International Consulting Podcast: International SEO Best Practices – With Josh Eberly, Full-Stack Marketer

International SEO Best Practices can help virtually any organization to reach organically a broader audience, and through an appropriate digital marketing strategy to drive more sales. In order to understand to make it work, Josh Eberly tells us his secret and tips:

  • 1. Set the foundation,
  • 2. Keep it simple,
  • 3. Be patient,
  • 4 .... Watch the videocast, follow the podcast, or read the transcript to find out!

Is your international SEO strategy setup? Let us know in comments what worked or what didn't – and call us to get it done properly with best practices applied!

Experienced Full-Stack Marketer with strengths in executing high-end digital campaigns to grow businesses. Has worked with over 1,000 websites to increase yield, drive revenue, and launch marketing campaigns. Founder of: Conklin media - Glanzair -
Experienced Full-Stack Marketer with strengths in executing high-end digital campaigns to grow businesses. Has worked with over 1,000 websites to increase yield, drive revenue, and launch marketing campaigns. Founder of: Conklin media - Glanzair -
Conklin media
Josh Eberly on LinkedIn

Watch the videocast, listen to the podcast

#1 Introduction with Josh Eberly, Full-Stack Marketer

Hello and welcome to this new episode of international consulting podcast. I am today with Josh Eberly from Glanzair LLC. Hello Josh! 

Yeah thanks for having me on here! I'm excited, pleasure.

So actually you have two companies? 

I do so I have a digital marketing company called  Conklin media‌  check us out, we work almost exclusively with mid-size to large companies who are looking for business growth, and so when we talk about business growth we're looking for the people who really want to grow through sales and acquisition in their company.

We try to think outside the box so we're not like your traditional digital marketing agency. We're really just people focused on growth, and my other company ironically and this is kind of how I got invited on the podcast, is a real estate investment company.

So we help real estate investors acquire and also source off-market properties so we are based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about an hour west of Philly and we've really been working with a lot of investors recently to create passive revenue, and give them opportunities to invest in the US market.

That's nice! And we are going to talk together about SEO Search Engine Optimization best practices. You are using SEO on both your companies to get more business, or to reach more customers. What is the main target of your SEO strategy? 

That's a great question because when people think  about SEO‌  it's normally an afterthought for them, or that's really a confusing subject.

A lot of people don't really understand what is SEO and so we talk  about SEO‌  just real quick to define it for everyone. On the podcast, SEO is  Search Engine Optimization‌  and the easiest way to always describe it is: if you open up your phone and you pull up Google or Safari, it's when you type in different words into the search engine, and you see the results that come up.

Now a lot of those companies that come up are actively working on their SEO, they're actively trying to rank higher in Google or higher in Safari to get you to click on their link, and when you do SEO really well you're able to rank well for keywords.

I try to partner with people who understand this who, are looking for more sales – they understand their customers they want to target and what keywords actually make them money in the process.

So do you have any other questions around just like what we do with SEO Yoann, or like how we do SEO that you want to ask me?

#2 What is international SEO?

Yes for sure, we will go through all of this. And what I am especially interested in is your international SEO, so especially you are based in US but you are working with other markets, with people that use other languages to speak and to work with, and you're also targeting them, right? 

Yeah and this is a really good topic for today because I was actually just working on a lot of our campaigns for our clients and a lot of people actually really get this wrong.

It's a really hard topic to master and I was looking at it from perspective of if you look at like the world economy and just how businesses are so interconnected now, and you're probably listening to this at home right now, because of COVID, and you know you've heard in the news and just the economy with COVID there's a lot of uncertainty out there.

And for me, you know, I've always thought of it as as the world has progressed and just became more technologically advanced we become, more interconnected and so when we do SEO now, you can't just think about your home country or your native language, you have to think about who are the customers and users and the avatars and different countries, or like people that speak different languages that you need to target as well.

You need to make your website, you need to make your service available in a multitude of languages in order to reach people across the globe.

