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Geo Targeting Your Website for High Traffic with International SEO

Create your own side door to SERP first page

Geo Targeting Your Website for High Traffic with International SEO

Once the web was a wilder place when everyone competed for the first slot of SERP, irrespective of their target group and their location. Such high competition was a sure fire way to leave many key players out of the race and created an unhealthy competition where few major players ruled Search Engine Results Pages.

However geo-targeting or the practice of delivering content based on the identified geographical location of the user has opened a side door for smaller players to enter the main SERP pages. Other than hosting your site on a local IP and connecting with local search engines like Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, there are more international SEO methods that can help you compete with the bid sites with big bucks.

If you're a small time home baker selling cakes and pies in the locality of Kandy you can now easily side step the high competition on the first Google SERP page by targeting your audience through geo-targeted keywords.

Geo-targeting using keywords provides a greater opportunity for a home bakers in Kandy to reach a larger audience. Instead of targeting for the highly competitive term 'Cake shops' or 'Cake shops Sri Lanka' including the specific location of home baker 'Cake shops in Kandy' can help to capture the audience looking for a bakes and cakes in and around Kandy and who are sure to choose among the websites that appear on the first SERP. If you are service provider based in a single geographical location it would help to insert the names of main towns and suburbs that surround the main location.

Google local search

Semantic long tail keywords plays a greater role in optimizing for local searches in the post google pigeon era and more and more web searchers are looking for services and places in a particular geographical location. People do not search for generic search words anymore and it can be a good thing too, especially if you are trying to sell a specific service to a community based in a specific region.

Semantic long tail keywords

People searching the web spell out their search with geographic locations, expected standards and emotion triggers and to return back to our cake example, a current web searcher in Kandy looking for cake would typically type 'Best Cake Shops in Kandy' or 'Wedding cake shops in Kandy', allowing cake makers to capture leads that are specifically relevant to their product or location.

Geo-targeting is also a proven way to increase the conversions of a website by delivering a localized experience to the users.

While the use of location related keywords is more suitable for websites with single locations large scale website with multi-lingual pages can practice more than one strategy to increase the conversion and cater to multiple groups of users in various geographic locations looking for the same information in different ways.

Development of content in native languages and linking to local content sources and providing users with unique texts and visuals customized to suit their own local requirements can enhance the local touch of a website and improve its geo-targeting capacity.

Moreover when operating a website with multiple language options, it is also a good idea to use the rel='alternate' hreflang= "x"attributes to direct the correct language or regional URL to the relevant SERP.

For English audience;
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ca"hreflang"en-ca" >

For Chinese Audience;
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au"ihreflang="en-au" >

While hreflang tags are mainly used to specify the pages of a website with alternative language versions and signal the big G as to what web pages are available in which language, hreflang tags can also be used to target a specific region.

As an example, if you have specific pages for English speakers in Canada, Australia and USA, you can always ask Google to direct the searches from each region to the specific pages with a hreflang directive which also contain the location.

For Canada;
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ca"hreflang="en-ca" >

For Australia ;
<link rel="alternate" href=="http://example.com/en-au"hreflang="en-au" >

While Google and Yandex follows in detail language and geographical specification with hreflang tags, Bing uses the content-language Meta tag to identify the language and the target geography.

However implementation of language tags requires tender loving care and according to Google themselves, many get it wrong due to missing confirmation links and wrong language and country codes.

To Quote Google "If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A. If this is not the case for all pages that use hreflang annotations, those annotations may be ignored or not interpreted correctly."

Moreover it is also important to make sure that all languages and regions are in ISO 639-1 and ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format for the tags to be identified by Google and Yandex.

Yet is there a way we can know our language tags are in fine shape? The Google Webmaster tools, which keeps a steady eye on the website health and performance provides a real time status report on the performance of your language tags under international targeting and provides the links to pages with language tag errors.

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