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International SEO for eCommerce: best practices

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Internationalizing an eCommerce project is not an easy task, but it is a must if you want to take advantage of the global market. One of the key factors in any internationalization plan is the SEO strategy you are going to follow. Getting a good positioning is crucial to make your eCommerce visible for those users from other countries interested in your products or services. But which are the aspects you should consider when developing an international SEO strategy for your eCommerce? In this article, we detail the most important ones.

SEO is quite complex and is constantly evolving, but basically, it is about making websites more visible and useful to users. This means that SEO must deal with both technical and content-related aspects. Technical optimization can help a website to become more visible to search engines, but it is useless if the site's content is not relevant or useful to users. Also, even the most relevant and useful content will not be found if the website is not properly optimized for search engines. So, to be effective, SEO must be approached from both technical and content perspectives.

Domains for eCommerce internationalization

eCommerce businesses that want to expand to new markets, are often confronted with a difficult decision when it comes to choosing the right domain.

On the one hand, they may want to stick with a .com domain, which is recognized and trusted by users around the world.

On the other hand, they may want to choose a country-specific domain, such as .es or .de, which can help them to better target potential customers in specific markets.

The domain internationalization process can be complex, but it is essential for companies that are truly serious about expanding their online reach. There are several options, but they're all good if you balance the pros and cons of each. Here are the most common ones.

Move your country-specific domain to a .com domain.

You can take advantage of having an international level domain such as .com, since it will allow you to cover the project in all countries. This way, you will be able to create languages or directories by region: /en, /it, /de, /fr, etc.

If you choose that option, it is very important for you to focus on creating redirections from the URLs of the old domain to the new .com domain, so that you will not lose all the work you have done previously. It is the fastest and cheapest way to launch an eCommerce project at an international level, and the one that, in theory, is the simplest.

Maintain a country-specific domain and create a .com domain

Another option that can be considered is to keep the specific domain of a country (for example .es) and create in parallel a .com to cover the rest of the countries. By doing so, you won't need to make redirections and it won't affect your local SEO positioning.

If we consider the technical part, it is also possible, but if we want to work the brand globally without impacting significantly the local market, it might not be the best option.

Keep .es and create a local domain for each country.

Undoubtedly, if you are strongly committed to internationalization and you have the financial resources, this is the best option. The most complex and expensive, but the best option long-term.

If your platform does not allow it, you would have to create an eCommerce and a specific hosting for each country, but if it does, as in the case of LogiCommerce, it is best to set up a single store with multiple Storefronts connected to different sales channels with a local domain for each country.

In this specific case of LogiCommerce, even though it has different domains, all international orders will enter through a single BackOffice, which implies the optimization of resources and simplification of management.

An example would be:

  • ecommerce.es 
  • ecommerce.it 
  • ecommerce.de 
  • ecommerce.fr 

hreflang tags for international SEO

If you have an eCommerce site aimed at users in multiple languages, you'll want to make sure that search engines like Google can easily index your content. One way to do this is to use the hreflang attribute. This attribute indicates to search engines which language each version of a page is written in, making it easier for them to index your content and deliver it to users searching in that language. This is not only good for SEO, but also for improving the usability of your site. By implementing the hreflang attribute correctly, you can help to ensure that your content is accessible to users around the world.

The hreflang has mainly two types of attributes: a code that can be composed by the language (in ISO 639 1 format) and, sometimes, by the country (in ISO 3166 1 Alpha 2 format) of the alternative link.

Example of hreflang construction

As an example, let's suppose that your Commerce works on international SEO worldwide, but focusing on languages, regardless of the country.

