7 Factors to Consider When Doing International Link Building

by tomm on July 2, 2012 · 3 comments

International SEO can be a complicated task with many additional factors needing to be taken into account when compared to a domestic SEO campaign. More extensive keyword research, complex site structure issues and finding relevant link targets abroad all contribute to a campaign which is peppered with pitfalls. Not executing carefully can damage your domestic efforts.

From an international link building perspective, there are a number of factors which you should be taking into account in order to classify whether the link is likely to bring benefits with your overseas campaign. If you stick to the points highlighted below, you’ll be well on the way to international success:

Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD)

One of the key indicators to Google that your site is relevant in an international market, a site with the relevant CCTLD makes for a fantastic link when targeting a particular market overseas. For example, if you are a pet supplies company in the UK, but want to rank for relevant phrases in Google.fr in France, a link on www.fishtanks.fr would be a great shot in the arm!

A Page Located Within A Country’s Folder

Some sites setup their international targeting differently, so they may have sub-folders for each country rather than a specific CCTLD. In this case, getting a link on a page in the relevant sub folder of the target market would be a real coup. Sticking with the animalised example above, a link on www.fishtanks.com/fr would be great if you’re looking to rank in France.

Location of the Site (Based on IP)

A site’s geolocation is another indicator to search engines of where that site is relevant in the world for a user. If our fish site doesn’t use a relevant CCTLD or sub folder (i.e. is just www.fishtanks.com), the fact that it is still hosted in France will tell Google it is relevant in that market and a link on that site will help us rank in Google.fr.


A fairly obvious one, but links on sites in the target language will undoubtedly help. Google.fr will be looking for sites in French as well as English, so links on sites which are written in French will help you in that search engine. Likewise, using anchor text in the target language will help your efforts in ranking for that phrase, you can’t rely on Google interpreting your English anchor text and translating it into French. So if you wanted to rank for ‘fish tank pump’ in Google.fr, you should be looking to get some links with the anchor text ‘pompe réservoir carburant’. If the URL’s in the target language even better.

Target Site’s Link Profile

If a site has none of the on page factors which indicate it is relevant in a particular foreign market, it doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. There may be factors ‘under the hood’ which indicate some relevance to a specific market i.e. in the site’s link profile. If a site has a large proportion of its links from other sites relevant in that market, this relevance will be carried over and can have an equally beneficial effect for your site simply through the fact that they are all interconnected.

Address on Site

Having the physical address on a website is another indicator that it is relevant in that market. As long as the text is crawlable by Google et al, it will go some way to establishing that the link will contribute to your ranking in that market’s search engine. Even better if the site has a local business listing in Google Places, further establishing the relevance of that website in your target market.

Address of Site Owner in WhoIs

This may seem a slightly loose connection, but Google has access to registrar information and can see where website owners are based. If that is in your target market, then there is definitely the possibility that you will gain some benefit in that market if the site links to you. It may seem tenuous, but where’s the harm in it?!?

All these factors contribute to finding a fantastic, natural spread of international links and will help your international SEO campaign hit the turbo button. If you combine these link building elements with great site structure and on site optimisation then you’ll be heading towards worldwide success!

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