Best Practice SEO Strategy for International Website Launches
So your boss has told you to launch a new international website in a different country, but where does it live? And which is the best way of doing it from an SEO perspective?
When launching a website for a new audience in a new country there are three main options to consider, each have their pros and cons but hopefully by the end of this article you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
It’s own local domain – i.e. domainname.com.au or domainname.es
In many ways this is the ideal option, by using a local domain extension you can send a signal to users and search engines that this website is intended specifically for them. This avoids many of the downsides of the other options.
However there are several downsides to this option which should be considered. As this is essentially a different website it may incur extra hosting or server administration. Also, it will start with a blank slate from an SEO perspective so won’t be able to benefit from the existing link building work carried out.
New sub folder of existing domain – This option enables you to benefit from the existing SEO rankings and authority of your site in the eyes of the search engines. Despite this gaining rankings for the site it may not be that straightforward.
It may perform well on Google.co.uk for some new terms like ‘homes in spain’ ‘homes in australia’ but struggle to perform on the local version i.e. google.com.au google.es etc for non location terms e.g. ‘homes’ because your current site is targeted at the UK audience. This is where International SEO comes in. It can be difficult to get across to the search engines that this area of the site is aimed at a different international audience.
Own sub-domain of existing website - this third option avoids some of the negatives of the other options but lacks the many of the clear benefits as well.
You can let Google know where you’re based easily via Google Webmaster Tools, and this inform them that a sub domain like Australia.domain.com is targeted to that country.
There’s an argument being on the sub-domain of a successful site can help build your own trust with more ease than a brand new domain but it isn’t a simple transfer of link equity like you would get from a sub folder, so actually isn’t much better than a brand new domain.
If you’ve got the budget to invest in ongoing SEO I’d always go with the seperate domain name, it makes more sense long term. It won’t act as a barrier and will give you more options in the future.