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Global Domination with International SEO – Wasif Kasim // Online Marketing Gurus

Episode Overview: Reaching clients worldwide can prove a monumental task when you need to optimize content for specific regions. Marketing to an international audience requires understanding different languages, cultures and regional marketing terminology. Join host Ben as he speaks with Online Marketing Gurus’ Managing Director Wasif Kasim about how to best market your content internationally to maximize your brand’s reach.

Summary

  • Whatever content you create must address topics and issues readers deeply care about, or deeply struggle with, in order to maximize its international reach. 
  • Although hiring in-house SEOs has its many benefits, hiring an agency in the country you’re attempting to market in can provide more success as they know their country or region best.
  • Before marketing in another country it’s best to understand what website structure you need to have in place to be successful. SEO agencies can help you select whether a country level domain, subdomain or subfolder would best help your international marketing strategy.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                   Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. And today we’re going to talk about mastering B2B international SEO. Joining us is Wasif Kasim, who is the managing director of Online Marketing Gurus, an agency that specializes in SEO, ad words, and social media advertising. OMG’s model is built to put customers’ success as their number one priority while having fun, being transparent, honest, and building real relationships that deliver business results. Yesterday, Was and I talked about his B2B SEO essentials, and today we’re going to talk a little bit about taking the B2B marketing approach and making sure that you’re reaching an international audience. Okay, on with the show. Here’s the second part of my conversation with Wasif Kasim, managing director of Online Marketing Gurus. Was, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Wasif:                Hey guys, good to be back.

Ben:                    Good to have you back on the show. Yesterday we talked a little bit about the B2B marketing strategy and specifically how you can take your SEO content and use it in a couple different places, as a retention channel through email marketing. And also you’re going to do some paid promotion to make sure that you’re getting your content syndicated everywhere you can. Today I want to talk about one of the things that your company specializes in, which is international reach. You’re based in Australia. You have clients all around the world. Talk to me about how you think about marketing content internationally.

Wasif:                 So look, there’s one thing that I believe in, and especially this is something that I probably spend the first two to three years doing in every organization that I’ve worked with, that’s wanting to become globally known. Look HubSpot was an organization that did this really well. And as some of your listeners know, they’ve actually absolutely nailed everything and content. So one of the things that they did with and something that had modeled some of my approach around is, whenever you create content, create content that readers deeply care about and deeply struggle with. But that content needs to be globally relevant. So regardless of whether it’s a person sitting in America, Norway, Korea, doesn’t matter. You need to write that content in a manner that it addresses every single one of those people around the world. And that’s where you start. When you start and try to make content, especially when you’re starting that journey, locally relevant for every single part of the world that you want to be in, hope to be in, whatever it is. You end up spending too much time, money and resources, and you don’t get anywhere too fast.

Wasif:                 So number one, the first thing that we do, as I mentioned in the previous episode, I start with say 10 to 15 blogs per month. I look at highly relevant sort of pain points that customers have or things that they’re trying to solve and write an in-depth article about each one of those points. So for instance, when I started this organization a few years ago, I was a marketing manager myself or head of marketing. And my previous role, one of the biggest things that I struggled with is, should I in-house my SEO or outsource it and why?

Ben:                     So walk me through the thought process and trade offs between in-house SEO and outsourcing it for international SEO?

Wasif:                 A hundred percent. So in terms of the thought process there, in-housing is something that, whenever I’ve been in past roles with the CEO or whoever it is, it’s like cool, we need in-house SEO. However, as most people in the industry know, it’s very difficult to find a good SEO. Even when you’re an agency, you’ll notice and I’ve worked for a lot of agencies in the past. You hire an SEO, for some reason they don’t work out and they’re out the door. And there’s a big kind of influx and outflux of SEOs, various reasons it didn’t work out. So in general, trying to find a good SEO is hard.

Wasif:                But at the same time you want to in-house it because there are a lot of benefits of having someone in-house. Because they’re in the team, they understand the business, the learning curve is phenomenal there and they just absorb a lot more information. So the advantage of in-housing is just another part of the team. Communication’s a lot easier. They work very tightly with every other marketer that you have on the team, whether it’s whoever does the paid, whoever does the content, just communicates a lot better and results often get accelerated.

Ben:                    So talk to me about some of the disadvantages.

Wasif:                Yeah. The disadvantage of having an SEO in-house is it’s hard to find that talent. So I’ve been in roles in the past where sometimes SEOs, no disrespect to anyone listening, are sometimes to SEO. Especially today, you need an SEO in my opinion, that not only completely understands SEO, but also understands aspects outside of SEO that’s going to make the marketing campaign a success. Right? How does SEO collaborate with content? How does SEO collaborate with paid channels? How does SEO collaborate with email marketing and how do we all make all these things work together to get the results that we want? Finding that talent is not easy.

Wasif:               So the main disadvantage of trying to get someone in-house is number one, it’s hard to find that person. And number two often you’ll bring that person in to find they’re not the right fit and you need to cycle them out. And number three, when you do have someone in-house it’s really hard sometimes for one person to keep across all the changes that Google does in a year. And they make a lot of changes in a year. So this is where the other option is to look at an agency where, because of the nature that they work with 500 plus clients, they’re across a lot of these changes a lot more so than an individual on the team. Because they come across a huge breadth of different types of clients. You can be like, you know what this algorithm update impacted finance, but it did not impact retail. Whereas someone in one organization, in the SEO team, won’t have that breadth of information. That’s the advantage of an agency. Does that make sense Ben?

