I had the pleasure of attending International Search Summit in Barcelona last week, run by Gemma Houghton from Webcertain. There were so many great speakers, here are some of the key tips and take aways from the day.
Bill Hunt was first at the Summit and talked about “Missed Opportunities in International Search”
Bill Hunt runs his own business called Black Azimuth Consulting
Bill started off by saying “Where do the problems happen?”
- Language and Culture
- CMS Site Infrastructure
- Geo Targeting
Typical Business Problem
“We get very little traffic to our local mark sites despite localizing it into the local language.”
Why is this?
- But when you translate maybe use the wrong word.
- Also sometimes people forget to localize the meta description.
- Multilingual Single URL – The url does not change when you switch languages.
- So who would get the listing if a single URL is used for multiple languages.
- Also using too many languages for minimum population (eg Puerto Rico)
Another Typical Business Problem – “We get very little sales from our local mark sites despite ranking very well and spending lots on SEO”
Perhaps the page that is ranking is not the correct one.
- Eg UK pages ranking in Australia.
- SEO just cares that something ranks, not necessarily that it is the right page.
- For example you might be ranking on the global English page which does not have the shop, but the Australia page you would have.
Also there are mixed singles. In the Hrelfnag sometimes developers put the correct language (for example Spanish) but then in the code text they put the actual country, eg Colombia. Google get’s confused and this does not help you rank.
There are a lot of articles coming out where Google is trying to figure out the Hfelang on your site. People are unhappy with what they are seeing.
Another Business problem “We get very little traffic to our local sites.”
Do you know where your XML site map is?
It might be redirected. So there is no way to get to this XML site map. And therefore Google cannot get the pages indexed. Google Search Console tells you what they can and cannot find.
If you are getting very little traffic, check if your site is indexed. People do not implement Hreflang correctly.
- Bill shared a case study where 74% of their site was not indexed.
- Therefore he fixed this and brought in more traffic and sales.
- Some clients were told if you use hreflang, then you will lose traffic to your global site.
- So they did not implement Hreflang. But then after a while they implemented the Hreflang correctly and saw a 58% increase in organic traffic.
Confirm Index Rates for all your sites – check why you only have 10% indexed. Fix this for one country and should help the others.
Incorrect Canonical Tags
- Sometimes people copy a site but also copy the tag.
- This means that it has the wrong canonical tag.
- Very simple problem, can cause a lot of pain.
Typical profile – “We set IP detection to five our users a better experience but traffic has decreased.”
EG IKEA Barrier -Forced Country Selection.
It is important to have a XML site map.
Do not force people from Lithuania to Swiss Italian (example Bill said when his colleague was looking for a bag from Lithuania).
Barriers – Cookie Settings vs IP
- When click OK to Cookies, it sets your global preference forever.
- So it shows you US version all the time, this is very annoying.
IP the Location but Content is different.
URL changes but content is adapted based on browser language, this is not a good user experience.
So what can you do? Do IP/Language Detection – Tests
- What is the default – the non detected version?
- What happens with Search engine visits?. Bill recommends using Tunnel Bear VPN then you can see how the search results look in a different country.
- User agent detection and allow Engines access what they are requesting (NOT CLoaking)
Also do not manage centrally/globally.
- EG American Experience has 22 different configurations for the home page. This is not helpful.
- Do not manage it all centrally. It is important there is local SEO work.
- Test key points of failure
- Ensure local pages are ranking
- Capture low hanging opp
- Amazon, IBM do good job. Absolut Vodka do a good job of International SEO.
- Take language preference out of the browser.
Q and A
Question from the audience “What would you say for sites where they show the language translated?”
Bill said to clear cache and break cookie and also come in as incognito.
Optimising for Voice Search: How and Why
Michiel Das from SEAT gave a great presentation about voice search
Agenda (everyone loves agendas)
Rise of Voice search
- Problems with Voice search
- How to Optimise for Voice Search
If you wanna be cool, then you need to talk about Voice search, Artificial Intelligence and Block chain.
- Voice search has been with us for a while. The biggest peak was June 2011 (Google trends). This is when Google activated the ability to speak to your computer.
- First mention of voice search is mention in 2001 – Space Odyssey
- But why the hype now? Because of the data we are collecting and long tail keywords.