So our goal is we really help companies accomplish this by identifying with them opportunities in other countries.

Maybe it's an emerging company country like Latin America is very emerging right now, Yoann I know you're in Warsaw, Poland which he was just telling me it's apparently a phenomenal investment opportunity as well, and there's just more and more people in these countries getting online and looking for products and looking for services, and so for us in America we're already in a saturated market, we have so many people online.

People are always on their phones, they're always doing things but if you look at the world in general and you look at just where people are populated there's a lot of people that are coming online for the first time, and so there's so much opportunity there to get ahead of this giant curve and be the first in your marketplace.

To do SEO correctly to rank for keywords and to get that heads-up advantage over a lot of your competitors, and if you look back I'd say early 90s late 90s to get an example, you look at Apple.

Apple was an innovator in the field and Tim Cook early on was really innovating in the field. They said I'm going to commit to doing this and look at where Apple's at now!

They're a global presence, no one can touch them. They started early in the game, they kind of invented the whole mobile cell phone game. You look at Google as well, Google started out as one of many search engines. Google wasn't the most dominant search engine, but back in 1999 they made a commitment to being the best search engine, and over time they have just continued to grow and make their products better and better and better and so for 20 plus years, now they have been the dominant industry leader in that space.

But imagine trying to launch a search engine website right now in 2020, it's saturated, you're not going to get any exposure, so they were kind of the first to the game to develop products, they were the first in the area to really set the standard, and so I always encourage a lot of our clients, if you're out there listening and you have multiple locations across the globe, or if you just maybe in your hometown or maybe you serve customers that speak a different language than you or a different country or different culture whatever, consider is there opportunity in some of these less served areas to be the first in that area?

Because you look at it 20 years down the road you want to be the dominant player in your industry right? You're not playing for tomorrow you're playing for 20, 50, 100 years in business.

So if we're only playing tomorrow we're really not setting ourselves up for success long term.

So are you actually saying that international SEO is a long term strategy? 

Yes it is, and this is a big misconception that a lot of people have in just SEO in general and this is why a lot of people don't do it because if you own a business, if I own a business and I need to make sales the first thing I'm going to do is say hey what's the most important action I can take right now to increase sales?

Maybe a tire sales guy spend money on Facebook marketing or spend money on AdWords, Google adwords and a lot of those actions are what I call their more direct response.

They're more like hey, we need money in the door, we need sales right now! Let's spend money to make money!, right? SEO doesn't work like that.

SEO is a process of continual improvements

SEO is a process of continual improvements in a process of continuing content creation over time, that the search engines recognize you as the leader, so when you launch a website today there's a reason why you don't go to number one in Google right away for certain keywords.

They need to take time to evaluate your website, they need to crawl your website, they need to understand what product or service that you offer. Google needs to see or the other search engines need to see:

  • are you authoritative?
  • do you actually have good information on your website?
  • do you know about this topic?
  • are you just completely making stuff up?

So SEO is a long term strategy.

When we kind of go into an SEO project or even international SEO we tell people hey this is going to be at least a three to six month commitment before you see results but the long term it benefit is once you get ranked very highly you don't have to spend as much time achieving that rank, you get the free traffic.

So there's a lot of time investment and maybe money investment up front but once you get to that position and you're getting that free traffic, you don't have to spend money every month to make money, you're getting free leads, you're getting free sales, you're just purely making profit at that point – and that's really what you want to be as a business.

So you are mentioning six months strategy for your clients, that's already a long term strategy. How does the short-term strategy to enter the SEO game...? 

That's when you first start kind of seeing results, you start seeing movement, actual movement there.

A lot of clients out there especially when you're doing international SEO, which involves a lot of moving parts and in different countries, it's going to be a year, two year strategy that you really want to outline when you go into it.

So when we talk with big manufacturers, or big clients, or big people who are in this SEO game, they're always saying yeah we want to outline a year and a two year strategy.

