If you are planning to expand and grow your business beyond your current target market, you will undoubtedly be looking at marketing strategies and where (and how) to focus your marketing efforts. You may want to expand from serving a local area to having a national reach or growing a national business to an international business.
Before you can take your business to a new audience, consider how marketing strategies could differ for a national or international business. Since I’m an SEO expert I’m going to look at the difference between national and international Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Aside from the different SEO strategies that need to be used to ensure digital marketing success, the available budget is also a major factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Targeting an international audience, especially in different languages, requires a fairly generous budget.
What is national SEO?
National SEO simply means you focus your online marketing efforts across the whole country rather than just in your immediate area. You must be able to ship products or provide services across the entire country. This will naturally give you a much wider audience for your business with the potential to attract many more customers and really boost growth. In my experience, the relative ease with which a business website can be found across the whole country is one of the best things about search engine optimisation. And it doesn’t require multiple physical locations to be successful. For instance, an accountancy company or firm of solicitors can just as easily offer advice to clients wherever they are based.
However, when you choose to operate on a national scale the pool of competitors who you will be vying with will also increase. That means National SEO is a more complex and time-consuming process than SEO for a local business, but the rewards in terms of business growth make it a worthwhile investment.
How does it work?
When it comes to national SEO you can’t rely on the physical location of your business premises to raise your online visibility. You will need to focus on a much broader range of keywords and search terms rather than those keywords which are location-based.
For instance, an accountancy company based in Northampton might reasonably expect to get visitors to their website via Google searches such as “tax accountant Northampton”. However, if they also want to attract potential customers from, say, Birmingham they will need to ensure their website is found when people located in Birmingham search for “tax accountant”. Of course, it is more difficult to appear on Page 1 of Google for “tax accountant” but the rewards are worth the effort. The table below shows the difference in average monthly searches for a keyword with and without the location element. There are almost 300 times as many searches without a location as there are with the word “Northampton” included. Food for thought!
|Average monthly searches
|tax accountant birmingham
|tax accountant northampton
Service based businesses are a perfect example of businesses that can benefit from a national SEO strategy because there is no shipping of products involved and meetings can easily be held virtually via Teams, Zoom etc.
What is international SEO?
Where national SEO refers to a focus on digital marketing across a single country, International SEO refers to a strategy targeting a wider number of countries. Just as businesses can grow by expanding from a local to national target audience so can there be significant potential to increase business by targeting international customers.
An international SEO campaign enables a company to engage effectively with international audiences without, crucially, alienating their home audience who will, after all, still form an important part of the customer base.
International SEO strategies aim to ensure that a business website appears in searches in multiple target countries. This, clearly, requires a more complex strategy and possibly foreign language versions of the website. Inevitably, it will require a specialist SEO company like Ditto Digital with experience in international SEO who can implement the right strategy. Nevertheless, there are certain elements of such a strategy that can be done in-house. For instance, when planning content for a business blog consider an international audience in the way the topics are written. Include examples or case studies relating to other countries not just the UK and use images that are suitable for an audience from any location.
There are a number of factors that you should consider carefully to help you decide whether targeting a national or international customer base via search engine optimisation is the right approach for your business. The rewards can be significant but will also require a substantial investment in time, money and resources. To make a more informed decision, analyse existing data from your website to see whether you already have traffic from other countries. Also consider whether competitors are already selling similar products or services at a national level or overseas.
One other thing worth considering is whether your products or services may appeal to other English- speaking countries. This can be a good starting point on an international growth journey.