- Every one has their voice device – eg Amazon with alexa and Apple with Siri.
There is a battle going on, it is being won by Amazon.
By 2020, 50% of queries will be done by voice search. People are also using it different, eg use it more in the morning.
First movers will be rewarded – then Michiel shared a case study – Burger King explained the new whopper burger commercial where they used voice search.
What are the Problems with Voice Search?
- Google and Amazon are always listening.
- Also voice search is mainly used for basic tasks
- Another problem is how can we make money out of voice search?
- Most of the revenue of Google is from advertising (88%). (insert image here).
But what we have seen now is just a few problems. BUT these will be resolved soon.
So How to optimise for Voice Search?
- SEAT did an investigation and what came up with these:
- Ensure fast load time
- Implement HTTPs
- Make it easy to read
- Keep it long
- Add Schema
- Featured snippets help
Many voice search answers are simply pulled from the Featured Snippet for that keyword (in desktop search)
Also don’t forget about Local SEO.
SEO for Google’s mobile first index and mobile-friendly world
Jeff Ferguson from Fang Digital Marketing
What is Mobile First?
Official Google Announcement November 2016 – To make results more useful, will look at the mobile versions of your site and ignore desktop if you can. Mobile first does not mean mobile only. The desktop version will not go away.
When will mobile first happen? It just happened !
- More than 3 in 10 would stop seeing their friends in person instead of give up their mobile phone.
- 45% would put off going on vacation instead of giving up their mobile phone.
- We are so attached to our mobile phones.
- 65% of search start on their mobile phones Searchengine for information.
- People start on their mobile phone and then finish elsewhere.
- 40% leave non compatible mobile sites.
- 74% search on smart phone while shopping
- 79% purchase in result of the search.
Who is going to make money, How is it going to make money? Alexa show their own results, so tat is how.
By 2020, more people will have mobile phones than running water. 2020 is 18 months away.
Mobile First SEO
Break SEO into three areas
- Site Architecture
- Inbound links
Important site architecture considerations, if your mobile and desktop content different, then update it.
- Check your robots.txt is the mobile version accessible by Google bot?
- Verify both version of your site in Google Search Console (if you have 2 versions)
- Stop using hidden content (eg tags)
- Consider using AMP if you have a desktop only site
- Don’t forget the basics.
- It is not the length of the content, it is what you do with it.
- When it is longer, you tend to explain the topic better.
- But you can also do this in a condensed format.
- If you cannot shorten it then you can make sure those first couple of paragraphs draw readers deeper.
Get ahead of voice search
- Use your content to answer questions
- 61% grown in queries starting with who, what, where and how
- Almost 10%of voice search queries start with who, what , when ,where, why and how as supposed to only 3.7% of text queries
- How being 3.6% of all voice search queries and “what” being 3.5% of search queries.
- Most brands waste their time on creative blog posts that no one want s to read
- Instead focus on answering common questions about your product or services
- Headlines are always important – eve more so in a mobile-first world
- FAQs might be old school but they are what people are searching for.
Video and images
Do not be afraid. Just make sure they are optimised for speed.
How to combine brand, PR, content and SEO to future proof your international search rankings
By Johann Godey and Marie Mure Ravaud
- SEO history
- How to complement your traditional PR
- Deep dive on enabling Advanced online PR to boost your authority in multiple locals.
Back in the 90s was all about keywords, just needed to have content. Then in 2000 it was all about links. Then Early to mid 2010s it was quality Links. And then from 2015 to now, it is all about authority.
- Authority is given not taken.
- It is a measure of how trustworthy and valuable a website is.
- Why does authority matter?
- SERP evolutions – 30% have no clicks ! So your brand needs to have authority and stand out.
- Authority is not the responsibility of the SEO team. OR the PR team, it is shared.
You need to generate brand strategy. Brand is sitting at the “Why”. You need a reason to be in business. Brand bgins all this into the business (see photo about authority landscape).
- Non transactional content
- Transactional Content
- Social Media
- Localisation – need local insights, translation is not localisation.
SEO is all about providing data to the above. SEO brings the total impact to a PR campaign. It is helping justify an article on the blog.
