KNOWLEDGE BASE International SEO For The UK

 

On March 29, 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which formally started the process whereby the UK will leave the European Union. Article 50 was just the beginning of the withdrawal process, as it allows the UK two years to negotiate its leave with the other EU member states. UK laws and regulations did not and will not change overnight. We will update our site with any relevant changes and information as it becomes available. You can learn more on the UK government site.

 

International SEO for the UK

 

Why international SEO is important

People often assume that their website will have the same level of search result globally as they have for searches within their home market, but that’s not the case, even if you’re going to another English-speaking country. Google gives preference to local websites to make searches more relevant within different countries and they also give preference to websites that have been localized for the people and language spoken there. Google’s primary objective is relevant search results.  In order for people to be able to find you when they do web or mobile searches, it’s a good idea to have a solid international SEO strategy for your digital products.

Having a global SEO strategy increases your chances that prospects will find you in other markets. You’ll still have to put in the effort to rank highly for relevant keywords in each market, and a strong SEO approach is a great place to start.

There are different ways of approaching international SEO. For consumer products, we strongly recommend you optimize for the different languages, cultures, and customer groups you’re targeting in each market. If you have a B2B product, you may be able to use English as your primary language but localize for the market. Some companies use a hybrid approach and add localized elements into their English site. Your resources and prospective customers will dictate in part how you proceed, but a targeted SEO optimization strategy in each country is ultimately your best approach for success.

 

SEO for the UK

While we’re approaching the UK as one place, it’s actually made up of several countries with unique cultures and variations in their language. Sometimes instead of searching for UK or United Kingdom, people will search for the individual countries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, or will use the combined Great Britain; therefore, all search terms should be considered. The people in the UK have high levels of Internet connectivity, especially in the cities, and are looking for products online.  Localized SEO should be part of your marketing strategy in the UK, and US-based sites and apps can be effective by slightly modifying the English used.

 

 

Google.com.uk is the most visited site in the UK and Google.com is the second most visited.

 

People are connected and have the opportunity for searching for information and products online

  • 91% of the UK population uses the Internet

  • Of those who learned about a product they later purchased through research, 70% found out about it via websites or apps

  • 32% of people who use smartphones look for product information online

Source: Google Consumer Barometer 2015

 

Steps to implement SEO for the UK

As you plan out your strategy for website optimization in the UK, here is a high-level list of steps you should take for international SEO.

In order to develop a strategy for international SEO, it’s important to understand the statistics for your current website and mobile application. Create a simple report that highlights the following by country. If you are currently only in one country, you can still learn a lot from evaluating the following:

  • What countries are you currently getting traffic from?

  • What language do the people speak in those countries?

  • What is the traffic volume you are receiving and how has it trended over time?

  • What are your top international referral sources?

  • What are the keywords people are linking off?

  • What are the top pages they are linking to?

  • What is the landing page conversion rate by country for each offer?

  • How is the behavior for each country different from your current customers?

  • How do you rank for your top keywords within each country’s search engines?

Knowing this information will give you a baseline from which to plan a go-forward strategy.

 

Pick Your Language Strategy

Picking a language strategy for the UK is less important if you’re starting as an English language site but it’s still obvious to native speakers that you’re not localizing and it may be considered disrespectful if you don’t localize for the UK.  To localize your English for the UK, consider their spelling conventions (for instance, theatre versus the American theater) and differences in word choice between countries (chips in the UK are fries in the US). To assist you in this process, view our Language Localization for the UK section.

Decide if you plan on creating an SEO strategy using only English, or if you plan to localize using any other language. However, if you have a specific target market that culturally associates with one of the other languages or an industry that operates primarily in something other than English, you may want to consider those languages as well.  

 

Understand the industry you are targeting and the competitive landscape within that industry

If you plan to expand into the UK, you can start by becoming familiar with each market and focusing your optimization efforts there before jumping to the next country. SEO requires time, energy and constant focus. Some of the aspects you’ll want to understand about an industry include:

  • How big is the industry?

