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9 SEO tips for international online sales

The internet has changed the nature of business – whether you produce designer jewellery or specialist engineering equipment, potential customers across the world can now find you at the touch of a screen or a click of a mouse.
 
In theory, buying and selling has never been easier. But with so many retailers now operating online, standing out from the crowd is difficult. You may offer a superior product, but if you’re not near the top of the results of an online search, your target audience are just not going to connect with you. 
 
We have put together nine tips to help you boost your profile and maximise your global sales potential.
 

1. Keywords are key
 
The advanced option in Google's free Keyword Tool lets you choose keywords by country and/or language. Enter one of your English keywords, choose the language and/or country you wish to target, and Google will give you a list of keyword ideas and their associated monthly search volume. This is useful for doing homework before you agree to SEO agency fees. If you can’t afford agency fees, there are numerous online guides and SEO seminars – some charge delegates fees, while others are free. Try searching “SEO training online” or “SEO seminars [+ your postcode]” to get some idea of the available options.
 
 
Search optimisation is different from country to country. As an online retailer you’ll need to know how to bump yourself up the list in whatever country you sell to. If you’re a big enough company and have the resources, the most reliable option is to seek advice from an SEO agency that has staff where you’re selling and who will understand what words and terms will engage best with customers. SEO is about using natural, unambiguous keywords and it’s here that these agencies can help. They’ll also understand cultural differences and stop you from giving unintentional offence or losing your product details in translation.
 

2. Don’t get lost in translation
 
Product descriptions are vital if you want to pop up in a search. Dull, standard product information will do you few favours and will likely limit traffic (and profits!) Jargon-free language and clearly worded, enticing product descriptions will attract customers and boost sales. It will also deliver ‘unique content’ – which is rewarded by Google with greater prominence.
 
When it comes to foreign language content, it’s best to seek expert help with translation, but you can also keep costs down by enlisting help from language students rather than an agency. Either way, always resist the temptation to run English content through Google Translate. Proper translation will help to ensure accuracy, bright and engaging descriptions and a professional tone across all languages.
 

3. Look after your tags
 
Meta tags – which appear across the top of a web browser – inform search engines what kind of content is in a particular web page. While well-directed meta tags are no guarantee that you soar up the search rankings, if used incorrectly your business may pay a heavy price. There are plenty of web marketing handbooks available that can help you research the best ways to compose these meta tags for search optimisation; Amazon is a good place to start looking for these.
 

4. Be social media savvy
 
Social media has changed the way the world communicates and retailers recognise the benefits of having a social media presence and using social sharing buttons on their product pages. But if you are looking to grow online business globally, it can be tricky to engage with users in a foreign country. A social media consultancy that has people around the world, and relationships with local bloggers, are aware of international trends and follow TV product exposure and advertising coverage. Social intelligence platforms such as Pulsar can also identify who the ‘influencers’ are in your sector so that you can engage with your target market more efficiently.     


5. Analyse your data

All online retailers want their customers’ buying experience, wherever they are in the world, to be smooth and seamless. But how do you monitor this? The best way is through analytics. ‘User experience’ experts can help you here by testing pages, links and the buying process itself. If traffic on a page of the site is dropping off it, they can work out why.    

If there’s a low conversion rate on a product that is well priced against competitors and the transaction process is efficient, then it could be a ‘look-and-feel’ issue, meaning a possible redesign is needed. It is all a process of elimination. It’s often a very good idea to learn how to interpret analytics data on a training course, but there are other resources available to get you started (e.g. YouTube).*


6. Look sharp

Like any business, an online retailer is judged on its presentation. Be imaginative: use strong images, let your customers enlarge pictures and provide 360-degree images. However, even the most eye-catching sites can face challenges. One of the biggest
turn-offs is a page crowded with pop-ups. It’s easy to get carried away with pointless features, so a user experience expert will be able to help you de-clutter your site. A web designer can make pop-ups less obtrusive and make it easier to click through. 


7. Talk the talk: Use video

Using professionally produced, scripted videos is another way to boost buyer engagement and sales. Often referred to as ‘rich media’, product videos are a great way to engage buyers and promote your brand. One key benefit of videos is that they’re ‘sticky’ – they keep visitors on your page longer – something that search engines like.

The right video can provide an engaging experience, and busy customers can’t just ‘skim through it’ in the same way they can with text. Videos are also more likely to be shared on social media, as they can be embedded. You can also use it to provide context to your products or services e.g. product demonstrations or testimonials.


8. Watch your speed

Using rich media and high-resolution images may put your business in the best light, but they can also slow your website down (especially for shoppers browsing from an area with a less powerful connection). Site speed is an influential ranking factor for SEO. Make sure your web developer knows how to introduce rich media without slowing it down. Test your site constantly – if you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t fix it. There are free tools online that will help you to test your website’s speed, among them Pingdom and GTmetrix.*


9. Be money wise

You bought, you sold, you conquered. But the reality of ‘X-number-of-euros’ turns out to be significantly less than expected when it arrives in your British bank account.

At this point, you might begin to question the effort that goes into making an international sale. But if you’re smart about where you receive your payments – by directing euro sales into the euro accounts located within the Eurozone, for example – then you can control how and when you change your money.

By having the appropriate currency account to receive your payments, you could save yourself up to 3% on those marketplace conversion charges that take a bite out of your profit.

Let’s talk international payments. At Currencies Direct, we’re ready to discuss the best way for you to receive money from your customers – wherever they are in the world. Call us on  +44 (0) 20 7847 9400, or find out more at www.currenciesdirect.com/en/uk/e-tailers

You can also register and save up to 3% of the total sales value on exchange rates.**    
 
 
*Currencies Direct are not responsible for the content of third-party websites.
**Rates as at 18 February 2015

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