Selling stuff in another country? Surprise! Google, Yahoo! and Live don’t just transfer your .com rankings worldwide. You might keep the same position abroad. But if you want to compete in the rankings on, say Google.ca or Google.de, you’ll probably need to take some steps:
- Create a separate site. Oh my god you say. Ian, how can you ask us to make another site? The first one almost killed us! This one doesn’t have to. First, if the new site is in another language, you can just translate what you’ve got. Second, if the new site is in the same language, you can create a smaller site with unique content. It’s worth the effort.
- Localize your site. ‘Translated’ means you converted your yeses to jas and your nos to neins. Localized means someone who understands the culture and mores of the country reviewed your site to make sure you don’t insult anyone. It’s entirely possible the attractive model on your home page is giving an entire nation the finger. It pays to check. Hire a translation/localization company that does this – it pays off.
- Buy a local domain. On Google.de, www.mybikeshop.de will get preference over www.mybikeshop.com. It pays to host your localized site at the first level domain for that country. Most major registrars make it easy to reserve nation-specific domains.
- Host locally. IT teams realllly love me when I say this. Nothing like having your web sites spread across 10 different hosting providers to really make site maintenance a breeze (that’s sarcasm). Search engines check your web site’s ip address — that weird number that designates your web site’s unique home on the internet — to see where the site’s hosted. If your server is located within the relevant country, you’ll get extra ranking juice.
- Use the right keywords. In the USA we might search for ‘18-wheelers’. In Britain, though, folks search for ‘articulated lorries’ (I love that term. I could say it all day…). Make sure you’re using the words folks search for within that country. Do the research. Use that localization company you just hired to help you find the right phrases.
- Do not use an automated translation service. You probably get e-mails from Dr. Richard Dixon or some other fictional character saying he specializes in getting your site ranked abroad. This spammer’s real specialty? Relieving you of $99 or so, then using Google Translate to convert your site to something that reads like the drugged ramblings of a mentally ill parrot. Use a real translator.
We Americans are legendary for our ability to misunderstand, ignore, insult or otherwise write off other cultures. If you live in the US, please, break the trend. We now have a President who can spell. Everyone has their hopes up. Don’t let the world down. You can do your patriotic duty and make some extra money in the mean time.