  • Who are the key companies in the space?

  • How do the other companies market online?

  • What search engines do the people use in your target countries?

  • Google.com.uk and Google.com are the top two search engines in UK

  • What devices do UK customers use to go online?

    • You can use Google Consumer Barometer to get an understanding of the research and device habits of the people in the UK and as noted above, 27% of people use primarily smartphones, 34% of people with use smartphones, computers, and tablets equally, and 35% of people use computers/tablets more often than smartphones to go online

  • What are the top keywords being searched?

Are people using UK, England, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland as their primary keywords? Figuring out how people in the country and region you’re looking to attract search is important.Resources: Google’s Keyword Tool can help you look at top keywords and if you use Moz.com, their tools also can assist with this research.

  • What are the identifiable search trends? Is there seasonality?

Resources: Google’s Keyword Tool

 

Identify your target audience within the UK and understand them for SEO

The Globig Knowledge Base provides you with an overview on the culture and demographics of the UK, but for a truly effective laser focused marketing plan, you will want to know even more about your specific target audiences so you can create content that is relevant to them, promote that content where the prospective customers can be introduced to your content, and market to them in a variety of ways.

Understanding search and buying behavior for your target audience is also important so you optimize for the best keywords so your site will be one of the top results of their searches.

 

Create a plan that you can follow diligently and measure to see how effective your efforts are

Start with your local competitors. Identify their most popular content, pages being linked to, and by which sites. It’s also helpful to see if your competitors have AdWords campaigns to see the keywords being used for lead generation. To spy on your competitors AdWords campaigns, use SpyFu.com. By understanding what’s working in the UK market, you can then see how best to approach your own strategy.  Sites that link to your competitors are also great prospects for you if you reach out to them.

It’s important to articulate how your product and company will be different from your competitor by clearly doing so in your SEO and marketing efforts.  Otherwise, customers won’t understand why you have a better solution.

 

Prepare your website for International SEO and the UK

There are several very specific on-site optimization efforts you’ll want to implement in order for search engines to recognize your website in global markets, including the UK.

 

A. International domain strategy and country specific website

You will have to decide how best to internationalize your domains and prepare your website. Here are the basics:

  • Make sure that the site is easy to crawl so it can easily be searched and indexed by search engines

  • Make sure the site is easy to index, having a well-organized international site map helps as does good internal linking

  • Each country should have their own web structure if your International SEO strategy is by country

There are several options for setting up your website(s) for different countries. Most important is that you have unique page URL’s so search engines as well as your website users can easily identify the country and language. We recommend not using translation tools that automatically translate in a site for international SEO since search engines won’t be able to identify that you have unique pages for each country and point them there.

Option 1- Unique Domain Names

The first option is to purchase the different domain names in each country so you have the top-level domain with the appropriate country code. Examples of this would be Globig.fr, Globig.sg, Globig.uk, Globig.de. This is probably the most expensive and complex way to manage your international pages and also requires the most work for your internal team.

Option 2- Country Specific Sub-Domains

Another option is to have the same country code top-level domain but use different sub-domains for your different sites. Examples of this would be fr.globig.co, sg.globig.co, uk.globig.co, and de.globig.co.  A subdomain is typically easier to manage than buying the different top-level domains and requires less work for your team.

Option 3- Country Specific Sub-Directories

The third option is to set up sub-directories for each different country. Examples for this would be globig.com/fr, globig.com/sg, globig.com/uk, globig.com/de. This choice is also easier to manage from a corporate headquarters as compared to Unique Domain Names.

  

B. Localize Your Website

For best results, engage native speakers to assist with translations or even modifications instead of using only translation tools. Even for the UK, the expressions, words, and spellings are different enough that having local translators is helpful. Many of the online translation services offer native speakers to assist with automated translation tools. Another option is reaching out to university students for their input. The elements to localize can include:

  • URLs- language localization

  • Title & meta description

  • Website branding

  • Phone, currency, time, delivery info/maps

  • Menu and navigation

  • Headings

  • Pricing

  • Images

  • Content- reviews, descriptions, articles, videos

  • Colors

  • Easy to crawl and navigate menu in new language

  • Localized content

Having natives speakers help to localize your website and content will make it more appealing and optimized for search

 

Pay attention to technical SEO considerations

  • For search engines, note the country and language in tags such as hreflang annotations.

