Updated August 2023.
A global SEO agency is the ideal solution for any company that wants to target multiple countries and languages simultaneously. However, finding one with the required expertise isn’t so easy.
In this article, you’ll learn what an international SEO agency can do for your business, why you should hire one, and how you go about doing it.
We’ll also provide a curated list of the five best international SEO agencies in this space.
How to Choose the Best Global SEO Agency for Your Business
It’s like selecting any search engine optimization company, except you’ll be looking for international SEO services. When choosing a global firm, here are three important things to look for.
A Strong International Network of Account Managers
First and foremost, a global SEO agency must have people working in or experienced with the country your business operates in. Ideally, that should include having offices in your target market or countries, although having qualified employees who target those markets works almost as well.
For example, if your social media marketing company is located in France and wants to target North America, hire an agency with offices in both regions.
Also, if your business is in expansion mode, make sure the agency is located or experienced in the markets your company will expand to. So be sure to discuss this point thoroughly before hiring an agency.
Deep Industry Expertise and SEO Knowledge
Any search engine optimization expert can audit a website, optimize its tags and research keywords regardless of their clients’ country. However, uncovering intent, defining a keyword plan, and knowing which outlets are ideal to pitch for links requires a lot of experience in a given industry.
Hire an SEO agency that has proven technical excellence and key international SEO services in your specific industry, including:
- International keyword research
- Competitor analysis
- Multilingual content marketing
- User experience optimization
- Multilingual content optimization
- Global link building
- Site speed optimization
- Hreflang tag implementation
- Site architecture optimization
- Technical SEO implementation
Clear and Effective Global SEO Strategy
There are countless horror stories of companies that hire SEO firms that use a lot of jargon to sell their services and end up underperforming — or, worse yet, they end up with a penalty.
Before you hire a global SEO agency, make sure they can explain their SEO strategies clearly — and that includes the implementation of best practices for international SEO.
Here are four questions you should ask that will help you understand their strategy:
- Can you explain your SEO approach in under 60 seconds? If they can’t explain their process succinctly, beware.
- What’s your favorite URL structure for international SEO? Take notes and think about the cost-benefit relationship of their suggestions.
- How do you acquire links? Anything content or outreach-related is good; anything purchased is a big no-no.
- How do you measure results? If they say organic traffic increases, sales, and leads (among other metrics), great. If their answers include words like “rankings” and “brand awareness,” think twice about hiring them.
Now that you know how to choose a reputable agency and what to avoid, here are our top five picks of the best global SEO agencies.
1) Single Grain: Top-Rated Global SEO Company
- Top Clients: Amazon, Uber, Airbnb
- Countries Covered: Worldwide
- Pricing: Projects start at $10,000+
Single Grain is one of the top SEO firms with over 12 years of experience in SEO consultancy and strategy implementation. We have worked with both enterprise-level clients and SMBs from dozens of industries all over the world.
We use the latest international SEO services and a customized, effective international SEO strategy to consistently see high search engine rankings for competitive terms and hit the featured snippet — the famous “rank zero” — despite all of the changes Google has made to its search algorithm. We have a team of certified SEO experts with a great work ethic and lots of experience who generate excellent results (in local and global markets).
Our diverse portfolio of clients includes large international companies like Uber, Amazon, Airbnb and Lyft and we pride ourselves in taking a multi-market agency approach that engages audiences natively.
We can count on them to bring new ideas to the table consistently
2) Boostability: Affordable Global SEO Services
- Top Clients: 11th Street Coffee, Ivanti, JD Power
- Countries Covered: Worldwide
- Pricing: Custom
Boostability is a global white label SEO company with local agencies distributed around the world. They work mostly with small businesses and scale their agencies with full-service white label SEO campaigns.
The agency works with partners in 17 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania. Their translation services include French, German, Finnish, Dutch, and English.
