Considering a global expansion in 2012? Extending your web presence internationally can be challenging, especially without local resources at your disposal. But, with the right preparations it can be done. Understanding the basic principles of International SEO will ready you to enter a new foreign market successfully. Here are five critical considerations to account for prior to embarking on global SEO.

Goals & Limitations

Don’t rush the process of analyzing your existing resources and identifying potential barriers to entry. Future changes are likely to be expensive and short-cuts now can eventually be detrimental to your SEO.

Start by assessing your target market. Are you focused on a region (Latin America), a language (Spanish speakers), or a single country (Spain)? These are important distinctions that will impact all other decisions to follow.

Assess the strengths and limitations of your existing content management system (CMS). Assess and plan for various IT questions such as how you intend to handle subdomains and directories or if you’ll be able to localize URLs.

Review external factors like legal requirements, whether local hosting is a necessity, or if specific advertising laws are relevant to your industry.

Search Engine Selection

Identify which search engines are most popular in the countries you’re targeting. Don’t assume the search engine landscape will mirror that of the United States.

In many foreign countries, Google’s presence is far more pronounced, while in others, a local or regional company dominates. In Europe, Google accounts for more than 90 percent market share. In Russia, Yandex is the most prominent search engine and in China, Baidu is the front-runner.

When considering which search engines to target, take note: unless a user has unique personalized settings, most search engines default to the user’s local version. Meaning, if you’re in Germany you will automatically be directed to As a result, it’s essential to do keyword research as well as rank checking on the local level.

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