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In today's digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for businesses looking to expand their reach and connect with a global audience. However, creating an effective international SEO strategy can be a complex and overwhelming task, especially when it comes to developing a URL structure that considers local preferences and search engine guidelines.
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for businesses looking to expand their reach and connect with a global audience. However, creating an effective international SEO strategy can be a complex and overwhelming task, especially when it comes to developing a URL structure that considers local preferences and search engine guidelines.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with a full overview of international SEO URL structure, including best practices and important considerations for a successful implementation. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, this guide will help you stay ahead of the game and reach your target audience more effectively.
International SEO is a crucial aspect of digital marketing, as it helps to reach a wider global audience. The URL structure of a website plays a significant role in determining its visibility and ranking in search engines.
In this guide, we will discuss the basics of International SEO URL structure, its benefits, and best practices for optimising your website’s URLs for a global audience.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is a string of characters that identifies the location of a resource on the internet. It acts as an address for web pages, images, videos, and other digital assets.
In the context of international SEO, a URL structure refers to the format and organisation of URLs for websites targeting multiple countries or languages. A well-structured URL can help search engines understand the content and location of a website and can improve the site’s visibility and ranking in search results.
International SEO refers to the practice of optimising a website for search engines for users in multiple countries and in multiple languages.
The goal of international SEO is to make a website rank higher and appear more relevant to users in different countries. This involves targeting specific keywords, cultural nuances, language differences, and other factors unique to each country, to improve the website’s visibility in local search results.
Having a clear and well-structured URL structure is important for International SEO, as it helps search engines understand the content of a page and can improve its ranking for relevant searches. It also makes it easier for users to understand the hierarchy of your website, which can improve user experience.
A clear URL structure can also make it easier to target specific countries or languages, as well as different devices, by using subdirectories or subdomains. This can increase the visibility of your website in different regions and improve the chances of attracting relevant traffic.
Additionally, a clear URL structure can make it easier to manage your website and make updates, as well as allowing for easier tracking and analysis.
A good international SEO URL structure should include the following key elements:
1. Keyword-rich: Including relevant keywords in the URL can help search engines understand the content of the page and improve its ranking for relevant searches.
2. Relevance: URLs should be relevant to the content of the page, and must accurately reflect the page’s hierarchy and structure.
3. Short and simple: Shorter and simpler URLs are easier to read and understand, both for users and search engines.
4. Use of subdirectories or subdomains: Using sub directories or subdomains can help target specific countries or languages, as well as different devices.
5. Consistency: URLs should be consistent in their structure, use of keywords, and other elements that, which can improve the user experience and make it easier for search engines to understand the website.
6. Use of hyphens: Hyphens can help to separate words in URLs and make them more readable.
7. Avoiding dynamic parameters: Dynamic parameters in URLs can make it difficult for search engines to understand the content of a page and negatively impact ranking.
To set up international targeting for your website, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Choose a language and target country: Decide which languages and countries you want to target, based on your research into your target market’s language and cultural preferences.
2. Translate your website: Translate your website’s content and meta information (e.g., page titles, descriptions, and headings) into the languages you have selected.
3. Use hreflang tags: Hreflang tags are HTML attributes that tell search engines which language version of a page is intended for a specific country or region. This helps to ensure that users in each target market see the correct version of your website in their language.
4. Set up geotargeting: Geotargeting involves telling search engines which country or region a specific version of your website is intended for. This can be done through Google Search Console or by using geotargeting settings in your content management system.
5. Monitor your website’s performance: Use analytics tools to monitor your website’s performance in each target market. This will help you identify any issues that need to be addressed and track your progress in each market.
There are also three main options for building a website that can perform well organically overseas:
o Subdirectorieso Separate country-code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)o International subdomains
We go into these three categories in much more detail further down in this article.
When choosing a domain structure, you should consider factors such as your budget, number of languages, the countries being targeted and the technical complexity of implementing each option. A well-structured domain can help to improve your website’s visibility and ranking in international search engines, making it easier for users in different countries to find you.
1. Subdomains: Using subdomains allows you to create separate versions of your website for different countries or languages. For example, you could have a “fr.example.com” for the French version of your site and a “de.example.com” for the German version.
A good example of a business using the subdomain route is Gymshark.
– https://fr.gymshark.com (France)
– https://uk.gymshark.com/ (UK)
2. Subdirectories: Using subdirectories involves organising different versions of your website within the same domain. For example, “example.com/fr” for the French version and “example.com/de” for the German version.
