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Optimizing Your Site for International Audiences

If you run a site that gets a lot of international traffic, or if you want to attract that international traffic, then you need to make sure your site is optimized to serve that traffic. There are some specific steps you can take that will improve your site’s accessibility and visibility for your intended audience. In this post, we’ll talk about some of those steps so you can take your site to the next level. These are not the be-all and end-all of optimization. You’ll need to consider how to adapt these ideas and build on them when considering your specific context.

Prepare for Mobile

Make sure your site displays well for mobile visitors. You have probably heard a lot about Google’s standard for being accessible for mobile devices called mobile responsiveness. You can use Google’s free tool to see if you meet the standard, and if you do, you get a big SEO boost for mobile searchers. It entails making sure images and text resize properly, the pages are navigable for small touchscreens, and other important factors. Lots of overseas nations have high smartphone penetration because smartphones are cheaper and more portable than computers. Be ready for those visitors by making your site mobile-friendly. This has the added bonus of working for domestic users who are on mobile devices as well, which is also a huge audience.

Low Data Requirements

For both mobile and desktop users, you will be more attractive if you can reduce the data requirements of your site. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, mobile users might be on a data plan that charges them more if they use a lot of data. If your site takes a lot of data to use, then it will discourage those on a data plan. In addition to that, a data-heavy site is very difficult to use in areas with worse Internet connections and nations that are physically farther from the server hosting your site. Slimming down your site’s data intensity will mean overseas users can navigate it more quickly and easily. Of course, this can also reduce the cost of hosting your site. Depending on how you have arranged hosting, you could be reducing your hosting costs by making these changes.


Try to be proactive when it comes to translating your site into different languages. Don’t rely on Google to translate things for you, because you can’t expect it to do as well as a targeted and human-assisted translation job. An expert human working with a translation memory can do a far better job than simple machine translation, and if you are specifically targeting an audience that speaks a different language, then it is critical to have the best translation possible. A poor translation not only makes the site impossible to use, it also damages your reputation among speakers of that language because it looks as if you have not bothered to invest in making the site accessible for them. Having a good translation takes effort and some investment of money, but it is fundamental to credibility and conversions.

The best way to optimize your site for international visitors is to do you best to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine exactly what they want and need out of your site and how you can provide those things. This might take some creative thinking and radical changes, but it can really pay off if you can truly break through with that international audience. Just do your best to consider things from the perspective of the visitors from abroad, and that will guide what you need to do.

Written By

Dennis Hung is an entrepreneur and product analyst specializing in mobile technology and IoT. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.

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