My last column highlighted some critical actions necessary to execute a successful International Search Engine Optimization strategy.
This time, let’s take a look at the specific business benefits of creating that strategy, and its alignment with the organization’s strategy as a whole.
A well-articulated strategy forms the foundation for all activities within the organization, and how it is crafted will guide decision-making as your teams work to achieve your international SEO goals.
For example, suppose your company aims to expand its overall market share via international expansion.
In that case, your strategy must identify those new target markets, the best product set, and the sales goals for each market.
The absence of this basic plan will lead to chaos, significant wasted resources, and poor decisions.
But when it’s available and aligned with your SEO strategy, you’ll reap several benefits and rewards for your team.
1. It Complements The Broader Strategic Plan
The company’s overall strategic plan will provide the foundation for your international SEO.
It defines the direction in which an organization must allocate resources, process, and establish realistic goals that are in line with the overall mission.
This alignment should elevate many SEO-specific considerations that are too often an afterthought in other companies.
For example, one multinational company announced a significant push into Russia using more digital advertising to investors.
The internal SEO team was unaware many months later despite a substantial expenditure on localized content and paid advertising.
Aligning this expansion strategy with their SEO strategy could have increased the overall value of that content localization investment by ensuring it was findable and leveraging those phrases used by Russian searchers.
The SEO team, collaborating with the various product teams, can work backward from the sales goals to identify the optimal product set and ensure a market fit.
You can make the most amazing blue widgets but if consumers in Spain are not aware that they need blue widgets, how do you plan to connect with them using SEO?
This searcher interest feedback loop is critical to identify products and help frame the content and messaging necessary to generate awareness and sales of the products for those, directly and indirectly, looking for them in the target market.
2. Teams Become Proactive Rather Than Reactive
Armed with the target market, product set, and sales goals, leadership teams, you can then make decisions and identify the specific tactics to help them achieve the objectives.
This is even more important when leveraging SEO as a channel as part of the mix.
You can start making several critical decisions covered in my International SEO Guide with less risk and a better understanding of the key focus areas and goals.
One of the most overlooked decisions is the web infrastructure.
As I explained in 4 Reasons Why International SEO Fails, this lack of planning can derail your success and create an exponential amount of work with other expansions.
Deciding to use ccTLD or folders is the easy part. The more complicated steps are the overall site structure, page naming conventions, and most importantly, how the current CMS handles localization and non-localized content.
Market nuances will need to be identified and factored into your web infrastructure.
These will include localization of currency, sizes, technical compatibility – and of course, pricing.
All of these will have an impact on the technology used as well as the content necessary for the local markets.
Some of these are not traditionally considered SEO worries. But the SEO team must be integrated into these discussions with product schema and knowledge graphs, especially now.
Many items that often must be “fixed” later are combined optimally right from the beginning by collaborating earlier in the process.
3. A Dedicated International Strategy Increases Operational Efficiency
By aligning the International SEO strategy with the overall strategic plan, it is much easier to create a roadmap to align the organization’s functional activities and correct budget allocation necessary to accomplish the set objectives.
The time savings, accurate decisions, and workflow adjustments will increase operational efficiency.
As I mentioned in my International SEO Guide, international SEO sits on top of traditional SEO.
When SEO fundamentals are well integrated into the new market websites, PR, and content creation, most SEO efforts are satisfied. This allows the team to focus on tasks that enhance traffic and move the needle.
The more deeply the teams are aligned and their individual needs and requirements integrated, the fewer mistakes need to be fixed later.
This will pay exponential dividends as more markets are added to the mix, and a tried-and-true process can be followed.
4. Improved KPI And Goals Alignment
Unfortunately, there are often not enough “resources” to action critical SEO tasks, which is usually caused by a misalignment with IT or other executive goals.
As noted earlier in this article, when SEO is better integrated into the expansion workflow, many SEO-related tasks can be completed naturally as part of the overall workflow.
More mature SEO teams will align their efforts to the strategic goals and develop a “contributory share” of the overall sales goals.
During the market alignment workstream, the SEO team should have identified concepts and keyword phrases representing the topic of the content for the market.
You can leverage this data to demonstrate the “missed opportunity” when you are not ranking and capturing traffic from the most relevant words the local market uses.
This model evokes a “Help Me Help You” environment, putting pressure on those responsible for the overall targets to appreciate the contribution of SEO’s well-qualified traffic and sales to the site.
Too often, SEO experts are overly tactics-focused, using checklists and tools, and don’t do enough to leverage existing strategic plans and goals to justify and execute their SEO efforts.
The benefits outlined above explain the thought and time necessary to develop a robust international SEO strategy.
Simple process alignments enable scale and minimize the need to fix things later.
Meanwhile, KPI alignment and SEO contribution potential highlight the need to integrate SEO into the workflow fully.
Featured Image: svetlichniy_igor/Shutterstock
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