Why you need Traditional PR and Advanced online PR
Traditional PR is corporate and financial message or could be about the launch of a new product. Also about crisis management.
Advanced Online PR goes beyond that, securing a place in media online. Online PR is providing content that is very valuable for your audience who want to share this on social and link to. Best way to do this is provide surveys, buylines/features. Want to get mentions and backlinks.
Educating your PR teams and agencies
Marie started at vistaprint and worked with the PR team to show about authority, what is a good link what is a bad link.
How can SEO help PR?
- Campaign definition
- Press list creation – help what are authority sites
- Tracking and follow up
SEO based metrics can help the PR team to measure the impact of their campaigns – eg traffic from the links, increase in brand mentions. Your PR team can also help SEOs. Can help with outreach, leverage their relationship with their contacts/journalists.
How to come up with PR stories that will earn you links?
- Is your story topical? Is it trending?
- Useful tools to come up with link earning story
- Google trends
- Answer the public
- Ahrefs content explorer
5 keys to a truth fully compelling story
- Human Connections
So TEACH – DIY, how to, deep dives, profiles.
Reputable – Credible – so experience and educated people to write a feature, influencers and 3rd parry agencies.
Unique – first or only – data driven, best/most/biggest/different/surprising.
Tension – Try and answer your questions, struggles, risks, debates and accomplishments.
Human Connections – Human connection – appeals to emotion – testimonials, quotes, pictures, journey etc.
- So creating a great story is good, but how do you get people to link to it?
- Provide valuable assets to link to:
- Video, list of resources etc
- Another tactic is to highlight influencers, they might share your story on your blog.
Extra tips for more links:
- Go local, it is important that you use local data and local experts. Also if your story is not picked up by the local press then it may be pushed national
- Also go broader on the topic. industry report can update every year.
- Be relevant – Help a reporter out – where journalists can ask for a contribution, send data to them.
- Today’s challenges is that there is a bit turn over. Journalists move on and they also might not have time to check the data. It is manual for them to track down the news.
- So the future is Automated Journalism. Journalism is now using AI to speed up research and produce content.
Authority is a shared responsibility. Ebedding SEO can help grown your brand through authority.
Search beyond Google: The other search engines
Jitka talked about the other search engines in the market (that some people may not think about). But if you are moving into China, Russia and South Korea, you cannot ignore.
How can you achieve presence there?
- SEO overview
- On page optimisaiton
- Off page
- Webmaster tools
- Google has 90.62% of the worldwide market.
- Baidu has 2.03% of the overall market.
- Yandex has 0.68% share
- Baidu is dominant in China
- Yandex is dominant in Russia (and Ukraine and Belarus, Turkey )
- And Naver is dominant in Korea and Japan.
- Yandex established in 1997. It has its own mail, maps and translator.
- Has 60% of the market share in the country.
- Yandex has local results (has 11 time zones)
- Naver established 1999 from the ex Samsung Engineers.
- Focused on user generated content and social media.
- 70% market share in S Korea.
How different is Naver?
Paid search is the top, then organic listings, then maps, apps. It has a very long search page. So would you focus on SEO when there is such a limited space for organic listings? What you need to look into, is paid as well.
Technical Set up
- Baidu – sites hosted outside of China, have difficulty ranking on Baidu, so host your site in China. BUT you need a internet content provider (ICP) Licence.
- Yandex, they do not mind if it is hosted outside of Russia. BUT needs to be fast.
- Naver, sites outside of S Korea experience performance drop.
- Baidu has their Baidu spider
- Yandex has their own bot
- Naver have their Yeti Bot
All these bots are polite, they follow what is in the robots.txt file, so make sure you use the robots.txt file
- Baidu only indexes simplified Chinese characters
- Crawls text rather than images
- Slower indexing than Google
- If a page does not generate traffic, it is removed.
- Takes. A week to get site indexed
- Only Yandex includes Hreflang tag.
- All three use the https
For all search engines, use the local languaages.
- Baidu is over optimised
- Baidu puts a major importance on optimisation of all tags
- Yandex have naturally optimised meta tags
- Naver treat meta tags as important
- Baidu and Naver put more emphasis on internal linking than Google
- Baidu – Like flat and logical structure, link back to the main page
- Baidu – keep info on top of the page. Use local social media (Facebook is not allowed – They use WeChat). Mind blacklisted words. Avoid duplication content. Min 300 words.
