that might also help you to identify additional opportunities or potential restrictions and considerations to take in your SEO process.
7. Influencers per Country
Once you finally have your keywords, competitors and audience behavior for your desired country and language, you will need to start identifying the influencers and potential targets for outreach for that specific geographic area and language.
Followerwonk search functionality will highly facilitate this research, by giving you the option to specify the location of the top Twitter users for your desired topic -included in their profile description-:
As you can see these activities are the ones you will likely also implement for your “typical” SEO process, but for an International SEO process, you need to additionally validate their local characteristics and further analyze them to make sure you have a correct understanding of an International market that might be different from yours.
Photo under creative commons taken from Flickr.