Where do you want to be in two years? And we know over time if we continue to do these things correctly. We should rank high in two years time for those keyword terms, so in fact there's a thing called the sandbox.

You remember as a kid used to play in the sandbox; and all kinds of stuff, and get dirty and your parents yell at you, right? So Google puts you in the sandbox - and I'm not a huge hockey fan, I don't know if you're a hockey fan at all, so if the guy gets a penalty or gets in a fight where does he go?

The penalty! Yeah he goes in jail right? The penalty box. So Google has their penalty box. When you have a site, when you launch the site, or if you haven't really done much with your site at all for a long time, you're kind of in this imaginary penalty box.

Google says you have to behave for a little bit and do the correct things, and we're going to let you out. So you're kind of in this sandbox for a couple months, as they see that you are making the right behaviors. And then they let you out of the sandbox, and your site starts to rank much better, and do much more things in the keyword rankings.

Are your clients ready to hear this long-term strategy talk? I think most of the people when they hear about SEO they want results fast, they want to pay X dollars to have this exact return on investment. 

Like I said, anyone that's coming to you and saying oh I can get you keyword rankings in a month or two months they're doing things that are what we would refer to as black hat, or shady practices.

There's always ways to cheat the system, there's always ways to kind of take shortcuts but our foundation and a lot of really good foundations of companies who understand the long-term benefits we want to build our house on, we want to lay that foundation very strong for the business so that if I fall out of a tree or you go away as the consultant or whatever, their systems and processes keep running, and they keep growing their business.

We don't want to build it on sand, on the foundation on sand where if Google updates their algorithm or something comes out and it wipes out all their keyword rankings, there's a lot of people out there that will advertise some shady tactics – and yes they will work for a little bit of time, but I've been around long enough in SEO in general to know that eventually Google will catch up with you and they will update their algorithm, and then your keyword rankings will go way down.

So we really advocate you know these companies we work with and usually they're a little bit bigger – they're in it for the long run, and they're in very competitive industries, and they're not the only people that are trying to rank for these keywords.

So they understand there's a cost and investment to do this, but it's better than having to continually spend money every single month to bring in new leads.

So if they can replace a lot of those leads that they're spending money on right now with free leads, their profit margins increase substantially.

#3 How to handle international markets?

When it comes to international markets, what is the difference between simple SEO trying to rank on Google for what you have on your website, and targeting international markets? 

Good question. So how it works and I kind of explain a little bit how you can target different places, how it works is if you are let's say you have a site and it's in complete Spanish.

Google knows this or Safari or everybody else knows this, and they will rank your site for Spanish. keywords. So they understand that the language that the site is in is Spanish. Now doesn't mean that you could go there - and you're from France so you could go there, you could be sitting in France and you go to this website and it could be all in Spanish., doesn't mean that you can't engage with the website, doesn't mean that you can't fill a lead out. Doesn't mean you can't do anything with the website, you can, but it's not automatically designed to rank for keywords in France.

So what you have to do is you have to tell Google hey, here's the Spanish. version of my website, and here's a french version of my website. Now these two connect to each other, so it can be same content here, same content here translated, but these are connected, they're basically the same thing, it's not two separate sites.

You don't just have a Spanish. site and a french site, it's connected content and then maybe you have an English version and those are all connected together. So when you create your site and there's a lot of different strategies to like how to set it up and do these things, but when you create your site you want to think about what languages or what regions am I selling in, and who do I sell to, and then you want to structure your site out from there because if you just think about it as oh I'm just going to make a Spanish. site, and half of your clients are in France, you're really ignoring the opportunity in the business.

I see a lot of companies make that mistake where they just say hey well I'm just going to make an English site, but they have sales offices in five other locations around the world, and they just refer everyone to the English site, thinking that everyone coming on is just going to speak English well.

You're not a native English speaker, and I can tell you I'm not a native french speaker, and if you asked me to go to a french site I wouldn't know what the heck to click on to save my life.

