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How to use SEO to reach new export markets?

Internet is the ideal platform for exporters & importers

Money and expertise knows no geographic boundaries in today’s predominantly free markets as businesses can easily target the best marketplace / country for higher returns.  The Internet, with its global connectivity, is ideal for linking users and suppliers on a globally democratic transparent platform.

Internet driven meeting spaces like corporate websites, meeting forums, web exhibitions and certified directories are largely free to access, they are popular with global businesses. The Internet is today a key force driving increased globalisation of businesses. Small importers and exporters who cannot afford to establish overseas offices are using the Internet to find the most cost effective trading partners. Never-before has there been such a level playing field for
businesses irrespective of their size and legacy as search engines rate company websites on relevance and not on size.

One the web finding the right product, human resource or even ‘business-idea’ up for sale, for global buyers is easy in variety of user-friendly formats e.g. auction websites, sourcing portals, export-import directories, trade associations, country specific (government) trade promotion websites, generic search engines, vertical (product/service specific) search engines and banner / PPC advertisements. Thanks to internet global trade is booming as businesses effectively leverage the web to do more business with more customers with low start up costs, quick time to market and rapid revenue growth.

Smart SEO for export markets

While the Internet does provide excellent prospects for exporters to win more clients with fewer costs, it requires constant upgrade and localisation of your SEO efforts. These days export oriented businesses are becoming increasingly web savvy (so competition is intense) and search engines keep changing their listing criteria (to prevent content fraud and enhance search result focus).

Prior to embarking on an search engine optimisation program to target search engine optimisation markets we recommend that you first implement a test pay per click advertising program so you can test the potential of the export market, before committing a large number of resources. If you have certain export markets in mind, make sure you register your domain names in the local country code namespace. For example, if you are an Australian business that is considering targeting the NZ or UK market you should immediately secure the .co.nz or .co.uk version of your business name.
This will avoid affiliates, resellers or competitors registering your name in these markets and potentially thwart your international expansion plans.

Once you have tested the potential of the overseas market and confirmed its viability you will need to invest in the localistion of your website to achieve high natural rankings in the search results of the country you are targeting. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just copying your website and hosting the site on your new domain name ie: .co.uk. If the content of your new local website is the same as your main website Google will see the site as duplicate content and your new local site will not be indexed. This is why localisation of your website is essential when targeting all overseas countries.

If you are targeting countries which speak another language, you will need to invest in multi-lingual search engine optimisation and translate your web pages into language of the country you are targeting.

There is no doubt the opportunities created by the Internet are limitless and expand the market potential for any business. However, achieving online success through replicating a strategy which works for one market, may not necessarily translate into success in another overseas market. For example, you need to take into account local issues such as the Internet penetration rate amongst users, the broadband penetration rate, ecommerce usage and the levels of competition in the local online market environment.

Our advice is utilise the Internet test new boundaries. Maintain flexibility in your online marketing, test multiple strategies, closely measure outcomes and be creative in your use of channel partners and affiliates.