Need to improve a site’s rankings in an international search engine? Have you already tried traditional optimisation of content and link strategies? Surprisingly, there are a few more steps to be considered in order to improve an international web site which can also prove helpful when pursuing improved international search engine rankings.

International Domains

If you have both a regional (.ca .au. .us .uk etc.) and .com domain, the next question is do you use both or do you use only one and forward visitors from one URL to the other?

If you have the resources to maintain both web sites, it is not a bad idea to keep both URLs up and running. If you do this and they are both in the same language, make sure that each has its own unique content or uses hreflang tags to combat duplication penalties.

On the other hand, if one site is one language and you have another URL that has roughly the same content but in another language, for example Italian, search engines generally do not penalize for duplicated content in different languages.

International Hosting

Like a domain name, the location of where your site is hosted can play a role in rankings. In real life, if you spoke with an accent, this non-verbal clue may help someone to identify where you were born or grew up.

Similarly, with websites, a UK or Scottish company, with an IP address served from a fairly local server in Edinburgh, Scotland it has a better chance of ranking higher than the company with its website served from a location like Dallas, Texas. Search engines use this information to identify the locality of your site. For best results it is always better to get local hosting.

Your International Contact Details

Have a local or international phone number? Do you have an international business address? While it may seem like over-kill on some sites, depending on the design/style of the site, it’s not a bad idea to keep this type of information readily available on many or all of your web site’s pages.

In an SEO context including an address assists with niche keyword searches: While there are many keywords which are very difficult to rank on such as mortgage, real estate, realtor, etc, some searchers use a combination of items like a postal or zip code, a partial street address, a partial phone number, or other information along with a keyword or two during their search in order to narrow down general searches.

Since many of these combinations provide only a few hits per month, many companies ignore trying to optimise for these keyword combinations, and thus improve your chances of appearing with the addition of your contact info on the page or some basic optimisation.

Localised Language

Even if you speak the same language as the country and international search engine that you are attempting to get ranked in, there may be regional or local spelling differences, slightly different terms to use, grammar differences, or other challenges to take into consideration.

Although I speak Australian based English, it makes a difference if I am trying to search for boot repair parts and trunk repair parts in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. A boot is a type of shoe in most of these areas but outside of the US it can also indicate the storage compartment of a car. In the US they call this area a trunk whereas in Australia and elsewhere, a trunk usually indicates the main portion of a tree or a large container for storing items.

In Mexico and Spain the way to optimise for mortgage lending services differs as well. The term “bienes raices” in commonly used in Mexico and in the Spanish speaking areas of the US; it roughly means “real estate” or literally “root assets”. In Spain you would use a term like “inmobiliaria” to describe real estate. In Mexico and the US you would use the term “prestamista” for a lender such as a mortgage broker or loan officer whereas in Spain this term is often used for dishonest or questionable lenders such as loan sharks. So you would not necessarily use the same terms in the same language to optimise for different countries that have a common language.


International and regional web sites often need a few extra tweaks to help them rank well. If you are attempting to improve a web site’s ranking in an international search engine, there are some basic steps that you can take to increase the odds of ranking well.

  • Use a domain that relates to your target country rather than a general domain like .com.
  • If you use both a regional domain and a .com, provide unique content on both sites. Obtain hosting services from an IP address/host that is actually located in the country that you are targeting.
  • Be obvious about your company contact information by placing it on all or many pages of your site so that it is easy for customers to find and easy for search engines to index. Even if you have basic contact information on many pages of your site, always include a “contact us” page or something similar.
  • Do research on your target market’s keywords and language style if you are not native to the target country, and consider hiring someone to translate or regionalise the text for you.

While these ideas may not cause your site to rocket to the top rankings on an international search engine over night, taken as a whole (along with traditional linking and SEO strategies), they can give you an edge towards improved rankings.