July 20, 2015 | Sarah Danks

Aleyda Solis’ 2015 MnSearch Presentation

Aleyda is the founder of Orainti, an international SEO and mobile marketing consultancy company. She currently lives in Madrid, Spain, and travels the world speaking at marketing conferences all over the world — in English AND Spanish. Listed in Forbes as one of the Top 10 Online Marketers to Follow in 2015, Aleyda is definitely one to keep your eye on!

It was super-fun meeting her in person at the 2015 MnSearch Summit — because of course we ended up speaking together in Spanish! Since she now lives in Spain I could use my Valenciano accent and jerga (jargon) and she understood me…

…and I only had to ask her to slow down when she was talking once. Ha.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of Aleyda’s MnSearch session:


How to Effectively Establish & Run

a Successful International Digital Marketing Strategy

Targeting internationally might be key to expanding your online businesses, but it can be complex:

  • Which countries or languages should you target?
  • How do you connect with your new audience?
  • What if you don’t speak the language?
  • How do you identify your local competitors?
  • Which popular web platforms do you target?

An International Digital Strategy in 3 Steps

Step 1:
Start By Validating the Potential Traffic & Profitability
of Your Viable International Markets

The goal: make your international web presence profitable. Validate your company’s international web operations viability from a business perspective.


Identify your current site’s best-performing countries and languages in Analytics from a conversion perspective.

Then analyze your current international traffic behavior per channel…


…as well as your organic search visibility per country. Check which are the current top international markets for your competitors, and the overall top markets for your industry.

You can now choose those top international country and language markets to assess:


Identify the potential traffic per channel for each country.

Your mobile traffic, seasonality & trend —


The more sources you use to validate, the better!

Verify if there’s enough traffic to establish profitable web operations.


Use the international return on investment (ROI) calculator to make it even easier. It’s time to make a decision regarding the international markets to target.


Never rely exclusively on automated tools to do this for you…

…you need to validate!

Use translation support tools along with translators or specialized native speakers; be aware that they’ll be required for the on-going online marketing process.


By taking all these criteria into consideration, you’ll have a higher chance of establishing a profitable international web presence.

Step 2:
Establish Your International Targeting
& Optimize Your Online Experience For It

The goal here is to effectively target your web presence to your international audience. But, should you target countries or languages with your web presence? Because there is a difference!

Here’s a language vs country targeting example:


Choose your international web structure according to your targeting and competitors. Warning: don’t use parameters to enable them!


Beware of using cookies or scripts showing different international versions of the same page:


To target by country:

  • ccTLDs
    • ideal alternative to geolocate if competition is not too high
    • require more technical resources
    • require more efforts to grow popularity
  • Sub-directories
    • require less technical resources
    • require less efforts to grow popularity
    • more chances to get all versions penalized if something goes badly
    • more efforts to geolocate
  • Sub-domains
    • require more technical resources
    • require more efforts to grow popularity
    • better than sub-directories to organize larger and more complex sites
    • more efforts to geolocate

Verify which extensions are treated as generic. If you’re using sub-directories or sub-domains to country-target, register and geolocate them.


To target by language:

  • Sub-directories
    • require less technical resources
    • require less effort to grow popularity
    • deeper URL structure
    • more chances of all versions being penalized if something goes wrong
  • Sub-domains
    • require more technical resources
    • require more effort to grow popularity
    • shorter URL structure; can be better for larger sites



Besides web structure pros and cons, verify the ones used by the top sites of the market, along with the pages ranking for the most popular terms — you’ll need to compete with them.


Once you choose your targeting it’s a must to be consistent so as to provide the best experience.

Localize your web content and overall experience with the right targeted keywords and products, even if they’re in the same language.


Also, it’s good to be consistent from a design and branding perspective.

Plus you’ll want to indicate your international targeting with the meta and HTML language tag:


And with hreflang annotations:


But be careful of using incorrect values:


Including non-relevant or mistaken URLs, or not adding the return tags:


You can also include hreflang in sitemaps — but only do it when you can’t include it in the HTML. Use the hreflang generator to avoid errors.

Google Webmaster Tools (now Search console) will warn you about some of them:


But you should use an SEO crawler (like ScreamingFrog) to validate first. Onpage.org also has an in-depth international and translation report.

Don’t forget about the URLs — beware of IDNs and non-latin characters in URLS!

Do the same with all your online presence — not only with your website, even if it’s not that straight forward or free…

…there are always work-arounds.

Be careful in assuming too much about your users’ international targeting:


It’s better to suggest your international versions. Remember: interstitials are intrusive and might cause crawling issues, too.

If you follow these tips you should be able to effectively target your international audience.

Step 3:
Understand & Increase Your Popularity
Among Your International Audience

Your goal: to connect with your international audience and grow your authority. Start by identifying top social networks, organic and paid search traffic sources and traffic referrers.

Relevant competitors and keywords used among your audience:


Popular organic search terms trend and competition level over time:


Which are the most linked-to pages (and content) of your competitors?


The most popular and highly-shared topics, identifying where and who shared them, and the content characteristics per network.

Which are the relevant and authoritative sites that you can outreach per country and language?


With all this you can establish content, social and link building strategies for your target markets by becoming a real local player…


…which leads to increasing and ultimately profitable results.

Now is your time to build an international digital marketing strategy!

Want to see the entire deck? Check out Aleyda’s presentation here.











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