International SEO: a guide to
international keyword research

In our previous post on International SEO, we talked about factors affecting a website’s SERP ranking.  Keywords are a very important part of SEO, and selecting the best keywords for each of your URLs can be tricky. This is even more complicated when you localise your website into other languages. Here’s our step-by-step guide to international keyword research:

Start by creating a list of keywords in your native language, whether that is English or another language:

  1. Brainstorm keywords. Ask yourself, who are your customers? What would people who are interested in your product be looking up on a search engine? What is relevant to them, how can you get their attention?
  2. Use tools for keyword research. There are many of them out there: Google Keyword Planner (available to you if you have a Google Ads account), SEM rush, MOZ’s keyword explorer… Many require a license, but there’s a great difference between what free and paid tools can provide.
  3. Research the competition. Most of these tools let you input a URL and tell you which keywords the page has been optimised for. It can be a source of inspiration.
  4. Look at the metrics in your tool of choice. Look out for relevant related keywords that maybe you had not thought of, the number of searches, and the competition rate. A high competition keyword will be relevant and very searched for, but of course, you will have to compete with many other websites, and in the case of paid advertising, these keywords are expensive.
  5. Discard misleading and not-exactly-the-thing keywords. For example, imagine you have are a freelance musician in a band, and you have a website. Your band might perform in weddings, but “wedding band” might not be the best keyword; maybe customers searching this are looking for rings rather than musical entertainment. The keyword “best band” probably is used by people who want to know which are the best bands “of all time” or “the 70s”, but not necessarily hire them!
  6. Come up with a list of the most relevant and popular keywords for your website URLs, ideally with the least competition possible.

OK, that’s all done for one language, what next? Don’t make the mistake of simply translating this list of keywords into different languages. In many cases, there are no direct equivalents, and what people search for in different languages, in different cultures, is not the same. For example, in East Asia, people prioritise verbs, while Western people use more nouns. In one culture shape can be more important than material and vice versa. If you want your website to be truly optimised, you have to make sure you end up with more than just a translated list.

For international keyword research, repeat the same 6 steps in the new language.

This is where Web-Translations can help you.  It’s vital that multilingual keyword research is carried out by a native speaker of the target language who is also experienced with SEO.  Having the list of original keyword list is useful, but it is simply a point of departure for the linguist.

In our next post in this series, we will be talking about using keywords for creating content.