So even though I know a few words it's much harder to understand the context of the page to get the marketing of the page and understand where to go on the website.

So when you're really laying it out you want to think about, we have a Spanish. site we're gonna have an English version and a french version, we have a German version, we're gonna have a Japanese version.

Wherever your customers are at you have significant volume or demand for your product or service that's where you want to lay out before you even start.

I have a technical question. How would you recommend setting up these different different versions? Is it through different or separate domain names, like one dot fr for french, one .es for Spain and then what about Mexico? Or is it only through meta tags, like hreflang? 

Great question. Sub-directories, sub domains yes this is where it gets super technical and everybody is different on this.

I would say there's two kind of separate topics there, and I'll address the first one and we'll get to the other one.

The first one is just you know what does your domain look like, like do you gonna have a standard domain and then use backslash and then do each individual country, es fr are you going to do a subdomain. So dot fr then your domain dot UK, are you going to do sub-directories?

There's different ways of setting it up, there's no right way from an SEO perspective to do it. The thing I caution everyone to do is just once you choose a way you need to make sure that you are consistent with that way Google will crawl your site, on the site map it will crawl in a specific way.

So if you change how you do it between the different variations, you're in a load of trouble. So I what I see a lot of times is companies they do it two different ways. They'll usually do a sub domain, so it'll be MX or us or .com, they use a subdomain at the front or they use the sub-directory, so dornerconveyors/eastadorningconveyors/fr to specify.

When you set up the domain you really want to choose that quick, we like to use WordPress as a CMS, as a website builder on our side. So there is some advantages to doing a multiple site, install with subdomains I do like that option.

And then when you get into the how do you connect them all together you want to use hreflang to connect them all together, and it's a two-way thing. You want to make sure that if you put an href flying on your Spanish. version, English versions over here, on the English version you also want to put the tag to make sure that it says hey the Spanish. version is over here.

It's a two-way thing that you have to make sure is on there. If you use WordPress like I said we do we usually work with a tool called  Yoast SEO‌  it's a plug-in, a free plug-in, you can use it, it allows you to set a lot of that stuff up on the back end.

And then we use the  PolyLang translation plug-in‌  as well, are you familiar with – I think you like yes, so you use the  PolyLang translation plug-in‌  it allows you to associate different translations and versions of your content to each other, and it automatically does those things for you.

Sounds pretty easy actually! 

It's a lot more complex than that, but you get the point. A lot of people don't use WordPress so I've had to do actual implementations where we hard coded everything, every single page had to have a meta title meta tag at the top in the head that associated back to the other pages. And a lot of people make this mistake too because you brought up Mexico, which I think a lot of people make this mistake too, even though they're talking about the English sites.

Because when you look at English there's the US version and then there's UK and Google actually has two different denominators that you used for each one, so you have to be careful that you're not just grouping UK in with the US. Now you can do that, but Google is going to say okay well this is written in the UK version or it's written in the u.s version? It's not going to give you as much keyword rankings.

And the one that you're not emphasizing, same way with Spanish. If you're looking at Spanish. translations on your site you know there's the Spain version and then there's the Mexico version now, and I'm assuming within the next probably year or two here because Latin America is evolving, it's growing so much they're going to be coming out with maybe Brazil speaks Portuguese dialect of Portuguese, they're going to be coming out with Argentina, I'm assuming eventually Google is going to have different denominators for specific countries, because keywords don't always mean the same.

We all speak different dialects. I'm not from the south in America but people sound like this, so we have different dialects even with their different regions and Google's getting really smart, and they're saying well certain people call - here I call coca-cola we call that soda, and my wife calls it pop because she's from the Midwest.

She calls it pop so if I type soda into Google I get a different query. I get a query for the drink and she types pop into Google it's the same thing right? But Google knows that over time, differences in just how people call things.

But when you're talking about Spain versus Mexico, the way that different words come together and the way that the language runs in the dialects that people speak, it's actually a lot different when you look at SEO.

