Best Tips for Foreign SEO that exclude hreflang

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Best Tips for Foreign SEO that exclude hreflang

Best Tips for Foreign SEO that exclude hreflang

SEO Hreflang tags alone won't guarantee that a country-specific website ranks in its niche.

Follow these recommendations to improve your global SEO.

Given its complexity, intricacy, and variety of applications, international optimization is undoubtedly the most sophisticated type of SEO.

The following issues are addressed by SEO's core principles:

  • technical difficulties that could improve site crawlability.
  • optimization of the content to increase keyword usage
  • To increase the value of your website, get high-quality links from other websites.

Because all bots must be able to crawl a site, look for pertinent material, and evaluate links from other sites, the majority of these techniques still hold true for international search engines.

I am aware of your thoughts. I assume that this is yet another article about hreflang implementation.

Wrong. I'll leave that to those who have written about hreflang in-depth.

A nation-specific website can have a modest advantage over other websites thanks to a few more, less-discussed approaches.

You must first decide on your target areas before you can start developing a strategy.

The next step is to choose which languages will be available in those areas. This is important since it enables you to organize the entire project, beginning with the URL structure.

Regarding global search engines:

Prior to discussing some of these specific strategies, it is critical to comprehend the current state of the world's search engines.

Although Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo are the top three search engines globally, another search engine in the United States holds a sizable market share abroad.

With a 71% market share, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China.

Google and Yandex are about evenly preferred by Russian users.

Although South Koreans favor Google, Naver, the country's own search engine, still holds roughly 27% of the market.

However, on a global level:

  • With 1.2 trillion annual search queries and 91.4% of the market, Google continues to rule the world.
  • With a 3.3% global market share, Microsoft Bing placed second.
  • With a 1.5% share, Yandex comes in third.
  • Yahoo! is ranked fourth with a 1.3% market share worldwide.
  • China's Baidu, which holds 0.91% of the worldwide market share, comes in fifth.
  • As a result, while international-focused Google optimizations will benefit you in the majority of nations, there are still some outlier search engines that require special attention.


the homepage of China's leading search engine, Baidu

Website optimization for the intricacies of Baidu search engine results will be important to capture the attention of China's enormous consumer base of over 1 billion internet users.

  • Baidu Webmaster Tools: Create an account with Baidu and submit your website there.
  • Language: Baidu and the majority of internet communications use Simplified Chinese as their primary language. Pinyin is a Latin-based phonetic transcription of the Chinese language. Pinyin is used to designate website addresses.
  • Licenses for Internet Content Providers (ICPs): You must adhere to Chinese censorship laws in order to rank on Baidu. To score well in search engines, you must have an ICP license.
  • Hosting: Baidu favors websites that are located in mainland of China. High loading speeds are preferred due to the slow internet infrastructure. A fast loading time can also be facilitated by hosting in Hong Kong.


The South Korean portal website Naver is regarded as having the first internally designed search engine.

  • Naver's preference for owned platforms and content sets it apart most from other search engines. In fact, the algorithm consists of two parts, one of which assigns a "Creator Rank" signal that is produced by Naver's other goods.
  • Naver Webmaster Tools: You must register your website. However, paid listings and user-generated content (UGC) predominate the results.
    Language: Because Naver was created in the Korean language, a fully translated version of the website is essential.
    Hreflang is not supported by Naver. This calls for the usage of the HTML meta language tag (<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="ko-kr">) in your website template as well as the use of an XML sitemap submitted to Naver Webmaster Tools for Korean sites and alternate versions alone.
    Products from Naver: Naver Encyclopedia, Knowledge iN, Naver Blog, and Naver Café should all be included in your plan.

1-Domain and URL organization

A unique country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is given to each nation, such as co.UK for the United Kingdom ,.ca for Canada , for Australia, and so on.

The first step in achieving high rankings in nation-specific search engines is to get a local ccTLD, as most of these search engines will somewhat favor local websites that are targeted to the country over sites.

A common feature of search engines is the ability to filter results to "only pages from country X." Users also perceive websites with their countries listed as being more reliable.

Because subdomains and subdirectories will both be located on, ccTLDs are preferred. Duplicate content difficulties would undoubtedly arise if identical English content were hosted on for the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.

