International SEO (search engine optimization) largely depends upon geotargeting, which, when not implemented with caution can, unfortunately, cause problems for the global website owners. Starting from hosting location and domain to IP detection, localization, and hreflang, geotargeting is primarily discussed in terms of technical SEO, or in other words, how exactly Google and other major search engines pinpoint target location of websites.
But we do not build websites for the search engines. Our chief objective is to reach larger segments of the population quickly. Owing to a global website, entrepreneurs can interact with audiences beyond geographical boundaries in a seamless manner. Besides obeying prevalent laws and regulations, for staying ahead of local websites, global websites need to do much more such as being aware of exclusive interests as well as varied behavioral patterns.
Laws and Regulations Related to Data Privacy
It is humanly impossible to specify all laws and regulations to carry out business in diverse countries of the world. Still, two most important ones that owners must be thoroughly acquainted with are data protection and website accessibility.
Now as specified earlier in this write-up, each country, state, or region can impose their own rules, policies, or instructions. Some of these are applied to all websites available while others work for websites that belong to public sector only.
California has passed an act for protecting information provided by the consumers known as the California Consumer Protection Act or CCPA. Many organizations here expect other states to follow or at least fabricate similar laws in future. Some websites have responded by displaying ‘cookie consent message’ to everybody, not paying much attention towards access location.
In the European Union
In the European Union, GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is talked about a lot. It aims at controlling processing conducted by individuals, companies, or an institution of personal information associated with people residing in European Union.
Ecommerce sites must also post data stated in clearly in Commercial Transactions Law. Even when the website is managed somewhere else, suppose in United States, a website must comply with all regulations if its owner is present in Japan physically.
Laws and Regulations Related to Accessibility
ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act was all over the news last month when federal lawsuit was filed against the renowned Taco Bell. Although the complaint was specifically against the restaurant, it managed to captivate attention of several website owners.
At present, there are policies related to IT accessibility for federal agencies operating in the United States, and guidelines to keep in mind, including ‘Information and Communication Technology Standards and Guidelines’.
ADA is applicable for websites belonging to both private and public sectors. When it comes to accessibility, various points will enhance the experience for not only people suffering from disabilities but everyone. Other countries such as China, Japan, UK, and Canada have made accessibility to website content mandatory.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a detailed overview as well as country-specific data on laws associated with site accessibility. It is quite challenging for entrepreneurs to keep pace with rapidly changing needs, especially ones that opted for global website. Failing to adhere to the policies can hamper the entire brand image.
Local Competitors and Trends
Based on the content and design, one can easily understand if a site is of a local company or an international one. The difference is not because of skills but relies on how much the concerned owner knows the market and audience.
According to studies, the easiest way to depict this particular difference is comparing website designs. Color scheme, layout, and images are other significant signs of when the site was initially built.
In case of eCommerce sites, how people pay also varies from country to country. The return and exchange policy is also completely different. Although these do not really impact the site in any way, it can compel customers to leave the shopping cart.
The differences in interests are also reflected through the website content. Many times, the content of global sites is determined by the headquarters country while the competitive local websites have content that satisfies preferences of only local customers.
Remember, not being able to meet the demands of local consumers can prove disadvantageous for global websites. As Google welcomed BERT, localized content written poorly, and not capable of resolving problems or answering queries of local consumers would not appear on the search results.
Single Global Website or Many Local Websites
If an entrepreneur has many global websites under a single domain, using similar webpage templates for each country website, chalk down the major regulation points of all targeted countries, and implement them immediately. While it appears to be a time-consuming task, when one does not have a large team in each country, this is the best option for him or her to cover all bases available.
Business owners can opt for a separate website for target countries if they have a substantial amount of money and highly talented team members in each country. Even when one differentiates sites in accordance with regions having similar laws, similar users, or similar cultural trends, it is more flexible, better compliant, and ideal for local consumers.
For example, rather than setting multiple languages or country websites in the European Union under a single domain for the market, it is easy to handle content and design for the audience in each location of European Union.
No matter how difficult it seems, having separate websites for all target countries provide several options along with the flexibility to adhere to local laws and policies. Doing so also successfully reflects wide range of local interests for website designing and content. Just like Apple and plenty other well-known corporations operating throughout the world, entrepreneurs must publish different content with different designs.
To conclude, I always recommend website owners to properly jot down all of their requirements and comprehend the interests so that they can agree which set-up option will suit them best, global or local website.