International SEO keyword research: Pro tips & strategies

international keywords research
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International SEO keyword research is a crucial aspect of your SEO international strategy, and it becomes even more critical when targeting foreign markets. Therefore, identifying target keywords relevant to specific countries, languages, and cultures is essential to attract organic traffic and maximize global business growth.

SEO keyword research is a critical component of any digital marketing strategy, and using data as a resource can make the process more effective and efficient. Businesses can attract organic traffic and increase their global reach by identifying and optimizing for relevant keywords in foreign markets.

What Is International Keyword Research?

International keyword research goes beyond just identifying keywords relevant to your target audience. International keyword research involves exploring keywords specific to different countries, languages, and search engines. It requires understanding user intent and search terms in specific countries to optimize websites for global markets. By conducting international keyword research, businesses can tailor their SEO strategy to target different countries, expand their reach, and attract organic traffic from foreign markets.

The importance of international SEO keyword research

International SEO keyword research is crucial in targeting the right audience, optimizing websites for foreign markets, and driving organic traffic. Conducting thorough keyword research allows businesses to identify relevant keywords specific to different countries, languages, and search engines. This research enables them to understand user intent, cultural differences, and search behavior in diverse regions. By implementing international SEO keyword research, businesses can create a global SEO strategy that maximizes their potential customers, improves search engine optimization, and taps into new markets.

Expanding global business

Expanding into new markets is essential for global business growth; international keyword research is critical. Businesses can identify potential customers and increase organic website traffic by targeting different countries. International keyword research enables businesses to uncover relevant keywords that resonate with users in specific countries, ensuring better results in global markets. By tailoring keywords to the local context, businesses can better connect with their target audience, improve search engine optimization, and increase market share. Additionally, by leveraging local search engines through international keyword research, businesses can further enhance their global business growth.

Reach more than local SEO

While local SEO focuses on optimizing websites for specific regions or cities within a country, international SEO takes a broader approach, targeting different countries with varying cultural contexts and local search engines. International keyword research differs from local keyword research regarding language, user intent, and search behavior. It requires a deep understanding of user intent across diverse regions, cultural differences, and search engine preferences of different countries. International sites necessitate a global SEO strategy that transcends borders and languages, requiring a different keyword research approach. With international keyword research, businesses can adapt their SEO strategy to cater to different countries, target local search engines, and effectively reach their global audience.

A beginner's guide to conducting international SEO keyword research

It can initially seem overwhelming if you’re new to international SEO keyword research. However, you can make the process easier and more effective with the right strategy and tools. This section will guide you through the essential steps of conducting international SEO keyword research, from identifying target markets and languages to understanding user intent, translating keywords, and localizing them for specific countries. This beginner’s guide will provide actionable insights to kickstart your international SEO keyword research and accelerate your global SEO strategy.

Identifying target markets and languages

Identifying target markets is a crucial step in international keyword research. Start by researching countries or regions where your products, services, or content are in high demand. Analyze search volume and competition for keywords relevant to your industry in these target markets. Additionally, consider these countries’ official languages and internet users’ preferences. Understanding the target language and search volume in different markets allows you to align your international SEO strategy accordingly. Remember, international keyword research involves optimizing for specific countries, languages, and cultural contexts, so it’s essential to tailor your keyword strategy to each target market.

Look at your competitors

When conducting international SEO, it’s crucial to research the search engine market share in each target region to understand which search engines dominate specific areas. You can use tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz that can provide valuable insights into competitors in particular countries and the effective strategies in those regions. Market research helps identify potential customers in different regions, enabling the creation of targeted content tailored to the needs and preferences of diverse audiences. Understanding each region’s target and official language is the starting point for optimizing content for international SEO. Ensuring that all international versions are on a single domain is essential, making it easier for search engines to index and rank them.

Understanding user intent across different regions

When it comes to conducting international SEO keyword research, understanding user intent is crucial. As a marketer, you need to know the underlying goal or purpose of a user’s search query to tailor your keyword strategy and create relevant content. However, user intent may vary across regions due to cultural differences, language nuances, and search behavior.

For instance, let’s consider the example of a company that sells winter jackets. In the United States, users may search for “parkas” or “heavy coats” when looking for warm jackets, while in Canada, the term “parkas” is more commonly used. Similarly, in Japan, users may search for “ダウンジャケット” (down jackets) instead of “winter jackets.”

To uncover user intent in specific countries or regions of interest, it’s essential to conduct thorough research. You can start by analyzing search trends and popular search queries in the target region using tools like Google Trends or SEMrush. Additionally, you can conduct surveys or interviews with locals to understand their search behavior and preferences.

