On this blog, I have touched on the importance of catering SEO efforts to the local context of a particular culture in many different posts. It is the underlying theme of my international SEO writing as it is massively important for brands and yet it is not done enough. When businesses expand their operations into different cultures or countries, the people that make up their audience changes based on culture, language, and the political-judicial landscape that they find themselves operating in.
Companies must research and understand the cultures they are catering to in order to better align their content, web design, and tone to match the tendencies and preferences of those in this audience. They also need to understand the language that is used by the audience if it is different than that which the company normally conducts business. The marketers for these businesses and the SEO companies they partner with need to take a look at the language and assess how it is used by the people, specifically for keyword research. They must ensure that they are using the most accurate words (as used by the local audience) to describe the concepts they want to communicate in the keywords and keyword phrases. Additionally, the political and judicial structures can dictate a great deal in terms of privacy, patent concerns, and censorship as seen with many tech companies recently. The judicial system comes into play in this regard and companies must prepare for the legal structure and regulation that is experienced there, specific to their industry.
The term glocalization is used in many areas of international operations, especially PR, and it aptly describes the experience of companies expanding into new markets, or more accurately, what companies should do when they expand into these international markets. The term joins the words “global” and “localization.” Maynard (2003) offers an excellent introductory definition of glocalization being “the process whereby global corporations tailor products and marketing to particular local circumstances to meet variations in consumer demand” (in Maynard & Tian, 2004, p. 288). This definition guides the catering that should occur in this process.
For more information regarding glocalization and how it relates to SEO and the web presence of businesses in new markets, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.
Google does pioneer many innovative features on the web from their Maps offerings down the line, and their Google Translation has been assisting users for six years now. But, it has been announced that Gmail users will be able to utilize an auto-translation feature to translate text to their language of choice from now on. The email feature uses technology pioneered for the Google Translation service that has been continuously refined through the years. These two features are an example of how Google uses its search technologies to advance other areas of service. Google Translate accesses hundreds of millions of human translated documents online and looks for patterns to make highly educated guesses regarding the nature of the content to be translated, its context, and what the most appropriate translation would be.
This process is called “statistical machine translation” according to Google and it improves as the number of human-translated documents that Google Translate has access to increases (for each language). With that said, some languages have more than others, and so it follows that translations for some languages will be better than others. This feature is daunting in a way as in an instant, emails and documents can be translated into an entirely separate language. The implications are far-reaching, but lets look at what this development means for web users.
Takeaway For Private and Business Users
Those across industries including SEO companies that offer international SEO services are impacted by the integration of Google Translate into the Gmail service. The impact is apparent, but not necessarily game-changing, although it is the next step along a line of innovation that could be game-changing one day soon.
- Convenience – The biggest benefit is the convenience that this feature brings to interpreting everyday correspondence with colleagues, associates, family, and friends. It is instantaneous and usually delivers an accurate approximation that can get users on their way. It is thus a great tool when used appropriately.
- Accuracy – If accuracy is paramount, say in business transactions, then the auto-translation feature simply cannot be relied upon without human translation referencing and checking.
- Use with Caution - Due to accuracy issues, given the nature of the particular translation, the feature essentially needs to be used with caution, as the context of a conversation and the intent of an email or document could be mistaken and the wrong sentiment or message can be given/received.
- Human Translation - The work of human translation is certainly not dead as all official translation needs to still come from the work of people deciphering intent, context, and all that goes into our language construction. Although Google claims that the number of translations Google Translate handles in a day is equal to the number that all human translators do in a year (1 million books worth), the “statistical machine translation” has not quite matched the work of its human counterparts.
In the end, the feature is a great tool when used for purposes of convenience and to get the rough understandings of correspondence, but should not replace the full learning of the languages that you work with. For companies expanding into new markets and increasing their international correspondence, it could be just the right tool to give them some breathing room with some added functionality before they increase their internal language capabilities (without having to outsource for the human translation of every piece of correspondence).
For more information, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd.
International SEO is increasingly relevant for businesses that are looking to either grow their presence in a new international market or expand their operations into a new country. Either way, businesses are trying to maximize their online exposure and cater their marketing efforts to their new environment engaging with their new audiences. International SEO encompasses all the online search engine optimization work that enables web searchers in a particular market (bound by culture or borders) to discover the brand and avail of its products and services considering the culture and language of the searchers.
