Are you about to go global with your business?

If so, only targeting Google for your SEO efforts probably won’t cut it anymore. 

Instead, you’ll have to expand to an international SEO strategy, which typically means doing SEO for other search engines and possibly creating alternate versions of your website in other languages. 

While it’s true that Google is still the global king of search, with a claim to 90.8% of the market, its dominance doesn’t reach everywhere. 

For example, Yandex only accounts for 1.58% of the search market worldwide, but it holds 70.59% of the search engine market share in Russia (Google only accounts for 28.26% of Russian searches). 

This means if your international business includes Russia, you’ll need to partake in some Yandex SEO. 

The same is true for China, which has seen a rapidly changing search engine market in recent years. For eons, Baidu was its dominating force, but it has since been overtaken by Microsoft Bing

Therefore, businesses expanding into China should consider Bing and Baidu for SEO campaigns. 

Also, international link-building isn’t exactly simple. 


It’s vastly different from traditional link-building, and it can be difficult to find international backlinks that won’t get your content flagged as spam. 

Private blog networks (PBNs) are still popular in India, for example, and linking to them could cause your website to receive a manual action (which could reduce your rankings or remove your website from the search results).     

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

In this article, we’ll simplify some white-hat international link-building techniques that you can start using today. 

Read on to learn how to build a backlink profile that’ll help you reach the top of the SERPs in any county of your choosing. 

What Are International Links? 

International backlinks are hyperlinks from websites in other countries that point back to your site. Depending on their country of origin, these links may come from websites written in other languages. 

An example would be a cooking appliance eCommerce store from Australia linking out to a cooking blog in America. 

Perhaps the eCommerce store owners found recipes on the American blog they thought were perfect for their customers to make with the products they sell – so they decided to link to them on one of their product pages. 

Regardless of the reason, the American cooking blog now has a backlink pointing at it from Australia, which can have numerous benefits. Now that the site has an Australian backlink, it signals to Google (and other search engines) that the blog’s content is relevant to users in that location. 

Therefore, the American cooking blog may see a slight boost to its search rankings in Australia. 

This is a simple (and slightly exaggerated) example, but it illustrates one of the strongest benefits of international backlinks: they act as popularity votes for your website’s content in search rankings around the globe. 

The more backlinks you have from a certain country or region, the better your content will perform in the local rankings there. 

Here are a few other reasons why international backlinks are important:

  • Expand your online reach. Building international backlinks is one of the best ways to reach a broader audience that stretches beyond your primary market. Who knows, your content may blow up in another country like Germany or Japan, which is why dipping your toes into international link-building is always worth a try. 
  • Build your website’s authority. Regardless of where a backlink comes from, if it originates from a high-quality website with a trusted reputation, it will boost your site’s authority and search engine rankings. This means expanding your link-building strategy to include other countries will make dethroning your competitors easier. 

Speaking of building authority, if you’re having a hard time getting your brand noticed through digital PR in America (or if you just want to give your brand an additional boost), going international can be a great strategy. 

That way, you’ll be able to target major publications in the UK, Canada, and Australia instead of constantly trying to get featured in The Washington Post and The New York Times

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). 

What are country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs)? Different countries use different top-level domains, such as .au for Australian websites. If you’re expanding to another country, it’s important to create a version of your website with the appropriate ccTLD. 

This is because ccTLDs signal to search engines that your content is specifically tailored for that country, which will improve your rankings for local searches. ccTLDs also build trust with local users, and they allow you to customize your content better for your target audience. 

Additionally, Google is the #1 search engine in Australia (with 93.88% of the market share), 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. 

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

But before you plunge headfirst into international SEO, you need to determine if it’s right for your business to go global in the first place.   

When Should You Go International?

Is going international the right move for your business?

While going global is a dream of most businesses, it’s important to consider how feasible it is. 

Before expanding, confirm that you have a reliable customer base in your target countries (and that your products/services are a good fit for their needs). 

How do you do that?

A quick and easy way is to use Google Analytics – a free tool that lets you view a geographic breakdown of your website visitors.

This will let you know where a majority of your customers come from, and it will let you know if you have an international audience you didn’t know about. 

Here’s how to use it. 

Once you log in, navigate to Audience > Geo > Location. 

From here, you’ll see a geographic breakdown of your audience on a world map (ours is blank since it’s an example):

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

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. 

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

How to Build International SEO Links

 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 trumps all

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. 

Since search engines prioritize relevancy over language, it won’t matter if a web page requires translation if it’s topically or contextually relevant to your content (like the fragrance website example). 

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 of origin. 

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

Identify which pages would benefit from international link-building 

First, you need to pinpoint which web pages will benefit the most from international backlinks, as you won’t need to target every page on your site. 

In particular, you should target content that’s already attracted significant traffic from other countries. These pages have proven appeal from international markets, so you should focus on building links to them first. 

Also, don’t forget about building backlinks to high-value pages like your homepage and product pages. 

Lastly, create long-form educational content for international audiences, as this is a great way to start accruing backlinks without having to do any outreach. 

An example would be writing an in-depth buyer’s guide on how to select the right fragrance and have it translated into French. If it’s truly valuable, fragrance bloggers and influencers will link to it (especially if you feature their products, so don’t be shy about giving shout-outs).  

Analyze your competitor’s international link profile 

As with traditional link-building, you can let your competitors inform your link-building strategies. 

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. 