- Going global on a shoestring PPC budget – a B2B case study
- Yandex – be patient with indexaion. Have longer text, 300 – 500 words. Create region specific content. Yandex can display different results depending on the location.
- Naver has their blog and Naver café (this is a forum)
- Keep both regularly updated.
- Keep content fresh
- No duplication
- Min 300 words.
Off page SEO
- External links – Baidu has been known for unnatural links
- Baidu prefers trustworthy China hosted sites
- Naver say links wont improve your search rankings
- BUT bad links will have a negative effect
Baidu Webmaster tools BUT only in Chinese
- Yandex also have webmaster tools and wordstat for keyword research
- Naver have webmaster tool and their keyword tool, but only in Korean, so need a local person to help.
- 85% penetration rate for mobile in China and Korea.
- Baidu is still behind Google but they have smart engineers and will catch up.
- Yandex focuses on very good content.
- Naver is seen an a community platform and the content is generated from users so the space for organic listings is limited.You cannot focus on just SEO.
Great talk by Jitka, some fantastic insights as well.
Going Global on a Showstring PPC Budget – a B2B case study
Jeroen Malijers CEO from Swydo
- This Is a reporting tool, monitoring and workflow products.
- Can pull in data from different sources.
- Jeroen had an agency started in 2006 and had a reporting issue. Wanted to tell clients what they were doing. But there was not a reporting tool on the platform.
- So started putting in hours and tasks, then 2009 added online marketing. Then 2011 tried to sell it.
Show what you do online (SWYDO)
- Two years after Swydo was ready, in 2013, there was success.
- Dec 2017 acquired by Dialog Tech
How did we get success?
- Website Campaigns
- Client retention
- Had so many features, was quite complicated.
- So it was too much. Less is better. Add features but only close to the core.
- Outsource out of the core
- PDF creation
- So do not be a jack of all trades. If want to do everything, in the end you do nothing.
BUT this was not reflective on the website.
- SO had to change the website
- Do not overdo it on the website
- Do not have mixed messages
- Keep your message simple
Marketing on a Shoestring
Also SWYDO did not have a lot of money so they had to do marketing on a shoestring.
Subdivide your target groups in four segments.
- Search Marketing is your friend. People have a problem, they will enter it into Google.
- PPC campaign – Swydo had one global campaign. They kept it simple and used English USA
- They also added a lot of negatives in the PPC campaign. Then gets relevant and relevant.
So once you have your clients, what do you do?
Onboarding is very important.
- Get them acquainted, let them see the light.
- Use intercom for this (software tool)
Retention is very important.
- If invest one time in a customer, do not pay for the acquisition cost. Keep customer happy.
- So make sure keep them in the tool. So make it sticky and make sure good customer support. They can then share it with others.
- No jack of all traders
- Focus on one message.
- Focus on search
- Light onboarding
And the most important thing – Don’t give up.
Yandex Metrica for SEO and beyond
Alexandra Kulachikova from Yandex Metrics shared insights about the tool at International Search Summit.
- Yandex Metrica is a leading web analytics platform
- It Is installed on more than 8 million sites worldwide
- Second largest by market share.
It helps you find out how people are using your website, how they can convert.
Who is the King? The User.
Alexandra then ran through a list of areas that Metrica can help you with.
- In Metrica, there is a tool called monitoring that shows how long it takes for the website to respond. Metrica sees the technical area of your site.
- This monitoring tool is free and can send you the information by SMS or email.
- Easily determine slow pages
- How to track 404 error pages
- You can do this in Yandex Metrica
Your website may have up to 30% robots traffic – You can have special report for Robots traffic
Seeing with the customers’ eyes
- Session replay tools and heat maps – can see what your customers are seeing. Look at full path.
- 5 Ways to use Session replays: looking at the common scenarios
- Yandex Metrics used Session replays to help them build their own website.
- Use Session replays to also improve the first click
- Use session replays to find robot and thieves
- There are not only people coming to your website.
- User centric analytics
- On a micro level, you can see visitor session recordings
- Heat maps, click maps
- On a macro-level, you should see cross-visit customer journey analysis and a full value of a users (incl offline conversions). You can have cross device analytics.