The main search engines do understand that is targeting exclusively U.K. users and would therefore not count as duplicate material against, even if it is not encouraged to have duplicate content of any kind on a website.

It is always advisable to localize content that is in the same language because this is something that might change in the future. There is no issue with duplicating content if it exists in English, French, and Spanish.

The advantages and disadvantages of each solution with regard to foreign website domains and URL formats should be understood. (Note: The data below was directly pulled from Google.)


ccTLDs (e.g.,,

Pros (+)
– clear geotargeting
– server location is irrelevant
– easy separation of sites
– legal requirements (sometimes)

Cons (-)
– expensive
– potential availability issues
– more infrastructure
– ccTLD requirements (sometimes)

Subdomains with gTLDs (e.g.,,, etc.)

Pros (+)
– easy to set up
– can use Search Console geotargeting
– allows different server locations
– easy separation of sites

Cons (-)
– users might not recognize geotargeting from the URL alone (is “de” the language or the country?)

Subdirectories with gTLDs (e.g.,,, etc.)

Pros (+)
– easy to set up
– can use Search Console geotargeting
– low maintenance (same host)

Cons (-)
– users might not recognize geotargeting from the URL alone
– single server location
– separation of sites is more difficult/less clear

URL parameters (e.g.,, ?country=germany, etc.)

Pros (+)
– none (not recommended)

Cons (-)
– segmentation based on the URL is difficult
– users might not recognize geotargeting from the URL alone
– geotargeting in Search Console is not possible

Working with multi-regional websites, Google Search Central Blog


ccTLDs have traditionally been the go-to strategy for global optimization because they are a strong indicator to Google.

However, as you can see above, maintaining the maintenance of each site requires a substantial outlay of money and time.

Subdomains and subdirectories have since gained popularity as alternate and less expensive choices.

If you go this way, you'll need to take extra precautions to make sure your users are seeing the right material.

Geotargeting in Google Search Console

The Set Geographic Target function in Google Search Console enables manual geotargeting for gTLDs (such

Follow these steps to configure geotargeting in Google Search Console:

Choose the desired site from the homepage.
Click International Targeting after expanding the Legacy tools and reports area in the left-hand menu.

Choosing the Country tab.
Target users should be checked in the box.
Choose the desired nation from the drop-down menu.

Click Save.
If you want to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region, simply unselect the check box and re-save.

Google points out that it generally does not make sense to set a geographic target if the same pages on your site target more than a single country.

This is because your geotargeting settings might limit the reach of your content.

detection of user IP and user-agent
The process of identifying the device a person is using and delivering content in accordance with that device's best practises is known as user-agent detection.

The process of identifying a user's location and delivering content that is more appropriate for that IP location is known as IP location detection. If you do this properly, there is a good probability that you will increase conversions, decrease bounce rates, and get consumers to the information they are seeking more quickly.

As location and device are frequently identifiable, this is a fairly typical strategy for localised optimization, but it is also essential for multilingual and multiregional SEO. Both HTTP and JavaScript redirects are supported by Google.

HTTP redirection are used

Clients are frequently redirected using HTTP redirection to device-specific URLs. The user agent in the HTTP request headers is typically used to determine how to redirect traffic. The alternate URL supplied in the sitemap or the rel="rel="alternate" tag for the page must remain constant with the redirection.

It is irrelevant whether the server redirects with an HTTP 301 or 302 status code for this purpose; nonetheless, 302 is suggested whenever available.

JavaScript switches pages

If you have trouble implementing HTTP redirection, you can use JavaScript to guide users to the URLs that the rel="rel="alternate" tag points to. The client side of the redirection, which must first download the page, parse the JavaScript, and then execute it before starting the redirect, will add delay if you choose to utilise this strategy.

A JavaScript-based redirect can be implemented in a variety of ways. For instance, you can utilise the matchMedia() JavaScript function to run the media queries that your website already employs in the link annotations on the page.

In addition to detection and redirects, you should make sure your website has effective internal navigation and linking so that users can easily access the pages.

The meta tag "content-language"

For Google and other search engines to understand the information, the local language is crucial and should be carefully designed.

