Expanding overseas can be an exciting proposition. You can significantly increase your market potential, gain more distributors and customers, and sell a lot more products.
Of course, there are many considerations to take into account before expanding internationally, including legal issues, compensation structures, translating sales materials, and everything else that goes with working with a different culture.
Something that seems to get neglected in all this activity is how the company will build and manage its online reputation. This is my area of expertise, so naturally I look at this as an important aspect of expanding overseas.
Your online reputation is as important to building your company in other countries as it is in the U.S. All it takes is a few negative reviews popping up in a local Google search for your brand to suffer.
What do you need to take into account?
First, understand that getting ranked in the search engines in the U.S. market is not the same as getting ranked in other countries. Google’s search engine is unique to each country.
If you want your website to rank high in the search engines, you have to look at everything from the point of view of the country you’re in.
For example, I worked with a company on their ranking in New Zealand. The first step was to go to google.co.nz to determine what people in New Zealand see when they search on this company.
Next, we had to set up websites for the company with domain names ending in .nz. You don’t want your overseas customers to have to click through to your U.S. website. Everything needs to be localized, and you need a set of websites for each country you expand into.
I also had to find content on other websites that ended with .nz, and use those for link building. Having links from other websites to yours is an important part of search engine optimization, but only if those sites have relevant content. That’s why it’s crucial to find local websites to link from.
If you’re expanding your operations into more than one country, you should think of each one as a unique situation for your online efforts — in much the same way as you need to translate your marketing materials into the local languages.
Yes, it takes more work to build additional websites, get ranked in each of the local versions of the search engines, and find all those sites for link building. But that’s how you secure your online reputation in each country you expand into.
And these days your online reputation plays a large part in the success of your company, no matter what country you’re in.