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Expanding your website for an international audience

In this guide we are going to discuss some of the common issues businesses face when looking to take a business from operating in one market to reaching out to international markets.

When you make the decision to expand your current business offering to one or more international market, making sure you get your website solution right is an important step.

First you need to decide what URL you will use to promote to your new market. If your current top level domain (TLD) is non-country-specific, such as in a .com or .org domain name then there are a number of options which are available to you. The main option here, which works really well from an SEO point of view, is using sub folders to host each of your new market websites. This will mean that your main website remains at www.yoursite.com and your new market sites would sit under this in folders such as www.yoursite.com/de for Germany and www.yoursite.com/fr for France.

The real benefit for your SEO here is that the new sub sites will benefit from the SEO authority of the main site and from the age of the main domain. This also means that your ongoing work to promote your domain will also benefit any new sub folders.

When you have a generic TLD you could also use sub domains to add new country folders to your site, such as de.yoursite.com. However, from an SEO point of view this doesn’t offer the benefits of the sub folder option as the search engines will treat this site as a separate entity and none of the authority will be transferred across to your sub domain. Some websites have to take this route as their CMS or server set up only supports this implementation. However, this isn’t something we would recommend unless it’s actually needed on your platform.

However, if you have a ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain), such as a .co.uk domain, this option won’t work for you. When Google looks at websites which have a country specific domain it automatically assumes that the website is for the market mentioned in this URL, so a .co.uk domain is associated with the UK market. In this instance you may want to consider introducing new ccTLDs for each market such as .de for Germany and .fr for France.

The benefit of this approach is that you have an automatic connection between your new domain and the market you want target, you can also choose to host this new domain in the country you are targeting which will help your visitors experience a faster load time. The downsides of this approach are that each of these new domains will be seen by the search engines as being fresh entities with no history or domain authority and any work you do on your old .co.uk domain won’t benefit these new entities.

Another option when you have a ccTLD and are planning to expand into new markets is to migrate to a .com domain. This will enable you to benefit from having all of your sites on the same main domain. Make sure if you take this route that you are migrating your existing site with SEO in mind and that you have moved across all your optimisation and redirected the old domain to the new domain.

In the next blog in this series we’ll discuss how to decide which of these solutions to use for your business. Keep posted to the Oban site in the next week for the next installment – or subscribe to our RSS feed.

‘Just a face in the crowd’ photo by Scott Cresswell