Identify the keywords relevant to your business

When identifying international keywords, It is important to note that the keywords chosen should be relevant not only to your business, but also to the countries and languages you are targeting. By carefully selecting your keywords, you can optimize your website for international SEO and increase your visibility to potential customers worldwide. You can choose the right keywords by keeping these factors in mind.

  • Search Volume: This is how often people search for a specific keyword. A high search volume means lots of people are looking for that term, so using it could bring more visitors to your site. For example, a travel agency might find that “best European vacation destinations” is a popular search term, showing strong interest in this area. But don’t overlook less popular, more specific keywords (known as ‘long-tail keywords’), like “guided wine tours in Tuscany.” They might have fewer searches but can attract a very targeted audience.
  • Keyword Difficulty: This shows how hard it is to rank for a keyword. Less competitive keywords (have lower difficulty) are easier to rank for, which is great for newer or smaller websites. But even difficult keywords, like “luxury hotels in Paris,” are worth targeting if they’re very relevant to your business, even though they might be more challenging to rank for.
  • Search Intent: This is about understanding why people use a particular keyword. To increase sales, focus on keywords where people are likely looking to buy something, like “buy organic coffee beans online.” But if you aim to provide information, go for keywords that suggest people seek knowledge, like “benefits of organic coffee.”
  • Seasonal Trends: Some keywords may have higher search volumes during certain times of the year. For a business selling swimwear, keywords like “summer beachwear” might peak during the spring and summer months.
  • Synonyms and Variations: Including synonyms and variations of your primary keywords can help capture a broader audience. For instance, if your main keyword is “vegan recipes,” variations might include “plant-based cooking” or “dairy-free meal ideas.”
  • Integration with Marketing Campaigns: Align your keywords with ongoing marketing campaigns or promotions. For a business launching an eco-friendly product line, incorporating keywords related to sustainability and eco-consciousness in their SEO strategy would be beneficial.

Cultural considerations while researching keywords

Cultural differences play a significant role in international keyword research. When conducting keyword research for different countries, it’s essential to consider cultural context, language nuances, and user intent specific to each region. Understand cultural preferences, references, and local search behavior to optimize your content for global audiences. Incorporating cultural considerations into your international keyword research allows you to resonate with target markets, enhance user experience, and improve search engine optimization across different countries or regions.

Utilizing keyword research tools effectively

Keyword research tools are invaluable resources for international keyword research. They provide insights into search volume, keyword difficulty, and keyword data for countries, languages, and regions. Utilize keyword research tools to create a seed list of keywords relevant to your international markets. Analyze search volume and keyword difficulty to identify keywords with high potential and low competition. Keyword research tools can also provide keyword recommendations, related terms, and variations to expand your keyword strategy. By leveraging these tools, you can enhance your international keyword research, refine your global SEO strategy, and improve search engine optimization for different markets.

What are the best tools for international SEO keyword research?

Some of the best tools for international SEO keyword research include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools provide valuable insights into keyword search volume, competition, and international trends to help optimize your international SEO strategy.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a powerful tool that provides essential data and insights to optimize your website for search engine results. In international SEO, Google Search Console is crucial in analyzing search traffic from different countries and gaining insights into keyword performance in local search engines. You can understand user intent, keywords, and trends specific to target countries by utilizing Google Search Console. This information allows you to refine your international keyword research, adapt your keywords for local search results, and drive organic traffic from specific countries or regions.


SEMrush is a comprehensive keyword research tool offering valuable data and international SEO analysis. It allows you to analyze keyword trends, search volume, and difficulty in specific countries, regions, or languages. Using SEMrush, you can identify potential customers in different countries, research keyword ideas, and develop an effective keyword strategy for global markets. Leveraging SEMrush for international keyword research can provide actionable insights, refine your international SEO strategy, and improve search engine optimization across different markets, languages, and search engines.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google that offers invaluable insights into keyword ideas, search terms, search volume, and competition. It is beneficial for international SEO keyword research as it allows you to research target keywords for specific countries. You can uncover relevant keywords to different countries, languages, and search engines by utilizing Google Keyword Planner. Analyze keyword data, search volume, and keyword ideas from Google Keyword Planner to refine your international keyword research, target specific countries, and improve your global SEO strategy.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is a powerful keyword research tool that provides comprehensive data, analysis, and competitive insights. It allows you to generate a keyword seed list, analyze search volume, and perform competitive analysis for different countries or regions. By leveraging Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, you can identify relevant keywords, understand keyword trends, and analyze keyword difficulty in specific countries. This data is vital for refining your international keyword research, shaping your global SEO strategy, and staying ahead of the competition in diverse markets.

