International SEO Guide for Ecommerce: Optimizing Your Online Store

International SEO Guide for Ecommerce: Optimizing Your Online Store

September 19, 2020 | 7 min read

International SEO Guide for Ecommerce: Optimizing Your Online Store

Doing and not doing international SEO for e-commerce sites, as well as tips and tools for using popular e-commerce platforms

Effective configuration and localization of your online store is essential if you want to start organizing and selling in other countries and languages.

It also provides tips and tools available for the most popular e-commerce platforms.

Here is a summary of his presentation.

Selling abroad can be a great way to diversify your ecommerce business and increase store revenue.

There is a significant potential for free ecommerce search traffic outside the United States.

You can use SimilarWeb or SEMrush to determine how much traffic digital players are actually attracting to international markets to see what they are attracting.

There are also tools like Google Market Finder that will suggest potential opportunities abroad based on your characteristics and industries.

Considering when targeting globally

The best course is to perform proper validation, analysis and research using your data.

Determine the amount of potential traffic from these international countries.

Make sure you're able to provide effective support for this type of audience, and consider the operational nature of your product placement and your ability to handle multiple currencies.

There are many factors beyond SEO.

It is important to confirm and test whether the potential traffic or changes that these countries will be able to attract will ultimately yield positive results, given the difficulties, costs, challenges and investments.

You need to keep in mind your planned ROI and prioritize while providing the best local search experience in a language you don't speak.

If the feedback is positive, then you should definitely go abroad to diversify and expand your online store.

If this is not possible at the moment, you can still prepare for the future:

  1. Buy and protect your ccTLDs for future reference.
  2. Create custom alerts so you get notified when you reach a certain point where you can actually determine that it might be worthwhile to target new markets.
  3. Check sales in current markets and learn how your audience is performing.

Common problems of international SEO implementation

When starting a global e-commerce business, you need to address the most common international SEO implementation issues.

  1. What is the best international web architecture to target new markets?
  2. How can you expand your category and product localization with few resources?
  3. How to use hreflang to sort millions of URLs without errors?

Let's see how to do three of the most popular e-commerce platforms.

  1. WooCommerce.
  2. Magento.
  3. Shopify.

What is the best international web structure that can be used to target new markets?

If you want to initially test the waters only in your existing store, you can enable multi-currency and international delivery with the same URL structure.

However, this approach doesn't really allow you to grow internationally and create country-specific search behaviors and preferences when people in other countries search in their languages.

Even if they search in your language, they will have different seasons, different search terms, and so on.

But if you want to travel abroad and get the best results, you will need different web architecture to target the new country:

  1. CcTLDs for defining the default geographical location for these new countries.
  2. Or subdirectories or subdomains of GTLDs that you can register using the Google Search Console to determine the geographic location of each new market.

This flowchart can help you go through the process of defining web architecture.

It depends on your ability to grow in these markets.

Check the rankings of players in these markets and then check the structure they use.

However, keep in mind that these domains have been around for many years and are building their power in space, so it can be difficult to compete.

Enable subdirectories so that you can combine all your privileges into one property and move faster, for example.

On the other hand, you can see that the site only has gTLDs and these gTLDs do not necessarily have millions of links, so it is possible to compete with them. In this case, you may want to use a ccTLD.


Using ccTLD

In the example above, JD Sports targets countries with ccTLDs that are geographically located by default for each market.

The problem is that the electricity is then distributed between different properties.

Use of GTLD

Here, Asos targets countries with subdirectories of the gTLD.

Each subdirectory (or subdomain) must be located in that country using the search console.

This approach requires each of them to be found geographically in the Google Search Console, but it combines authorization in a single domain.

Consider other things

Don't turn to the continents as a whole.

Geo location is not supported, and language / search behavior may vary by country.

If you need to use continental versions, implement them as if they were GTLDs, allowing country-specific subdirectories to be located geographically.

Otherwise, it may be difficult to determine the geographical value of EU emissions and achieve a positive IR.

Consider the case of Allbirds

They have an English .eu version, but they also have an English .uk file.

In fact, in Europe, the country that actually searches in English is the United Kingdom.

So which countries will we join?

Most of these countries do not search in English.

They will search in German, French, Spanish and other languages.

So this European version is not always as attractive as it is for specific countries.