International public relations relates to the strategic communication of an organization with their various publics again considering the local cultural, language, and sociopolitical landscapes. There is no one understanding of the practice across the globe either as described by Curtin and Gaither (2007) stating, that “in Asia, public relations professionals commonly see their work as tantamount to sales and marketing, in Latin America event planning might be viewed as public relations, and in the United States it is often called a strategic management function.” These two distinct areas are increasingly having more overlap, however, as the functionality of the internet continues to evolve and the ways in which businesses can engage their publics through it changes, there is increasing convergence.
The overlap between the two practices is clear and becoming increasingly so as new technologies continue to make new ways of communication possible. Here are two specific areas of convergence:
- Research – conducting both qualitative and quantitative research can assist both international PR and SEO. For example, businesses can gather insight into the online behaviors of their customers, the web analytics, and the relevant keywords that are essential for their SEO efforts. SEO companies that offer international SEO can conduct such research for their clients. International PR professionals can gather opinions from their customers and insight into their cares, beliefs, and practices relevant to their industry. This can help determine how to engage and what to engage about.
- Tactics – The tactics of PR in press releases and media placements are now important for SEO value. PR professionals can make sure to include backlinks in their international releases and media placements in the various markets. This can grow the authority of the pages, especially relevant authority from outlets in the markets the PR professionals are trying to increase exposure and engagement in. Also social media activity has shown to hold great PR value.
The work within international SEO that relates to the actual optimization of various web properties is obviously unique to this practice and will remain so. The coding of web pages and the design of sites all relate to this end of the practice and separates it from international PR.
For more information regarding how your business can benefit from more strategic considerations of PR and SEO converge in international markets, reach out to me directly at email@example.com and @ryanwbudd.
With continued increases in the sales of goods and services through online platforms both here in the US and abroad, there exists several standard musts for companies in order to succeed. These are not necessarily groundbreaking or even new recommendations, but new research out regarding the industry in international markets suggest e-commerce companies are not engaging in these important practices. They are slow to fully embrace the realities of what is needed in order to succeed in the online retail industry. As a result, call them principles, practices, or strategies, but they absolutely need to be implemented to the specifications and needs of each business. Simply put, e-commerce companies must engage in these activities:
- SEO efforts to not only increase SERP rankings but accomplish both task that address user and search engine bot goals (fast page load speed).
- Pair SEO with paid search in order to increase overall exposure.
- Create and optimize a mobile commerce site to capitalize on mobile shopping traffic.
- Conduct social media campaigns focused on two-way communication and purposeful engagement.
These four elements are indeed essential, but as indicted above, not implemented across the board – not even close. In the UK, mobile commerce (m-commerce), online shopping done using a mobile device, is increasing. Online sales from mobile devices increased 254% last month (March) year-over-year, according to Interactive Media in Retail Group. This is great for the industry, but under close analysis, it is not as good as it could be. Consumer interest is there, but e-retailer behavior just hasn’t caught up and fully put their proverbial best foot forward.
Mobile conversion rates have doubled, going from .7% in to 1.4% year-over year. The great potential lies in this rate, though; although it is growing it is still much lower than the 4.3% rate achieved by PCs in the UK. The reason? Only 107 of those e-retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe have a mobile site. Thus, the majority of interactions with e-retailers in these markets are interacting with a standard site being viewed on smaller mobile device screens demanding pinching, zooming back in, and swiping in order to view the site and purchase products. The facts are when companies join with an SEO company or other marketing business and create a mobile site for their mobile traffic, conversions significantly increase.
International SEO & Page Load Speed
International SEO (ISEO) allows companies to cater to specific markets and the different cultures experienced and languages spoken there. As such, language was the first element that luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana addressed when they began noticing the number of visitors in the US, China, and Japan abandoning the website at a higher rate than previously experienced. The issue was page speed and in a foreign market is considered international SEO. In certain markets the page speed was painfully slow averaging more than 8.5 seconds and it was largely inaccessible at other times. Now, with the changes, the average load speed is less than 1.5 seconds, and this improvement has significantly cut that previously heightened abandonment rate. The result? Increased conversions, and an online experience that matches the image of the brand, thus protecting its reputation- and earning more revenue.
Reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ryanwbudd if you need e-commerce recommendations or have specific questions regarding how your business can maximize its e-commerce platform.
Again, this title is tongue-in-cheek, as there is certainly no one size fits all plan, as the implementation of one would achieve only mediocre results, miss out on great potential, and potentially damage a brand’s image in certain markets. There are strategy points that can be catered to each market, though, and one underlying guiding principle – understand each local context, what is popular, what the trends are, what the web behaviors are, and what characterizes their online activity to name a few elements ,and analyze how your business can operate in that market. With this post, we are continuing the subject and now addressing social media in Europe.
