Online marketing is all about your reputation in the first place. No sale is going to happen if potential customers do not trust you. One of the most important and essential things to achieve that is to optimize and prioritize your LOCAL SEO before worrying about how to position yourself better Internationally.
What is the difference between International SEO and Local SEO?
Many language school business professionals understand the need to be shown in first positions when potential customers search for key phrases on search engines.
While it is desirable to be shown internationally for “best language school for learning Japanese” it is quite a difficult challenge to compete for such a generic term internationally.
International SEO means that you try to rank against all companies online promoting a specific product where with Local SEO you compete for your ranking for people who look you up in your area. An example of this is people use Google Maps and look for a “Japanese restaurant near me” search.
Local SEO also means people searching for something are targeted by how close they are with their mobile and tablet devices. A far-away tourist looking up a “Japanese restaurant” – or of course a language school where you can learn Japanese – will get quite different results as opposed to someone that is right now in your city just around the corner.
While a restaurant visit might be more prone to spontaneity customers for language schools usually plan ahead and do intense research before booking their language vacation far away.
Depending on your language school marketing approach you might want to attract international students to come and study with your school locally. For this, of course, most people think that they should focus only on attracting international students that are currently not present with their mobile and tablets.
But they are wrong.
Why Local SEO matters
Everything starts with Local SEO.
Even if you want to attract and reach out an audience all over the world. Even if you offer an online learning app your headquarter that offers the online learning product is based somewhere locally.
Even if you run a company that has no physical stores or a public office – because maybe you only do house calls – needs an entry on “Google My Business”.
The trust flow starts locally – meaning: people want to know that you are an authentic and real existing company or single person professional.
And adding your information via the free “Google My Business”-Account is easy to do. You do not even have to reveal your actual physical address and rather add a service area if you worried about your local privacy.
Having a “Google My Business” entry is the start to in being able to start and improve a strong Local SEO presence.
The basics are so easy that it is mind-boggling how many companies and professionals fail to update their basic information: hours of operation, images and video clips of their services and products, interaction on customer reviews and ratings they have received – all those matter big time.
Social media and real user interaction are important for social proof. Search engines factor real-time interaction into the ranking of your websites, so it is vital that you have a place that you control on Google instead scratching your head how you can “fix bad ratings and reviews”.
If you have not claimed your business entry on Google Maps, then it is time to do so, before anyone else is trying to do it without your authorization. Yes, Google My Business entries can be “stolen”, but with proof of ownership and your own verification process using your official business mobile phone number, you will be in control in a very short amount of time.
Now here comes another important thought exercise: if you are keen on attracting INTERNATIONAL customers and visitors you need to have a LOCAL presence so the very same international students can post their satisfaction on your LOCAL SEO property such as Google Maps.
International reviewers influence potential buyers in THEIR countries. This will add to your trust factor INTERNATIONALLY and will therefore help you ranking in worldwide search results in the end.
This is important of course for Facebook Business Pages, too – as every social media account where people can rate and interact with you counts toward your SEO popularity on Google and other search engines as well – including Tripadvisor.
Why International SEO is quite a challenge
Doing SEO internationally is possible and still advisable. You can indeed rank high in search results if you offer a unique language service that stands out against the competition.
However, if you compete internationally you compete against much more companies as you do locally – it is just logical and capped by the physical location limits.
So it might take you months and maybe even over a year before you can beat the competition – there are simply hundreds of elements in online marketing that can’t be faked overnight. They can’t be faked in most cases at all.
You want other relevant websites to link to you in order to have the advantage to listed highly in search engine results: for that you need have high-quality content that is so interesting that people refer to it without you pro-actively asking for it.
People will naturally share your content and information on social media not just because it is funny (that helps though!), but because it provides some exception practical value for learning a specific language.
And this takes time. It is an ongoing process. It requires staff and writers that constantly do a great job.
Why International SEO works best with a strong Local SEO
It is much easier to optimize your local SEO. It can be done within days or weeks for example. Where International SEO could take months or longer than a year.
If you have a strong local SEO presence this will spill over to all your other SEO efforts. As Google itself will know that people are interested in your business – they, in fact, know the exact click-through rates and they also know when people jump back from your website and continue to search for similar service (really bad in the eyes of Google by the way!).
So your success for International SEO is based on your successful foundation of Local SEO.
Why Local SEO and International SEO will not work well without paid advertising
Everything is connected online. Don’t be fooled that there are unknown hidden secrets that catapult you overnight in the #1 position on Google and will solve all your profit-lacking problems overnight.
Unless you have a big budget to pay Google and other search engines for constant display advertising you will not be shown on #1 “overnight”.
Sorry to break the “news”: you NEED to use PAID advertising. SEO alone is not a marketings strategy. Companies who combine paid traffic advertising with the “free” organic SEO marketing are always the winners.
Another misunderstanding is this: Google and search engines need “search traffic metrics” in order to rank and position you. If you have NO TRAFFIC (website visitors) with a brand new website, the search engines will ignore you and not magically place you in top search result positions.
You indeed need to pay for advertising like Facebook or Google Ads to send an initial flow of website visitors that then enable the smart robots and artificial intelligence systems to evaluate the quality of your website and how real visitors interact with it.
Avoid SEO Confusion With An SEO Expert
The time of doing your own little SEO experiments online are long over. Amateurish activity will lead to amateurish business results.
It is also a very time-consuming ongoing business activity. Unlike setting up a basic “Google My Business” account, effective SEO is an ongoing and resource-intense marketing activity that once stopped loses its influence pretty fast.
Many language business owners realize that if they want to get ahead of the ever-growing languages service industry competition, they need professional help.
There are many self-claimed SEO Experts out there and not many are specialized for the language industry.
That is why I offer my knowledge and insights, especially for this industry. My enthusiasm for learning languages and those who teach them are combined with over a decade of insider know-how that will help you to promote your own services and products better.
Learn more here at the service website for professional language school marketing.