Language declaration tags, like the content-language tag, which should be in the <head></head> along with the meta description and meta keywords tags, specify the site's intended language.

Although Google is unaffected by this tag, Microsoft Bing does:

Use the “content-language” meta tag to embed a document location in the <head> section of your documents:

<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-us">

The “content” attribute is comprised of a 2-letter ISO 639 language code, followed by a dash and the appropriate ISO 3166 geography code. For example:
• de-at: German, Austria
• de-de: German, Germany
• en-us: English, United States
• es-ar: Spanish, Argentina

Alternatively, embed the document location in either the <html> or the <title> element using the same format:
• <html lang="en-us">
• <title lang="en-us">

How To Tell Bing Your Website’s Country and Language, Microsoft Bing Blogs

4-Regional content

Using a separate ccTLD does not automatically make country-specific sites just copies of the main site.

The information should be localised and tailored to each target country to minimise difficulties with duplicate material and to improve the user experience for local searchers.

Why then don't more websites implement it?

The workflow for Adobe's content localization process is seen below, and it speaks for itself.

It requires a lot of effort, time, and resources.

But the rewards are great!


There are variances in wording, spelling, and regional vernacular that should be used for each country-specific site even among sites that use the same language.

American English and British English, for instance, differ in word choice (lorry vs. truck), spelling (localization vs. localization), and regional vernacular (sleeping policeman vs. speed bump). When creating your keyword lists for overseas pages, kindly take extra care.

Native speakers are invaluable for providing non-native speakers with regional vernacular keyword insights that may not be obvious.

Although each search engine gives different weights
to the metadata, it is recommended practice to complete the metadata in a manner similar to how you would for a website with a U.S. location.

The use of locally appealing terms and phrases is the only distinction.

pinpointing body content
You should be mindful of localizing information in a number of contexts, such as:

  • Currency conversion
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Time zone
  • Weather
  • Seasons

Remember to develop interesting content that someone from the targeted region would be interested in reading when creating or changing content to reach a foreign viewer.

Make sure to include the relevant localized information, such as a list of the regional offices and business hours in the appropriate time zone.

5- Regional backlink creation

An international website should have inbound links from international websites as well. Based on the IP address, search engines can determine the location of a website.

As a result, a country-specific website ought to contain incoming connections from that nation. A new ccTLD could struggle to rank without enough links from a target nation.

Since the site is brand-new, it takes a lot of manual work to search, contact, and acquire incoming links.

begin establishing links
Start by determining the most well-liked content and networks among your foreign competitors and your backlink profile.

Once you've determined your link profile and the links of your rivals, utilize that information as a roadmap to optimize your current links and launch a link-building effort to acquire links from those reputable sources.

construct links from pertinent languages
Locate pertinent websites that Google has classified in the desired language (French, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, etc.).

The perceived off-page relevance of your website will grow if you are able to acquire quality links from websites that use the same language. Locate domains ending,.net, etc. that are written in the right language to contact for a link-building effort.

Link text
An expanded chance to adopt a broader-scope form of anchor text distribution exists with international SEO.

In China, a website's subject can be supported more clearly than in the US by using a large array of keywords with comparable meanings. Take into account varying the exact, partial, and generic phrases in your anchor texts between the local and English languages.

Registration for local searches
Create a business profile for each website on Google, Bing Places for Business, and regional directories like Yandex. Join as many regional directories as you can.

It costs nothing to add a company's details to the Yandex Business Directory.

Links from smaller, more specialised local business directories typically have a high level of authority and credibility.

Social indicators
The viewer feels more confident when a local social media property is available in the language of the intended audience.

To improve the likelihood of social interaction and link sharing across the nation, sign up with the social media portals in each region. This is a must in order to compete on Naver, as mentioned above.

The search engines are informed by these local links that the website is pertinent and useful to users. As a result, your efforts may lead to higher rankings.

A conclusion
To rank a country-specific website in its local market is the ultimate aim of international SEO.

Depending on the market being targeted, hreflang tags alone may not be sufficient to do that.

This complicates SEO for the global market even further, yet it need not be daunting.

Understanding your key markets (and the share of those markets held by search engines) will help you modify these strategies to meet the various international ranking requirements.

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