Guest blog by Jeroen van den Engel from Translation agency Perfect
More and more often Dutch entrepreneurs focus on the foreign market. Yet we often see that the strategy to approach the foreign market has not been properly considered. What is involved? How do I score in Google? Is it just my website translated and I see how well my campaign is running? Or is it better for you as an entrepreneur to be advised first? In this article we give you a number of specific tips and components that you should pay attention to and which factors all play a role in determining the return on your campaign.
Which characteristics play a role in moving 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 all important, we have highlighted each feature in the correct order:
1. The legal factors and cultural characteristics of the country
Before you switch to a specific country, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the legislation and rules regarding the online offering of your products. Every country has its own rules, for example in Germany you must make use of an imprint, in which all data from your company is shown (Colophon), including company representatives and information about your company. The moment 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 indicate 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 wanted to expand your website, super! Regardless of which url structure you choose, you always have the option of referring this variant to the original structure with a permanent 301 redirect.
In principle you have 3 options:
- A domain name with ccTLD (country)
- A subdomain within your existing domain name
- A folder structure within your existing domain name
Which option is best? That is totally dependent on various factors and which country you will approach.
A domain name with ccTLD (country).
A TLD stands for top level domain. CC stands for country code, so a ccTLD is for example Bloeise.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 a different TLD within the Dutch search engine, but you are already 0-1 behind your competition with a Dutch TLD.
Then why doesn't everyone opt for a ccTLD by default? A new ccTLD has two major disadvantages. First, for a new domain name, you have to rebuild value completely in Google. If you want to be found better, an internal link structure cannot be missing. During the start you are at 0 and you have to build up links to your website for years to come.
The second drawback is one regional website. A regional website is for example a Dutch website that you also want to improve the findability for 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: the.yourdomainname.nl. A simple solution whereby you 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 accrued value with a subdomain.
A folder 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, or: www.yourdomainname.nl/de/. If you use WordPress, there are various plugins that work through this structure. You build on your existing domain name, so that you fully benefit from your accumulated domain value.
Recently, Google has continued to develop in the field of multiple languages. Also at regional level you can easily indicate whether a website is for the Netherlands or for Belgium, without the use of duplicate content. A commonly used method is to use alternates, languages and canonicals.
3. Regional or multilingual
As mentioned earlier, there are two specific types of translating your website. You can fully convert your website to a website in a different language, so 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 must look out for duplicate content.
Some entrepreneurs expect that with a Dutch domain name and Belgian links they can also score well and do not have to create a translated folder structure for this, but with a well-set website you can maximize the profit 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? Then please 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 for web hosting gives a decisive role in the speed of your website. Technical components such as caching, mod-PHP from Apache and various variants are implemented at the professional parties, so that your website is shown a lot faster. Your website is visited by people from Belgium, this means that the website can be accessed much faster from a web server in Belgium than a web server via the Netherlands. Since speed is a small factor in the positioning of your search terms, it is therefore advisable to host your Belgian website in Belgium (if you opt for 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 the other url structures. You can also contact our specialists if you have questions about caching content.
5. The quality of the texts
Many entrepreneurs underestimate the quality of the texts. We want to approach the German market but we do not want to spend a budget on translating the texts on the website. This is 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 yourself are also picky in the Netherlands if you read a text with various spelling errors. In Germany people fall much more wrong 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 underrated today. For 30%, Linkbuilding is responsible for positioning your search terms. With a concrete content plan in combination with a correct inner-link structure, you not only score a lot better 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 mainly hosted in the country.
Hopefully you have a clear understanding of what you should pay attention to during the step abroad.