Have you ever considered doing business in Mexico? Maybe you wanted to expand your current US-based company to the Land of Enchantment. Or, maybe you dreamed of opening a new business in Mexico so you can enjoy year-round warm weather and access to some of the world’s best beaches. With a population of 127 million — approximately 57% of which are between the ages of 15 and 65 — it’s no wonder that Mexico would attract your attention as a place to do business. But, how would you handle search engine optimization in Mexico and can Momentum help you to do it?
If you have a business in America and have seen firsthand the tremendous effects SEO can have on its success, you may have wondered how international SEO works. After all, Mexico’s official language is Spanish and the culture on a whole is different from America. How does that affect how people search for things online? If you are not fluent in the language, how will you attract them through these searches? Would a website in English suffice?
Tackling these questions before moving into a Mexican market is one of the best ways to ensure a company’s success. In this age of technology, discoverability and therefore profitability is heavily affected by how well you can command your ideal customers’ attention online. So, here’s what you need to know about obtaining high SEO rankings in Mexico.
What Is International SEO?
International search engine optimization involves taking steps to improve a website’s performance in search result rankings. However, how businesses and their SEO professionals choose to do this may vary. Some companies build whole new websites to suit different regional demographics, while others use one multilingual website to appeal to all their customers.
Thus, in the case of Mexico, some businesses may create a brand-new website where the colors, design and even the focal-points of the articles and website copy are specifically Mexican. This is a highly customized effort to attract customers. An easier and more cost-effective route, especially when just entering the market for the first time, is simply to use translations so customers can understand the content provided.
The Main Challenge When Tackling Mexico SEO
Branching overseas requires more complex SEO practices than a U.S. business may be used to. In the past, the business may have targeted various towns in the same state or several states. Some may have even branched into Canada. The language and cultural differences between Mexico and the United States presents a much larger obstacle that businesses will need to overcome.
One thing to consider is that Google features 192 search engines that differ by region and country. This helps the tech giant to provide the most geo-relevant search results possible for people from specific areas. Bing also provides search results in 41 languages and Yandex uses 33 languages.
Note that Google may distinguish between different types of Spanish, which may vary by region or country. The Spanish spoken in Spain, for instance, differs from the Spanish spoken in Mexico, just as the English spoken in England differs from what’s spoken in the United States.
Tips for Improving SEO Ranking in Mexico
In spite of language differences and other obstacles, someone has to rank at the top of search results in Mexico, and why shouldn’t it be you? Here are some of the tips successful companies take to secure their top-ranking positions. Note that it may take up to 90 days before you begin to see real results from your SEO strategy in Mexico.
Understand Mexican Culture
To better illustrate the importance of cultural research, take Pampers as an example. When Proctor & Gamble first brought its Pampers brand to Japan, it included branding images of a baby delivered by a stork. The ad campaign failed to resonate with the Japanese market because stork stories are not a part of Japanese culture. Had Proctor & Gamble invested more time and research in learning about Japanese culture, they could have saved millions of dollars.
Many American companies have been accused of being culturally deaf or insensitive even on U.S. soil. It is important to prevent this at home and abroad by doing the right research and employing assistance from the locals. Check out local forums. Talk with Mexicans. Pay the country a visit. Learn some basics of the language. This will help you to figure out what the best keywords for your product or service is, without relying on the often-inaccurate findings of mere translation.
Understand Your Target Demographic
Mexico’s population is around 40% of America’s, which can sometimes lead to unconscious biases. Many companies enter smaller markets with a more unified culture and fall for the belief that all of these consumers are the same. This is a trap that can cost a company millions of dollars and incalculable levels of embarrassment and bad PR.
Each Mexican region is different. Cities and towns share different demographics, economic situations, and thus, priorities. If you plan to hone in on specific areas, you will need to use keywords and other marketing tools that are more geo-specific than the general country level. Note also that Mexicans may racially or ethnically identify as European, mestizo or indigenous, which contributes to cultural diversity. Once you understand the basics of this, the next step is narrowing down your target demographics.
Invest in Local Online Ads
One way to start pointing customers to your website in Mexico is by running local ads. Some companies use ads on social media, such as Twitter or Facebook. Others rely solely on AdWords to get consumers’ attention. Whatever the route you take, it helps to give that extra boost and aid discoverability while you find your footing in a new area.
While Google does not explicitly state that increasing website traffic also increases search engine ranking, the correlation is an obvious one. When you enter a search query for almost any keyword, the first results Google typically supplies come from websites that have high traffic volumes. These include news agencies or popular lifestyle blogs. These are also the sites that enjoy higher levels of domain authority, as other writers tend to link to them to support the credibility of their own content.
The URL Structure
If you already purchased your URL for your website and have no intention of changing it, you may feel compelled to skip this step. Please don’t. As many web developers will advise you, it is possible to have multiple URLs that link to the same website. But, why bother? Non-U.S. visitors often decide whether or not a company’s website is relevant to their needs by looking at the URL structure.
Many companies in Mexico use a .mx internet country code to reassure customers that this is a geographically relevant website. However, you can make variations to where you add that code. The exact structure is based on whether you follow different domain, subdomain, subdirectory country code top-level domains or gTLD principles. See examples of how these different URL structure types work below:
- Different Domain:com
- gTLD With Language Parameters:com/?lang=es-MX
Most experts agree that ccTLDs rank best locally and provide a clear indication to search engines of a website’s geo-specific relevance. However, they do cost more to maintain and managing separate websites can become costly.
Use a CDN or Host Your Website in Mexico
Google prioritizes speed when it comes to SEO rankings, especially for mobile websites. As of last summer, Google made updates to its algorithm to test for slow mobile websites and reduce their ability to rank well, organically. Considering that more than half of website traffic currently comes from mobile devices, this can spell trouble for your business.
While your website may be blazing fast in America, it may be slower in Mexico. Hosting on local servers or utilizing a CDN (content delivery network) that can serve up resources by location can improve this. According to one Ontario-based website designer, locally hosted websites were 300% faster than those hosted internationally. The reason for this is fairly obvious. The shorter the distance data has to travel, the shorter the amount of time it takes to get there.
Work With a Professional Agency
If you are unfamiliar with international SEO and already feel overwhelmed by all the various considerations, work with a professional agency. Whether you choose to hire consultants or work with agents who do all the heavy lifting for you, it helps to ensure any money you spend on SEO is money well-spent rather than money wasted on a potentially unprofitable experiment.
Hiring professionals also helps to free business owners and managers from all the backend website and marketing work, so they may focus on what they do best. We would be honored to use our website development and digital marketing services to help your business succeed overseas. Contact us today for more information on our SEO services.