3) Victorious: Expert in Global SEO Best Practices
- Top Clients: Lime, SoFi, Spotify
- Countries Covered: Worldwide
- Pricing: Projects start at $1,000+
Victorious is an award-winning agency that offers international SEO services for small and large businesses alike throughout the world. With a reported 98% customer satisfaction rating, Victorious’ SEO experts leverage the latest technology to conquer ultra-competitive search terms.
As one of the top SEO companies located in the heart of Silicon Valley, they provide their clients with international keyword research, multilingual SEO-optimized content, and technical solutions.
4) Pearl Lemon: Multilingual Global SEO Services
- Top Clients: Astteria London, EmergeOne, IndieLaw
- Countries Covered: Worldwide
- Pricing: Projects start at $1,000+
Pearl Lemon is a London-based SEO agency that works with international clients in industries such as e-commerce, gambling, and gaming. Founded in 2014, Pearl Lemon has developed an integrated approach that allows their clients to rank their pages for multiple languages effectively.
As the highest ranked company in DesignRush’s list of the best SEO companies in the UK, Pearl Lemon offers international SEO services for companies looking to increase their own global market reach.
5) Brainlabs: Leading SEO Agency for Global Brands
- Top Clients: American Express, CloudFlare, Walmart
- Countries Covered: Worldwide
- Pricing: Custom
Brainlabs is a large global SEO company with over 700 employees distributed in a dozen cities around the world. Founded in 2012, this firm recently bought several major agencies such as Distilled (SEO), Hanapin (PPC), User Conversion (CRO), among others.
Their team of country account managers offers SEO services like international keyword research to create SEO campaigns for clients in dozens of industries, with an emphasis on retail, technology, and finance.
Learn More About SEO:
* How to Rank Your Brand-New Website When You Don’t Know SEO
* 21 Paid & Free SEO Tools That Will Improve Your Ranking
* 9 Quick SEO Tactics That Only Take 10 Minutes to Implement
* The Complete White Hat SEO Guide: Google-Validated SEO that Works like Magic!
Why Hire an International SEO Agency?
If you’re a brand that’s expanding internationally and you need to get more targeted traffic and visitors at low costs for each new country, you need to work with a leading global SEO agency. They will create an SEO campaign for each country, hire marketers to handle the work, and manage them individually.
Global SEO, used interchangeably with international SEO, focuses specifically on optimizing a website for different geographical locations, languages and cultural nuances.
General SEO, on the other hand, optimizes a website to rank well in different search engines’ results, without necessarily focusing on specific locations or languages.
For example, let’s say you are a multinational e-commerce business that operates in the USA, Germany and Japan and you hire a global SEO company. Their goal would be to make sure that your website is visible and ranks high in search results for each of these markets.
For instance, Amazon has country-specific domains for all its international locations:
In contrast, if you were providing general SEO services for a local business or a business that operates in a single language and country, your focus would be much different.
You would still care about website structure, content and link building, but you wouldn’t need to worry about localizing for different languages or using hreflang tags. Your strategy would instead be centered around understanding the competitive landscape, optimizing for relevant keywords, improving website speed and usability, and earning quality backlinks.
This involves several international SEO strategies, such as:
- Website Structure: You may need to create separate subdomains or subdirectories for each geographical area. For instance, for the German market, the URL might be “de.yourwebsite.com” or “yourwebsite.com/de“. This makes it clear to both users and search engines that this version of your website is specifically for German speakers.
And depending on your international footprint, the global SEO services provided might involve using country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains, or subdirectories.
- Language and Localization: The global SEO company would localize your website’s content to match the language and cultural nuances of each target market. This isn’t about a simple translation but adapting the content to align with local expressions, units of measurement, and date formats.