After assessing their links, we can see that one of their backlinks comes from a blog post from a website all about motorbikes (including how to properly detail them). 

This may mean it’s a good website to target for backlinks. You could reach out 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 much traction amongst SEOs lately 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 ditches that 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. 

A perfect example would be the website all about motorcycles partnering with the Australian car detailing website. Since they don’t compete for the same business (the motorcycle website is strictly for enthusiasts), it’s a win-win. 

Also, they should have desirable SEO metrics and a good reputation amongst your audience. 

That will ensure both parties 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 being unable to understand context, leading to confusing mistranslations. 

Instead, you should seek out freelance writers who can write in both English and the language of your country of choice. This ensures the content won’t have any mistranslations or awkward phrasing. 

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 high-value backlinks. 

Leverage your corporate website’s linking power 

Your original website likely has a valuable backlink profile that you built up over time. The good news is you can tap into this power for the international versions of your site by following these steps:

Step 1: Analyze your backlink profile. Use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush (or our free tool) to analyze backlinks pointing to your corporate website. Pay close attention to links coming from your new website’s target market. 

Step 2: Identify redirectable links. Look for links pointing to your original website that would be more relevant if they pointed to the new, international version of your website. These might include:

  • Blog posts or articles mentioning the local market
  • Resource lists where the local site is a better fit
  • Old links from when a local version of the website didn’t exist

Step 3: Request link updates

  • Compile a list of websites with links that should be redirected.
  • Draft a polite outreach email explaining the benefits of updating the link for user experience (readers in their country will prefer your local site).
  • Consider having the company reach out directly, as this may yield a better response rate.

This strategy is great because it’s a way to boost the link profiles of your international websites without having to start from scratch. 

It also enhances your user experience since you’ll be guiding visitors to the most relevant version of your website for their geographic location (i.e., Australian visitors getting directed to the .au version of your corporate website). 

Lastly, it improves your online visibility for the new countries you’re expanding into, which will help your brand hit the ground running. 

Don’t forget about social media

The great thing about social media is it’s extremely popular worldwide. 

As long as you choose the right platforms for your international audiences, you’ll attract new traffic, boost brand visibility, and improve local search rankings. 

Here are some tips for leveraging social media for international SEO campaigns. 

Know Your Audience 

Research the most popular social media platforms in your target countries. For example, Facebook is extremely popular in India. Don’t assume they mirror your home market’s preferences. Focus on platforms where your international target audience spends their time.

Content Strategy

Content-wise, you should localize ‘universal’ content. These are content pieces that anyone can appreciate, such as how-to’s and buyer’s guides. 

Also, adapt your content to resonate with local audiences – such as tweaking the language and cultural references. 

Visual content also has a global appeal, so don’t forget to include eye-grabbing images, infographics, and videos to catch audience member’s attention. 

Build your network

You can use social media to start networking in other countries. Uncover relevant influencers, bloggers, and thought leaders in your target countries. 

Search around for popular groups, forums, and communities related to your target audience to uncover individuals worth reaching out to for link placements and guest blogs. 

From there, don’t forget to interact with your audience on their preferred social platforms to build brand awareness and loyalty. 

Other strategies for acquiring international links 

We’ve covered a lot so far, but it’s worth exploring these alternative strategies for building international backlinks. 

Get your business listed in local directories

Listing your website in business directories is link-building 101, and it also applies to international markets. There are countless directories out there, and they aren’t of equal quality. 

Here’s what to look out for:

As long as the numbers check out (i.e., high traffic and an authority score of 20 or above), it’s worth listing your website in the directory. 

Promote your new website with a press release

A well-crafted press release distributed to local press and industry publications is a proven way to build links and buzz for your new international website. Here’s what to include:

  1. Clearly articulate your business, core values, and what you bring to the local market.
  2. Include a quote from a key figure emphasizing your commitment to the region and its people.
  3. Create a media list encompassing national, regional, and niche industry publications relevant to the new market.
  4. Personalize your communication for each tier. Highlight how your story aligns with their audience’s interests.

These strategies will increase the odds of your press release getting picked up, generating valuable backlinks, boosting local awareness, and giving your website’s authority a strong initial push.

Important note: If your goal for a press release is to build backlinks, you shouldn’t mention time-sensitive events. This is because once the event occurs, the press release is invalid and no longer provides value. For a press release to improve your link profile, the press release needs to stay online indefinitely. That’s why you should stick to ‘evergreen’ press release topics that don’t have an expiration date. 

What if Link-building Opportunities are Scarce in your Target Country? 

The harsh reality is not every country is bustling with link-building opportunities, which is bum news if you’ve got a potential target audience in a country that’s scarce on backlinks. 

This doesn’t mean that building up your backlink profile in these countries isn’t possible. 

When faced with scarce marketing opportunities in a target country, think beyond borders. 

Here’s an idea for broadening your options. 

Look for similar markets 

Target neighboring countries or those sharing cultural or linguistic ties. This expands your reach while ensuring your marketing messages resonate effectively. 

For instance, countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden share strong cultural connections and often have similar consumer preferences. Targeting these markets in tandem can increase your overall impact.

Also, since the US has such a robust online presence, building US-based backlinks can have a ripple effect that leads to organic international links down the line. 

Wrapping Up: International SEO Links 

Link-building for international audiences is definitely 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 (and we’ll simplify the entire process for you), so don’t wait to get in touch now.