An example of a website utilising this approach is xe.com, The global money exchange company has chosen to offer content for each of its markets on the .com generic top-level domain (gTLD), with the content for each territory being available on a country-specific subfolder with the correct hreflang tag attributes implemented.
3. ccTLDs (country code top-level domains): Using a country-specific top-level domain (e.g., “example.fr” for France) can signal to search engines and users that your website is intended for a specific country.
A good example of ccTLD is flixbus:
1. Target countries and languages: If you are targeting multiple countries and languages, using ccTLDs can help signal to search engines and users which country or language your website is intended for.
2. Budget: ccTLDs can be more expensive than subdomains or subfolders, as they require separate registrations and renewals.
3. SEO: ccTLDs can be more effective for SEO, as they indicate a strong, country-specific association to search engines and users. However, subdomains and subfolders can still be effective for international SEO if implemented and optimised properly.
4. Technical complexity: Implementing ccTLDs can be more technically complex and may require additional server configuration and management. Subdomains and subfolders are generally easier to implement.
5. Branding: ccTLDs can help enhance your brand and make it appear more trustworthy and professional. Subdomains and subfolders may not have the same level of impact on your brand.
Ultimately, the best domain structure for your website will depend on your specific goals, target market and resources. Consider carefully the factors listed above and consult with an international SEO company to determine the best option for your website.
There are various pros and cons of each domain structure for international SEO:
ccTLDs (country code top-level domains):
• Indicate a strong, country-specific association to search engines and users.• Can improve search engine visibility and ranking in target countries.• Enhance brand reputation and trust.• Can be more effective for local search engine optimisation.
• Can be more expensive, as they require separate domain registrations and renewals.• Can be more technically complex to implement and manage.• Can limit the ability to expand into other countries or languages in the future.
• May not signal a strong, country-specific association to search engines and users.• Can dilute the strength of your main domain.• Can be less effective for local search engine optimisation compared to ccTLDs.
• Easy to implement and manage.• Does not require separate domain registrations.• Can be useful for organising content by language or region.• Help to maintain the strength of the main domain.
• May not signal a strong, country-specific association to search engines and users.• Can be less effective for local search engine optimisation compared to ccTLDs.• Can be difficult to implement properly for multiple languages or regions.
The optimal domain structure for your website will depend on your specific goals, target audience, and resources. Take time to carefully consider your needs and seek advice from a professional international SEO expert to make the best decision for your website.
Optimising URL structure for international SEO is a crucial part of any international search engine optimisation strategy.
The URL structure refers to the way that web pages are organised and grouped within a website, including the use of subdomains, subfolders, and other elements that make up the website’s structure.
By optimising the URL structure, businesses and organisations can improve the visibility, relevance, and performance of their websites in international markets, helping to attract more traffic and generate more leads and sales.
This can involve using specific strategies and techniques, such as using relevant keywords in URLs, using descriptive subdirectories, and using hreflang attributes, to help search engines understand the content and structure of the website.
Effective URL optimisation can play a key role in boosting a website’s ranking and visibility in search results, making it an important factor to consider when developing an international SEO strategy.
Some best practices for creating a clear, concise, and meaningful URL structure for international SEO include the following:
1. Use country-code TLDs (ccTLDs): Using a ccTLD can signal to search engines which country your website is intended for, making it easier to rank in local search results.
2. Use language-specific subdomains or subdirectories: Creating separate subdomains or subdirectories for each language version of your website can help search engines to understand which pages are intended for which language and region.
3. Use hreflang: The hreflang attribute is an important tool for indicating to search engines which version of your website is intended for which language and region. Be sure to use hreflang to help search engines understand the structure of your website and the intended audience for each page.
4. Keep URLs short and descriptive: Short and descriptive URLs are easier to remember and share – and they can help improve click-through rates and overall engagement. Aim to keep URLs as short and concise as possible, while still being descriptive and meaningful.
5. Use keywords in URLs: Including relevant keywords in URLs can help search engines to understand what a web page is about, making it easier to rank for those terms. However, don’t overuse keywords, as this can be considered spammy and may harm your search engine rankings.
6. Use consistent URL structures: Consistent URL structures can help improve the usability and accessibility of your website, making it easier for users to navigate and understand your content. Consistency can also make it easier for search engines to understand and crawl your website.
7. Monitor performance: Regularly monitor the performance of your URL structure to ensure that it is effective and efficient in driving traffic and improving search engine rankings. Use analytics tools and other performance metrics to track the success of your URL structure and make any necessary optimisations.
