It’s not unusual for multinational corporations to target specific geographic regions using multiple mini sites. If this is part of the strategy your company incorporates, then it’s important to make sure that each of these sites are giving search engines a clear indication of the country that’s being targeted. Below are a few items that will help these sites target specific international regions.
Top Level Domain (TLD)
The TLD is the first and most obvious area that a search engine will look at to determine what location is being targeted. It’s a pretty clear indicator that if you’re using a country specific TLD, then you’re most likely targeting within the specific country and not internationally. So if you’re part of a large company with offices in Australia, then having the ‘.com.au’ TLD will show search engines that you want to target customers in that country.
Submit to Google Webmaster Tools
Google makes it pretty easy for you if you’re not using a country specific TLD. If you’re company is using a ‘.com’ for their international sites, then you will want to sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account and set the Geographic Targets to their specific countries.
Don’t just give search engines one indicator and call it a day. Show search engines a number of indicators as this will give no doubt the area with which you are trying to target. By hosting within the same country, you’re giving search engines an additional signal to take into account. This is even more important if you’re using a .com domain name.
Acquire Local Links
If your international sites are relevant to the geographic areas then they should have inbound links from the region and in the language being targeted. Show search engines your relevance and that you’re a good source of information within the area by obtaining links from authority sites within the country.
If one of your sites is targeting the German market but is using English content, then search engines obviously aren’t going to show your site to German speaking users. This is true even if you have a targeted TLD, Hosting and Local Links. Use each countries local language within the content of the site.
If your company has local offices for the countries that they’re targeting, then add the physical office address prominently on to each site. You can even emphasize this address by having it placed on each page.
Subfolders and Sub-domains
Some companies target international regions not through multiple Mini Sites but by using dedicated sub folders and sub domains. If you have a site incorporating this tactic then I would suggest submitting each particular subfolder or subdomain to Google Webmaster Tools and setting the geographic target.
Be Conscious of Duplicate Content
For the international versions of your websites you should be using unique content on all of them. Avoid duplicate content issues and having search engines try to decide for you which page is the most relevant out of the duplicated pages. What won’t be considered duplicated content is if you have text from one language translated into another. So translating your English text into Spanish will be fine.