The Complete Guide to International SEO Keyword Research

Published on: March 27, 2023

In a global economy, reaching every corner of the world can boost your presence. One challenging aspect of a multinational marketing strategy is language barriers. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to overcome this obstacle, including using international SEO keyword research. If done correctly, you’ll reap the many benefis of international SEO

What is International SEO Keyword Research?

When developing a well-rounded SEO strategy, keyword research provides a data-driven foundation. These trending keywords give you the basis for optimizing everything from your website to posts on various platforms. 

The research begins by identifying the words that users are searching for. What terms or phrases related to your brand are most often used in search? These are essential in getting your brand discovered by relevant audiences.

When it comes to global commerce, many languages come into play. That’s why a specific international SEO strategy is essential. Marketing to a new audience takes a lot more than simply translating your content into the local language. Analysis of geographically-specific trends and diving deep into regional keywords are key. International keyword research allows you to craft optimized content that grows your online visibility in new international markets. 

Pitfalls of International SEO Keyword Research

International keyword research doesn’t come without challenges. However, with a judicious approach, you can avoid some common pitfalls. 

  • Translating directly: There’s a reason that “lost in translation” is a popular saying that applies to a wide variety of situations. When it comes to international SEO strategies, direct translation can ruin your optimizations. One, this process often doesn’t take cultural nuances or dialects into account. And two, your keyword might not translate into the same meaning you’re intending.
  • Ignoring local culture: Honing in on keywords is about more than just the words themselves. Local cultures, habits, and trends also play a role in international optimization. Many regions predominantly use slang terms or nicknames for popular items. There are also location-specific dialects that should be taken into account. 
  • Not considering local search engines: When many think about SEO research, their minds immediately go to Google. But, it’s important to keep in mind that many countries around the world tend to prefer other options. Over half of the searches in China take place on Baidu. And Bing remains a valid choice in many countries, including Canada and Germany. Staying in tune with these algorithms in addition to Google is vital to a robust strategy. 
  • Not accounting for regional trends: Everything from religious observances to world events can alter the trends in any region. Make sure to be aware of these and adjust your strategy accordingly. Research the best keywords often and even more frequently when major events or seasonal changes occur.

International SEO Keyword Research Tools 

Luckily, there are some powerful international keyword research tools right at your fingertips. These allow you to pinpoint keywords in regions around the globe. Plus, you can select one with the right features based on your brand’s needs.

1. Semrush

This tool is a go-to for many keyword researchers. It provides the same well-rounded toolbox and intuitive features with its international capabilities. Semrush allows you to analyze international competitors and take advantage of their keyword data. It also provides data to millions of worldwide domains. Their Domain Analytics tool can give you valuable insight into where you’re ranking in over 120 countries around the world (via Semrush).

2. Google Ads Keyword Planner

If you’re looking to dip your toes into international keyword research, then this free tool is a great place to start. It’s easy to get started and uses a Google-based interface that many are already familiar with. But, keep in mind that you will only have access to Google-specific data, meaning you’re missing out on information from other search engines like Bing.

3. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs provides an in-depth analysis of keywords in different parts of the world. The data can give you insight into the first page of SERPs in various markets as well as how many backlinks you need to earn a top spot. It can also analyze data from popular search engines like Baidu and Bing in addition to Google.

4. Rank Tracker

This keyword research tool provides you with data via integrated analytics tools. It can provide you with your keyword ranking information in ten countries and allows you to analyze keywords based on your SEO objectives. Plus, you can collect data on unlimited domains and it features an intuitive dashboard.

How to Conduct International Keyword Research

Researching keywords for international markets is pretty simple. If you follow the right steps and avoid the common pitfalls, you can create optimized content that can rank higher all over the world. 

1. Select Your Keywords

This looks different for every brand. First, you’ll want to decide what area of business you’re focusing on with your expansion. Maybe it’s a subset of products or perhaps your launching a new service available internationally. Focus on searchable keywords — words or phrases that a search engine user would typically enter when looking for a product or service. Then, create a list of potential keywords and conduct research into their rankings and competition. This is an awesome way to use one of the international keyword research tools covered in the previous section. 

2. Translate and Localize Your Keywords

Take your keywords and translate them into the language of your target market. However, simply swapping them out can cause major issues. To be effective, you also need to localize the translated words. This process accounts for any slang versions or cultural nuances that could come into play. 

Many languages have different dialects depending on the region. For example, there are various versions of Spanish spoken across Spain and others in different regions of Latin America. While your keyword may mean something in one location, it may mean something totally different in another. Localizing these words to highly-targeted markets gives you the best chances of ranking and appealing to the specific audience. 

Then, create content with nuances that identify with the local culture. Tones and speaking patterns also vary. So a direct translation from English could come off very differently than originally intended. Recreate your message using the same content varied to the market.

3. Track Your Keywords

One of the best things about international SEO optimization is the helpful data it can provide. You’ll be able to see first-hand how your keywords are performing. Evaluate any changes in real time to adjust as necessary. Keep in mind that each region will likely have its own trends and times when strategies should shift. So, it’s important to monitor your performance regularly. 

Successful Optimization for International Performance

Being successful as a worldwide brand takes appealing to a wide range of audiences. The internet can put your brand in touch with nearly endless places in the world. 

Search Nuture features an international and multilingual team that can help your brand gain a presence all around the globe. Unlike many translation services, our team is in tune with specific dialects and regional nuances. We’ll show you that there are truly no geographical limits to your growth potential. Request a meeting with an international SEO expert

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