Social Media Use
Social media has fully arrived in Europe and it is being used to an extraordinary degree. ComScore data shows that Spain leads the region in terms of social engagement as 98.2% of the total population accesses some source of social media, 97.9% in the UK, and 94-96% for Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, and Poland. The rest of the countries’ percentages range from 89.1% to 93.6%, with Russia at 86.6%.
The differences are not so great between markets; however, knowing which markets experience the highest percentages tells you where not only are people using the platforms, but where there is a buzz surrounding its use. These markets, such as Spain, the UK, Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, and Poland, there exists an x-factor because its use is so high that utilizing platforms there could be that much more beneficial than using platforms in other markets. Also, half of all of Europeans that have a social media account follow a company, so businesses need to reach out to establish these connections, an then act on them.
Which Social Sites?
So which platforms should businesses use? Facebook , Vkontakte, and Odnoklassniki are the top three sites. The second and third are primarily serving Eastern Europe and Russia. Twitter is the fourth leading site and other relevant local sites are Badoo covering several countries, Skyrock in France, Tuenti in Spain, and both Hyves and StudiVZ in Holland and Germany. Businesses need to set up accounts and learn how each platform is used to engage with their local audiences on the sites they actually are on.
Businesses should do this sooner rather than later as well to get a presence, learn the platforms and tease out how best to use them. Analysts are now predicting that the bigger platforms who have “made-it” will continue to get bigger, and the smaller ones will only decrease in use. As a result, the best long-term approach is for companies to concentrate on the larger sites and learn to use them well.
There is no one plan, but there are strategy points for each market and an underlying principle for catering to each market. Businesses should evaluate which market best fits their products and demographic target audiences, need for their products, cultural and language implications, operational considerations including costs, among other important factors. If the business relies on search engine results, paid search, and coordinated internet marketing and SEO, then they need to evaluate the above numbers and see not only how big the audience is but also how much they are online and how they can engage with them through social – all important considerations.
For more information about getting online across European markets or how SEO, paid search, and social media can improve your online visibility, reach out to me directly at email@example.com and @ryanwbudd.
Yes, that title is tongue-in-cheek, as there is certainly no one size fits all plan. Reading any of my previous writings here, if there is one recurrent theme or underlying message toward international SEO and internet marketing in a new international market, it is that marketers must cater to the new context. They need to do their homework in understanding the local environment and how culture, language, and the societal structure (political, judicial, etc.) will impact the operations of the business – and act accordingly.
Following this approach, having statistics and informative detail on each market is essential in making a decision regarding which international market to enter or how to act once in that market. That is what this post supplies, as I detail below the differences between individual European markets and what it means for businesses.
Over 385 million Europeans were using the internet in February of this year. Looking at the total number of internet users in each country, businesses can get an idea of how many potential customers they can gain access to through their internet marketing efforts, specifically through search results, leveraging paid search and SEO. If a company’s products are niche, with more people there is a greater potential for a larger number being in your niche market. With a more general product, the same rule applies but there is even greater possibility for a wider audience.
The raw numbers are largely based on population but also the accessibility and quality of internet infrastructure in each country. Russia has the most web users with 54.5 million and is growing quickly, followed by Germany with 50.9, France with 42.9, and the UK with 37.4. From there, Spain, Turkey, and Italy range from 21.4 to 28.2, Poland has 18, the Netherlands 11.9, and Sweden 6.2 – according to recent comScore numbers. Additionally, the number of hours spent online is important. The UK led all in Europe with 36.7 hours spent on average in February, followed by the Netherlands with 43.8, and Turkey with 33.9. The translates to the extended amount of exposure businesses can get with each web user.
It also helps to know what kind of web activity is popular in specific countries to add in additional information to targeting decisions regarding where to advertise and how other subject matter can be leveraged. Like those of most regions, Europeans like their sport, and it shows in online activity. Over 177 million web users in Europe, which is 45.8% of the total in the region, visited a sport-related website in February. Turkey (70.7%), Ireland (69.8%), Spain (65.9%), and the UK (64.3%) led the region with the percentages of the internet audiences in each market seeking out a sport-related site in February.
Companies make a point to advertise on sports-sites, given the alignment of additional audience demographic information (male-female, etc.). More specifically, promotions initiated on social media platforms can spur people to utilize sport-related sites in an innovative way to gather information for example, that can be posted back to the company pages. Partnerships can be established as well that could make further cross-promotion possible.
Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this post where we’ll look at social media in the region and address its role for businesses’ internet marketing. And for more information about getting online across European markets or how SEO Companies can assist with organic search, ppc, and social media to improve your online visibility, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd.