Think Global Act Global: Writing For Your Online Market
By Kalena Jordan
When you write web site content and design your
pages, do you truly act with your target audience in
mind? Or do you think global and act local?
I am amazed at the number of web sites I see that
claim to target a global market, yet design and write
their content for a regionally-specific
audience. Not sure what I mean? Take the site I saw
yesterday, for example. I won't embarrass the site
owners by pointing to the specific domain, but let's
just say the site is based in the U.S. and sells high
quality gold chains throughout North America, Europe
Now the owner of this site was complaining loudly in
webmaster forum that his pay-per-click campaign
having no luck converting sales from overseas
particularly in the UK and Australia. He had spent a
long time developing and tweaking a landing page for
the campaign and he couldn't work out why hardly
anyone outside the U.S. was buying. I took a look at
his landing page and could see the problems straight
1) He used the American English spelling "jewelry"
throughout the page without considering that persons
who use British English spell it "jewellery".
2) He provided a toll-free phone number for persons
the U.S. to call, but did not provide any contact phone
number for persons located outside the U.S.
3) He used the word "national" throughout the page,
immediately isolating anyone outside the U.S.
4) He promoted "free shipping throughout the U.S."
did not specify shipping costs for persons outside the
The owner of this site had not even considered that
persons outside the U.S. might search for keywords
anything other than American English. It didn't even
occur to him that there may be an alternative spelling
of his main keyword and he didn't think about the
logistics for purchasers outside his country. No
the page wasn't converting outside the U.S.! He had
made the classic mistake of isolating a large chunk of
his audience by sending everyone to a one-size-fits-
What he should have done was to create a separate
landing page using British English spelling and
shipping/contact information applicable to persons
overseas. He could then have set up a unique PPC
campaign targeting only UK/Australian searchers with
regional keywords and ads leading to the British
I see similar problems occur quite often in the online
travel industry where you not only have to deal with
regional spelling options, but also regional
jargon. Think about the word "accommodation". Apart
from the fact the word is commonly misspelled, it
is used most often in the UK, Australia and New
Zealand to describe places to stay while traveling.
In the U.S., the words "accommodations"
are more commonly used. Same goes for "holiday"
and "vacation", with the latter being more common in
the U.S. The word "traveling" itself is
spelled "travelling" in British English! So you can
the minefield of problems webmasters must face
promoting their travel sites online to a worldwide
I don't mean to single out a particular country, but
Americans seem to find it especially difficult to step
outside their regional mindset. I am always receiving
emails from the U.S. with helpful suggestions for
my "spelling mistakes". The funniest email exchange
ever had in relation to this was from an American web
designer. She had seen our Australian-based web
(with a .com.au domain) and emailed me to tell me it
was "full of errors" and that if I wanted to present a
professional business to site visitors, I should correct
them. So condescending! I asked her to elaborate
she pointed me to these words she felt were spelled
Resisting the urge to use a few offensive words I'm
sure she would recognize, I tactfully explained that our
site was only targeting the Australian market and that
we use British English spelling in Australia. Her
response? Perhaps if we wanted to be taken
by an international audience, we should consider
the "more proper" American English. Flabbergasted, I
pointed out the fact that American English was a
derivative of British English and was not widely used
outside her own country. Wikipedia has more about
differences between the two
here. And let's
that although it is the most common language used
the web, English is used by
less than 30 percent of
world's total Internet users.
The point of this story is that you absolutely have to
think outside your market if you are going to advertise
on the web. As ignorant as she was, my email friend
did make me realize that many of her compatriots
also think our site was full of errors. American English
more common on the web and I've since learned to
cater to that trend. I try to remember that in all
writing I do for the web now, whether it's in my daily
blog, the syndicated articles I write regularly or web
page content. Whenever you design or write for a web
site that has an international audience, make sure
address each market. It pays to undertake detailed
keyword research into your markets you are targeting
so you can capture the correct regional jargon and
spelling that people are searching for. Remember it's
not enough to think global, you've got to act global too.
About the Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search
optimization experts in Australia, who is well known
respected in the industry, particularly in the
As well as running a daily
Search Engine Advice
Column, Kalena manages Search
Engine College -
online training institution offering instructor-led short
courses and downloadable self-study courses in
Engine Optimization and other Search Engine
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Have you ever felt alienated by a web site? You know
what I mean - you're looking at a web page but you
just can't seem to connect with it. Whether it's the
language, the spelling or the actual information, the
page copy seems to be addressing somebody else.
