Key Points in Launching a Global Website – SES London 2011 (#SESUK)

Key Points in Launching a Global Website – SES London 2011 (#SESUK)

22nd February 2011

My first session of the day and a back and forth presentation between Andy Atkins-Krüger from WebCertain and Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board and Back Azimuth Consulting.

They’re covering how to deal with companies who are targeting multiple markets or countries, and the  complexities to be considered alongside  standard SEO. The session looks at key issues critical to successfully developing, optimising, and launching multi-global websites.

First up is Andy, looking at Culture and Roll-Out Research:

Andy refers to what he calls the 3Cs of SEO: Content, Connections (ie. links) and Compatability. He also mentions a fourth C that encompasses all of these –  Culture. This, he highlights, is not only difficult to define but also has huge impact on all international campaigns. Culture is a human need and search is human need that is being fulfilled.

Some examples of key environmental factors that Andy highlights as basic but hugely common errors are Payment and User Behaviour.

A key piece of research that should be considered first and foremost is actually deciding where to roll out and who to market to. A good tool for this is the use of Rollout Score Cards. These can help to clarify crucial decisions and should include areas such as analytics, keyword research, international competitoin, technical challenges and local currency concerns.

Planning Translation

Translation is often money down the drain. Andy points out that many companies try to use translation at minimal cost, without thinking about what it is they are actually translating. His key takeaway: Only translate that which offers ROI. Don’t focus on simply minimising costs.

Think beyond the obvious

Google is everywhere but it is not the only search engine – remember others such as Baidu, Yandex etc.

Mobile reaches parts others can’t reach. US has huge mobile reach in 1st position but unexpectedly, 2nd position is India. This means that a vast majority of the Indian population use the mobiles to perform searches instead sitting at a computer. How many India-targeted sites are optimised for this?

And one final crucial point – remember: Keywords cannot be translated

You should research keywords no matter the language, not simply translate the same set chosen from one original language. Languages affect the way people search. Even down to the keyboard, which distorts the way people search. e.g. French people rarely bother using accents when they search.

Next up Bill Hunt moves onto the practicalities of implementing these techniques. How to convince people we actually need to do these things? Bill highlights some simple tools he uses to actively show opportunities to the decision makers.

1. The Missed Opportunity Matrix – a simple worksheet to demonstrate the delta between the number of searches for a phrase and the traffic you are currently getting.

2. Showing Optimisation Impact – use this table and add in some fields to actively demonstrate the incremental gains from optimisation. Are you achieving what you said? How many additional visits have been gained/opportunity realised?

3. Showing Cost of Not Ranking – demonstrate the incremental cost of using PPC to get traffic that has no CPC value. This is especially powerful when a company is trying to decrease its reliance on PPC.

The key point here is to use these clear figures/matrices to demonstrate opportunity in a way management will understand and care about.

Don’t Forget Standard Infrastructure Issues

Bill points out that there are some key elements of search that will always be true regardless of language or location and emphasises that these areas should be actively targeted:

  • Ensure your site is search friendly, can spiders actually see and index the content?
  • Ensure your pages include phrases people acutally use
  • Ensure your pages are as compliant as possible with search algorithms
  • Ensure you have compelling call to action descriptions that encourage visits

The same can be said of technical aspects of  any site, considering for example:

  • CMS settings,
  • Duplicate content
  • Different target engines
  • Languages/localisation (right to left, double byte characters)
  • Tools – are they multilingual friendly?
  • Link building

Bill stresses the importance of creating a system that can be easily rolled out globally, while understanding exactly what is happening in each individual market.

Leveraging Templates for Scale

Maximise reach across the organisation. Create rules. e.g. create style guides and templates so these can be pushed out globally and ensure consistency is achieved.

Optimise Your Catalog

  • Work with your global teams to determine current rankings in local search engines
  • Find your templates, make it search friendly, consolidate
  • Simplify urls,  reduce redirects – increase spiderability
  • Create country-specific XML sitemaps to encourage inclusion

Andy returns to the stage to further discuss implementing global-friendly techniques. Firstly he discusses how to manage your global content and picks up on some common mistakes:

  • Never look at a single page out of context
  • Use keywords to drive and frame your content
  • Creative copywriting is not the answer

He goes to stress the importance of building a flowing localisation strategy and plan – including working on areas such as Gap analysis, local terminology, keyword maps and metrics,

So how to you geo-target?

  • Language
  • Local domains
  • Hosting
  • Local links
  • Webmaster tools
  • Tagging

Proper ccTLD domains can be hosted anywhere, .com and .tv are ‘global domains’. Don’t forget that the IP of a host is used for location determination. Inbound links also play a part in identifying location – don’t underestimate them.

Location and Language Detection

It’s a multi-faceted system – don’t forget to consider both location and language of a user. Firstly there’s the country detection method. i.e. top level domain, IP of server/host, detected language. However there is also language detection: most engines can detect the top 3 languages automatically.

Consider that 93% of European searchers pro-actively restrict to ‘language’ – they prefer to have their own language preference. Engines also use Searcher IP detection to present local relevant content.

Consider who and where your content is being read!

Finally Bill highlights the difficulties of large multinational companies and simple techniques to help get things done:

  • Win people over
  • Build a culture of search
  • Develop your own local awareness
  • Empower your team

A couple of simple and effective tools:

  • Best Practice – Use a Global Centre of Excellence, share this across the company
  • Search Engine Style Guide – make it a requirement for everyone to follow these standards
  • Talk to stakeholders – talk to anyone who impacts on SEO performance
  • Deploy performance metrics – create some competition, show different business units’ performance as compared to others. Make it clear and visible.

And finally a summary of Bill and Andy’s key steps to a successful global program:

  • Demonstrate  the businss opportunities for search
  • Ensure translators and localisers understand search fundamentals
  • Research and deploy optimal keyword strategy
  • Integrate search attributes into development and localisation workflow process
  • Research target markets for regulations, trends, statistics, popular search engines and social outlets
  • Take advice for local experts and local offices and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.

Image: Life Skills for Children


Written By
Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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