Ben:                   Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think the thing that sticks out to my mind, whether you’re in-house or outhouse, for lack of a better term. Whether you’re hiring your SEOs in-house or outsourcing it. When you think about international SEO is, how is the content that you’re creating going to be received by people in different markets.

Wasif:               Correct.

Ben:                   And who is writing that content very often understands how it will be received. If someone has local experience in a market, they’re going to understand how to communicate with the people there. When you’re writing content that’s meant to be universal for the entire world, obviously no one lives in the entire world. How do you think about getting the tone correct so it is approachable to anyone?

Wasif:               Yeah. It’s such a good point. So earlier I was talking about how you need to create content that’s kind of universal and applies to everyone in the world. Especially when you’re starting off, how do you make sure that the tone and even some of the language used is relevant locally. So step one you create that piece of content that you feel, whether I’m sitting in Australia, I create a piece of content that I feel will be relevant to the States. And then step two, you need to leverage on an employee in the United States. And if you don’t have an employee, a friend or get someone in Upwork that’s a writer, et cetera, in the States or whatever country you want to target to review that article as well.

Wasif:               For instance, we might call … I know you guys call flippers over there, the stuff that you wear on your feet. Over here, we call the same thing sandals for instance. So you got to make sure that it’s locally relevant. So that’s what you do. So you create that piece of content. You locally optimize it and then you share it with a local representative and then they will review it and then tweak it. And then you launch it in that part of the world.

Ben:                  As an agency working on international SEO, when your clients come and say that they don’t have a specific market, that they are broadly targeting, that they’re trying to reach everyone in the world, or they’re relevant. Do you advise them to pick specific markets that are the largest markets and write for them? Or are you trying to basically create content that is universally approachable?

Wasif:              Look in general, our advice would be, where do you make the most money first. Let’s focus on that region first. So for example, if an organization naturally has most of its customers in the United States, then we would focus on ensuring that their SEO efforts in the United States has a fantastic ROI to begin with. So we’ll let that run for three to six months. And then whilst we’re doing that, we’ll look at, okay where is this organization again, organically picking up traffic from? So we’d jump on a GA look at, cool they have say 80% of their customers are coming from the United States. But wait, there’s 20% of traffic from Australia. So Mr. Client, Mrs. Client, we recommend that you guys put some effort into Australia judging purely by GA. What do you guys think? Have you ever worked in that market before?

Wasif:               And based on what they say on that discussion, we’d end up launching campaigns into Australia and kind of making it work there as well and create content specifically for Australia. Similar to what we had kind of mentioned before. It’d be again, globally relevant content, but it would be tweaked to Australian language and whatnot. But I think the other thing that’s really important when we’re having these international SEO discussions. And this is probably the first thing that we actually end up talking about, is getting the foundational aspects and foundational strategy right. Again, luckily in past roles I’ve had the opportunity to work in businesses, and even now, that kind of work in 10 to 15 different locations globally. I worked for this startup that had like 30 different websites globally. And I had to look at how to optimize every single of those websites for the regions that they existed in. And another startup that had like 15 different locations globally.

Wasif:               But the first thing that you need to start with is a website structure. So what I mean by that is, are you going to go with a country level domain? So as an example, a country level domain could be something like apple.sg versus a subdomain, which is sg.apple.com versus a sub folder, which is apple.com/sg. And each one of these approaches has its own unique pros and has its own unique cons as well. But this is where you need someone with that depth of experience who’s launched a lot of these global campaigns in the past. And often I find that agencies have come in handy for me over here, because I haven’t done these before. And I need someone who has to educate me with the pros and cons of each aspect. So you need to figure out which structure you want to take. And depending on the structure that you take, country level domain versus subdomain versus sub folder, your SEO strategy and content strategy and paid social strategy. And all those channels will need to match that strategy. That’s number one.

Wasif:                Secondly, based on that strategy, you’ve got to look at the local search volumes as well. And what gets a lot of searches. And a great example is in Australia, people search for SEO companies or they search for SEO Sydney. Because I live in Sydney and it’s one of two of the highest search terms when people are trying to find an SEO agency. Whereas in the States, people don’t say SEO company, they say SEO firm. So you need to target the local version of the keyword search.

Wasif:               And this is what for every single actual region you’ll have to do keyword searches and find out what is the highest traffic search or search volumes as well as which things are being searched for. Then you actually want to focus on it because you won’t have the budget to focus on pretty much everything under the sun. You don’t need to pick the top three or four keywords. Do you want to rank per region? And often that would vary a lot based on the local stations and decide to make a play for that. So those two things are really important in terms of a general foundational SEO strategy.

Ben:                  Obviously international SEO is a very nuanced topic where it depends on what your products are, what your domain authority is, what staff you have on your team, your ability to communicate not only in multiple locations, but also in multiple languages. Was, I appreciate you walking us through your thoughts on international SEO. Thanks for coming on and being a guest on our show.

Wasif:               Thank you very much guys.

Ben:                   Okay. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Was Kasim, managing director of Online Marketing Gurus. If you’re interested in contacting Was, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is WasifKasim. W-A-S-I-F-K-A-S-I-M. Or you could visit his company’s website, which is onlinemarketinggurus.com.edu.

Ben:                  Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, just head over to the voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter. And my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. And we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.