How to reference your site internationally? Should a single site be created for each targeted language, a sub-domain or a sub-directory of the main site? How to adapt to the uses of its target market? Its, an international SEO agency, gives you some tips for optimizing your international deployment without making any mistakes on the SEO side.

international SEO

How to manage your multilingual site?

Let's start with the technical part: different solutions exist to make your website multilingual. Here are the pros and cons of each.


The CCTLD (country code top level domain) is the extension of your website linked to the targeted country. This solution involves buying a different domain for each country and therefore requires starting from scratch each time.


  • The CCTLD explicitly indicates the targeted language to Google, giving a good basis for National SEO Services.
  • Subsequently, it is ideal for adapting the site to several regional languages, via the creation of sub-domains or sub-directories.

The inconvenient:

  • A different domain requires making significant adjustments for each country, more costly in time and budget.



  • Creating a subdirectory allows you to take advantage of the authority of the main domain and therefore avoids starting from scratch.
  • This strategy is much less expensive than creating one domain per country.

The inconvenient:

  • The hreflang and canonical tags need to be set up properly so as not to ruin SEO.



  • This solution is less expensive in maintenance. Be careful though, the costs vary depending on the country and the adaptations to be managed on the site.

The inconvenient:

  • The subdomain is considered by Google to be a domain in its own right, so it can't really take advantage of the authority of the main domain.

One or more sites per language?

A problem arises when targeting several markets speaking the same language, for example several French-speaking countries (France, Belgium, Quebec, Morocco, etc.). Should we create universal content for all countries or adapt to the linguistic specificities of each market?

For Google, the ideal is to create a separate site for each country , with content adapted to each target, while indicating to the search engine the preferred version for each country (via Search Console and hreflang tags ) so that it systematically offers the most relevant content to the target.

Translation or adaptation?

Once the multilingual site has been set up, there remains the issue of content: is it more interesting to translate or adapt the content of your site?

On the one hand, translation work saves time and money. It's about starting from the existing content and translating it as faithfully as possible. This solution has the advantage of maintaining a coherent structure between the different sites, but it does not make it possible to adapt to the specificities of the country or even of the different regions, nor to position oneself on new themes.


On the other hand, adaptation involves creating new content adapted for each target. It is therefore longer and more expensive, involving a double task of writing and translation. Nevertheless, it makes it possible to transmit a message that is truly adapted to the needs of each target.

Perform a localized keyword study

The study of localized keywords is a crucial step for international SEO. For the creation of new content, it is essential to know the right words and key phrases to include in order to position yourself well.

Some tools can help find relevant keyword suggestions. Think in particular of the Ads tool, Keyword Planner, or even SEMrush and Ă›bersuggest which offer suggestions in many languages. Also consider related searches and search suggestions from the most popular search engine in the targeted country. These will guide you to create content that responds to the queries of your target market.

On the other hand, always remain attentive to the specificities of the region you are targeting: for the same language, certain countries will use different vocabulary and turns of phrase (for example France and Quebec).

Know the specificities of foreign search engines

An international SEO strategy begins with a good knowledge of the habits of your target market in terms of research. Indeed, if the behemoth Google holds 93% of the market share in Europe, this is not necessarily the case everywhere else.

In the United States, for example, Bing and Yahoo share 33% of traffic. In China, Baidu largely dominates with nearly 80% market share, while in Russia, Google is closely followed by the national search engine, Yandex RU.

These search engines have differences in terms of SEO criteria. For example, unlike Google, Baidu considers Meta keywords for SEO optimization and relies more on mobile optimization. It is therefore essential to master these criteria to ensure the solidity of your SEO strategy.

International netlinking

A good SEO also requires a well-crafted netlinking strategy. How to optimize your netlinking strategy internationally?

International netlinking

A first step is to link the different international domains together.

The quest for quality backlinks requires in-depth research to target specialized sites and blogs in the targeted country. It is recommended to target domains on local CCTLDs, with content written in the same language as your target market. Finally, as with any netlinking strategy, your partners must deal with themes that are similar or close to yours.

Either way, an international SEO strategy should be based on an understanding of the needs and uses of each local market, as well as their perception of the brand or industry.