The benefits of European SEO
International SEO is the most effective way to reach potential customers, fans or readers across the globe. A study by IAB Europe, a leading authority on internet marketing trends in various European countries including Germany, the UK, France and Spain, concluded that the average European spends 15 hours every week browsing the internet. It also found that 96% of all European internet users searches online for purchases. Companies and organisations seeking to expand their customer base and visibility in European markets therefore have a clear interest in boosting their ranking on local versions of Google and other search engines.
This, however, is easier said than done. SEO ranking factors are constantly being refined to prevent businesses from artificially boosting their search engine results. Any SEO marketing strategy therefore requires state-of-the-art knowledge on these ranking factors, website design and online marketing. When looking to expand your online presence in Europe, make sure to keep the following pointers in mind:
- Develop a clear SEO strategy
- Optimize your web design
- Conduct localized keyword research
- Translate and localize existing content
- Create quality content
- Write with the European culture in mind
- Prioritize multilingual link building
- Make use of images & infographics
Develop a clear SEO strategy
Before adding keywords to your website or commissioning blog articles, you need to first take time to figure out where you stand and what you need. This helps to avoid inefficient work and allows you to use your budget where it matters most. It’s best to follow a clearly defined order:
1. Thoroughly analyse existing pages and content
Do you already have a website and content in one of your target languages? In that case, the first step is analysing its performance. Where does it rank for your preferred keywords? How much traffic does it get?Are their pages that should be receiving traffic, yet aren’t? Is your website functioning properly, or are there elements that are harming its SEO ranking?
2. Conduct keyword research
Before choosing the keywords to focus on in your content and meta tags, you need to know how competitive each keyword is and how many searches it receives each month. If you are planning to target multiple European countries, it’s best to conduct separate, localized keyword research for each language (see below).
3. Draw up an SEO strategy
Once you’ve conducted your keyword research and have a general idea of your website’s performance, it’s time to draw up an SEO strategy. This strategy will depend on a number of factors, including budget, company size, target market, current performance, and performance targets. What kind of content will appeal to your target audience and where will you be most likely to find that audience? What is the most effective way to increase traffic on a limited budget? Which elements are essential and which can be added later?
These are all questions that our lead SEO consultant can help answer. With 17 years’ experience working with many different kinds of companies in Europe, ranging from small organisations focused on a single country to large businesses with branches in several countries, we know what we’re talking about. Our unique insights into the SEO world and how it applies to your business will help the process go more smoothly and could save you considerable time and money in the long run.
Optimize your web design
A recent SEMRush study of Google’s ranking factors shows that visitor experience is hugely important when it comes to search engine ranking, not to mention its impact on conversion rates. In fact, this study found that the amount of time visitors spend on a website and the number of pages viewed by each visitor weigh more heavily than how often a specific keyword is included on a page. A user-friendly website with a responsive design is therefore essential not only to appeal to visitors on your site, but also to drive more visitors to your site by improving your search engine ranking.
Our web design service focuses on creating a website that is attractive, user-friendly, has great SEO and ultimately generates more sales. Our design optimization:
- Gives visitors a positive first impression so they stay on your site longer.
- Is centred on user-experience (UX), meaning visitors can find everything they need and are guided through the sales process intuitively.
- Is responsive: your website is adapted to look good and function correctly across mobile devices, tablets and monitors.
- Uses a colour scheme, font and layout that are appropriate for the product or service being offered.
- Is optimized for aspects known to impact ranking on Google, including mobile friendliness, page load speed, use of adverts, etc.
Conduct localized keyword research and competition analysis
A crucial step for any international SEO strategy is conducting thorough keyword research for each of your target languages. Keep in mind that keywords are culture- and dialect-specific. Many European target languages are spoken in several different countries, meaning you need to carry out country-specific keyword research. For example, in the UK, the term ‘mobile phone’ may be a priority keyword, while in the US, ‘cell phone’ would be the most searched term. European countries are no different: Spanish keywords for the market in Spain will differ from those for Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, Dutch keywords for the Netherlands won’t necessarily be the same as Dutch keywords for Belgium, and French keywords for France may not be the same as French keywords for Canada or Côte d'Ivoire.
Once you have a list of keywords, their search frequency and level of competitiveness, it’s time to make strategic decisions. If you have a new website, then it’s often best to target keywords with a low level of organic SEO competition and reasonable search volume, whereas for established businesses with a website that has already got some clout, you can target keywords with more monthly searches, even if they have more SEO competition.
