Whether your organization is a truly global corporate with existing multi-country websites or is looking to either start exporting for the first time, making sure you can be found by potential customers in several global markets is obviously important. So the first question you’ll be asking is if your company’s target countries use Google too. Or, if you’re already ranking ok in your home country on Google, you may be asking why your export market websites can’t be found.
It’s safe to say that most of the world, especially the Western world, uses Google. The markets which are exceptions to the rule are Russia (Yandex.ru), S. Korea (Naver & Daum) and, where we particularly specialize, in China (Baidu.com). You could add Japan (yahoo.co.jp), where despite inroads into Yahoo’s market share by Android devices default Google settings, it’s the engine of choice and the Czech Republic where Seznam gives Google a good run for its money.
But for most reading this article, it means that Google is the search engine to be concerned with when looking into search markets abroad. So, for the global organization or the new-to-market exporter, how does your website perform in other countries?
It’s obvious, maybe. We’re presuming your company has invested some budget with a company such as ours to help make sure your code, website structure, page constant and tags are all optimized ‘on-site’ as they should be for the terms which are important to you and to gaining the maximum relevant traffic from Google. If not, do this first, rolling on from this process to review foreign language search terms.
On the most basic level, If a Google sees a ‘.com’ site written in English hosted in the U.S., it’s going to presume it’s aimed at U.S. citizens. It will presume it’s for Germans if it’s written in German hosted in Germany using a ‘.de’ domain.
It starts getting tricky when your U.K or Australian market is distinct from your U.S. market, but you’re serving the same website pages to those markets. If your website is viewed as being aimed at Americans, you’ll lose ground in Britain if there are more relevant U.K. focused websites in your field.
It’s also tricky when your foreign language pages are incorporated within your main website as areas ‘within’ a site. Google’s not very good at working out that this main site is aimed at this market but these few pages are aimed at this different country market.
It’s not practical to create different websites with different domains hosted in different countries – even for the most global of corporations. The good news is you don’t need to. Hosting ‘in country’ may help, but it isn’t necessary. According to Google’s advice, separate our your company’s websites were you can.
Best option is to have a different URL (.com, .co.uk. .de, .mx etc) for each country even if they may all be hosted in one place. Next best option if that isn’t possible is to use subdomains of your main URL. So for mycompany.com, you’d also create uk.mycompany.com for the UK, fr.mycompany.com for France and so on. The great thing with creating subdomains is you can create as many as you like under your existing domain with no cost. If this isn’t possible, then at the very least, make sure specific countries pages are in their own folder e.g. mycompany.com/italy, mycompany.com/france. Such measures help separate out different country specific content and also help when using Google’s online tools for webmasters in identifying this.