International targeting – Mistakes can be costly


I’ve been building websites targeting international audiences since I started online in 2002. During all this time, the methods to effectively optimise for international targeting have changed considerably. With the launch of the HREFLANG tag in 2011, it made it much easier to be able to expand into other countries, even in the same language, without causing a problem for the existing local rankings. However, HREFLANG caused much confusion, and still does today. Having just completed a website audit for a new client that’s targeting the UK and US, which is nothing overly complicated, it’s fascinating to see the devasting effects of an incorrect implementation of the HREFLANG tags.

The way we approach international targeting today, despite HREFLANG, has changed and we don’t necessarily implement it like many websites do, where they replicate the entire site multiple times to cover all markets. To add to that, some websites also introduce IP redirection to automatically redirect uses to their supposed language and country variant. But this is also bad practice. International targeting is not difficult, but the incorrect set up can severely impact the performance of a website in search. Get it right and it can work wonders!

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