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International SEO: How To Make Your Website Visible Internationally?

Your company is present internationally, or you wish to develop your activity there: your website must adapt by becoming multilingual. The international referencing of a site must respect certain principles to optimize its visibility on search engines.

How does international SEO work?

The countries where you operate are those in which you want to be visible: search engines work by country, not by language. Google has a country search engine so optimize your site for each specific country.

It is not enough to launch a site for it to be referenced all over the world. The extension of the domain name, the language used, and technical optimizations tell Google to whom to show the content of the site. You can rely on an  SEO agency to correctly carry out the technical settings essential to the referencing of your site on these markets.

Target keywords for each country

Identify the search volumes of the keywords on which you want to position the pages of the site. They differ from country to country. This research makes it possible to evaluate the potential of traffic on the site and the state of competition. For example, the query “SEO” corresponds to 40,500 searches in France, but 110,000 in the USA. This inventory allows you to optimize your pages according to the most promising keywords.

Depending on the language of the country and its regional variations (French in Canada or Belgium for example), test these queries to make the best choice according to your objectives. Beware of false friends between languages: for example, “affair” in English has a radically different meaning from “affairs” in French. Work with a local to target the right keywords and consider using Google Trends, in countries where people use Google a lot.

Set site address

The site address is one of the main criteria for international referencing. Several options are available to you, with advantages and disadvantages:

  • One site per country, with the corresponding extension: .fr .de .it … (or cc-TLD for country code Top Level Domain): you must therefore check that all the domain names you wish to buy are available;
  • A single site for all your countries, but with sub-directories, and a .com extension: Your pages are therefore stored in the directories corresponding to the languages ​​in which they are written;
  • Subdomains:

Take care of the content in each language

Machine translation tools do not replace a text written by a person in their mother tongue. Nuances, natural turns of phrases that the Internet user perceives and which give confidence… Don’t forget that an Internet user judges in a few seconds whether a site is worth his time and his interest. If your texts are clumsy translations of your original site, it makes reading difficult and you lose potential customers.


Develop content specific to each language and target audience. The translation is not the universal solution: adapt your speech to the needs of your local audience, perhaps not receptive to certain arguments used elsewhere. The tone, the words, and the culture are factors that transform your site into a real asset… or weigh down your conquest efforts.

Optimize your site technically

For Google to understand the language of the page,  insert Hreflang tags on all pages of the site. They must comply with the ISO 639-1 code. These lines of code tell Google the language versions of each page. All language variants of the page should be in its code.

They can also indicate the country for which they are intended. For example, your site in Canada may have a French version and an English version. In the case of the French version of the site:

<link rel= “alternate” href= “” hreflang= “en-US”>

It may only understand the language, without mentioning the country:

<link rel= “alternate” href= “” hreflang= “en”>

Next, specify international targeting in Google Search Console. Google will take these tags into account.

Proceed methodically, depending on the markets where you want to be present. No copying and pasting: each site or site version requires an effort of adaptation and rigor to be visible.

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