Resources: For a video on how to use hreflang for language and regional URLs 

-Include annotations in XML site map

Resources: For a video on using a site map to indicate alternate language pages

  • Consider using a country specific Internet Provider if you can, some larger companies offer this as a service, especially for email marketing.

  • Make sure your site is mobile optimized and responsive design

 

Maintain ongoing optimization

  • Monitor your SEO keywords to see how you’re trending

  • Monitor your competition

  • Monitor overall SEO trends and Google changes to their algorithms

  • Evaluate your efforts to see what’s working and what isn’t

  • Test, test, test

 

Take the time to develop a strategy for SEO optimization in the UK and any other country you enter. Having a targeted approach to international SEO will help you reach the right customers in any market you enter.

 

Globig Resources

We’ve found that one of the best overviews and resources for you to learn how to optimize your international sites is Moz.com. They have excellent guides for International SEO and step-by-step instructions to follow.

To see a list of Alexa's top Sites in the UK

How-To International SEO from Moz.com

International SEO Slideshare

How-to “International SEO’ from SEO Watch

An International SEO Map 

Learn more about customers and culture in the Consumer Barometer  

Multilingual Sites- Google Resource 

Use hreflang for language and regional URLs - Google Resource

Using a sitemap to indicate alternative language - Google Resource

Hreflang Tag how-to by Moz.com

 

 

Learn more about consumer behavior

http://www.comscoredatamine.com/

http://www.tnsdigitallife.com/

 

Industry and Competitor Analysis sites

http://www.Alexa.com

http://www.Similarweb.com

http://www.google.com/ads/displaynetwork/

 

Keyword Tools

Moz.com - Multiple SEO tools  

Yandex Keyword Stats

SEM Rush- Competitive Data

SearchMetrics- Enterprise level SEO and Content tools 

 

Other International SEO Tools and Resources:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en

http://www.themediaflow.com/tool_hreflang.php

http://flang.dejanseo.com.au/

http://robhammond.co/tools/seo-crawler

http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ISO_639-1_codes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/62399?hl=en

http://blogs.bing.com/webmaster/2013/04/26/announcing-malware-re-evaluation-and-geo-targeting-in-webmaster-tools/

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/flagfox/

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/flag-for-chrome/dbpojpfdiliekbbiplijcphappgcgjfn

http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db

http://twitterfall.com/

http://www.google.com/trends/explore

http://www.talkwalker.com/alerts/

http://www.promt.com/

http://www.wordreference.com/

http://www.proz.com/

https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/

https://majestic.com/

http://linkrisk.com/

https://socialcrawlytics.com/

http://simplymeasured.com/

http://cognitiveseo.com/

http://simplymeasured.com/free-social-media-tools/

http://linkprospector.citationlabs.com/

https://followerwonk.com/

http://www.buzzstream.com/

http://topsy.com/

http://adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview/?__u=1000000000&__c=1000000000

http://searchlatte.com/

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/foxy-proxy-standard/gcknhkkoolaabfmlnjonogaaifnjlfnp?hl=en-GB

https://addons.mozilla.org/es/firefox/addon/foxyproxy-standard/

http://www.hidemyass.com/

http://www.trustedproxies.com/

http://hidemyass.com/proxy-list/

https://moz.com/researchtools/rank-tracker

http://sescout.com/

http://authoritylabs.com/

http://www.advancedwebranking.com/

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/seo-serp/ofoaoaloeipdofknnaapbmdddddioklg/related

http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/

http://www.google.com/analytics/

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

http://www.internationalseomap.com/roi-calculator/

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en

https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0

 

KNOWLEDGE BASE International SEO For The UK