- Metrica gives a lot of vital signals for Yandex’s Korolyvov ranking algorithm
- See search queries in Yandex Metrica and analyse visitor’s behaviour
- Analyse your traffic on Turbo-pages
- Don’t forget about the Alisa voice assistant and voice searches.
Deploying Amazon’s geo-targeting approach to improve global web performance
Andy Atkins-Kruger, Founder of Webcertain.
Andy started his talk by saying the agenda is start thinking about things beyond the norm. To think beyond the physical borders. Andy said to think about more the personals that include culture and to think about target ethnicity or language.
Ethnicity is very complicated. Most people in the UK are ethnicity white but many are descended from Africa. When you look at the ancestry of USA, due to the migrations throughout the country, everyone is a mix. You think of the country as mono lingual. But by 2060, 31% of the population will be Hispanic.
55% of the language on the web is in English, so how do we target everyone?
- We need to think about how we provide the resources to target these people.
- Self segmentation and tinderisation Provide the content they seek via entities or keywords:
- Do men or women even make sense any more in some fields?
- People are taking an action on Tinder, so Tinder is learning what people are interested in.
- Provide content for different groups so we depend a lot of Research
Geo-targeting makes sure the content appears in the right market and that personalisation can provide the right content in front of these people.
A company that is going a good job is Amazon.
Country is not nationality but it is where you live. We need to use these characterostics in the content
It is annoying when you are in Spain and it keeps delivering English results. You have never asked for it to do that but it may have been saved in your cookies.
Google needs to do the same thing that Amazon does. Use any language keyword. The right thing is due to hreflang.
Amazon is an ecommerce search engine. And they are doing it right.
Moving from a multi-ccTLD to a global gTLD strategy
Eoghan Henn from searchVIU talked about the different cases, whether to use a cc TLD or to use a gTLD for websites. He started by talking about a client who had lots of sites and merged into one.
- Eoghan’s client was Nfon.com and they had Nfon.at (Austria domain) and had visibility.
- Then merged to nfon.com and it grew.
- They got 90% more traffic in first five months and 100% more leads
- They moved from nconnect.com to nfon.com/gb/ but still saw an increase in visibility.
- 80% more traffic in 5 months and 10x more leads.
- Then they decided to move the nfon.co.uk and this new domain did not make the rankings or maintain the rankings. So it dropped visibility.
- Realised it was a mistake and reversed it and now doing better.
- Migration from nfon.net to nfon.com/de/
- Performance is connected with the volatility in the visibility.
Global Domain vs Multiple TLDs
Eoghan suggested to read this post by Bartoz Goralewicz “One global domain vs multiple TLDs”
This all looks great but not as easy as it seems. In past few years Eoghan saw these cases and thought by merging their domains to a .com it would work but it failed.
- It’s not really about ccTLDs and gTLDs
- It is about several domains vs one domain.
The reason is that some link related ranking signals are more easily shared with pages on the same domain than across domains.
- Moving subdomain to subfolder almost always increases search traffic
- Moving subfolder to a subdomain almost always decreases search traffic.
Also read this article on Medium – How switching our domain structure unlocked international growth. Pinterest moved from .com to individual country domains.
- Domain switches almost always do harm (in the short term)
- Careful, if one goes down they all go down.
- Avoid redirect chains
- Keep your old domains and SSL certificates.
International SEO expert opinions
- Maria Saez – in some countries like Russia, local ccTLDs have advantages over gTLDs.
- For companies that use different brands in different countries, global gTLDs aren’t an option.
- Michelle Race – A content delivery network (CDN) can help global gTLDs with page speed issues. For the migration, need a bullet proof migration plan
- Jamie Alberico – A ccTLD approach needs a lot of money, time and resources. If you opt for a cc TLD strategy, you need to fully comity to it. Otherwise a gTLD strategy might be the best option.
- Alexis Sanders – Site migrations are risky and always mean significant shifts in organic ranking performance. The beauty of SEO is that it doesn’t come in one shape or size
- Gianna Brachetti – Cc TLDs are preferred in some countries but TLDs might not always show in SERPS. A mixed solution with ccTLDs for some markets and a shared gTLD for others is an option.
