Are you about to go global with your business?

Then you will need to gain online visibility in the countries you’re expanding to, which means adopting an international SEO strategy. 

International SEO is tricky because you’re not only dealing with other countries and languages but also other search engines. 

While Google accounts for 92.66% of the global search engine market, Russian search engine Yandex (1.17%) and Chinese search engine Baidu (0.84%) are both wildly popular (and exclusively used) in their respective home countries. 

Then there’s the challenge of obtaining international SEO links that won’t get your content flagged as spam. 

Trying to pay for links or using PBNs (which are still popular in India) are risky tactics that may end up backfiring. 

That’s why you’re better off using strictly white-hat link-building techniques around the globe. 

The good news?

US-based backlinks are perfectly okay for international and foreign language websites. 

As long as they’re relevant to your content, backlinks coming from the US will enhance your backlink profile and lead to better SERP rankings. 

However, international link-building techniques are a tad different than traditional ones, which is what we’re going to explore in this article. 

Read on to learn how to build an international link profile that’ll help you reach the top of the SERPs. 

Image of world map seo

What Makes International SEO Unique?

The difficulty level of an international SEO campaign depends on the areas of the world that you plan to target. 

For example, if you’re an American business expanding into Australia, conducting an international SEO campaign won’t be too difficult. 

That’s because Australians also speak English, so there’s no need to produce a separate version of your website in a foreign language (although you will need to create a version of your website that features Australia’s country code top-level domain, which is .au). 

Additionally, Google is the #1 search engine in Australia, so you can stick with your tried-and-true SEO tactics.

Yet, SEO becomes noticeably more complicated if you’re trying to expand into China. 

Why is that?

It’s because you’ll need to conduct keyword research in Mandarin, hire a bilingual writer, and create a separate Chinese version of your website. 

Not only that, but you’ll have to conduct an SEO campaign through Baidu, China’s exclusive search engine. 

Baidu is a different ball game than Google, mainly because it prioritizes Chinese content over external sites. 

International SEO is by no means impossible; it’s simply a different beast than traditional SEO. 

Before plunging headfirst into the world of international SEO, you need to determine if it’s right for your business to go global. 

When Should You Go International?

Is going international the right move for your business?

While taking over the world is what every company dreams about, it’s not always the right move. 

For example, if you’ve accrued enough staff and resources to expand into other countries but don’t have a strong customer presence there – you may wind up losing money. 

You must also determine if your products and services are viable in international markets. 

To find out if going international is right for you, check out our section on international SEO in our learning hub

Also, an effective strategy is to use Google Analytics to see where a majority of your customers are coming from. 

Navigate to Audience and then Location to take a peek at the countries of origin for your customers. 

You’ll get to see a numerical list counting down the countries that contain most of your customers. 

If you notice that you’re getting a lot of customers from other countries, then going international is likely viable for your business. However, you should only expand into the countries that are providing you with the most customers. 

By launching an international SEO campaign, you’ll be able to capitalize on and expand your existing international audience. 

Besides Google, international audiences also use search engines like Yahoo and Bing, especially in Japan (one-quarter of the Japanese population chooses Bing and Yahoo over Google).

So if you want to expand into Japan, you’ll need to focus on Bing and Yahoo SEO, which is a tad different. 

Once you know that you’ll have a viable audience and a search engine to optimize for, you can start constructing an international SEO campaign. 

How to Build International SEO Links That Don’t Raise Suspicion

Infographic on How to Build International SEO Links That Don’t Raise Suspicion

Arguably the biggest challenge with an international SEO campaign is link-building. 

After all, where do you get links from if your new website is in German? Can you still use US-based links?

The answer is yes, as long as the links are relevant to your content. 

For instance, if your German fragrance website links to a French forum about perfumes – the link would be considered natural. 

Why is that?

It’s because relevancy is the most important factor for a backlink. Believe it or not, language and country of origin don’t really matter for backlinks, so don’t worry if you aren’t able to find any relevant backlink opportunities in German. 

In fact, you’re far better off linking to relevant websites in other languages than you are linking to irrelevant sites in the same language. 

According to our research, most websites on the internet link to .com domains, which are predominantly based in the United States. 

To summarize, you should seek out backlink opportunities that are relevant to your products and services – regardless of their language or country. 

Here are some international link-building techniques that will help you acquire high-authority backlinks. 

Analyze your competitor’s international link profile 

Just like with traditional link-building, your primary competitors can provide invaluable insights on where to find relevant backlink opportunities. 

Once you know which country and industry you’re going to focus on, you can conduct some targeted searches to find your competitors. 

Let’s say that you plan on expanding your car detailing business into Australia. 

Since Google is their most popular search engine, you search for the keyword ‘car detailing Australia.’ 

Car Care Products, a popular Australian car detailing products and service provider is the top-ranked result, which means they must have a strong backlink profile. 

You can use a tool like our free Backlink Checker to determine if this is true. 

Screenshot of the Hoth Backlink checker report

After peering at their links, we can see that they scored a backlink to one of their blog posts from an entire website dedicated to educating users on detailing cars. 

In other words, it’s a perfect website to target for backlinks. You could try to write a guest post or request a shout-out for one of your blog posts/products. 

That’s a simple example, but it demonstrates how easy it is to find relevant backlink opportunities by examining your competitor’s link profiles. 

Build relationships with related websites 

Relationship-based link-building has been gaining a lot of traction amongst SEOs lately and for plenty of good reasons. 

By building relationships with related websites in your niche, you can become link partners – meaning that you help each other score high-authority backlinks. 

That could mean trading off guest posts or sharing your link resources with one another to expand your influence and network. 

Traditionally, link-builders would spend countless hours reaching out to random website owners in the hopes of scoring just one backlink.

Once they got what they wanted, they’d move on to the next opportunity without a second thought. 

Relationship-based link-building throws out that old model in favor of building lasting bonds with relevant websites. 

Of course, you should be fairly picky about who you choose to partner with, as becoming link partners with a low-quality website with a poor domain rating won’t lead to stronger link profiles for either of you.

Ideally, you want to find a link partner that doesn’t directly compete for the same business but is in the same industry. Also, they should have desirable SEO metrics and a good reputation amongst your audience. 

That way, you both will benefit from sharing link-building opportunities. 

Creating high-value content with bilingual writers

Traditional link-builders know the value of being a thought leader, as other websites will link to your pieces of content without you even having to ask. 

Educational content pieces like infographics, videos, and long-form blog posts will attract lots of valuable backlinks. 

But how do you create excellent content for international audiences?

Should you write in English and use translation software?

The answer to that is a big, fat no! 

Translation apps are notorious for not being able to understand context, leading to confusing mistranslations. 

Instead, you should seek out freelance writers that can write in both English and the language of your country of choice. That will ensure that the foreign language content will be free of any mistranslations so that your content can provide value to an international audience. 

There are plenty of freelance marketplaces like FreeUp out there that will connect you with talented freelancers from around the globe. 

With a bilingual writer by your side, you’ll be able to produce high-value infographics and blogs that attract backlinks. 

Wrapping Up: International SEO Links 

SEO and link-building for international audiences is a bit challenging, but it’s by no means impossible. 

With the right strategy for acquiring international SEO links, you can dominate the SERPs on any search engine in any country.

Do you need help expanding your business worldwide?

Then don’t wait to check out our five-star Link Outreach and Link Insertion Services from The HOTH. Our team of experts can build winning link profiles for any country, so don’t wait to get in touch now.