For small and new businesses, if you wish to target highly competitive keywords, then one option is to write blog posts that you place on relevant third-party sites and link them back to your site. This way you benefit from their domain authority and established reputation, making it more likely that they will rank well in Google straight away.
We offer extensive keyword and competition research across the six European languages we work with to give you a clear idea of where you stand on your priority keywords, and draw up a tailor-made strategy to improve your website’s performance.
Translate and localize existing content
SEO for European markets by definition means multilingual SEO. Research has shown that internet users strongly prefer searching for products and services in their native language. For example, if you look at the top 20 keywords for amazon.de and compare the original German and English translation, there are over 40 times as many searches for the German keywords. Website visitors also spend more time on sites offering pages in their mother tongue.
Don’t simply settle for translating your landing page and a few of your most popular blogs, drawing visitors to your website is not the same as keeping them and, most importantly, converting them into customers. The more thorough you are in translating your content, the better results you’ll see. For example, having your checkout page (if applicable) available in each language you target is a must: customers are uncomfortable entering sensitive financial information on a page they cannot fully understand.
It’s essential that this translation is professional and not automated in any way for a number of reasons:
- Awkwardly and incorrectly translated texts look unprofessional, which will put off readers and make them less trusting of your company. It will also reduce the amount of time visitors spend on your website, thereby decreasing your SEO ranking with Google.
- Google treats automatically translated content as spam and tries to either not index it at all, or to rank it far worse than professionally translated content.
- Google Translate tends to leave out sections of text entirely and sometimes badly mistranslates content. This means you risk excluding important information or including errors that could have serious legal or financial consequences for your business.
Indigoextra has a team of translators who are native speakers of our six European languages. This team works with our SEO consultant and link building team to translate, localize and optimize content to perfectly target European markets.
Create quality content
Solid keyword research does little good if not backed up by high-quality content. On one hand, low-quality content can have a negative impact on your SEO ranking as well as leaving a negative impression on your visitors. For example, ‘keyword stuffing’ – an excessive and unnatural use of keywords – will negatively impact your ranking on Google. On the other hand, quality content with carefully integrated keywords on both your website and on third-party blogs will positively boost your website’s performance in a number of ways:
- A well-written website homepage and informative internal pages will draw in visitors and encourage them to stay on your website longer.
- On-site blogs both increase the amount of time your visitors spend on your website, and present a key opportunity to outline the benefits and potential use of your service or product. They must be relevant, useful, and research has shown that writing fewer, longer blogs is likely to give you far more traffic and SEO benefit. See how to write blog posts for companies for a detailed guide.
- Guest blogs on high-authority third-party sites will boost your credibility and SEO while drawing readers of these sites to your own.
Our approach to SEO content creation therefore comprises two key elements:
Analytical (Left Brain Approach)
This element involves strategically removing any content that negatively impacts your search engine ranking – duplicate content, error links, overly heavy images – and adding elements needed to improve it – missing meta titles, correctly formatted images, improving the page speed, etc. Keyword research and competition analysis are used to examine the keyword balance in meta tag titles and descriptions, URLs, h1 titles, on-page content, etc. We provide reports and write new content as required to optimize your site, create a healthy keyword balance and fix any common structural problems.
Creating Quality Content (Right Brain Approach)
Google's RankBrain algorithm uses artificial intelligence to measure how good the content of a website is: the longer visitors stay, the more pages they visit and the more they share your content, the better. A key component of our multilingual SEO services therefore involves our creative writing team, composed of native speakers from France, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy, who research and write compelling content to suit your target market.
Write for the European culture
Whether writing new content or localizing translated content, keeping cultural differences in mind is key to reaching your target European audience. There are substantial cultural differences between European countries which should be considered while writing content:
- French, German and Dutch have both formal and informal equivalents for the English ‘you’. However, what ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ signify varies widely. In France, the formal ‘vous’ is very common, and the use of the informal ‘tu’ will make your French readers feel the text is written for young children. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, the formal ‘u’ is much less frequently used, and the informal ‘jij’ will be appropriate in many settings.
- The UK tends to be more reserved than continental Europe. Expressions of enthusiasm written for a UK audience will likely fall flat in the more emotionally driven cultures of Spain or Italy.
- Writing style also differs substantially between European countries. Readers in Germany or the Netherlands prefer clear, structured articles that outline the points to be covered in the first sentences. To Southern European audiences in Spain or Italy, on the other hand, this will seem incredibly dry and boring, and a more narrative writing style would better appeal to these markets.
