Many companies lately placed International search engine marketing on the back burner for a valid reason; the need to first better focus on local SEM. However, as economic climate has shifted certain companies are switch from survival mode and back into growing their brands. Thus it seems appropriate to readdress the value of marketing to customers in the U.K. and other countries abroad. After dominating the local market expanding to other regions is common, but there are many slight differences to consider.
With international SEO it is crucial to remember what works locally will not necessarily work overseas. While everyone reading this post likely already realizes this it is still worth a one sentence reminder. Not even considering cultural differences, a simple SEM campaign’s keyword base can change dramatically from one country to another. Utilizing the United Kingdom as an example target audience, it is important to remember even the smallest of changes that could result in a large opportunity cost if missed. Using Agilis Marketing’s industry as an example, individuals in the U.K. tend to search for search engine optimisation which is a different phrase than the one utilized in the U.S. because of the spelling difference.
Aside from the basics such as in the previous example, it is key that the SEM company hired has experience or at least knows how to operate an international campaign differently. For instance appearing at the front of the search engines for phrase “planning a trip to New York” on another country’s search engine, involves obtaining recommendations from other websites within the country of origin. A rookie mistake for many marketers is to create press releases and blog posts with Unites States based websites and companies. If your company is targeting a new audience, make certain to promote it within that region. Is this common sense? Yes, but often such items are overlooked a company can spend thousands by overlooking such an important component involved with international SEO and internet marketing.
After recently conducting multiple searches on Google and the other major search indexes there is a clear trend that shows in an increasing number of niche SEO companies. Some of these companies are based within the United States, while others are headquarter internationally. Expect to see this trend to continue in this field along with other industries or businesses. As an example Agilis Marketing is also starting to follow this same strategy. A search on Google for law SEO returns a top ten listing for a page within this blog.
What is important to understand from this trend is that SEO and SEM firms are increasingly practicing what they preach. It is not uncommon for any SEO company to suggest, and rightfully so, that a company target specific keyword phrases within their industry and geographic niche. If a company only sells its products or services to customers in the U.K. it makes little sense to target visitors elsewhere. Of course the converse also holds true for companies within the U.S. or elsewhere. Those a United Kingdom SEO company might work best for businesses in that Geographic area. The keyword here is “might”.
Simply because a business of any kind appears in the top of the search engine result pages does not mean it is the best choice, on many occasions the opposite is true. Following an earlier example on niche SEO companies, type “SEM for Lawyers” into Google and take a look at the listings that appear. Upon an initial, glance many of the listings contain websites that are offering extremely expensive services to this target audience, likely based upon the assumption that attorneys are not as privy to the true costs of search marketing and are willing to a premium to experience the comfort of knowing a portion of the firm’s marketing budget is devoted to internet marketing. Unfortunately, what is unrealized in the above scenario is that a law firm is possibly over spending for underperformance. A search for city + SEM Company might of yielded better results.
The primary takeaway here is to take nothing at face value and conduct appropriate research. Simply because there are niche SEO companies that purport to provide the “best” services for a target audience does not mean that they do. Rather conduct a variety of searches and shop around. If that same company also appears for other terms aside from just their niche that is perhaps a positive sign that the business is better rounded. The bottom line here is not to take anything at face value and do business with a company simply because it is on a list of the top ten in the Google SERPS for one phrase. Conduct more searches and more research before signing on board with any niche SEO Company, oftentimes a run of the mill search engine optimization firm can provide equal if not better results at a fraction of the cost.
Interestingly, while this trend is most apparent in the U.K., it appears that the entire international search engine marketing community is jumping on board to assist these growing online shops. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether or not a company is hiring an SEM company to perform their tasks or if they’ve hired an individual to work on their campaign in-house. Regardless it is apparent that a larger number of companies everywhere are jumping on the silver Celtic jewelry bandwagon.
There are many companies out there and it is not Agilis Marketing’s goal to point out specific firms. Nonetheless one website in particular caught our attention, www.northeastcelticjewelry.com , since it appears to of operated for a short time yet already made a significant presence in the online community. I spoke with a representative their and it appears to be a top notch shop.
Particularly their focus is silver Celtic jewelry even though a variety of other Celtic pieces are also available. The reason for mentioning it on an international SEM blog is that it should serve as an inspiration for entrepreneurs everywhere. Aside from, top search rankings across the board both in natural and PPC results the website is extremely well constructed to receive high conversions. Ordering is simply a few clicks away and there are plenty of validation logos to ensure visitors they are dealing with a reputable company.
Despite the downtown in the economy this Silver Celtic jewelry shop is illustrative of the many opportunities that still exist for innovates firms – Kudos to this company and their management. Those looking to replicate a successful shop our encouraged to continue reading blogs such as ours or to hire a search engine marketing company if their budget can support doing such.
It can be a difficult task for a company operating overseas to select a search engine optmisation firm located in the United States. At Agilis Marketing we hear from an array of international companies, many of which are located in the United Kingdom. This post is intended for companies that are headquartered in the U.K or other regions outside the United States. While Agilis Marketing is always willing to help U.S. companies with a United Kingdom SEO campaign, this article is targeted to our clients and prospects outside the states.
