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International SEO on a small budget – A fool’s errand?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by James Lee tagged , , ,

International Business FlightGoing Global – International SEO

There comes a moment when many businesses consider going global. Often it’s all going well in the UK marketplace, so eyes will inevitably start drifting abroad. With a product or service meeting the UK customers’ needs, why can’t it be ready for markets abroad (albeit with a few changes)?


Can SEO make this possible, or better, can SEO make it profitable?

It’s possible to drift into two categories when launching into the international market. The first example is worn and weary, typified by customers who’ve been burnt by an SEO company before, which leaves them feeling that the price is too high and the returns too low. They believe that going international with their website is like heading off on a unicorn hunt. At the opposite end of the spectrum stands the wide-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth SEO fanatic; a small ice cream parlour in Kettering that’s corned its local market and, with a minor budget increase, feels ready to march from Malaysia to Monaco. Somewhere between the two is the rest of us.

So can you do international SEO on a small budget? Yes, it just takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it still cost a pretty penny.

How to make international SEO work on your budget

Targeting International SEO

Aim right

Step one is to be specific about what you want from international SEO. A product may have particular prominence in some countries over others. An engineering firm could be growing visibility in Germany, for example, or a restaurant could be turning its website into the must-visit resource for French chefs, but “go global” is as vague as it is unrealistic. Few brands are truly global. After McDonalds, Manchester United and Coke I’d struggle to name many more. Even brands dominating the UK market, like Tesco, have struggled when venturing abroad. Look for your SEO potential:

  • What is your current search visibility from other countries?
  • What are the local search volumes for countries and languages you’ve considered targeting?
  • How large is your budget for this project?

Learn the steps

Taking websites onto an international platform involves implementing various technical changes. Decisions need to be made on language, targeting your website with a specific piece of code or buying country top level domains like and .fr. The steps you need to consider:

  • Technical changes to your website: do you go subdomain or subdirectory?
  • Content strategy: do you need to speak in a new way to your new audience?
  • Who will make the changes: do you need a SEO agency to carry out the work or to consult on how to complete it?

Choose your timescale

Sometimes, budgets and timescales are approached in the wrong way for international SEO. Typically, business owners will look in their wallets, see £x amount per month and assume this could or couldn’t take their website international.  Instead of this, there should be focus on the end goal, with a set “if this happens then I am happy” targets. Afterwards, find out how much it would cost you and on what time scale. If I consider building an extension to my house I could assume I don’t have the money. However, if I talk with my builder we can go through the finer details. Maybe some of the features I wanted are not as necessary, perhaps my timescale can be lengthened a little. Sure, the extension could be built within a week – it just costs more. If you have a smaller budget, it’s still possible you just need to be patient.

Man making a foolish face at the idea of international seo on a small budgetA fool’s errand?

A fool’s errand is an attempt to do something with no chance of success – think England winning the football World Cup. To consider international SEO by no means makes you a fool; you want to grow your business, reach new markets and help more customers.  To do international SEO on a small budget is certainly possible, it just takes time.

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About the author

James Lee

James Lee

James is a SEO Campaign Delivery Manager. He works to maximise a websites visibility in search and loves working with customers to achieve their goals. Get James talking about how to optimise a website's page titles and you will be there for hours. He doesn't always talk about himself in third person.