5 link building tips for international SEO

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Updated on October 5, 2022
5 Link Building Tips for International SEO

Quite often, someone with an online business starts thinking about targeting their goods and services to a broader audience. Even if their Internet traffic has local roots, they can still make it international to promote their local market and attract customers from other parts of the world. It’s all about international SEO.

The internet is basically split into countries with various languages, cultures, and even search engines, such as Google and Bing (USA), Baidu (China), and Naver (South Korea). 

And so, international SEO is the process of gaining visibility in international search results. The process involves two different things: 

  1. Organizing and optimizing your site, content, and social media profiles for international audiences; 
  2. Communicating with international search engines by increasing the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to your website. 

The latter resembles a link-building strategy, doesn’t it? However, in this case, an international link-building strategy.

You might wonder why link building is so important for international SEO. This is because it’s an important source of credibility and authority for visitors and search engines. By earning links, you can reach an international audience more easily and increase your profits by targeting regions where your website can find its highest demand. Let’s discuss this a bit.

International Link Building: What Is It and When Should You Use It?

  • International link building is a long-term marketing strategy designed to build high-quality links on websites hosted in different countries and regions. 

For example, if your website is located in the United States, but you want to expand it and improve its international rankings for various keywords, engaging in an international link-building campaign will help you do so. In short, an international link-building service can help you in two ways: 

  • Firstly, it drives visitors from other countries straight to your website. This gives you more traffic and exposure to potential customers. 
  • Secondly, it helps your site rank higher with search engines so that people can find your business more efficiently in their local area.

And making sure that the sources of your backlinks which are based within the same country, have a similar language and local TLD (top-level domain) will put even greater emphasis on the country you are targeting. In this way, search engines can easily detect the geographical location of your website based on the IP address, language used, and domain.

Do You Need to Build Links for Each Website?

Google is smart. It knows the difference between links that are pointing to your main domain versus a subdomain. Subdomains are used to share content in different languages. 

For example, your website is on www.example.com, and you want to add French, German, and Spanish versions of your site. You can do that by adding a subdomain for each language (example.com/fr, example.com/de, example.com/es). Since each subdomain will rank separately, having links pointing to each of them will increase your rankings on every local SERP.

Regarding global websites, if you are targeting local markets in other countries, you need to build country-specific backlinks on the websites that can be easily found in your target country by Google and other search engines, thus helping you increase your organic traffic in that particular country.

How to Identify Which Pages Will Benefit from International Link Building?

To determine where you should focus your international link-building efforts, start by pinpointing those pages with the most potential to bring in traffic. These are generally pages of high importance to your visitors, ones that receive the most traffic, where content is more educational or informational.

Another way is by looking at Google Analytics data. If you browse through it, you will notice that some pages are more popular overseas than others. That’s what we need!

What’s more, some pages stand out from the rest and deserve extra marketing efforts. In this regard, the homepage, product pages, and blog posts are the first things that come to mind:

  1. Your homepage contains essential information about your business and is typically linked to various sources. These backlinks are often more valuable than others because they can send traffic directly to the page you want people to see. 
  2. A product page is one more page of high importance since it directly contributes to conversions and sales. 
  3. Blog posts are high-quality, helpful content that can naturally attract visitors. However, you can build links to them and watch your traffic start to grow even more.

International Link Building Tips for SEO

1. Discover where competitors earn international backlinks

Competitors have earned a lot of international links from top-tier websites in the niche, haven’t they? You can take advantage of this by conducting competitor backlink research to find those sites that are linking to your competitor’s websites but are missing the chance to link to yours!  

To examine competitors’ backlink profiles and how they acquire high-quality links, you can use SE Ranking’s backlink finder. You’ll come across numbers, lists, and graphs with your competitors’ backlink profiles. These detailed statistics provide information on all found backlinks, including the number of sites linking, regions where links come from, anchor text distribution across referring domains, which pages are linked out the most, and much more. 

Example of the report at SE Ranking by countries
Example of the report at SE Ranking by countries

This analysis will help you understand how your competitors get international links so that you can replicate their methods to generate more links to your own site. 

2. Build links from relevant sites

Try to find relevant sites that Google has categorized in the language that you’re targeting, and see what they tend to link to. For instance, if you’re an Australian company looking to target a Spanish audience, try searching for your niche on Spanish search engine result pages. You’ll see a list of local Spanish sites that may be interested in linking back to your website.

To create local awareness and grow your global audience, you can leverage the work of other businesses in your local market. By connecting with local blogs, or websites, you can get the word out about your business by writing articles full of tips and information on customers’ interest in such blogs. Moreover, you can find local influencers to feature your brand on social media. 

