Why Test SEO in International Markets?
I think you’ll agree with me if I say:
“The single biggest reason that most people do not
succeed is simply because they don’t do anything about it”
So if you have a strong hunch that a foreign market can help you achieve your business goals…
…or your Google Analytics platform has indicated that you have a lot of traffic coming from a country and you think what could I do about it?
And you have a reasonable budget to play with.
Then you have come to the right space.
The key answer is through the powerful world of online testing.
So for example, if you are an ecommerce site selling shoes in the UK, and your data analyst reports that you are getting 231 visits from China every month, with a conversion rate of 3%, this means that from 231 sessions, 7 of these session lead to a transaction.
Now this is a mysterious number (albeit hypothetical for the purpose of this blog post but certainly conceivable), but wouldn’t you have thought that your products might actually be needed by a very large audience sector overseas?
Why was the conversion rate 3%? Could it be that the products were completely relevant to many users’ queries but the users struggled with the language barrier?
Or was it because the user was put off by the design? For example, red is very lucky in China but if you write in red, it means you’re ending your relationship with the reader.
That’s exactly why the art of online testing is so unique. It allows any manager to test whether their brand and products would be a success anywhere in the world.
So instead of creating a full scale marketing strategy, investing 20k to build a new website plus another 5k for the entire site to be fully translated by a native expert, it is essential that you invest lightly at the beginning.
So going back to my shoes retailer example, by investing lightly, you would be able to extract data which will tell you:
- Who your key audiences are?
- What products they are searching for?
- What type of keywords they are using to find your products?
- What keywords convert most profitably?
- What type of ad copy attracts your audience?
- How they behave on your site?
These examples are only a few of many but the key factors that these examples bring you from a marketing campaign is that it allows you to gather early insights and assess whether you would be successful in a foreign market or not.
And from the data alone, it’ll give you everything you need to know whether investing overseas is a green or red light.
How to devise a paid methodology
Okay enough of what testing can do for you and more about the steps on how to do it?
Objective 1: Identify the Optimal Search Engine
Do some research to find which search engines are most used by your target country. So for example, as my earlier shoe retailer example received good traffic from China, my campaign will target consumers in China. Most people would assume that Google would be the search engine to use but research tells me Google is fact not the most used search engine in China but Baidu.
Baidu commands a 58.76% market share of Chinese searches so I know Baidu will now be the channel I invest my PPC campaigns into rather than Google which only has a 1.34% market share.
Objective 2: Optimise your Splash/Landing Page
Having paid good money for your visitors, don’t let a bad splash/landing page upset your visitors causing them to leave.
Remember that the world is full of cultures and what you may assume to be appropriate may actually be barking up the wrong tree. So don’t make assumptions. For instance, when KFC ventured into China, their brand slogan read, ‘finger lickin’ good’, which was then was translated into, “we’ll eat your fingers off”.
So make sure your content doesn’t offend anyone!
Ultimately, we are testing to see if your specified country has the potential of us expanding your business goals into so therefore cutting out the mistakes will ensure the results reflect your business in the true market space.
Objective 3: Start Bidding on Keywords with Purchase Intent
Next would be to identify a selection of keywords and put them through Baidu on a limited budget. The keywords must have purchase intent containing words such as ‘buy’ or ‘cheap’ as our budget is low, we really want to find out if our products can sell instantly, rather than paying for awareness for our brand and the consumer buying at a later date.
So for example, my shoes retailer intend to spend £500 on a selection of keywords and from this £500 we would be looking to make at least a 20% profit margin so we are sure that if we were to invest in this market, it would provide substantial gains rather than minimal gains.
Finding success in any country comes by selecting the right keywords that have purchase intent behind them because if you start paying for visitors who come to your site but don’t have the intent on buying, this may skew your overall findings for a country.
Objective 4: Monitor your Campaigns Daily
Running paid programs in search engines can be extremely costly if not done to a professional level. Even if in reality your business is very profitable in a country, if your paid search is not optimised and looked after on a daily basis, you are doomed to start with and the defining results won’t reflect the true outcome.
Therefore, as soon as any consumer clicks on your ad and enters your site, Google Analytics will track all the vital data we spoke about earlier such as who our key target audience are and what keywords are most profitable.
Objective 5: Track and Assess the Campaign’s Performance
At this point, you will have a certain degree of how the performance of this country is performing because you have been tracking the campaigns daily. But here you are ultimately looking at your KPIs of your business objective which is, did investing in your specified country earn you more money than you invested?
If it is yes, then that is the pivotal go ahead signal that you should look to do.
For my shoe retailer, if my investment yielded positive margins of at least 20%, I would understand that my product does satisfy people in China’s needs and it returns substantial profits. So I’d know I should expand into that market.
If it returned negative yields, then that particular market is most likely not attracted by your USP.
Objective 6: Begin Extensive Market Research in your Specified Country
At this stage you will have also identified your target audience, your audience demographics & behaviour, what keywords converts best and which are most profitable among many other insights.
This sets you onto the next path of conducting a vigorous marketing research campaign into the market space identifying your competitors, more about your consumers’ needs, wants and fears and weighing your USP against your competition.
This is also the stage where you begin to think about your long term SEO and content marketing strategies. Objective 6 is a blog post alone so if you enjoyed what you read then come back soon to read the next blog post.