How to achieve global search success – Q and A with Google
Gary Illyes from Google took part in a Q & A session with Gemma.
We asked him about cc TLDs and TLDs.
Gary’s response “It does depend what you want to do Cc TLDs vs gTLD, but have you seen more positive results from one or the other? Users prefer the ccTLD. They will pick a .de result if German. Some countries this is more visible. Much stronger preference. Spain as well in top 10.
Gtlds if you have an international business, then they make more sense and you can do geo-targeting for sub domain or sub directory. BUT users prefer ccTLDs.
But if you have a site in many countries, then maybe the ccTLD costs too much.
From Google’s perspective, they do not care. Whichever way you do it, do it properly.”
Mobile First – From what has already been, what has been the impact? And how prepared are they?
Gary’s response “Mobile Indexing – would they lose traffic or not? The sites Google has moved, did not lose traffic. Responsive sites are moved mainly cause they did not have to change anything on them.”
What about sites that are not being moved? Are they likely to see any drop?
Gary’s response “If they didn’t see a drop a couple of years ago will not see a drop (when mobile came out).”
So why are you doing it?
Gary’s response “That is a good question Doing this to allow people a lot of time to prepare for it.
Those sites that have significantly different content on mobile vs desktop will see a big drop when they are moved over.”
Any data that will come out soon about this (from Google)?
Gary’s response “We will see a change when we move all the sites unless all sites switch to responsive. Right now not planning to talk about it.”
Are we going to see Google Search Console reports to include Voice Search or anything that gives a bit more insight?
Gary’s response “No not now as some of the information is not relevant. Voice search does not change much for websites. It changes a lot for how users interact with search but for websites, it does not change much. For the business, they might get a new entry point. It is not from search, it is from assistants.You can write bots for most assistants, eg Facebook assistants. So voice search make sure you have content that are answering questions.”
Andy asked about why are rankings different in Google Search Console and Gary will come back to us. But I do not think he did in the end. Is Google avoiding giving us answers?
By 2020, 50% of queries will be done by voice search. People are also using it different, eg use it more in the morning so when will we see this in Google Search Console?
Gary’s response “No this will not be shown in Google Search Console. Google Search Console, more reports are coming out but not around voice. Voice Search will be a big thing, it is more natural to interact with devices via voice, but this trend began recently. I really do not know where this figure of 50% has come from.”
So what should we be focusing on?
Gary’s response “We are happy to index videos on sites from individual sites than portals but does not seem like people want it. If selling shoes, you could create videos that are rankable. In search, it is simple, the whole thing boils down to having the image and providing as much context to the image as possible. If most of your images have captions, it is a great way to start. Image site maps are useful.”
If you have video embedded on your website, would it outrank YoutuBe?
Gary’s response ” YouTube has great SEO for videos. YouTube staff do not talk to the search team.
Youtube is great host your videos on cause they take care of the SEO for you. BUT if you have the content that provides more context then makes sense to embed this video on your site.”
What about for multi lingual sites. How does subtitles work?
Gary’s response “Video indexing it sucks. If subtitle is embedded in the video, it would not get indexed. But then processing videos takes a lot of time. If you did subtitles in 4 languages, then Google would see just one video.It is important to see a transcript.”
Gary does not know how to do optimisation for multi lingual videos.
How can you “geo” target in the UK if you have different content for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and England?
Gary’s response “One way is provide region relevant content on the pages. Gas stations in different areas, eg put those phone numbers on those pages.”
Gary admits and says “I do not know why we do not have a solution for this. Hreflang caused a lot of issues.”
Why can’t Google deliver me the correct results?
If I am doing a search in Spanish in Spain, why don’t they show me the results in Spanish in Spain (why do they show it in English)? I am an English speaker but I am also fluent in Spanish.
Gary’s response “I have had these issues too. Personalisation is messing up, I do not know what is happening and I will tell the team.”
Will Google crawl Angular websites in future and why does it not now?
Gary’s response “John Mueller has a talk today about this, so watch this – May 8th event”
Fantastic event organised by the lovely Gemma Houghton at Webcertain. I am already looking forward to the next Summit in November 2018 ! It has just been confirmed as 15th of November, so get your early bird ticket, only 95 Euros.