- The competitors that the client has identified;
- The segmented audience that the client desires to target and promote and sell its products to.
Your Kickoff: Research
Conducting market research allows you to create a list of competitors as well as dive into competitive keyword research – the base of which will be used later in this process for more extensive research tailored to your client’s website.
In parallel, the buyer persona analyses offer:
- A list of main topics relevant to the target audiences;
- A list of “top keywords” that those audiences tend to search for;
- A list of websites that relevant audiences visit to find solutions to their pain points, which makes these websites a great tool to discover new keyword ideas and widen our keywords’ thesaurus.
However, before you dive into website-specific research, you must first see what the Google SERPs themselves can reveal.
Let’s say your client owns a website that specializes in tabletop miniatures and your products are currently available in the U.S., but s/he also wants to expand to the Spanish market. To begin this project, you would first need to do a Google search for “tabletop miniatures”, the keyword that best represents your client’s website.
If your client properly did his/her homework, that search should give you insight into the buyer personas. For example, it would show that Spaniards refer to “tabletop miniatures” by their direct translation as “juegos de miniaturas”, and not simply as “miniaturas” (miniatures). This means searches for the latter keywords would yield results that do not align with what your client sells.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Image Search
The next step in this process can be a bit surprising to some. Instead of diving into the Universal Search results, you will click on the “Image” tab and do an Image Search.
As you do this, note the Google Tags you are presented with.
The Image Tags are topics related to your initial query, and therefore are assumed to be topics relevant to your audience in relation to your core business. They appear directly under the search bar.
Based on the above screenshot of the Image Search, these tags show you that when it comes to tabletop miniatures, the Spanish audience has a vastly different interest landscape than the American audience, for instance.
The American and Spanish audiences’ different interests simply mean that the two target audiences relate to “tabletop miniatures” differently as displayed in the chart below proving direct translation isn’t always accurate. Below is a chart of several main keyword differences between the two target geographies.
It might seem small, but in reality, this is an important discovery, because it is telling you that to properly target the Spanish market, you need drastically different content than what you create for the American market. Another important realization you should have through this process is that you need to see your product through each audiences’ lens and position your miniatures in relation to their other interests.
Universal Search: Your Next Step in Creating an International SEO Strategy
Just as Image Search helps you identify market interests, the classic Universal Search gives you information about the search intent and the buying behaviors your potential customers exhibit for a query like “Tabletop Miniatures”.
In this case, the audiences in the two markets exhibit different behavior.
When the audiences search for “tabletop miniatures / juegos de miniaturas”, Spanish users are searching mostly for information, while the American SERP shows that users are more likely to search for information related to a purchase.
It’s always important to highlight the presence of the local SERP phrasing, in this case, Spanish.
There are two main reasons:
- In Spain, fans of “tabletop miniatures” are accustomed to buying them in local shops, rather than online. This presents both a challenge for sellers to overcome and an opportunity for an eCommerce site to be able to firmly position itself as the leader in the Spanish market.
- The SERP phrasing also reveals that while people in this market are searching for information online, they are likely to abandon their online purchase, and then complete it in a local store.
Why Do You Have to Discover Local Habits?
It’s important to do this research because it allows you to understand what your potential customers are looking for. In this case, tabletop miniatures are closely associated with the community that is built around partaking in tabletop gaming in local stores: Tabletop gaming is community gaming.
As you can see, just by looking at the SERPs, you discovered there are many factors that will influence the SEO strategy when you are targeting a foreign market:
- Be aware of local tastes and understand why. If you are aiming to make a popular product from your main market also popular in a new one, in order to be considered relevant to your new target personas, you must reassure them that you offer the products they are looking for and love.
- Localization is not a synonym of translation. Using the example detailed above, if you simply had translated your eCommerce website you would have neglected to include what is truly important to the Spanish tabletop players. In other words, localization must include localized product placement, localized internal linking, and localized offers.
- The Spanish audience is more comfortable buying tabletop miniatures from local stores than online. This means that you must create content that fosters a sense of community or, at the very least, provide the information that people have become accustomed to getting when visiting their local gaming shops.
For more tips and tricks about building an International SEO strategy and how Similarweb can help, check out Gianluca Fiorelli’s report.