So you have to be careful that you are thinking about differences, like that you are including translations that makes sense for your business or company. We had a client and one of the big things we've been helping them with is they translated their site from English to Spanish. as a version. But they did it and they were marking it as the Spanish. like as in Spain version. Actually their plant is in Mexico, so it was completely done wrong from the get-go. So we had to go back and change a lot of that, and now they're getting a lot more exposure in Mexico because those are the people actually using that version of the site.

So it's important to really think about those things and understand like I said earlier your road map for success, you want to outline that before you even start.

#4 How companies can engage via marketing?

This brings another question. So actually by adding more languages on a website we can make it more international, and target international search engine optimization keywords, but as you just mentioned there are differences between the languages themselves. So how can we stay global while targeting different markets? Maybe we still want to target the English speaking world, the Spanish-speaking world, the french speaking world, or whatever the language is? 

Yeah great question. So one way that I do that is you know we have a multiple language selector right? On our menu when you come on board. So it's a very unique thing. But normally when we're dealing with it I like to group people by area. So like we know we'll have a Latin America area, we'll have a Europe distinction, we'll have an Asia distinction, we'll have a north America one.

So when you you can select that on the menu and it automatically defaults to the primary language in that area, now the more advanced thing that you can do that we really like doing is based on the user's IP address, where they're coming from.

We auto default them to the version that we think is the best for them automatically. So if you're sitting in Poland right now, you would see a different version of the site than if you were back in France. So in Poland because we don't have a direct translation for that country or you know just in that area we would probably serve you either the German or the us version of the site, just because we're making an assumption there.

But if you're in France we definitely serve you the french version of the site. So we kind of try to default it for where the user's IP is coming from to try to make an educated guess about the best version for them, but they have the option right there in the menu to switch between any of the languages that are available on the site.

Let's say for example, I am french, I am now in Poland. If I look for something on Google and I find the answer on your website, Google will probably show me the french page of your site. And then when I click on that page, you will then redirect me yourself to what you think is the right one for Poland? 

That would be how we can set it up, it depends, it really depends. It's super complicated because I don't know your browser history, so you might have it set for France. But what we do is based on the IP address, like where you're physically sitting. Every WI-fi network shoots out an  IP address‌  and says hey I'm located here, like you can ping it.

Based on that address we default you to the version that we think is the best version for you. Now you have the option to change that, and what we like about this is that when you have an SEO, you want to be relevant to that person based on the search query, where they're sitting at. It's not always going to be perfect, it's not always going to be correct, but most of the time, 95 percent of the time we're right, or we default it to a version that the person can understand and comprehend, and then they can click around the site.

One thing I've noticed, just some insight here from the international community, is that Asia is such a big emerging market and it's huge compared to the massive potential there. Just population and different diversity of people there, and it's really cool. Now the downside to it is when you do something like I just talked about, there's so many translations of dialects and languages in Asia that it's almost just too much of a pain to even try to start on the international side.

A lot of companies what they've been doing is they will default to English for that region. But there's an opportunity then. There's a probably a huge opportunity here especially china in the near future. Japan, you have japan, the Philippines emerging. You have china. There's a lot of big players out there, that a lot of countries really aren't touching because it's so time intensive and expensive to get these translations done, and they've kind of just gone with the whole default, that like English is the dominant language of business still in those areas, which we've seen the opposite.

I think is true of when you look at Europe or Latin America, now English is still prevalent but when we want to get really involved and really get results, the native language usually wins over the English version. So it's all about personalized results, it's all about making sure that you're connecting with the people in those areas, because I mentioned this, in France if I run my SEO like in France and English versions or my ads in English, sure I'm gonna get some results right, but it's not going to connect with them as well as if I'm actually in the language that people speak every day.

And you feel like you are that company that's right there, don't feel like you're the company that's sitting in three countries over and is trying to market. You feel like I'm down the street I care about you, I understand your pain points, and that's really crucial for business.

