One of the first things you learn in internet marketing is how to choose a niche. You’re advised to pick one that’s not too broad, yet not overly narrow either: that sweet spot where you just enough targeted traffic.
It’s rare though that you hear any advice about targeting locations.
To be fair most internet marketing training is either created by Americans, or focuses solely on America as a target audience without considering other options.
Why would you want to consider targeting anywhere but the US?
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A World of Opportunity
While America might be the “land of opportunity”, there’s a whole world out there.
The US is the third largest country by population in the world, and the most populated English speaking country, so it definitely makes sense for most marketers to target the States as a source of potential income.
However, the population of the US only accounts for about 4.4% of the entire world population. That leaves billions of people out there that you could be marketing to!
It’s more than likely that as your site is only focused on one country, you will be losing sales.
Have you checked your stats recently? I’m pretty sure you will be getting hits from Europe, Asia and beyond.
Will any of those have converted? Some perhaps, but especially if you are promoting physical goods the likelihood of these people converting is very, very low.
Let’s say you have a site promoting products on Amazon.com. There are several reasons why someone outside of America is going to struggle using your site as anything more than reference:
(Note that while I’m basing most of this on promoting physical goods via a site like Amazon, some of these pointers would certainly help with digital goods too!)
This is the biggest issue in most cases. For example, one of our neighbors, Mexico, only has 13% of its population that can speak English. While then, selling to a Mexican is easier than promoting to someone from China (logistics wise), the language barrier is an instant problem.
This will become more apparent later when I discuss geolocation, but just because you can buy a certain food blender in the States, doesn’t mean that the same products is available in Australia.
Some products cannot be shipped to another country. This is either down to legal issues, or simply because the seller doesn’t ship to that particular country.
Increasing Your Reach
There are however, ways in which you can improve the chances that a person outside the US will purchase something via your site.
Geolocation for Products
The act of geolocation is basically to try and figure out where the person is from and serving them location specific products and information.
WordPress plugins such as EasyAzon can do this for you automatically. If you list an Amazon product on your site with this plugin, it can detect where the visitor is from and change the Amazon product over to their closest Amazon version. E.g. if a Brit arrives at your site they will be served Amazon.co.uk products, Amazon.fr for a Frenchman, and so on.
The main downside of this is that, as mentioned, not all products exist in all markets, so they may end up being sent to a generic search instead of the exact product. However, they will be sent there with your affiliate tag so the chance of increasing sales is still a possibility.
Geolocation for Content
A more extreme way of handling this would be to have different posts or even a different subdomain site that caters for a particular audience. For example, if a user comes from Spain or Mexico you could transfer them to a Spanish language section of your site.
Of course this would mean additional work on your part, but it would also open the doors to another 399 million people!
One great benefit of having a separate language subdomain, is that you can choose the target audience for it in Google Webmaster tools.
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This is important because of…
The Google Geolocation Issue
That’s right people, Google has a nasty tendency to geolocate you whether you like it or not. Ever tried getting onto Google from Germany? You get sent to Google.de. From Australia you end up at Google.com.au, and so on.
This means that your site may not even end up in location specific Google searches, unless you take action.
The first thing you can do is to tell Google Webmaster Tools to have your site target the world, by disabling the International Targeting option if it is set.
Next you can set up individual sub sites that target specific regions and again set them up in Google Webmaster tools. You can add meta tags called HREFLANG that tell Google that you are using a specific language.
¡No Hablo Español!
OK, so you’re convinced that broadening your site to appeals to non English speakers makes financial sense, but you don’t speak one extra language let alone 20 languages!
How then can you convert your content into something others can understand?
WordPress has several plugins that can be used to convert your site into a multilingual one, but they don’t actually trasnalte your content.
This would be the first port of call for a lot of people, but while its translation of languages like French and Spanish is pretty good, it’s far from perfect. If you want it to translate more obscure languages you’re pretty much SOL.
You, a dictionary, and many, many hours of your time. Not the most ideal way to spend your time and therefore money, but it is an option.
Using an actual person who speaks both languages is your best bet, and thanks to places like Fiverr.com, they aren’t that expensive. You could get a 1,000 world article translated for about $10 bucks.
All you need is for a few sales to make that cost back!
Translation services are definitely the better way to get things done.
Screw ‘Em All!
Lastly, if you simply don’t care about targeting people outside of your chosen country, but don’t want the visitors messing with your stats, you could geolocate to block access from all other countries. A plugin like iQ Block Country can handle that for you.
The Bottom Line
Excluding the US, there’s still 7 billion people in the world, so expanding your internet marketing to include those outside the States is a no-brainer!
Whether you use an automated system such as EasyAzon to grab more opportunities, or systematically build a full foreign language or country specific sub site is up to you, both have pros and cons to them.