You have the following domains:

  • ecommerce.com: this is the main domain of the Commerce (associated with the Spanish language and Spain being the main market).
  • ecommerce.com/en: associated with a language, in this case English
  • ecommerce.com/it: associated with a language, in this case Italian
  • ecommerce.com/de: associated with a language, in this case German
  • ecommerce.com/fr: associated with a language, in this case French

The Commerce has the following languages active:

  • Spanish (default language)
  • English
  • Italian
  • French

As we have previously commented, for this particular case, we don't want to position the country, we only want to position the language:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://ecommerce.com/en/” /> 

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”it” href=”http://ecommerce.com/it/” /> 

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr” href=”http://ecommerce.com/fr/” /> 

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=”http://ecommerce.com” /> 

<link hreflang=»x-default» href=»http://ecommerce.com» rel=»alternate» /> 

Sitemap for international SEO

When optimizing an eCommerce site for international search engines, it is important to create a sitemap that includes all the pages of the site in the different languages. This ensures that all site content is indexed and accessible to search engines. Creating a complete sitemap also makes it easier to track and fix broken links, which can be a huge problem for international websites.

Through LogiCommerce it is possible to generate a sitemap index file (sitemap.xml) with a collection of the different sitemaps of the Commerce according to the configuration. More specifically, through the LogiCommerce sitemap creation tool, you can:

· Split the sitemap into different languages. A specific sitemap is created for each language.

· A single sitemap with all languages. The structure will contain secondary entries like with all the language and/or language-country variants of each of the URLs (hreflang structure).

· Divide the sitemap into different types. A sitemap is created for each content element that you have decided to include, one by one. These can be:

  • Categories
  • Products
  • Pages
  • News
  • Blog posts

In the end, something basic in any sitemap generator tool is to be able to configure the update frequency, to have a file compression system so that the sitemaps become more manageable and quicker to download.

Metadata by language

Metadata is a term often used for web design and SEO, but what exactly is metadata? In general terms, metadata refers to data that literally talks about data, providing information about the data: what it is, what it is used for, etc.

On the web, HTML metatags exist to indicate to search engines some of the metadata that provides information about the content displayed. This metadata can include the title of the page, a description of the page content, and keywords associated with that page. Although metatags do not guarantee these pages will appear in search results, they can be used as a way to indicate to search engines what your pages are about, and thus improve your chances of being found by potential visitors.

In LogiCommerce, the main content elements of the eCommerce (areas, categories, products, pages, blog…) can be customized and configured for each of the visible languages:

  • Title: indicates the text that will be displayed as the title of the window containing the content of the item displayed.
  • Description: it is a brief description of the element being displayed.
  • Robots: this metadata helps the indexing robots of the search engines by indicating whether or not to index the content displayed (index, noindex), and whether or not to crawl the links that exist within the content (follow, no follow).

You should also pay extra attention to the ALT tag. This attribute allows you to set a brief description of the image, that can be useful for indexing robots and for other users who cannot see the image. The ALT attribute is also useful for images that are decorative or small; it allows you to provide equivalent text so that everyone can appreciate the content of your page. When using the ALT attribute, be sure to keep descriptions short; long descriptions will be ignored. With minimal effort, the ALT attribute can help your pages to be more visible.

The LogiCommerce platform has tools for massive introduction of these metadata to facilitate this work, in addition to the corresponding metadata information block within the BackOffice section of each content element.

Powerful and agile suite to manage International SEO

LogiCommerce is the Headless eCommerce Platform that comes with a set of tools that simplify and facilitate the SEO management. It provides a SEO manager that can be used to manage and customize SEO settings, and is especially useful when internationalizing an eCommerce with multiple languages to optimize.

Among LogiCommerce's high-end SEO tools, there are some that will help you to successfully deploy your international SEO strategy:

  • Google Sitemap
  • Sitemap Suite
  • Sitemap compression
  • Friendly URLs
  • Titles and meta descriptions
  • Duplicate content management
  • Redirect Manager
  • Rich snippets
  • Robots.txt
  • Follow & Indexable
  • ALT Attribute

Going international with an eCommerce can be a complex process. There are many aspects to consider and it can be difficult to keep track of everything while ensuring that everything is implemented correctly. That's where LogiCommerce comes in. We have the experience and expertise to help you launching your eCommerce internationally quickly and easily. Moreover, we offer powerful SEO tools to give you an edge over the competition. ¡Let’s talk!

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