What is international SEO?

International SEO is an effective way to increase your website’s visibility beyond national borders. It is ideal for companies that want to reach foreign customers and promote their services or products in international markets.

In Poland, we search for information on google.pl as standard. However, if we search for a specific phrase in a different language version of this search engine, for example google.co.uk, we get completely different results. This is why it is important to develop an SEO strategy that takes into account the differences between search engines in different countries and languages.

How does the overseas SEO process work and where do I start?

1. Choosing your target country

When starting SEO activities abroad, it is always important to determine under which country’s characteristics the activities will be carried out. It is advisable tooptimise your activities separately for each market in order to reach your target group effectively .

2. Analysis of competition on the foreign market

Regardless of whether web positioning is carried out on the Polish or foreign market, a thorough competition analysis is always an obligatory step .This analysis concerns the actual competition, i.e. most often the one provided by the company interested in positioning, as well as the competition in the organic results, i.e. the sites appearing in the organic search results. During the analysis, special attention should be paid to the strength and potential of competing websites – analysis of the content they publish or the number of links leading to them. Thanks to the analysis of the competition, it is possible to estimate how much work needs to be put into the respective positioning activities in order to bring about the desired effect and in what time it is expected to be achieved.

A foreign market competition analysis consists of, among other things, elements such as:

  • keyword analysis
  • quality of the website
  • quality of content, topics covered
  • external linking
  • traffic generated by competitors’ websites

It may also be useful to know the local market, the habits and trends of the country and the needs and preferences of the target audience.

3. Choosing the right domain name

When positioning abroad, using the “.pl” domain will definitely not be sufficient and will not bring the expected results.

So what domain should be chosen to make SEO abroad effective? There are several possibilities:

Top-level websites for the selected country (ccTLD)

The first option is to buy a country code Top-Level Domain or domains (ccTLDs).

In Poland, we use the “.pl” suffix – this is the country (Polish) top-level domain assigned to Polish websites.

In the simplest terms, these two letters placed after the domain name and the dot are intended to indicate to the system to whom the website should be displayed.

For example, in other countries the ccTLDs look as follows:

  • .de – Germany
  • .co.uk – UK
  • .al – Albania
  • .at – Austria
  • .bg – Bulgaria
  • .cz – Czech Republic
  • .es – Spain
  • .dk – Denmark
  • .fr – France
  • .gr – Greece
  • .nl – Netherlands
  • .ua – Ukraine

If you know that you only want to position your website in a maximum of 2 or 3 countries in the future, it will be beneficial to opt for separate top-level domains for these selected countries.

Why? Separate sites provide better international SEO results, and you can use different types of communication and personalise content on the site for your audience.

Another advantage is that users also trust the country domains more. However, sometimes it is not easy for nationals from other countries to obtain a national domain, so this way will not work in every case. In addition, it is much more expensive than creating one website with different language versions due to the need to purchase several addresses and then renew the licence.

Sub-domains to an existing site

If you are not interested in buying separate domains for each country in which you want to position your site, you can opt for subdomains that are part of the main domain. This will allow you to distinguish between the different language versions. This solution is cheaper, but less effective for SEO. However, it is worth opting for if you already have a unique, very high-quality website.

Main domain sub-directories

For international SEO, sub-directories of the main domain can also be used as one method of adapting the website to different countries. Each subdirectory can then correspond to one language version.

This is also a cheaper and faster solution than separate country domains, but the SEO effects may not be fully satisfactory in the long term.

If you want to reach customers in multiple markets abroad in the future and are thinking about different language versions, but are not sure whether you want to invest in separate domains at the beginning of your journey with international SEO, the most favourable option would be to create one site and place the individual language versions in subdomains or subdirectories.

4. Technical optimisation

Technical optimisation of the website is another important step to take care of when planning SEO abroad.

Tags Hreflang

Hreflang tags are used to inform search engines about the language versions of a website. They effectively indicate which version of a website is to be displayed to a user based on their location or language preference.

In cases where a website has multiple language or regional versions, hreflang tags are very important to ensure that users have the correct version of the website.

Fragment dokumentacji Centrum wyszukiwarki Google o pozycjonowaniu stron wielojęzycznych

Excerpt from Google Search Centre documentation on positioning multilingual websites – https://developers.google.com/search/docs/specialty/international/managing-multi-regional-sites?hl=pl

Default x-default tag

The x-default tag is used in the HTML code to specify the default language version of a page that should be displayed to users who do not meet the criteria specified by other hreflang tags.

Structural data

Structured data (or structured data) is code placed on a web page that helps search engines understand the content of the page and better index it.

