As the world opens up via the Internet, so does the scope for all kinds of businesses to make the leap from being a local or national business to that of an international business. And there are great examples of that everywhere, for businesses large and small.
It takes work, but a growing number of companies are finding that adding an international element to their offerings is an excellent way to expand their reach and boost their bottom line. One of the keys to success in this arena, however, is understanding how your website needs to differ for users in each country and how the international SEO you make use of needs to differ as well.
People seem to understand this if there is an obvious language difference. If, for example, a US site is also translated into Spanish to better reach the South American market as well, or a UK site is translated in French, German, Spanish, etc. to appeal to other countries in the EU. Where we find people fall down is when you are dealing with two countries that technically speak the same language, as is the case for the subject matter we are going to cover here; the difference between SEO in the USA and the UK.
Why Do Business on Both Sides of the Atlantic?
The Brits and the Americans do have a lot in common, across every aspect of our lives, more so perhaps than ever before. Everyone watches Game of Thrones, and diehard UK fans have actually been staying up until 2 am to watch it live when it broadcasts at 9 pm EST in the States. The Americans have come to love football – even though they still insist on calling it soccer – and there are now some 40 million US residents tuning in on a Saturday to watch the Premier League just like their UK peers. And (almost) everyone loves that wee ginger angel Ed Sheeran, don’t they?
It’s not just across pop culture though. If a company creates a brilliant software, offers a great product, can provide an amazing online service (think life coaches, speakers, advisors of all kinds) they can probably do great business on both sides of the Atlantic. We do at Pearl Lemon, and we do it well. And most of it is down to a deep understanding of international SEO.
What are the differences between SEO in USA and UK? Let’s take a look at some of the most important.
One of the main differences between SEO USA and SEO UK is the language that is used in each country and therefore, the language that is searched. Since optimizing a website is all about using the right words, you will need to consider the following aspects of language:
Spelling: Even if your users are searching the right words, they also need to have the correct spelling. This means that including “trending colors” will achieve a different ranking than “trending colours” for each site. The list of these words is actually rather large, but some of the most important include all of the following:
Terminology: UK English and US English are somewhat the same, but there are some vocabulary differences that come up often. As we mentioned, football. Search ‘football teams’ in Google. In the UK you’ll get tons of content returned about Man Utd, Man City, etc.
Search it in the US, and you’ll get none of that. You’ll get the New England Patriots, the New York Giants and lots of stuff about Tom Brady.
And there are lots of examples like that. In the UK the rear of a car is a boot. So we call car boot sales car boot sales and get this SERP result.
Do that in the US, and you get this:
Which is very different. Change it to ‘trunk’ and things will get better. Here are some more examples:
To succeed with SEO in both the UK and the US, you will need to understand how the differences affect your business, even if it is only something as small as asking for a postcode on a contact form designed for UK visitors versus a zip code for those in the US.
The same goes for content marketing. You will often need to create pieces that differ to take into account these cultural differences.
Not Using a .co.uk Domain
Years ago it was a badge of honour to display your website as a .co.uk site. But if you want to do business on both sides of the Atlantic, you need a .com. No US person is going to think that a .co.uk site is going to be able to serve them. And Google won’t like it either.
In fact, the best way to go is to offer two different versions of your site within the same basic main URL, and that URL should be a .com. Lots of companies are doing it, and it’s a lot easier to implement from a technical standpoint than you might imagine, no matter what CMS you use. This will not only prevent confusion from visitors but also demonstrate to the search engines a real commitment to catering effectively to both audiences, which is what they are looking for.
Backlinks are still a major factor in SEO, but in international SEO, you need to ensure they are coming from the right places in terms of geography, places that will make sense to Google. For example; if you sell sneakers/trainers and want to sell to both US and UK customers you’ll need links to the US side of your site from US web properties and from UK sites to the UK side.
Getting Help With UK/US SEO
International SEO is harder in many ways than standard SEO. And, as you can now see, even for countries that technically both speak English like the UK and the US. As we mentioned, however, Pearl Lemon has had excellent SEO results in working for companies in both the UK and the US.
This is because we have a team that is diverse and while we do have an advantage that physically some members are in the UK and some are in the US, each of them has taken the time to learn about the other country, and what they might not know they ensure that they run past those that do. That’s why working with them to develop your international UK/US strategies to boost your business’ bottom line is one of the best moves you can make.