Top do's and don'ts of international SEO keyword research

To conduct effective international SEO keyword research, following best practices and utilizing proven strategies is essential. This part will provide practical tips, best practices, and actionable insights to enhance your keyword research for localizing markets. These tips will help you optimize your global SEO strategy, target specific countries, and attract organic traffic from foreign markets. By implementing these best practices, you can ensure accurate keyword targeting, improved search engine optimization, and better results in localization strategies.

Do's of international keyword research

  • Understand Local Culture and Language Nuances: Tailor your keyword research to reflect local cultural contexts and linguistic nuances. This includes understanding local colloquialisms, slang, and regional dialects.
  • Use Local Search Engines: Different countries may prefer different search engines. While Google is dominant in many places, countries like China prefer Baidu, and Russia has a preference for Yandex.
  • Employ Native Speakers: Native speakers can provide invaluable insights into the local language and search habits. They can help identify keywords most relevant and appealing to the local audience.
  • Analyze Local Competitors: Study what local competitors are doing and which keywords they are targeting. This can provide insights into what works in a particular market.
  • Consider Local Search Trends: Use tools to analyze search trends in specific regions. This helps understand what the local audience is interested in and searching for.
  • Adapt to Mobile Search Trends: In many international markets, especially in developing countries, users primarily access the internet via mobile. Ensure your keywords are optimized for mobile search.
  • Use Geotargeting Techniques: Customize your keyword strategy to target specific regions or cities. This can be particularly effective in large countries with diverse regional differences.

Don'ts of international keyword research

  • Don’t Directly Translate Keywords: Literal translations often miss the mark in capturing search intent and can lead to awkward or irrelevant keywords. Cultural context, local language idioms, and search habits should guide keyword creation, not direct translation.
  • Avoid Ignoring Local Regulations and Cultural Sensitivities: Each market has its own legal and cultural landscape. For instance, certain topics might be sensitive or even censored in some countries. Understanding and respecting these aspects is crucial to avoid alienating your audience or facing legal issues.
  • Don’t Overlook Local Competition: Local businesses might have a better grasp of the market and can provide insights into effective strategies and common pitfalls. Underestimating them can lead to missed opportunities and ineffective keyword targeting.
  • Avoid Generic Global Strategies: Applying the same strategy across different markets can lead to irrelevant or ineffective marketing efforts. Each market demands a tailored approach based on its unique characteristics and audience behaviors.
  • Don’t Neglect Local Search Engine Preferences: Each search engine has its own set of rules and algorithms. Strategies that work for Google may not be effective for Baidu or Yandex, necessitating a tailored approach for each search engine.
  • Don’t Ignore Mobile and Voice Search Trends: As voice search becomes more prevalent and mobile internet usage continues to rise, optimizing for these trends is becoming increasingly important. This includes understanding how keywords might differ in voice search and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly.

By expanding on these points, we can see the complexity and the level of detail needed for effective international keyword research. It combines cultural understanding, market analysis, technical SEO, and continuous adaptation to the ever-changing global digital landscape.

Are you ready to go global? Start localized keywords and translate with Linguise!

Now that you have gained insights into international SEO keyword research, it’s time to take action and expand your reach on a global scale. By implementing international keyword research, you can tap into new markets, target specific countries, and attract organic traffic from foreign markets.

After conducting research, it is essential to translate your content into all the different languages you want to create it. You can use automatic translation tools when you already have content. This involves adapting keywords to the local context, considering cultural differences, and accounting for search behavior specific to each country.

Benefits of combining researched keywords with Linguise’s translation:

  • Live Editing of Translations: Once Linguise is integrated, your website content is automatically translated. If some translations don’t seem right, Linguise’s live editor feature allows for on-the-spot adjustments, ensuring that your content resonates accurately with the local audience.
  • Supports Translation Exclusion: One of Linguise’s unique features is its ability to exclude specific content from translation. This is particularly useful for content with specialized technical terms. Sometimes, specific keywords or phrases don’t require translation due to their universal understanding or technical things. With Linguise’s translation exclusion feature, you can selectively exclude parts of your website from being translated. This exclusion can be based on URLs, specific text, or even certain lines, ensuring precision and maintaining the integrity of your technical content.
  • Effortless Multilingual SEO: Linguise takes the complexity out of multilingual SEO. Adhering to search engine recommendations, it automatically generates alternate URLs and correctly implements language and default language tags. This means you don’t have to worry about the intricacies of multilingual SEO; it’s already handled. By ensuring your website is fully optimized for search engines in each language, Linguise enhances your online visibility and reach across diverse markets.

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