#5 Tips and best practices of international SEO

So what would be actually your best tips for somebody, or most likely a company, that would want to start his international SEO strategy? 
Best tips on my end are this:

Tip 1: Set your foundation before you start

Set your foundation before you start. So plan it out, understand I need to get three translations done here, the languages that I need to translate into, and really think about that before you start.

Tip 2: It doesn't have to be as complicated as your thing

The second tip I have is it doesn't have to be as complicated as you think, it needs to be so you can use resources like fiverr which is a good resource, upwork, you know what upwork is – I will go on upwork and I will look for a SEO or a marketing person in the country that I want to work in.

So If I'm looking to get a German translation done, I'm going to go look for a German marketer who understands SEO, and I'm going to say hey here's my version of the site. Maybe it's in french, here's my version of the site, here's where this is like you can understand the words. Here's how you translate the words and you're going to give that to them because a lot of times when we directly translate, if you just go from french to German or whatever, you lose a lot of the meaning of the words, like they don't make sense.

So you really need that marketer or that SEO person to say okay well in France this means industrial conveyor but I translate that directly into German it means conveyor for industrial uses or something different, you really want to make sure that that person understands the translation, and then how to take that translation, optimize it for SEO, especially when you're talking about title tags. Page titles things like that so go on up work find somebody that speaks the language that you want to get to translate in, who's a marketer, who has SEO background, and work with them because a lot of your translation companies are just going to give you hey translate this from German to french and it's not going to always make sense. So that's my second tip.

Tip 3: Be patient but be consistent

My third tip is be patient with this, know that it takes time, but be consistent with it.

If you are committed to translating your content, if you're committed to producing new content, and you're committed to growing in that area, you will see good results.

A lot of people think this is a one and done situation. Oh I translated five pages now I'm just gonna rank magically for all these keywords. That's not the case!

Google wants to see consistency, they want to see that you care, that you understand the topic, and that you're consistently putting out content out there for your users in different areas.

Actually these tips are very easy to take action on, it's not so complicated! 

Tip 4: Give me a call if you want!

No, no. My fourth tip is give me a call if you want! But if you can't do the first three just give me a call. I like to give easy tips to everybody because in all reality you know what's best for your business, and I like people to at least have a little bit of experience trying it out, and what we found is a lot of times people just don't have the time, or they run in some roadblocks, and that's where we can really come in as a company and help them because we've done this now for 25 plus clients. We work with big international clients, we understand the steps, and all the action steps that need to be taken.

But we really want to make sure that when we work with people, we're looking for a partner, it's a partnership, and so a lot of people with an international SEO they either are committed to doing it or they just give up too easy. So I always kind of put them through the ringer a little bit, make them do a little work to show they're interested - and then once they say hey this is great but I need to focus on sales for my business or I need to focus on being the CEO or CIO or marketing person that's where we really come in and partner with you.

#6 Wrap-up

One last question: for a company that would actually want to implement these international SEO best practices and target new markets, how can they find somebody? Is it the same as to find a translation through a fiverr upwork or...? 

Yeah, great question. So one like I said you can you can check us out  Conklin media‌  like I said we'll help you out with that. There's a lot of great resources out there that can get you pointed in the right direction:

  •  Ahrefs‌  which I use for a keyword tool SEO planning is amazing, they have a whole guide on international SEO that you can download.
  •  SEM Rush‌  I actually know there's people there, they have a guide as well that you can get started on.

But if you're looking to partner with a company that's experienced in this field, that understands you know what you act what you need to do check us out at  Conklin media‌  – I'm happy to talk with you or you can connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm sure Yoann is going to have all of my social media profiles everywhere anyways.

So you just feel free to reach out.

For sure, we'll do! That was a very interesting talk, I also learned something, even if I am doing international SEO for several years now. So thank you very much, that was great! This was uh Josh Eberly, and we were talking together about international SEO best practices – thanks again Josh, that was great! Hope you're having a great day, waiting for the storm here.
Josh Eberly on LinkedIn

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