This month's article is about the importance of writing
for your specific online audience. I wrote it after
becoming weary of the number of sites I see that
claim to service a global audience but have content
that caters only to a very specific or regional audience.
Speaking of being weary, there's a strange
phenomenon I've recently heard about. It's called a
vacation and it usually involves travelling to a foreign
place and relaxing for long periods of time. Apparently
it's what people do when they need a break from
work. I thought I might try it out next month and go to
New Zealand for 10 days. Wish me luck on the
relaxation front as I'll be dragging a husband and
three year old along for the ride.
And while we're on the subject of rides, if any of you
are coming along to the Search Summit Conference
at Luna Park in Sydney on March 1 and 2, I'll be
speaking about search industry training on day one
so please stop by and introduce yourself. I don't know
if I'll be up for the free rollercoaster rides on day two,
but you never know!
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit the daily
Search Engine Advice Column to check out
my answers to frequently asked search engine
questions or submit one of your own.
Till next time - wishing you clicks and
|FAQ1: What is a reasonable budget for website marketing?|
Love your website. I have been searching for good
marketing companies online and found that most of
them charge upwards of $300 a month to give provide
you with high rankings.
Being an expert, what would you recommend is a
reasonable budget for web site marketing? I have just
started a website and I am overwhelmed. I contacted
similar websites but I have been turned down. What
is the trick to getting links? Should I only link with like-
Asking what a reasonable budget is for web site
marketing is a bit like asking "What is a reasonable
price for a steak?". It depends. Do you want to do all
the work and cook it yourself? Do you want to have it
in a burger joint with fries? Or do you want it served
rare with a red-wine glaze in a 5 star restaurant?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Marketing your web site can be a full-time job,
whether you have a 5 page hobby site or a 50,000
page shopping site. You need to decide what you
actually want your site to achieve before you decide
how to market it. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to attract more traffic?
- Do I want to convert more sales?
- Do I want to attract more sign-ups?
- Do I want more leads?
- How much time can I contribute to marketing?
Then think about what type of budget you can afford
monthly and allocate it to in-house or outsourced
marketing staff according to your priorities. Search
engine marketing is less focused on gaining high
rankings these days and more focused on ensuring
your site is search engine friendly and user-oriented
so it converts to more sales/sign-ups for you. What's
the point of achieving high search rankings if the new
visitors to your site leave immediately?
Regarding links - there is no point in swapping links
with sites that have zero to do with your own site. I've
ranted about this before.
Concentrate on attracting
one-way links from niche search engines and high
quality sites with a similar theme to your own.
my previous posts about link building.
|FAQ2: Does the use of bold or italics tags add relevancy weight in search engines?|
A quick question - How much added value is there to
placing keyword text within bold, strong, italics, or
emphasis tags in terms of the weight given to those
terms by search engines?
Just like a healthy diet, everything in moderation is the
key to a search engine compatible page. Yes, if you
use bold/strong or italics to highlight text on your
page, the search engines will assume you consider
the content of that text to be important.
Same goes for the use of H1, H2 tags etc. If you
consider certain keyword strings important enough to
emphasize via headings, it is my understanding that
the search engines will give the content between the
tags slightly higher relevancy weight than content
outside the tags.
But don't go overboard and emphasize too much
content, or you will defeat the whole purpose of
making certain keywords stand out. You'll also annoy
your readers - there's nothing worse than trying to
read a web page that has been over-formatted.
Overuse of such tags might also trigger anti-
|FAQ3: Does CSS help improve search engine rank?|
Does CSS help improve search engine rank?
(Cascading Style Sheets) alone probably won't
make a blink of difference to the way your site ranks.
However using CSS may reduce the amount of code
you need to use on each page, avoiding code bloat.
Bloated code can sometimes cause important
content to be shoved to the bottom of the HTML,
reducing the likelihood of it being indexed by engines
and reducing its relevancy weight.
CSS can also improve the accuracy of your HTML
because there is less code to make errors with and
more likely that your site will validate to W3.org
standards. Valid code is less likely to trip up search
robots as they crawl through your site.
So while using CSS won't necessarily boost your
rankings on it's own, it could make your site more
search engine compatible and that may in turn
improve your rank.
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