International SEO is based around three pillars – technical, content and link building. In this detailed overview, we explore the fundamentals of international SEO success & how to achieve it.

How to localise your content for international SEO

November 5, 2020 Digital channels

If your business offers its products or services internationally, then your website needs to perform effectively in all your target markets. However, optimising websites for users speaking different languages in different countries can seem like a complex task. In the article below, we outline the key principles of localising content and explain how you can make the most of it.

Amazon’s launch of its new Swedish website drew heavy criticism this week, after several embarrassing errors were highlighted. Many of these were due to Amazon’s use of an autotranslation tool, which led to mistakes ranging from confusing to downright rude. This article focuses on why you should always localise your content for international SEO.

Localise your content for international SEO

Ensuring your messages are tailored to each local market is essential for international SEO – which means localising your content. Localisation is different to translation:

  • Translation is the process of rendering text from one language to another so its meaning is equivalent.
  • Localisation is a more comprehensive process which involves taking your existing content and ensuring it is fit for purpose for your target audiences in different countries. This goes well beyond translation because it considers cultural and non-textual components as well as linguistic issues. Localisation ensures that cultural nuances and consumer preferences by market – for example, in lifestyles, values, beliefs, religion, food and purchasing behaviours – are reflected in your content.

Oban International’s advice is always that localisation offers better results than translation. We advise our clients not to use auto-translate services, since they can go wrong and lead to a poor customer experience. Translation errors can be jarring for users, undermining brand trust and familiarity. Cultural faux pas can be costly, embarrassing and culturally insensitive.

Using the keywords and phrases that you have identified during your international keyword research carried out in market, you can then localise the different pages of your international websites. Page elements to localise include:

  • URLs
  • The title and meta description
  • Menu and navigation elements
  • Headings
  • Images and alt descriptions
  • Main body copy
  • Reviews
  • Contact details – phone, address, etc.

Items which are easy to overlook – but which you should not – include dates and calendars, sizing charts, delivery information, returns policies and the check-out process. Using Local In-Market Experts will help you to consider the user journey from start to finish, enabling you to identify any easy-to-miss elements.

The key to creating market relevant content is audience understanding – getting to know your audience in each market, including the linguistic and cultural nuances that shape search and consumer behaviours.

Understanding which of your competitors – both brand and SEO – are producing quality content in your sector will allow you to benchmark. Tools such as ahrefs and others allow you to identify competitor content gaps, guiding your content creation efforts.

Analytics data will you to understand how your content is performing. Content localisation is rarely a one-off process – it requires maintenance and it is good practice to refresh and renew content regularly based on shifting keyword and competitor opportunities. Clearly, resource is a consideration, which means it is important to prioritise by opportunity. An agency like Oban can help identify the biggest market opportunities on which to focus your resource.

Oban can help

Oban has helped diverse brands across a variety of sectors scale their global presence through international SEO. To find out how we can help you, please get in touch.


Mike Turnham, Head of Delivery

Mike Turnham | Head of Delivery

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.   

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