The most common area of concern when hiring an international company is that of distance. People and companies value face to face meetings. Why should a company located in the U.K. select a firm in the U.S. when there are numerous local firms? The simple answer is that expertise and ROI should determine the decision, not locale. If a United States based company is more experienced with SEO and delivers a higher ROI than the choice is obvious.
Still, it is oftentimes easier to work with a company located in one’s home country. This is an advantages that should not go overlooked. The ability to take a quick flight or drive and meet face to face with representatives of the contracted company can certainly be of value. Whereas if a U.S. marketing company is hired then a face to face meeting is much more time consuming. That said the easier route is not always the most profitable one. Corporate America provides a perfect example of this and it is one reason why many U.S. companies outsource jobs overseas. Hiring a United States company to perform U.K. SEO work is turning into an increasingly smarter move for businesses in part due to the ongoing decline in the dollar.
Even with the aforementioned stated, the issue of distance still comes into play. Therefore our company happily meets with owners and directors of companies in the United Kingdom. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes it is more effective for our employees to visit a U.K. company’s headquarters, whereas on other occasions the converse holds true. Either way, Agilis Marketing does not view distance as a barrier to providing excellent search engine optimisation services to United Kingdom clients or any other international companies.
What is the most effective method of marketing a U.K. company to a U.S. audience? The answer to this depends largely on the product or service that one is marketing. Nevertheless there are a few basic ideas to keep in mind when advertising on the internet. Many of these same considerations can also be applied to international search engine marketing between other country pairs.
There are large differences in the way search engines, such as Google, position websites within their results pages based upon the user’s location. As an example, search for the phrase “seo services” without the quotations on google.com then search for the same phrase on google.co.uk and notice the vast difference in the results displayed. Take a look at the two screen shots further below to view images from when I conducted the search. Now the important question is why does this happen?
There are both SEO principles to remember and general marketing considerations such as proper linguistics. A fairly obvious factor is a websites’ domain extension. U.K. companies should obtain a .com extension, whereas United States businesses should acquire a .co.uk extension.
Of course it is not as simple as purchasing a new domain extension. On on-page consideration to keep in mind is that of duplicate content. While it is understandable that a company will want to relay the same basic message to both countries, it should not use the exact same copy. A company should rewrite copy to avoid any duplicate content penalties.
Off-page factors to keep in mind are largely related to link building. When conducting a links building campaign that markets to the U.S., a United Kingdom company should obtain links from websites headquartered in the United States. Properly, conducting a links campaign in this manner can even avoid the need to obtain a new domain extension.
Linguistic issues are also important to remember. A perfect example is search engine optimisation, which is the correct spelling in the United Kingdom, and search engine optimization, which is the correct spelling in the United States. While there is only a one letter difference, this spelling differential can impact how visitors view a website and how the search engines rank a website. Few United States businesses or people want to conduct business with a company that is unable to use the countries’ linguistics. To me it shows that a company marketing to a U.S. audience did not take the time to even use the United States spelling. Of course the converse holds true to U.S. companies looking to marketing to the United Kingdom.
Understanding your audience is essential. This posts contains only a few of the important ideas to keep in mind when marketing services or products to an international audience. Nonetheless, these ideas are an excellent initial checklist for those companies advertising abroad.
P. Arkwright, of Business Services U.K., kindly contributed the following post:
These days one of the most widely used terms on the Internet is ‘SEO Expert’. It still amazes me how anyone can claim to be an expert in any field without any formal qualifications. This does not even take into account the fact that Search Engines oftentimes have elusive policies and their ranking criteria can change. Take it from me there really is no such person as an SEO Expert outside search engine organisations.
Most of these self appointed experts spend their time hanging around forums, in the hope of finding gullible clients. Their services do not come cheap; they are known to charge a client anything from £1,000 to £150,000 for their work, with no long term guarantees.
I have often caused a stir in these forums by asking a simple question, “How can you offer SEO services, when your own sites have little to no PR and extremely poor SERPS”. As you can imagine this question instantly causes a stir, panic starts to set in as these amateurs start to see £’s disappearing before their eyes. They quickly compose themselves and write an articulate response stating they are far too busy to spend time optimising their own site. I simply reply, “You seem to find the time to post on this forum on a regular basis”. That question is generally the final straw for that particular band of raconteurs. They either pack up their bags and move on to infest another forum or they keep quiet for a few weeks in the hope the thread is soon forgotten. The cleverest operators become forum moderators. This is a first class move, since their status as a moderator adds weight to their services and with one click of a mouse they can ban competing providers or people who ask the “wrong” questions.
There are many SEO providers who fully understand the fundamentals of optimisation and over the short term have the ability to move any site higher in the search rankings. However let there be no illusion, few reputable organizations will ever offer any long term guarantees and it is generally best to watch out if they do.
My advice to anyone looking to use the services of a SEO provider is to stay well clear of forums and only use the services of a provider whose own sites are well ranked for numerous keywords or phrases.