- Keyword Research: Just like with local SEO, keyword research is a critical part of global SEO services. The company would carry out this research for every target market to discover the terms your international audience is using in their searches:
Hreflang Tags: These HTML tags indicate to search engines what language and geographical area a webpage is intended for. For example, for a webpage intended for English speakers in the USA, the hreflang tag would be “en-us”, and for German speakers in Germany, the hreflang tag would be:
- Local Link Building: An essential part of their global SEO services would be to devise a link-building strategy that focuses on securing high-quality backlinks from reputable websites within each target country.
- International SEO Audit: Regular SEO audits are crucial to identify and remedy any issues such as broken links, slow page speed, or duplicate content. The company would also monitor your SEO performance to tweak the strategy as necessary.
- Local Search Optimization: If you have physical locations in different countries, they would also optimize your website for local searches. This might involve creating and optimizing Google My Business listings for each location, gathering local reviews and conducting competitor research in country-specific search engines (and not just Google.com, since different sites rank higher depending on the target location and language):
- Compliance: Each country has its own set of laws and regulations regarding digital content and privacy. The international SEO services would ensure your website adheres to these laws, such as Europe’s GDPR.
The specific strategies and services an agency offers would depend on their expertise and your unique needs and goals. Before engaging with a global SEO company, it’s vital to discuss your objectives and ensure they can provide the international SEO services necessary to meet them.
Why Hire an International SEO Agency? Top 3 Reasons
Although it’s reasonable to think that any ol’ SEO agency can help you expand your business around the world, the key to a successful SEO campaign that reaches an audience outside of your local or national demographic is international SEO.
Let’s take a look at the top three reasons to hire an international SEO agency.
Adherence to International SEO Best Practices
International SEO focuses on optimizing a website so that the search engines recognize the countries and languages in which you want to rank your site.
The differences between traditional SEO and its international counterpart are minor but crucial. An SEO practitioner who’s not trained or experienced in executing international SEO campaigns will have a hard time ranking a website for multiple countries and languages.
In contrast, an international SEO agency takes an integrated approach that follows all the best practices to rank a website for any country and language, such as:
- Using the hreflang tag properly: Google uses this tag to understand which language and country-specific version of it should a page rank for. Hreflang tags also prevent a duplicate content issue because you explicitly indicate that there are alternative pages on your domain.
- Choosing a correct URL structure: This includes deciding whether to use a country or language-specific domain, subdomain, subdirectory, or dynamic parameter (as seen in the image below):
- Building links on local websites: Getting links from sites located in the country a website wants to rank for can make a difference.
Customization of Marketing Strategy for Each Global Audience
Two challenges you’ll face when trying to sell your products or service in a different country are:
- Acquiring traffic from different countries
- Providing content to visitors in their regional language
Translation is essential here because of language and cultural differences. Even the small but noticeable differences between languages like American and British English can break a marketing campaign without proper translation.
This approach allows him to tap into diverse markets, which resulted in exponential growth.
Note: I don’t recommend machine translations for different languages because auto-translations are not always accurate, and if you don’t speak that language, you won’t catch the errors. Inaccurate translations hamper the user’s experience (and may make your site look like fraudulent), as well as cause duplicate content issues. Always get a native speaker to translate your content into the targeted country’s regional language.
This is why hiring an international SEO agency is an excellent idea: They will have an expert network of local linguists to rewrite their client’s content for each market they operate in.
Expertise in the Latest Global SEO Trends and Tactics
Any SEO agency — global or locally focused — must stay informed with the latest SEO trends. Since international agencies are large enough to have offices around the world and hire the best local talent, hiring one almost guarantees they will execute the latest, most effective SEO tactics.
Some of the global search engine optimization strategies that can effectively improve the presence of a website internationally are international keyword research, multilingual content marketing and content optimization, global link building and hreflang tag implementation.
Summary: Key Points for Hiring the Right Global SEO Agency
Let’s face it: Hiring a single agency capable of handling SEO campaigns in multiple geographic regions can be tough. In today’s, digital marketing world, it’s best to start small, get an initial set of results that motivate your team, and scale from there.