- Sensitivity to data security is another key difference between the UK and other European countries. Research carried out by Symantec shows that concern over data security is much higher in Spain (78% of respondents) and Germany (62%) than in the UK (49%). For Spanish or German versions of your website, it’s therefore key to make sure that the Terms & Conditions page is easy to find and very readable and adding a logo of any firms that helps protect bank transactions through your website is likely to increase sales.
All of these nuances fall under the category of ‘localization’, which requires skilful writers who are not only native speakers of the target language, but who also fully understand the cultural setting for which they are writing or translating. Our writing team includes native speakers born and raised in six different European countries, who know the culture they write for like the back of their hand.
Multilingual Link Building
The on-site SEO described in the preceding sections is just one part of the picture. Andrey Lipattsev, the Senior Search Quality Strategist at Google, has confirmed a long known fact by SEO experts that on-site content and backlinks weigh equally when it comes to determining those precious top positions on a search page. This is why link building is a crucial component of any SEO-strategy. On one hand, links in blog articles and on directories help direct those potentially interested in your product or services to your website. On the other, backlinks are a key component determining how ‘relevant’ Google considers your website to be.
Our multilingual link building services include:
- Guest blogs
Guest blogging improves your search engine ranking directly in two ways: having links placed on high-authority blogs that themselves rank well factors into Google’s algorithm to improve your ranking. At the same time, these links draw interested visitors to your website, thereby increasing your web traffic and further improving your ranking on Google. We offer SEO guest blogging in English, French, German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish and reach out to relevant, niche sites on which to place these.
- Social media
No online marketing strategy can afford to ignore social media. It’s one of the easiest ways to connect with your target audience in multiple countries. We create and manage country-specific social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest and can also run Facebook advertising campaigns and provide image and infographic sharing services.
- Directory submissions
Like blogs, directories help to direct more traffic to your page while boosting your ranking on Google. Many people actually use directories to find the product or service they’re looking for, and at the same time, industry-specific directories generate high-quality, organic links to your site. Most directories require unique content and have a strict word limit, meaning that you cannot simply copy-paste the ‘about us’ section from your website. We write short, unique descriptions of your company and submit these to relevant directories in your target country.
Images & Infographics
While SEO is for the most part focused on written content, images can be a powerful tool in the right hands. There are several different ways in which images combined with written text can be leveraged to generate more visibility and traffic to your website. Unique images and graphics that are funny, educative or informative tend to rake in far more ‘likes’ than ordinary images.
Indigoextra’s in-house graphic design team works with our writers to provide a variety of image-based content to share on your website, on third-party blogs and on social media:
- Image shares
Image sharing websites allow you to share a unique image with a short description and a link to your website. It’s a great, easy way to generate extra traffic.
We find funny or inspiring quotes from well-known authors, scientists, actors and other famous personalities that are relevant to your company. We combine these with an image of the person in question or another entertaining image, alongside a short description of your company and a link to your website. This is the kind of content that people love to share on social media and will generate tons of traffic with hardly any effort.
Infographics combine graphic design and images with informative and entertaining written content. It’s a perfect way to attract the attention of people who may be interested in your products, but will be put off by a heavy-handed sales pitch. Our team of talented designers work alongside our writers to create tailor-made infographics that offer useful and entertaining information related to the products and services you provide.
Europe SEO Case Study
So how does all of this work in practice? For one of our clients from 2017 to date (currently 2019), we helped market a French website for a company selling personalised products. At the start of the SEO campaign, it was a brand-new site with zero traffic. Over the last 2 years, we have steadily increased its traffic, so that by June 2019 it was receiving over 16,000 visits a month from searches on google.fr, in addition to plenty of referral traffic from our articles, infographics, adverts and social media presence.
Since then, the client has also asked us to complete SEO work for them in Dutch and German, and starting in the summer of 2019 we will also be providing SEO services in Spanish and Italian, covering 5 different European languages. The graph below shows an estimate of monthly traffic from France (Based on SEMRush data).
Read more about our work in our other multilingual SEO case studies for Europe.
Indigoextra's SEO Service
Whether you’re just starting your business or looking to expand to a second, third or fourth European country, Indigoextra has the experience and expertise needed to guide you through the process. Our multilingual team combines copywriters, translators and expert link builders with graphic designers and web designers to create a perfect SEO strategy for your company. Contact us to find out how our multilingual SEO services can help boost your online presence in Europe.