International SEO for Online Retailers


Kyle Roof
February 26, 2024


A well-executed international search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can open doors to enormous markets for online retailers. To build credibility among potential buyers from different corners of the world, e-commerce platforms need to be aware of language and cultural differences, competition in the different markets, and any technical challenges associated with hosting different versions of their site.

As challenging as this may seem, the potential rewards can be enormous and well worth the investment.

A Closer Look at International SEO

To optimize your online retail business in countries other than where the business is located, you need to develop unique and engaging content that resonates with each market. Part of this effort can include informing search engines that your retail site has content in different languages and operates in certain counties. Country-specific pages should include keywords used in these locations.

Evaluate International Markets and Opportunities

Before diving into international retail sales, do your research to identify the countries you want to grow and how the most popular search engines in those locations work. The list should be based on sales potential, market needs, and the logistics involved in delivering goods and services. Google Analytics can provide insights about your website performance in each country so that you can continually optimize your SEO rankings.

Conduct market research for each country or region you are considering. Identify competitors and learn about the popular local search engines (e.g., Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China, and Naver in South Korea). Develop marketing, sales, and SEO plans to address local needs and preferences that also consider local content and technical practices and requirements.

Customize Content and Keywords

Each country and region will have its own languages and idioms, currencies, contact information, customs, and keywords that need to be incorporated into your website and SEO strategies. Hire an experienced translator for these tasks because automated tools don’t understand the finer nuances of languages, and the translations can come out stiff or outright incorrect.

Even markets that speak the same language (such as Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom) will have different ways to describe items and will use different keywords to find them online.

Set Up Dedicated URLs and Hreflang Tags

Be aware of domain extensions commonly used in different countries, or create a naming convention that identifies product pages as being associated with different markets. For example, you could use ‘’ for Australia and ‘’ for Greece.

Alternatively, you can set up subdomains or subdirectories for each market under an existing domain, although search engines will look at each subdomain as an independent entity. With this approach, lower-performing country subdomains will not benefit from higher-ranking subdomains.

Hreflang tags in HTML code will tell search engines which counties are being targeted and what languages are used on certain product pages. This can also help prevent Google from penalizing your site for duplicate content.

Local Strategies Can Apply to International Strategies

Many of the SEO-boosting tactics you use to reach local markets (such as targeted content marketing, backlinking, etc.) should also be used in your efforts to grow your business internationally.

In Conclusion

As you expand your online retail business in new global markets, use analytics to measure performance and make adjustments that generate more relevant traffic to your website and product pages to boost your bottom line. If you don’t have the manpower to implement and manage an international SEO campaign, you can trust the professionals at High Voltage SEO who have a fantastic track record with international SEO success!

About the author 

Kyle Roof

Kyle is responsible for the development and implementation of all SEO techniques used by the SEO agency High Voltage SEO and the SEO tool PageOptimizer Pro. Kyle is also the co-founder of Internet Marketing Gold, a global community of 3000+ SEO professionals who test and prove cutting edge SEO techniques. Kyle is also co-host of SEO Fight Club a weekly YouTube show that covers a multitude of SEO topics. Kyle’s SEO techniques and discoveries are followed by many SEO professionals and business leaders, he has been featured in many respected publications and is a regular speaker on SEO and SEO testing at conferences throughout the world.

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