We want to close this article with a quick summary of how to hire a global SEO agency:
- Decide what countries your business is expanding to.
- Make a list of all of the languages these countries speak—that includes country-specific variations of the same language, such as American and British English.
- If your aggregate list of countries and languages is less than three, you may want to follow our guide on international SEO and see if you can do it yourself.
- If your team can’t handle this work or if your list of targeted countries and languages is greater than three, pick one of the five agencies we mentioned in this article.
Remember that SEO is a channel that takes time to work. The earlier you start working on your global SEO strategy, the better it will be for your business’ growth.
If you’re ready to expand your reach globally, Single Grain’s international SEO services experts can help!👇
Global SEO FAQs
Who is the best SEO company in the world?
Determining the “best” SEO company in the world can be subjective and depends on various factors such as your specific needs, budget, and the markets you are targeting.
Global SEO aside, here are some of the top digital marketing agencies that specialize in SEO:
- Single Grain
- Ignite Visibility
- Higher Visibility
- Duffy Agency
What is global SEO?
Global SEO, or international SEO, is the practice of optimizing your website for search engines to improve its visibility in multiple countries and languages. Unlike local or national SEO, which focuses on reaching audiences in a specific location or country, global SEO aims to capture and engage audiences across international markets.
This specialized form of SEO involves a range of strategies and techniques designed to make your website more accessible and relevant to people around the world. In addition to basic global search engine optimization practices mentioned above, additional strategies include:
- Language and Localization: One of the first steps in global SEO is to localize the content, meaning adapting it to the local language and culture of the target market. This goes beyond simple translation and may include modifying images, currency, and cultural references.
- Geo-Targeting: This involves setting up your website structure so that search engines can easily identify the countries or languages you are targeting. This can be done through country-specific domain names, subdomains, or subdirectories.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding cultural nuances and preferences is essential when targeting international markets. What works in one country may not necessarily work in another.
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Different countries have different laws and regulations concerning online content and commerce. Being aware of these is crucial when implementing international SEO services.
What does an SEO agency do?
An SEO agency specializes in optimizing websites to improve their visibility in search engine results, with the ultimate goal of increasing website traffic, conversions and revenue. These agencies offer a range of SEO services that encompass various aspects of search engine optimization.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the key services that an SEO agency typically provides:
- Keyword Research and Strategy: An SEO agency identifies the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your business and target audience.
- On-Page Optimization: This involves optimizing the individual pages of your website, including the content, meta descriptions, title tags, and HTML structure, to make them more search engine friendly.
- Off-Page Optimization: Off-page SEO focuses on activities that occur away from your website but still affect its ranking, like link building.
- Technical SEO: Technical SEO involves optimizing the backend of your website — like site architecture and optimizing robots.txt files — to improve its performance, speed, and crawlability for search engines.
- SEO Audit: This is a comprehensive review of your website’s current SEO status, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
- Content Marketing: SEO agencies often provide content creation and marketing services, crafting high-quality, SEO-friendly content that engages your audience and improves your site’s search engine ranking.
- Local and International SEO: While some agencies specialize in local SEO to target customers in a specific geographic location, others offer international SEO services to help your business reach a global audience.
How much is international SEO?
The cost of international SEO can vary widely depending on several factors, including the scope of your project, the complexity of your website, and the global SEO company you choose to work with. Unlike local or national SEO, global search engine optimization involves targeting multiple countries and languages, which can increase costs.
Factors that can influence prices:
- Scope of the Project
- Complexity of the Website
- Services Required
- Agency Expertise
- Ongoing Maintenance
- Custom vs. Pre-Packaged Solutions
- Pricing Models
Different agencies have different pricing models, which can include hourly rates, project-based fees, or monthly retainers. Hourly rates can range from $50 to $200 or more, while project-based fees can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
The cost can vary significantly based on your specific needs and the global SEO company you choose to work with. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your goals and budget when engaging with an agency to target an international audience.