Domain concept: ccTLDs, subdomains or directories?
One of the most important points in international SEO is the domain concept. There are basically three options that have different advantages and disadvantages. You should carefully weigh these up for your company and decide on the most suitable solution. Also keep in mind that your company may expand even further internationally in the future.
ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level-Domain), subdomains or directories can also be combined if you want to use different languages for a country – for example, in Switzerland French, German and Italian.
Subdomains (de.ihrewebsite.de / at.ihrewebsite.de / ch.ihrewebsite.de) benefit from the main domain, but the link strength is distributed among the individual subdomains. However, subdomains are usually unfamiliar to users and not very trustworthy, which is why you should use this option in exceptional cases.
Brands that have a lot of user trust can use subdomains for easier management and marketing. However, these companies in particular usually have sufficient resources for a ccTLD strategy.
If you use subdomains, you should set the geographic target in the Google Search Console.
One of the main advantages of directories is that the strength of the main domain is completely inherited. However, the individual directories in the countries typically have less regional relevance.
Structural errors are a common problem. The given page structure does not always fit for all countries. In addition, it is often confusing for the user to navigate within the directories. In the case of subfolders, you should also determine the geographic orientation in the Google Search Console.
Caution: The use of the geographic target in the Google Search Console is only recommended if all countries have their own landing page. If you also serve German-speaking customers in Switzerland and Austria with the ihrwebsite.com/de directory, you should not save a geographical destination in the Search Console. This would reduce the findability in the other countries.
If international SEO is to be successful, it is extremely important to consider the local market. Even if the language is the same in another country, the terms used in everyday use, and thus the keywords, are often not.
However, linguistically it is not only about the pure terminology, but also about linguistic styles, units of measure and currency, contact addresses and ultimately also about grammar.
In addition, the target group in the different countries can be very different: Certain content can work well in one country while it attracts little interest in another.
International SEO always starts with a logical URL and website structure so that country websites can be clearly assigned. Multilingual content and code should definitely be optimized for each country so that the ranking of your global website increases.