Expand into international markets to increase global sales

Tristan Reynolds | 16th December 2022 | Organic

Knowing what users are searching for across different international regions is crucial if you’re moving into other markets. What works well in the UK is unlikely to yield the same level of success in other countries.

Understanding the target audience and their search engines

Having a good understanding of the language and culture of the users in your new target regions allows you to engage with the target audience. Users in East Asian countries prioritise verbs during searches, while in the west, it’s more common to see nouns being used.

It’s also important to know which search engines users in your new markets are using. There’s a high chance that they’ll be using Google as it holds over 80% of the global market share. However, taking into consideration other search engines is necessary, especially in some regions of the world. For example, Yandex has only 2% of the worldwide market share, but is the most widely used search engine in Russia. Baidu is the largest search engine in China, with over 63% of the Chinese market share.

How to approach international keyword research

Stage 1: Have a list of target keywords in English

It’s vital to know which keywords you’re currently targeting and/or want to target in English. This will provide a baseline understanding and a reference point to the type of keywords to go after.

Stage 2: Translate target keywords

Once a list of English keywords has been refined, translate them into the language of the target region. Ideally, a native speaker will translate between the two languages. This will give you the cleanest translation and help to eliminate any nuances, something an online translator tool such as Google Translate may not do.

Stage 3: Undertake keyword research using the translations to discover opportunities

Once a list of translations has been verified, the next stage is undertaking keyword research to see what keywords should be targeted with new pages and content. This can be achieved via Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool or Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool. Both tools uncover new opportunities, alongside metrics such as search volume and difficulty for each keyword. The below example uses ‘razor blades’ in Spanish.

Stage 4: Analyse what competitors are doing in the search engine results page

Examining the current SERP for what is ranking, especially when trying to break into a new market, provides a good indication of what works well. It also reveals search intent and the type of pages Google shows users.

For example, for the search term, ‘razor blades’ in Spanish, Google is showing transactional pages where users can purchase razor blades. Therefore, an all-encompassing blog post focussed on razor blades is unlikely to perform as well as a transactional page would. This demonstrates how crucial it is to not only undertake keyword research, but also analyse existing competitors in the SERPs to see what content Google is displaying.

Regionalisation also matters

The location of your target audience is just as important as the language spoken within the target region. Translating English content into a different language may not satisfy the target audience, making it difficult to engage them. Using the below examples, ‘car insurance’ is the predominant search term when looking for this product in the UK and Australia. However, in the USA and Canada, the more commonly used search term is ‘auto insurance’. It’s vital to hit the right terms if you want to attract your audience and achieve growth.

Final thoughts

In highly competitive international markets, translating target keywords from English into the target language is unlikely to yield long-term success. International keyword research may be a time-consuming process, but it’ll pay off in the long run. Quite simply, you’ll be giving the local audience what they want, giving you a much better chance of succeeding in that market.

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