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How to Set up a Project for an International Website Manual

If you have a client with a domain that covers multiple languages (or countries) - what’s the best way to set up an SEMrush Project for them?

This process will differ depending on how the domain separates the languages on the site.

A website could separate the languages on their domain with…

  • subdomains (es.semrushchina.cn, fr.semrushchina.cn, ru.semrushchina.cn, etc.)

  • top-level domains & ccTLDs (semrush.com, semrush.es, semrush.ru, etc.)

  • subfolders (semrush.com/en, semrush.com/fr, semrush.com/ru, etc.)

The good news is that most Project tools are able to analyze a website’s presence in multiple countries or languages with any of the methods mentioned above.

Site Audit
Position Tracking
Backlink Audit
Brand Monitoring
Content Audit
Link Building Tool
On Page SEO Checker

In some cases, it would be better to set up a separate Project for each, but this article will outline how much you can do in a single Project. You  can run a Site Audit to look for technical and International SEO errors, or set up Position Tracking to track rankings in each country & language, and much more.

Configuring Site Audit to Crawl all Language Versions of a Site

Site Audit will crawl as many pages as you instruct it to in the first step of Configuration. Here you have a few options to make sure you cover all language versions of a website in the audit:

  • To crawl as much of a site in a single audit, set a high limit of checked pages. Then, open Crawl Scope and check the  “Crawl all subdomains” box to ensure that SEMrush reaches all language-versions of the site. Keep in mind that crawling the entire site might take up more limits that you would want to save for other Projects.

    Note: If a website has 1,000 pages and we set the page limit to 10,000 pages, it will not take 10,000 out of the limits. It will only take the amount actually crawled.
    How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 1

  • Set the crawl source as URLs from file. With this option you can upload a file containing all of the pages in every language that you want to audit. It  might be tedious to make the file at first, but it would be the most controlled way to audit all of the pages you want to in one Project.
    How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 2

  • If the website has its language-based subdomains in the sitemap, you can crawl by sitemap URL.
    How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 3

  • Crawl one subdomain/subfolder per Project: If you want to audit each language-based version separately, you can enter a subdomain/subfolder into the Crawl scope setting and Site Audit will only crawl that 1 subdomain indicated in the setup. How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 4This means you would have to set up an individual Project for every language-based subdomain (one for translate.com, one for it.translate.com, one for ru.translate.com).
     

  • Lastly, if your domain separates languages by TLD, you would have to create a different Project for each TLD-based site (one for translate.com, one for translate.it, one for translate.ru, etc).

After the audit finishes, be sure to look for any hreflang issues on the site as well as any other international SEO red-flags.  

Set up Multiple Target Locations in Position Tracking

Position Tracking is another essential tool that will measure the impact of your SEO or SEM campaign by tracking daily rankings and changes. Our tool has the ability to track up to 10 devices or locations in a single Project, so you could track up 10 location & language pairs with one Project.

How Limits Work with Multiple Devices and Locations

Each set of keywords in a new location or new device would take keywords from your account’s keyword tracking limits. (Check your account’s limits here).

For example, you could create a Project and set up a Position Tracking campaign for example.com tracking….

  • 10 english keywords in the United States desktop results

  • 10 spanish keywords in Mexico desktop results

  • 10 french keywords in Canada desktop results

And the resulting Project would use 30 of your account’s keyword tracking limits.

Position Tracking Configuration

When you configure a Position Tracking campaign there are 4 main steps in the setup wizard.

  1. Domain Settings: Choose “root domain” (You can enter the other language-specific areas of the site as Competitors to track them separately in the same Project later).

  2. Device and Location: Enter the first target location and device you want to track

  3. Competitors: You can skip this step for now.

  4. Keywords: Enter the keywords that you want to track in the target location you set in step 2.

After these 4 steps, your campaign will be running. Next, you can start adding the additional locations and sets of keywords.

Find the blue Device & Location link and click the green “add a new device or location.”

How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 5Now SEMrush will ask you to choose your next location/device to track. Enter it here and then choose to add keywords by entering manually.

tracking-locations
On the next screen you’ll be asked to enter the keywords for this location. You can also add tags to these keywords if you’d like.
 

add-keywordsOnce you add the keywords to your Project and hit “update” your campaign will start tracking these new keywords in the second location.

To track the visibility and positions for each subdomain/subfolder/TLD version of your site separately, you can add each version as a Competitor in the competitor fields.

The Devices & Locations tab in this tool will help you keep an eye on the performance of your site in each location and set of keywords.

This method of tracking more than one location or device in a single project is referred to as “multi-targeting.” 

Configure Backlink Audit with your target countries and translated brand name

Backlink Audit will help you identify any toxic links that your domain has that should be removed. The second step of the configuration wizard of this tool will ask you to specify your brand name and step 4 will let you pick your target countries.

brand-name-backlink-auditIn this step you should enter all versions of your brand name as it is written in each language your site covers. Then, you should write in all of the countries where your website is relevant. That way, SEMrush will avoid labeling any backlinks mentioning your business in another language or country as toxic.

Set up Brand Monitoring to track your brand name in multiple languages

Brand Monitoring tracks the web for any mentions of a branded word or phrase you want to track. This tool’s configuration options let you choose a country or language to specify the scope of its reach. Choose one language here and enter the brand name or phrase you want to track in that language in the “Main keywords” field.

target-country-languageBrand Monitoring allows you to create 3 campaigns per Project and each campaign can target a different location or language. So with one Project you could track a total of 3 different languages.

To track brand name mentions in more than 3 languages, you would need to create more Projects.

Configure Content Audit to audit all of your languages

Much like Site Audit, Content Audit also lets you upload a file of URLs to start the tool. If you have a file of URLs with all of the pages in all of the languages that the domain covers, upload it here when starting this tool. This will be the easiest way to make sure the audit covers every piece of content in the languages you are interested in improving.

audit-by-file

If you don’t have a file with all of your URLs ready, you can still audit by subfolder. This would be an easy solution for sites with languages separated by folders. All you have to do is select the subfolders with the checkbox beside their URL.

However, at this the tool currently doesn’t work with different subdomains. So if your site has languages separated by subdomains, you will need to set up a separate Project for each subdomain to run a Content Audit for each language.

More info on how to use Content Audit can be found here.

Set up the Link Building Tool in your target language & country

The Link Building Tool configuration lets you choose a target country and enter target keywords in any language you’d like.

How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 11This will configure the tool to gather opportunities for links relevant to a specific country and language where you want to build links.

Although you can only run 1 Link Building tool campaign per Project, you have the ability to restart your Link Building Tool campaign from the “Update Prospects” button.

How to Set up a Project for an International Website image 12

This would allow you to generate prospects in one language and country, export your prospects, and then restart the campaign to gather prospects in a new language and country.

Set up On Page SEO Checker in your target country & language

Please note that On Page SEO Checker can only target one location per Project. If you choose a location that speaks more than one language, you can set the target language here as well.

seo-in-multiple-languagesTo get SEO recommendations for your landing pages in more than one location or language, you would need to create one Project for each language that you are planning to target.

Project Limits

Keep in mind the number of Projects you can run at the same time is based on your SEMrush subscription level.

  • Pro: 5 Projects

  • Guru: 50 Projects

  • Business: 200 Projects

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