International SEO has become a lot easier since Google Webmaster Central hit the streets. Specifically, and regardless of where the site is hosted, we can direct relevant country specific traffic to the relevant part of our website. More on this later.

Of course if you have a country specific domain – eg –, etc then its no real problem anyway – these domains will deliver appropriate traffic providing you have done the SEO work. Incidentally doing the relevant SEO work means translating into the relevant language – the text and the metadata of course – as described in all previous lessons.

Its worth pointing out that the keyphrase analysis cannot necessarily be translated it will need to be redone. For example translating ‘city breaks’ literally will mean something very different in most other languages.

The good news is that we can use the google keyword tool to help us with foreign language keyphrase analysis….


The problem arises when we have a country specific domain – for example – but we wish to attract foriegn language searches. Lets say we wish to attract people searching in French. We can translate some pages on our site and do the SEO work on these. This will deliver some listings if people search the web, but you’ll never do as well as the .fr and .com sites. If they just search for local pages you would get no visibility whatsoever.

If they search local pages they will see something like this…


So you can see .fr sites show up and .com sites which are either hosted in France OR have had the Google Webmaster Central treatment.

So this is the solution if you dont want to go to the trouble of setting up country specific domains for all countries you want visibility in. Use a .com (or .eu) or any other country neutral domain – and use Google Webmaster Central (GWC) to direct relevant traffic to relevant parts of your site.

To be a bit more specific lets take a example. You could use and have seperate folders for seperate countries – eg, etc. These folders would of course be translated and optimised.

You would then use GWC to tell Google which parts of the site are relevant to which countries. So international SEO has got a whole lot easier (for Google visibility at least). There’s a really useful video clip directly from Google about how to do this……

Google Video on Geographic Targeting

And here’s my original Google Webmaster Central post which will help you.

Incidentally – Google isnt dominant in every country – although it is in the US and most of Europe. Notable exceptions are Russia, where Yandex is dominant, China – Baidu, and Korea – Naver. There’s more information on other local search engines at the following links….

Best of luck with your international search marketing
Jan Klin