At a certain point, while drawing up a SEO strategy for international multilingual sites, decisions have to be made about how to structure the whole thing: domains or directories by country/language, content localization, link building multi-country strategy and so on.
Measuring the success for every country independently is not so hard but the Internet has no geographical barriers and traffic from several countries, using many languages, can mix unexpectedly. Web Analytics to the rescue.
Segment audience by country or language
Global data, the sum of traffic from all the international sites is nice number to show but meaningless for deep analysis.
It all depends on how you have your content is organized but be sure you have at least different profiles by country or language, this will help you discover some possible strange issues for example: why a non English country like Spain is sending quite a lot of traffic to the /en/ part of my site? What this could mean?
Cross country traffic
If your strategy is ‘domain per country’ based, sharing same language between them (for example .com.mx [Mexico], .com.ar [Argentina], .es [Spain] (all Spanish speaking countries) what can easily happen is visitors from Latin America will start coming to Spain’s site.
This is something quite impossible to avoid and there is an acceptable limit but beyond that it is a sign that something is going wrong.
We’ll check that creating an Advanced Segment where:
Language contains ‘es’ and Country does not match exactly ‘Spain’.
save and apply to your Non-paid Search Traffic to your Spain’s site.
This segment will tell you the amount of traffic reaching the Spain’s site while they should be reaching your Argentina’s or Mexico’s one for example.
Is this traffic more than you expected? Review your international SEO strategy to detect pitfalls.
No need to travel abroad to go international
Now let’s imagine you have a Canadian site with .ca domain and after creating some Advanced Segments like the previously described you find that more than 55% of traffic to your site is coming from the US.
What does this mean? Don’t panic, it is not always a bad sign if your SEO strategy has been reviewed and no issues found. Maybe search engines consider your products and services relevant enough to rank your site high in the US due to a real interest from your neighbors south of the border.
Is it a sign for time to expand your business across borders? Show the numbers to the business guys to think about. If so, a multi-country, multi-language SEO strategy is a must to succeed.