How to implement these international web structures on the most popular e-commerce platforms

1. Shopify

Shopify supports multi-gender drawing targeting, translation apps, and drawing topics.

You will need some freemium apps like Translation Lab and Weglot.

The tools allow you to enable subdirectories for each target language using the Store Manager Translation application.

However, Shopify does not support the "multi-country" configuration.

You will need to create independent stores in Geolocate using subdomains or independent domains.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce provides support for multi-language and multi-country WordPress plug-ins, so you have more flexibility in targeting multiple countries or languages.

Many of these multilingual plugins provide special integration with WooCommerce.

Allows you to choose between subdirectories, subdomains or domains in international versions - it supports languages as well as national versions.

3. Magento

Magento also supports multilingual and national store versions using "store" or "store view", for which you can use different domains, subdomains, or subdirectories.

How to expand categories and products Content localization with few resources

Becoming a citizen can drive or disrupt global sales.

The localization of your content is important to communicate the choices / behaviors of international audiences.

The goal is to translate various areas for your store user, excluding URLs, navigation, metadata, descriptions, logos, and announcements.

This example from Adidas shows that there are different categories in the US and the UK.

But how do you do it with dozens of countries, hundreds of categories and thousands of products?

It's about taking a creative / step-by-step approach, from translation to localization, and equating it to an international e-commerce SEO process based on your available resources.

Create multi-country styles to create a key content element for each page type.

How to follow this process with the most popular e-commerce platforms

Today, it is possible to use the highest quality new generation AI-based translation solutions, such as DPL.

Some of these tools will also provide translators with computer-assisted translation tools to speed up their work.


These platforms have also supported third-party translation applications found in the app / plug-in market, such as Translation Lab for Shopify, which offers direct machine translation.


Something similar happens with Magento translation and localization plugins, although most are for a fee and not freemium, unlike Shopify.


Also available for WordPress / WooCommerce translation plugins, which allows manual translation by default You can integrate with third-party translation solutions, they can be automated or on-demand.

Powerful solutions such as DeepL provide paid APIs and plug-ins that make it easy to connect to multilingual WordPress / WooCommerce plug-ins.

How to implement Hreflang to rank the right pages if you have millions of URLs?

The purpose of the Hreflang annotation is to determine which version of the page in the search results is appropriate for each country / language market to avoid confusion.

URLs indexed in different languages and countries must be marked with the appropriate values.

This can be done using HTML headers, HTTP headers or XML Sitemaps.

Each of them has its pros and cons:

HTML Head: It is best to mark certain versions and using a platform that easily edits HTML headers.

XML Sitemaps: Best for large sites with multiple versions if you can't edit tags and / or HTML headers.

HTTP header: when hreflang is specified for non-HTML documents such as PDFs, documents, etc.

Unfortunately, implementing hreflang annotations without errors is also difficult.

As Google said by John Muller:

Complexity arises from each page that needs to be included, targeting its language and country and specifying other versions.

This can easily become a complex implementation in scenarios found on e-commerce sites, including:

  1. Large number of URLs for each country / language version.
  2. Very dynamic product list.
  3. Asymmetry between products and groups between international markets.

It is therefore important to prioritize the implementation of hreflang based on its characteristics and needs.

This flowchart can help determine how to work with hreflang:

Use Search Console and Analytics or one of your chosen SEO tools to determine if your pages rank in unrelated markets such as UK pages in the US.

How do you implement Hreflang annotations on major e-commerce platforms?


If there are alternative versions of this URL, the WordPress / Vucom plugins include hreflang.


Hreflang also supports the Mageworx Magento 2 SEO plugin, which allows you to specify page types as well as values to include.


Shopify allows you to include a flowing design page that points to each version of the canonical URL.

other things

If you want more flexibility and implement hreflang annotations using XML Sitemaps, you can also use paid solutions such as Hreflang Builder.

You should also review the implementation before and after its release to identify potential hreflang probability issues. Tools like Ryte and Sitebulb are suitable for this.


By following these steps, you will avoid the most common ecommerce SEO problems.

  1. Choosing the best international web architecture to target new markets.
  2. Expand the localization of your products and product categories with few resources.
  3. Follow the hreflang to arrange the correct pages without errors.

In addition, be sure to consider the capabilities and limitations of the most popular e-commerce platforms to successfully expand and diversify your conversions in different countries and languages.