If you run a website offering products or services to customers from different countries, structured data can help a search engine to distinguish the different language versions of a page. In this way, search results can show the correct version of the page for a user’s query in a particular language.

5. Website language and content translation

Another important step of international SEO is to properly translate the content on the website. These cannot be a faithful copy of previously prepared content, as there are different colloquialisms or phrases in each language that will not be found in another. Always remember also to translate page titles, URLs or alts in graphics properly!

6. Keyword research

Closely related to the previously mentioned translation of content into the target language is also keywordanalysis. Often, it turns out that keywords after being “simply” translated into another language do not have much potential and are not readily searched for by users in the target country. This is why it is important to carry out keyword research using appropriate SEO tools and to take into account the most frequently typed phrases by the inhabitants of the selected country.

The problem is that sometimes there are different varieties of the same language and therefore completely different-sounding keywords and messages. It is therefore always necessary to pay attention to dialects and regionalisms in order to make the website understandable to the chosen audience and valuable .

7. Other signals – company addresses and Google Business Profile

It is worthwhile for the website to include theaddress of the branch in the target country, if there is one, and for foreign telephone numbers to be entered as well. Itis also advisable to create a GoogleBusiness Profilebusiness card . This way, the search engine will be able to associate the website with the target group and country, and the website itself will be more credible from a user perspective.

For more on how to properly optimise your Google business card, see our article: https://www.seogroup.pl/pozycjonowanie-wizytowki-google/

8. Building a link profile, or link building

In addition to the above-mentioned steps, which should be taken into account before starting the actual activities, an extremely important issue is the acquisition of local links, i.e. links that originate from websites of a selected country. This is one of the signals to search engine robots that a page is directed to the selected area. The more links leading to a domain, the greater its visibility in the search engine.

However, it should always be remembered that links must be of high quality. Algorithms are able to “catch” too many of them on random websites.

9. Creating content for international SEO

An integral part of any SEO, whether in Poland or abroad, is the creation of high-quality content. We must always consider the number of key phrases, as well as thenaturalness of the message and the ability to provide the user with the information they are currently looking for.

What distinguishes positioning abroad?

  • Targeting different languages,
  • popularity of keywords, which will vary depending on the country/location
  • popularity of search engines
  • local competition for each country and region

Is offshore SEO for everyone?

International SEO can be effective for larger companies and businesses that have already achieved some success in the local market and want to expand into a market abroad. However, international SEO will not be a good choice for smaller, local businesses that are not yet generating much profit or are struggling to attract customers.

Is there such a thing as overseas local SEO?

Foreign local SEO is nothing more than positioning a website in a particular region using foreign SEO techniques. If you are running a company operating in a foreign market, it is definitely worth betting on local SEO for your chosen region. This solution can sometimes be very beneficial due to the high level of competition in larger countries.

Can foreign positioning take place in Poland?

Positioning of websites abroad may be successfully performed both abroad and in Poland. A huge advantage of cooperating with an SEO agency specialising in international activities is, for example, the lack of a language barrier and thus better and more efficient communication. Another advantage is that, due to the absence of the aforementioned language barrier, it is possible to build closer business relationships and to meet ‘on the spot’ to discuss the details of cooperation.

Moreover, SEO rates on the Polish market may be lower, which, of course, does not mean that activities will be of lower quality. In order to effectively position your website abroad, it is definitely worth using the help of specialists. In SEOgroup, we provide our own service SEO360® based on a full customer journey and conducted with the support of a network of quality partners in all European countries.

So if you’re interested in positioning your website abroad, contact us – we’ll be happy to create an individual strategy tailored to your needs and help you achieve success.

Find out more about the SEO360® service: https://www.seogroup.pl/seo360/

Is an English-language version of the service sufficient for SEO?

Although English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, there are also countries where it is used less or not at all. Furthermore, in many cases, having an English-only version of a website can discourage potential customers who are not fluent in the language and do not fully understand it. It is for this reason that any company that wants to conquer a market abroad must ensure that an appropriate language version is developed.

Is positioning abroad expensive?

Positioning abroad tends to be more expensive due, among other things, to the need to translate existing content, commissioning the writing of texts in a foreign language or, finally, gaining links through publications on foreign, high-profile portals. However, the final price always depends on the chosen market and competition.


In order to conduct international SEO effectively, it is important to understand the differences in language, culture, search preferences and the way users browse websites in different regions. It is also important to take into account, among other things, the differences in search engine algorithms for different countries and to choose the right domain, optimise the site and conduct keyword research.

If, with our help, you want to achieve success in foreign positioning, fill in the brief or contact us.

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