Key Points in Launching a Global Website

March 22, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

WAKE UP!  It’s the last session of Day 1, don’t start getting sleepy on me now! To close off this day and welcome us into the beers are Crispin Sheridan moderating the likes of Motoko Hunt and Bill Hunt. I was totally going to make a “haha wonder if they’re related” joke but, well, it turns out they’re married. I never knew that. See, you learn things when you stay through the end of the day.

Bill’s up first.

He asks if we’re global ready. How do you know?

  • Is there a need or awareness for your product or service?
  • Are your products adapted for local markets? Just because someone can reach you on the Web, doesn’t mean they need your product.
  • Do you have the ability to take money from the local markets?
  • Are there restrictions to importing or excess tariffs?
  • How will you handle customer service?
  • How will you handle shipping and delivery?
  • How will consumers learn about your products?

You do NOT localize your content by putting it into Google Translator and using whatever it spits out at you. That is bad.

Market Trends & Opportunities

Why go global? 60 or more percent of big brand’s revenue is coming from outside of the US.  Only 14 percent of the usage is in North America.  Everyone gravitates toward the brick countries, but you have to expand beyond that and look for new opportunities. For example, analyzing the data will show you that Turkey is more ready for purchases online than someone in Russia or India.

Where is the opportunity? Google has a Google Export Tool. You put a word in and Google will bring in the keywords, put them in Google Translate, puts them back in Google Keyword Tool and spits back you numbers.  Not too many know about that tool.

Missed Opportunity Matrix

Simple worksheet to demonstrate the delta between the number of searches for a phrase and the traffic you are currently getting.

[Bill takes a break and Motoko steps up.]

It’s not always a Google world when you start going outside the US market. You need to understand where people are going to search. Google is not always the majority share holder. You need to do your homework.

Market Trends

  • Internet penetration rate and user profile
  • You may have different products/services that are popular in each market
  • Online transaction vs offline transaction

Once your site is optimized well for target markets, the traffic could increase tremendously.

Search Behavior

It’s very important to know HOW people are accessing your site.

  • How do people find the Web site?
  • Home vs work vs Internet cafe?
  • Mobile vs PC

You need to align your business strategy with how people will be accessing you. Do you have to optimize for mobile?

Seasonal Behavior

Which products to push, when to push

  • Seasons
  • Fiscal Year
  • Holidays/Shopping season

If you’re targeting Australia or New Zealand, they’re in a totally different season than we are in the United States so you’ll have to target them differently and at different times of the year. How do people behave in that market through the year? You need to know this in order to align your opportunity accordingly.

Purchasing Options

  • Currencies
  • Credit Cards
  • Third party online transaction
  • Offline transactions

Regulations on your Products?

  • Leverage and US Export Trade Desks. Market regulations and tariff reviews. Export documentations.
  • Check with local market government agencies
  • Talk to FedEx, UPS and DHL for rates and issues and customs
  • Document any issues and potential tariffs on site

Legal/Contracts/Content – has someone already registered your brand name in that country?  If you’re a Web site in China, hosted on China, it’s law that you need to have an ICP number. That was one of the problems that Google faced. If your site is hosted in China but you don’t have that ICP address you were banned from having a Web presence in China. You have to learn the law of the land and the regulations that you need to comply with. Don’t just go in as the loud American.

Role of Website: Each market should have different set of keywords and content, which would lead site users to the right conversion point for the market online or off.

Reporting & Other Tools

  • Local based differences
  • Different agencies – is there a way to standardize efforts?
  • Different reporting tools/language compatibilities – the tools you’re working with in the US may not work in other regions where there are different characters or if people write from right to left. You’ll need to look for different tools so you can properly compare the data.

Campaign Maintenance: Not all teams/locations are made equal in terms of man power, knowledge.   You also have to stay the course. If you’re running offices in different countries make sure you establish a roadmap, guidelines, standards and best practices so that everyone stays on the same page. Really enforce that everyone follows the documents so you can standardize those efforts.

Customer Services – Should you provide 24/7 customer service to people around the world?  Can you support that? It’s something you need to think about before you develop your global Web site.

How’s your translation? When you decide to go after a different market you have to consider if you want to translate your Web site.  People might come to your site and find some offensive terms and leave without converting. For example, “finger lickin good in the US” translates to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese.  Gerber means “vomiting” in French.

Also localize:

  • currencies
  • metrics
  • address and phone
  • shipping and handling
  • local legal requirements

Beware of regional accent and spelling variations.  Soccer vs football; holiday vs vacation; mom vs mum, etc.

Keyword Research Tools:  Use keyword tools to create initial list of related search terms and search volume. Select language and location.

Keyword Organization: Organize your keywords by language, location, target audience, purchase cycle, etc.

Linking Global Sites: The best way to link sites targeting different countries is to get the appropriate TLD and host it in the local countries.   Reach out to the family and partner sites too.

Power of local links: Using one language site for multiple market. It’s all sitting on the .com domain so you can’t use geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools. If you want your English sites to do well in the UK, you need to get links from the UK, preferably sitting on a UK server. Then your English site will do well there.  Have a separate folder for each market eg or

[Bill comes back to finish us off]

Technical Challenges

Handling redirections: He recently spoke to someone who wanted to know: We have the top level domains – why doesn’t that make it a UK site?  Turns out that person was redirecting it to the .com so the content wasn’t being stored there. People are buying the domain and hoping that makes it UK content. But it’s not if you’re directing it.

Barriers to getting global sites indexed:

  • Popups can’t be indexed – the engine can’t get the popup and can’t get the link to the global sites
  • Pulled down country maps can’t be crawled
  • Restrictive JavaScript for language detection.
  • Restrictive robots.txt and meta robots

Detection & Serving Challenges

  • Spiders typically crawl from a few locations and don’t have a language preference.  Give them whatever they want. Don’t ask Google what country they’re from. If they want your German page, let them have it. You probably told them to come there from an XML sitemap.
  • Can a spider from the US “find” your other language content? Use FireFox User Agent Switcher and see. What happens when you come as Google and you come from wherever?
  • Does the spider need or accept cookies? Use FireFox Webmaster Tool
  • Do you have unique country/language URLs for each page?

Domains and Hosting – Simple Answers

  • Use ccTLDs where possible and practical
  • Hot in the local country where possible and practical
  • Be careful with proxy serving sites to fool the engines
  • Ensure ALL variations of your site URLs are set in Google Webmaster Tool

Google’s Local Determination Hierarchy

Your site is local to a country WHEN:

  • You use a ccTLD. A ccTLD can be hosted in ANY country. ccTLD is ALWAYS treated as local content.
  • You host a .com in a country
  • Your sub directory is mapped in GWT.

Scaling Content for Global Reach

Leverage templates for scale.

Maximize reach across the organization and globe. Focus on top level templates. Optimize the template when developed. Ensure the optimal page elements are pulled into the template correctly.

Leverage style guides and business rules. Force overseas offices to comply with optimized formats. Gives you a way to monitor implementation of the program.

Team & Organizational Issues

  • Have uniform KPIs
  • Education
  • Force Multipliers
  • Infrastructure Enhancement

Deploy Performance Metrics

Leverage scorecards for governance. Shows who sucks and whose not doing anything.  Create some metric


  • Demonstrate the business opportunity of search.
  • Ensure translators and localizers understand search fundamentals
  • Research and deploy a keyword strategy
  • integrate search attributes into the development and localization work flow process
  • research target markets for regulations, trends, stats, etc
  • Take advice from local experts

And we are OUT of here. Okay, that was a lot of information. Time to go refresh.  Meet us back here tomorrow, eh!

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