What is international SEO and how to do it?

In this blog post, we are going to discuss International SEO and how to do it and its various aspects, and also the factors on which it depends. So, without wasting a single minute let’s go through What is International SEO first.

What is International SEO?

International SEO is about optimizing a website for search engines in specific countries and also the language we want to show our audience.

Need for International SEO

When you target an audience from different countries and the chances are high that they speak different languages. It is possible, that some of your visitors don’t understand the language of your website, so, you create different versions of your webpage to show in different countries in different languages.

International SEO looks like a foreign concept, but it’s not. Yes, you read it right, just think of geo-targeted keywords, in Geo-targeting we target traffic from a city or state, instead of city and state we have just optimized our webpage for different countries and languages.

Best practices for International SEO

 Here we will discuss some of the best practices for how to optimizing a website or blog for international SEO.

Url Structure

We can use country code top-level domain (ccTLD), subdomain, or a subdirectory or we can use a different domain. Every technique discussed here has its own pros and cons, read these steps carefully before making your choice. First, let’s understand these terms one by one.

ccTLD Structure – ccTLD stands for country code top-level domain, as its name says it all, ccTLD uses two-letter codes which tell search engines and users in which country this website is registered.

This structure gives a powerful signal to search engines for international SEO. Also, it increases your brand value. But it is hard to maintain because maintaining whole new websites for different countries is very expensive. For international SEO you have to build every website’s authority separately.

It is mostly recommended for larger companies or businesses like Amazon, Sony, etc.

For example, “example.us” is for the united states, example.us is your domain and.us is ccTLD.

Subdomain Structure – Here you store the content for other countries in your subdomain or third-level domain. This type of structure is less preferred because international SEO signals for a subdomain are weaker.

Also, you can’t take advantage of your main website’s authority, you have to start from zero.

For example, “us.example.com”, is your subdomain here.

Subdirectory Structure – Here you place your content for different countries in subdirectories or subfolders of a root domain. To set up this, create a folder on your existing website for each country saved with their 2 letter ISO codes.

This type of structure is very easy to set up and maintain. Subdirectory structure requires only one website so, this is also cost-effective. For international SEO you have to have only one website’s authority.

It is mostly recommended for medium-size companies or businesses.

For example, “example.com/us” us is your subdirectory here.

Different Domain Structure – Here content for different countries is stored in completely different root domains. For example, “exampleus.com”, here exampleus.com is a completely different domain.

Here, we have discussed different URL structures, and their pros, and cons. Now, let’s jump to some more factors of International SEO.

Language targeting for your website using Hreflang

Hreflang Tags are the code snippets that help search engines to show the correct version of your page for every country. You can use hreflang or language meta tags to show the search engines that a different version of your website is available in a different language.

Hreflang tag is very effective when we provide content translation in subdirectories or subdomains. But not necessary while using ccTLD because they are completely different domains and also use country codes for signal.

How to write hreflang tag

<link rel="alternate" href="http://domain.com/fr" hreflang="fr-fr" />

Some best practice

  • Make sure your content is in the primary language of the country you are targeting.
  • Try Manual translation, as machine translation is not that good.
  • Only suggest to users that you have an alternative language site based on their location but don’t redirect them directly without asking them.
  • Don’t use cookies or any script to show a different version of your website.

How to do international SEO?

Now, that you know what is international SEO, let’s see how to do international SEO for your website the right way. Here we discuss some important steps to do it.

STEP #1. Know your content or what service you provide

First, you have to be clear about what you want to do like you want to optimize search results based on language, or rank on Geo-targeting keywords, also you can use both but be specific.

Some sites allow their users to choose their own language like facebook where some sites use pop-ups to let users pick their language.

STEP #2. Don’t know which country to target international SEO?

You can identify those countries which are generating a high-volume traffic potential for your site. You can use any free or paid tool to get this information and start optimizing for that country if not already optimized.

STEP #3. Set Up an International SEO-friendly URL

As we have already discussed various types of URL structures used for international SEO, you already know which URL structure to use for International SEO.

Url structure will help google understand which page to show in different countries. Most businesses set up a whole new website for different countries or either adds a subdirectory structure to the existing website.

STEP #4. Support International SEO with some more signals

  • Consider search engine preference
  • Device Preference
  • Som Additional Signals like Displaying prices in local currencies include location data such as an address and phone number.

Search engine preference comes into play when you are targeting China and Eastern European countries. Google holds 92% of searches in the world and is the largest search engine. But some specific countries like China, use Baidu as their primary search engine.


In this post, we discussed International SEO, its signals, and how to implement it in our SEO strategy. Make sure to use the points you have read above to follow the best International SEO practices.

I hope you got some useful knowledge about International SEO. Thank You for reading this post and contact me if you have any queries.

Leave a Comment