A content strategy is important for any marketing effort. But developing a content strategy for international marketing efforts has some unique challenges. Here's how to craft a content strategy as part of an international SEO campaign.
What is Content Strategy?
The term content strategyis how we refer to the purpose, creation, and distribution of information that we create. This includes:
- Written content such as blog posts, website copy, white papers, social media posts, press releases, and advertisements.
- Images and video.
- Interactive content or other things such as data visualization or infographics.
Most of this content is crawlable by search engines, thus it is something to be considered as part of your SEO efforts.
Content Strategy & International SEO
Now let's explore how to take your content strategy to an international audience, and how it plays a part in your international SEO efforts.
A Single Page Isn't Enough
This is yet another case where approaching your SEO efforts as if Google and Bing were real live humans pays off. If you create a single page that is in your target language, what is the true benefit to your customers?
Instead of simply creating landing pages, invest some effort into creating more in-depth information. This is the same approach you would take with domestic SEO for microsites.
The time invested in designing and building a landing page versus a small site does not have to be that much greater, though search engines always value good resourcesover sites that simply stuff keywords into a small space.
You should always try to avoid duplicate content, especially if the pages for different countries will all be in English.
Consider a content strategy that eliminates duplication and puts more focus on localization of your pages.
You can always push people from different countries to common transactional areas or pages that allow signups or take orders, while still maintaining your international SEO-targeted content.
There are many technical aspects to international SEO, including hosting location and sources of inbound links. Another one is the "Content-Language" meta tag. If you provide content in a different language, use the "Content-Language" meta tag, which looks like this when properly used (in this case for content in French):
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="fr">
This is an important component of the page, as it helps search engines properly index your in-language content. W3C's Internationalization section provides more specific information that may more directly apply to your efforts.
Context and Relevance Always Matter
Not all content translates well to all places or cultures.
One simple example of this is in the use of target keywords. Even in a regional campaign in a single country, you might find that the same product or service is referred to in a slightly different way depending on where you are. We're not even talking about unintentionally using the wrong term that might somehow be offensive, though you definitely want to watch out for that as well.
Make sure that you use the term that people in your target country are using to search for you. Your product is a task that can sometimes be overlooked.
How Does This Affect Your Existing Content Strategy?
Targeting an international audience will most certainly have an impact on your existing content strategy. In many respects, you can liken it to adding a new product to your marketing efforts, with its own microsite, email marketing, and social media efforts.
Approaching a new country or locale is much the same. Often, marketing to an audience that speaks a different language requires some of these changes, but even when approaching audiences in the U.S. versus the UK, or even English-speaking audiences in other countries, the challenges are the same.
As with any other set of marketing tactics, don't bite off more than you can chew, which will have you run the risk of spreading your efforts too thin or not paying attention to important subtleties and distinctions required to connect with your audiences.
Your content strategy is a critical piece of your domestic marketing efforts. Be realistic about what you think you can achieve. For your SEO efforts to succeed, you'll need to create a true content resource for visitors in the location you're targeting.