Why International SEO Matters In Hospitality

The importance of international SEO

As the internet grows, and the world becomes more connected, so too does the importance of being visible online.
And, while SEO is great for small brick-and-mortar businesses, the importance of international SEO shows more and more for companies looking to make themselves known to the rest of the world.
But what is international SEO? And how does it work?
Let’s take a look at some best practices, and how to implement international SEO to get your name out there.

Going Global With International SEO

What Is International SEO?

In short, international SEO is the process of optimising your online presence in a way that allows search engines to identify which countries you want to reach, and the language you want to reach them in.
Think SEO, but on a much (much) bigger scale.

International SEO Best Practices

Keyword Differentiation

The basis of most SEO is keyword research. 
Finding the right words that search engines can use to determine what you’re talking about, and who it can offer that information to.
With international SEO, it’s important to take into account that keywords may differ from location to location in how they’re phrased, or how commonly they’re searched for altogether.
Let’s look at an example.

In this image, we’ve run the term “digital marketing” through Semrush
In South Africa, we can see the volume and difficulty are incredibly high.

Here, we can see the same term (in this case, “marketing numérique”) in France. The results are vastly different.
Use this to shape your approach in what you say, and how you say it.

Domain Level

Domain levels refer to the URL of your website.
They can be broken up into:

  • Top-level domains (TLD) – these include sites ending in “.com” and “.org”
  • Country code top-level domains (ccTLD) – these end in the country’s code. E.g. “.de” for a German website, and “.uk” for a British website.
  • Generic top-level domains (gTLD) – these include sites ending in “.biz” and “.jobs”
  • Second-level domains (SLD) – these include websites that have a TLD coupled with a  ccTLD, such as “.co.uk” and “.org.za”
  • Third-level domains (subdomains) – these specify the language the page is in. An example is “en.example.org” (English). Subdomains take the place of “www.”

When it comes to search engine results, the domain-level layout will play an impact on how your site fares abroad.
If it seems complicated – don’t worry!
While “.com” is the most popular TLD, rising domains such as “.io” and “.xyz” are becoming more trusted, making them viable options if you can’t afford an expensive and highly sought-after “.com” domain.


As you go from country to country, you’ll find that interests change.
That’s why being able to properly implement international SEO depends on your ability to use tools like Google Analytics to see what’s trending around the world and during which times to make the most of your offering to people.

Hreflang Attributes

In international SEO, hreflang attributes are everything.
In short, an hreflang attribute is a short piece of code you add to your site’s HTML which tells the search engine to display that page in a certain language depending on where the searcher is.
These pages need to be manually translated before you can apply hreflang attributes to them.
(Pssst. We’ve got a comprehensive list of digital marketing terms if any of these terms are confusing!)

Search Engines

While Google is the world’s largest search engine (it’s literally a verb now), it’s not the only one.
And, depending on the target audience you’re aiming for, it may be worth looking at which search engine you’ll benefit most from focusing on.
For instance, while Google is popular, there are other big names, such as:

In this way, international SEO isn’t just about knowing what to say – it’s also about knowing where to say it.

Mobile-First Optimisation

This is one of the fundamental international SEO best practices. In many countries, phones are used significantly more than desktops.
That means that your website needs to be optimised for mobile before anything else if you want to have any hope of landing high up on the SERPs.

How To Implement International SEO

If you want to learn how to implement international SEO, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Decide Where (And Who) You’ll Target

When it comes to international SEO, the more precise you are the better.
Start with a country, and then narrow it down until you’ve got a specific demographic that resonates with your product or service.

  1. Decide Whether Or Not You’ll Hire An International SEO Agency

The beauty of SEO is that anybody can do it with some hard work and enough research.
But, of course, time is money, and SEO takes a lot of time, effort, and advanced knowledge to get right.
If you’re not able (or willing) to invest the resources needed to get your website on track, then hiring an agency that specialises in international SEO is the best way to get the results you’re looking for quickly.

  1. Conduct International Keyword Research

On top of making sure your keyword is relevant in different countries, it’s also important to make sure that you’re using the relevant terms and phrases.
Global businesses like health and IT companies commonly use English terminology across the board.
Additionally, look at occupation titles.
For instance, a trial lawyer in the US is known as a barrister in the UK. Little differences like these are what make a huge impact on your international reach.

  1. Find The Right Tools

All SEO is dependent on data. And that’s even more important when you shift to an overseas market. There are some tools that are designed to handle data from international markets. Here are a few:

  1. Do Competitor Research

Another best practice for just about anything marketing-related, competitor research is a great way to find relevant keywords, target audiences, and sites with domain authorities low enough for you to compete with internationally.


While international SEO is similar to local SEO in many ways, the factors that differentiate it are actually the most important in determining how well you’ll do in the international market.
Overall, though, the most important tool in your arsenal really is patience.
SEO is never an overnight process, and making sure you have everything you need to sustainably dedicate budget and time into your international SEO efforts is ultimately going to determine how well you do overseas.

What’s The Difference Between International SEO And Local SEO?

International SEO focuses on boosting rank globally, while local SEO focuses on your business’s regional location.

Is SEO Better Than Google Ads?

If your goal is to drive traffic to your site in the short term, you might choose to focus on PPC ads. If you want to enhance your business’s online presence in the long run, SEO is the answer

Can You Do SEO Without A Website?

Of course! One of the best ways you can do SEO without a website is through a Google My Business (GMB) listing.