International Ecommerce: Mistakes to Avoid While Sailing New Marketing Horizons

Are you expanding your target audience to a new location?

Or instead, maybe you’re narrowing your reach, focusing on a specific state or town.

Location-specific marketing is a whole new ball game, and there are some critical mistakes which are really easy to make when starting out. Unfortunately, they’re also very difficult to recover from.

Let’s cover a couple of them in detail.

  • SEO mistakes that can affect your organic traffic.
  • Failing to keep track of different legal and security requirements in new locations.

This is hardly an exhaustive list, but I feel these are the two most commonly overlooked difficulties you’ll face when considering location-based marketing. They’re also the most likely to do long-term damage if ignored!

Location-Based SEO Mistakes

You’ve put hard work into designing and creating content for your landing pages. They look great, and each landing page converts like a dream. So why not just turn them into templates and put up one for each target location?

Well, there are a few reasons why not.

  • Duplicate Content Hurts Your Rankings

OK, so the disclaimer here is that duplicate content doesn’t necessarily get you penalized by Google. But the example I noted above, uploading the same page and changing the location keywords, is at risk of getting flagged as a doorway page.

Even if that doesn’t happen, duplicate content can cause the search algorithm to behave in ways that don’t fit your traffic priorities. Ranking multiple pages for the same set of basic keywords, with locational qualifiers, still puts pages on your domain in competition with each other, which dilutes and splits the audience. This means that your ranking for each page will start to decline. Additionally, Google tends to look for the original content, and only wants to display one page from your domain at a time. That means your targeted pages might not show up at all.

  • Duplicate Content Is Bad User Experience

It’s bad strategy too. Marketing copy that works in one area might not work in another. A product that one target audience needs might not do so well in a different community. If you’re going to target a new location, you need to do your research. Adding the keyword to content you already generated isn’t going to get you much love from a new audience.

According to Pepperdine University, global brands frequently adopt a local marketing strategy designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual community. From Pepperdine’s infographic: “Not ‘here’s our product’ but rather ‘what product can we make that you want or need?’” On a smaller scale, you can take this “glocalization” philosophy and apply it to your own locational marketing campaigns. First of all, create a different landing page with different targets for each region. Consider developing some location-specific blog posts or other types of informative content to make a friendly impression.

Remember that location pages are difficult to rank if you don’t have signals indicating that you’re a physically local business — address, phone number, maps. In general, you’ll have to work harder than folks who have physical locations in the area, so take that into account when you’re evaluating the competition for your keywords.

Legal Requirements

If you’re in the US, remember that a different set of legal requirements might be in effect if you sell across state lines. In California, failing to comply with a new set of requirements for e-commerce could get you prosecuted. Among other things, you’ll need to make sure you have updated contact information, a refund policy, and the resources to honor returns and refunds.

These regulations can apply directly to your products too. California, ever difficult, adds a small fee to anything sold with a plastic bottle in addition to taxes. Taxes, too, may end being different on certain products depending on the state you’re selling in, and especially if you’re trying to sell overseas.

Remember that there may also be different privacy and data security requirements depending on the state and country. It’s best to ensure you’re compliant by using a third party payment processor that has taken the time to get verified and supplies their own security.

Stay savvy to the changing landscape both in the land of search engines, and of industry regulation. Good luck out there, as you explore new marketing horizons!

This is a post by Shopping Signals contributor, Avery Phillips.  <– Thanks Avery! -Ryan

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