Many Australian e-commerce sites already enjoy a healthy amount of international traffic, but how do you leverage this traffic to broaden your appeal to foreign markets and increase revenue?
Australian online sales are predicted to break the $45 billion mark in 2016, with growth of 20 per cent per annum and mobile commerce experiencing an explosive growth of 40 per cent per year. Worldwide online retail sales are set to exceed over US$1 trillion, which leaves many Australian website owners finding themselves pondering how they can take a bigger slice of the international action.
With statistics showing that 69 per cent of online shoppers make purchases internationally, primarily from the US, China, and the UK, is there anything you can do to increase your international market share?
There are three simple techniques you can use to increase international traffic to your website:
1. Leverage existing traffic
To begin leveraging your existing traffic, you first need to know what market opportunities are available to you.
An increase in website traffic will often have a direct correlation to an increase in your search engine optimisation (SEO) rankings. A greater ranking will mean greater exposure, which should result in an increase in site traffic.
So you need to investigate which search phrases are doing well in other countries.
A percentage of your traffic may already be international, which is great, but you need to fine-tune your search radar to increase that share.
You can do this with the Google Search Console. Click on ‘search analytics’ and you will see the number of ‘clicks’ and ‘impressions’, and your ‘position’. From here you can see where you rank comparatively and adjust your targeted phrases to attract more traffic.
2. Target your phrases
What phrases should you be targeting? To state the obvious, you need to home in on phrases that are specific to your organisation or industry.
There’s little point in ranking for ‘shopping baskets’ if you sell car tyres. Likewise, there’s little point in targeting search phrases at random.
How do you know what phrases people are searching for? This is where Google Trends comes in.
As the name suggests, Google Trends allows a user to compare search volumes between several search terms over a specific time frame.
The popularity of the search term can be broken down to show countries, cities, regions and language.
You can enter search terms that you wish to target and collate the data for the most searched phrases from the countries that you wish to target.
Once you’ve established which phrases you wish to target, you can work out what you need to do to rank those phrases higher on your site.
Pay particular attention to the basics of optimising your site for the best results. Ensure you clean your Google index of pages you don’t want, remove duplicated content and avoid misusing h1 and h2 headings.
Try to leverage any existing business you have in international markets. For example, if you have previously sold products to customers in the US, you could kindly ask them if they would be willing to either leave a testimonial on Google My Business, Yelp or Facebook.
If you have a blog with international readership, use it to your advantage. Blog about customers that are using your products in other regions of the world and how they feel about them.
If you are lucky enough to have a physical presence in an international region, such as an office or a bricks and mortar store, it is imperative to set up Google My Business. It is a great advantage for leveraging international traffic, but unfortunately it is only available to those with a physical business in a region.
3. Remove specific international targets
As mentioned, if your site already receives even a trickle of international traffic, this can be leveraged to your advantage. Google Search Console gives you the option of ‘international targeting’. In the ‘search traffic’ section there is a section for international targeting.
To access this section your site must be a top-level domain (TLD). A TLD is a .com, .net, .travel, .golf; basically anything that does not have a country code at the end of it. Without a TLD, international targeting will be unavailable.
The advantage of having a TLD is that you can target specific countries where your audience is, or where you hope it to be.
Setting this to Australia will focus searches on that region, but has the problem of reducing or excluding international markets.
You may find that you still sell to international buyers, but they will be limited. Changing this setting to the US will focus your searches there, which in turn will reduce exposure in Australia: not advisable if your revenue stream is primarily Australia-based.
The solution to this geo-targeting problem lies within the international targeting section of the Google Search Console. If you feel as though you have an audience in several countries, you can target no specific audience in this section.
This avoids having to limit your online business to one particular country, instead opening your business to a global audience.
If you wish to increase international traffic to your website and you have a TLD, the tips above will help you optimise your site, streamline key search phrases and open your e-commerce marketplace to the world.
Jim Stewart is the CEO of StewArt Media.