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One of the biggest challenges facing global SEO efforts is the increasing emphasis, from both traditional desktop and mobile technologies, on local.  From Google Places and Bing Local to the growth of social media, local businesses are entering a very exciting time.  Global businesses, though, who have traditionally been the beneficiaries of the Internet’s long reach, are having a more difficult time. Not only is optimising a site for a global audience challenging, you might find that you’re not translating at all.

No, we’re not talking about the actual language translation, though that is obviously a concern.  What we are talking about is how a site actually shows up in a foreign location.  How are you seen in Japan?  China?  The US?  France?  Cloud computing has made it possible to make queries from virtual servers in order to see how you rank.  Software providers Covario recently tested 1500 keywords to see how results would vary among locations in Texas, Beijing, London, and Singapore.

Results for queries in the UK shows the most significant movement.  Less than half of the rankings for keywords stayed the same.  Other findings:

  • 26 percent of the tested keywords disappeared from the Top 50.
  • Results in Bing, which has the “most sensitive localized algorithm,” showed that 66 percent of the rankings moved.

What does that mean in practical terms?  That if you rank highly for 10 keywords in Singapore, that doesn’t mean you’re going to rank for all 10, or any of the 10, in London or the US.

Global SEO is difficult and the intense focus on localization doesn’t help matters.  How are you translating in other countries?  If you are multinational, it is worth your time to find out.

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