To structure your URLs for an international website to reflect the hierarchy of information, you should consider the following best practices.
1. Use a clear and concise structure: Use meaningful keywords in the URL that describe the content on the page.
2. Language and location: Consider including the language and location information in the URL, such as “example.com/en-us/products”.
3. Hierarchy: Organise your URL structure to reflect the hierarchy of your content, such as “example.com/products/category/subcategory”.
4. Avoid dynamic parameters: Dynamic parameters can make URLs long and complex, so try to avoid using them whenever possible.
5. Canonical URLs: For pages with multiple versions (e.g., for different languages), specify a canonical URL to indicate the preferred version of the page.
6. Make URLs human-readable: Make sure URLs are easy for humans to read and understand, so they can share them easily.
By following these best practices, you can create an effective URL structure that makes it easy for users to find the information they’re looking for and helps search engines understand the hierarchy of your content.
It is important to monitor and measure the success of your international SEO URL structure because it enables you to assess the effectiveness of your current strategy, identify potential areas for improvement, stay ahead of competitors, and maximise your return on investment.
Regular monitoring helps you determine if your URL structure is positively impacting your international SEO efforts and make necessary adjustments. In doing so, you can ensure that your website is attracting the right audience and generating the desired results in different countries and languages.
Monitoring your international SEO efforts and the impact of your URL structure is important because it provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your international SEO strategy. By monitoring key metrics such as keyword rankings, traffic and conversions, search engine visibility, crawl errors, and user engagement, you can:
1. Determine if your URL structure is supporting your international SEO goals.
2. Identify areas for improvement and adjust your URL structure as needed.
3. Stay ahead of the competition by making timely changes to your URL structure.
4. Ensure that your international SEO efforts are having a positive impact on your website’s search engine performance, traffic, and conversions.
5. Maximise your return on investment by making sure your international SEO efforts are directed towards the right audience and generating desired results.
In conclusion, monitoring your international SEO efforts and the impact of your URL structure is critical for the success of your international SEO strategy, as it provides valuable insights that can guide your decisions and help you achieve your goals.
You can use the following key metrics and tools to track the success of your international SEO URL structure:
1. Keyword rankings: Use tools like Google Search Console or SEMrush to track the position of your target keywords in different countries and languages.
2. Traffic and conversions: Monitor the traffic and conversions from each country and language using Google Analytics.
3. Search engine visibility: Use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to measure your website’s visibility in search engines in different countries and languages.
4. Crawl errors: Monitor for crawl errors and broken links in different countries and languages using Google Search Console.
5. User engagement: Use tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg to track user engagement and behaviour on your site in different countries and languages.
By regularly tracking these metrics, you can gain a better understanding of how your URL structure is impacting your international SEO efforts and make any necessary adjustments to enhance your your international SEO efforts and results.
The right URL structure for different organisations in international SEO depends on several factors, including:
1. Target audience: Consider the language and location of your target audience when choosing a URL structure. For example, if you’re targeting a Spanish-speaking audience in Spain, it would make sense to use a Spanish language subfolder or subdomain (e.g., example.com/es/ or es.example.com).
2. Branding and naming conventions: Consider your organisation’s branding and naming conventions when choosing a URL structure. For example, if your organisation has established brand names for different countries or languages, it may make sense to use subdomains (e.g., fr.example.com) or subdirectories (e.g., example.com/fr/).
3. Content management system: Consider the capabilities of your content management system when choosing a URL structure. Some CMSs may make it easier to manage subdirectories, while others may be better suited for subdomains.
4. Localisation: Consider the level of localisation required for each country or language when choosing a URL structure. If you need to provide a high degree of localisation, such as local pricing and currency, it may make sense to use a separate domain or subdomain (e.g., example.fr).
In conclusion, the right URL structure for different organisations in international SEO depends on various factors and should be carefully considered based on the organisation’s specific needs and goals.
International SEO requires a strategic approach that considers several key elements. It starts with identifying the target audience – including their language and cultural preferences – and conducting thorough keyword research to understand the relevant keywords and phrases used by the target audience.
The right domain structure, such as a ccTLD, subfolder, or subdomain, is important for indicating the target country and language. Localised, high-quality content that resonates with the target audience is essential, as is building high-quality links from authoritative sources within the target country.
Technical SEO best practices, such as using hreflang tags, should also be implemented to ensure the website is properly optimised for international search engines.
Finally, creating local listings and citations can help increase visibility and credibility in local search results. By considering these factors, organisations can develop an effective international SEO strategy to reach new audiences and drive targeted traffic to their website.
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