As your brand becomes more well-known, you can collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs to secure sponsored mentions. Sponsoring local events such as meetups, festivals, and charity events can also help you gain additional visibility. Of course, another common method is to give interviews about who you are and why you started your business on podcasts or local live broadcasts. You have a lot to choose from!

3. Use contextual anchor text

Anchor text is the blueprint for ranked website content, helping Google to understand better what your page is about and how relevant it is to its overall query. When targeting international SEO, it’s common to see a shift toward a broader scope of anchor text distribution. With contextual anchors as the primary focus, you can reinforce a website’s theme by using keywords with similar meanings in various formats. 

Moreover, including the language or dialect of your target market in your anchor text is a way to show them that you know how they speak and can relate to them naturally. Besides, mixing keywords between the local and English languages helps to improve your overall search presence.

Speaking about local keywords in more detail can be a great way to increase your local presence. For example, if you live in Italy but search for an attraction specifically in Milan, keywords should include, e.g., ‘find attractions in Milan,’ ‘discover Milan’s most popular attractions,’ etc. Location-specific keywords that are primarily used and dug in the targeted area are often more effective than general keywords. 

Example of localized contextual anchor text
Example of localized contextual anchor text

4. Get your business listed in local directories

When you list your company on the right online directories, you increase your chances of getting found by potential customers. Several free directories, like the Yellow Pages, allow people to find businesses by category and proximity. In contrast, others can simply provide more general listings of companies in a local area. However, before submitting your business information to an online directory, ensure it’s accurate and up to date to avoid misunderstandings for search engines.

Searching for business in Yellow Pages by category and proximity
Searching for business in Yellow Pages by category and proximity

Moreover, it might be worth paying attention to the links from smaller community directories since they are much higher quality than those on Google Places or Yellow Pages and thus can give you access to local clients who may not be using Google search at all.

5. Create social media accounts

Social media is an effective tool for building up your website’s authority, driving traffic back to your website, and increasing brand awareness. It can also give you an additional channel to connect with local influencers worldwide, which may help you rank higher in relevant search engines.

Example of how SE Ranking uses YouTube for different regions
Example of how SE Ranking uses YouTube for different regions

The more social media platforms you access, the greater your reach and audience. Register with social media portals pertinent to your industry, then consider each as a possibility for social engagement and publishing useful content, which will lead to link sharing within your target country. Use social media marketing tools to make the most out of your social media efforts.

Furthermore, don’t forget to use a variety of hashtags and select the appropriate social media platform for each piece of content you create. In addition, include your website link in any posts you make so that visitors can easily access your website for more information about you and your business. As a result, you will generate leads and most likely turn them into paying customers.

What Should I Do If Marketing Opportunities Are Scarce in Selected Countries?

If you are in a region where marketing opportunities are scarce, first and foremost, draw your attention to nearby countries or ones with similar cultures and languages to increase total reach and revenue. 

For example, Germany, parts of Switzerland, and Austria share a language. For this reason, focusing outreach efforts on publishers in these countries may help you reach more users that speak the same language but have not yet heard of your brand. Just make sure that you follow the best practices for the link-building outreach and analyze your results.

Another great option is to concentrate on getting links from relevant US-based websites or at least create content that gets enough attention in the US. If your content starts getting links coverage in the US, it will organically begin to receive international links. 

  • Simply find websites based in the US with an established presence online.
  • Check out popular local blogs that speak directly to your niche. 
  • When you contact these websites with an interesting article, they will probably link back to you in some form of community integration.

In fact, it’s quite a common practice among online publishers to see great potential in an article and translate it into other languages to present it to another target audience. This way, they reach a wider audience without paying too much attention to SEO. Check if the site you found has foreign language versions. If yes, ask the editors to publish your text in those languages and link to the correct language version of your website. 

Conclusion

As you know, international SEO is a separate beast from local SEO. While both can be very similar in process and goals, there are fundamental differences in how an international business approaches link building. Pay attention, and be sure not to underestimate link-building strategy since it hugely impacts your ability to rank and earn traffic on a global scale!

Although there are many differences in how people from different countries search for information, knowing some tips on building international links can greatly help rank higher. 

Some of these tips were already mentioned above. In short

  • Try to discover your competitors’ backlink profiles to enhance your own
  • Get your business listed in local directories to expand your company within a certain area
  • Create social media accounts to increase your authority
  • And, increase your chances of getting backlinks by sending out follow-up emails to website owners. 

Following the tips above will set you up for a solid backlink strategy for your international markets. 

In this article we’re going to look into:

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