Doing business abroad: 6 points of interest for online marketing
Guest blog by Jeroen van den Engel van Translation agency Perfect
Dutch entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to the foreign market. Nevertheless, we often see that the strategy for approaching the foreign market has not been well thought out. What's involved? How do I rank in Google? Is it just having my website translated and I can see how well my campaign is going? Or is it better for you as an entrepreneur to get advice first? In this article we will give you a number of specific tips and elements that you should pay attention to and which factors are involved that will determine the return on your campaign.
Which characteristics play a role in the move abroad:
- Legal factors and culture/characteristics of the country
- The structure of your url
- Regional or multi-language
- The web hosting
- The quality of your texts
- The internal and external link structure
To make it as easy as possible for you which steps are important, we have highlighted each property in the correct order:
1. The legal factors and cultural characteristics of the country
Before making the switch to a specific country, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the legislation and rules regarding the online offering of your products. Each country has its own rules, for example in Germany you must use an imprint, in which all information about your company appears (Colophon), including company representatives and information about your company. When you sell your products online via the German market, the imprint must be present with your company details. If the imprint is missing, you can count on a fine. It is a custom in Germany that a competitor can report you if this information is missing. You can find more information about an imprint here.
2. The structure of your url
You have already registered a .de/.uk/.be domain name in case you want to expand your website, great! Regardless of which URL structure you choose, you always have the option to refer this variant to the original structure with a permanent 301 redirect.
You basically have 3 options:
- A domain name with ccTLD (country)
- A subdomain within your existing domain name
- A directory structure within your existing domain name
Which option is best? That totally depends on various factors and which country you are going to approach.
A domain name with ccTLD (country).
A TLD stands for top-level domain. CC stands for country code, so for example a ccTLD is Bloomse.nl or bloom.se (for Sweden). We always prefer a ccTLD as standard! Why? It works exactly the same for the Dutch market, a .nl domain name is given priority over other extensions. Of course you can also score well with another TLD within the Dutch search engine, but you are already 0-1 behind your competition with a Dutch TLD.
So why doesn't everyone opt for a ccTLD by default? A new ccTLD has two very major drawbacks. First, for a new domain name, you have to build value in Google all over again. If you want to be found better, an internal link structure should not be missing. During the start you are at 0 and you have to build links to your website for years.
The second disadvantage is a regional website. For example, a regional website is a Dutch website that you also want to improve the findability of the Belgian search engine. You will then have to deal with duplicate content because it is in the same language. This can easily be prevented with a canonical towards the Dutch website.
A subdomain within your existing domain name
The second option is to use subdomains within your existing domain. The structure then looks like this: de.yourdomainname.nl. A simple solution that allows you to create clarity within the back-end of your system. What we often hear is that it often causes confusion for the user via the front-end, you also do not benefit from the accumulated value with a subdomain.
A directory structure within your existing domain name
A folder structure is a solution that is used by many entrepreneurs. Your structure will then look the same as your other folders, i.e.: www.yourdomainname.nl/de/. If you use WordPress, there are various plugins that work via this structure. You build on your existing domain name, so that you take full advantage of your accumulated domain value.
Recently, Google has continued to evolve in the multi-language field. Also on a regional level you can easily indicate whether a website is for the Netherlands or Belgium, for example, without using duplicate content. A commonly used method is by using alternates, languages and canonicals.
3. Regional or Multilingual
As mentioned earlier, there are two specific types of translating your website. You can completely convert your website to a website in another language, so that you do not use duplicate content, but it may also happen that you would like to score better in, for example, the Belgian search engine with the existing text. You then use the same language and should watch out for duplicate content.
Some entrepreneurs expect that they can score well with a Dutch domain name and Belgian links and do not have to create a translated directory structure for this, but with a well-designed website you can take maximum advantage within the Belgian search engine.
My personal favorite is a Belgian folder structure in combination with alternates, different html languages and a canonical. In the most ideal situation, we want to duplicate exactly the same websites with a different address in the footer for the Belgian market, without the risk of duplicate content. If you specifically set per page what the alternative variant is per language in combination with a canonical to your own page, you will notice that your page will also be found better and better in the Belgian search engine. Do you want to know exactly how to set this up? Please feel free to contact us.
4. Web Hosting
Many marketers indicate that web hosting does not play a role in findability, but we do not agree with this. The choice of web hosting plays a decisive role in the approach speed of your website. Technical components such as caching, Apache mod-PHP and various variants are implemented at the professional parties, so that your website is displayed a lot faster. Your website is visited by people from Belgium, which means that the website can be accessed from a web server in Belgium much faster than a web server via the Netherlands. Since speed is a small factor in the positioning of your search terms, it is therefore recommended to host your Belgian website in Belgium (if you choose a country TLD).
There are also solutions that you choose for a CDN, where your static content is copied on servers throughout Europe. The visitor then visits the copied version on the nearest web server. An ideal solution that can be used for other URL structures. You can also contact our specialists if you have questions about caching content.
5. The quality of the texts
The quality of the texts is underestimated by many entrepreneurs. We want to approach the German market, but we do not want to spend a budget for translating the texts on the website. This is surely one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Especially in Germany, spelling and sentence structure is an important aspect with which you radiate professionalism. You are also picky in the Netherlands if you read a text with various spelling errors. In Germany people are much more concerned about incorrect texts. So make sure you choose a professional German writer or translation agency.
6. The internal and external link structure
The internal and external link structure is still very underestimated today. Link building for 30% is responsible for positioning your search terms. With a concrete content plan in combination with a correct inner-link structure, you score a lot better not only in the Netherlands, but also on long-term search terms abroad.
Link building for the website in the other language works in exactly the same way. You want to get links from websites with the country's ccTLD and from websites that are primarily hosted in the country.
Hopefully you have a clear understanding of what you should pay attention to during the step abroad.