Expanding an online business internationally

Published on 05/06/19

Recently we wrote an article for mysailing.com.au which is a website dedicated to representing the expansive community of sailing and ship enthusiasts in Australia. The article we wrote aimed to provide information about growing your business in the international market through the internet. The article specifically focused on the experience we had in building the Australian website and the response we had from the Australian market. We wanted to replicate some of the information we provided in that article as we feel it is a useful insight and would help anybody who is looking to grow an internet business.

From national to international 

Before launching our Australian website we had already established a UK website and had launched a US website as well. After launching the Australian website in early 2014, we have gone on to also launch a French website. These experiences have given us the knowledge and expertise of developing your business on an international scale and we want to share this knowledge with you.

The first step to developing our Australian website was securing an Australian domain and then creating the website. There were two barriers to the achievement of this. Firstly, in order to localise our services properly we wanted each website to be in the currency of the country it was based; therefore the currency on each website is different; the UK one is in pounds, the US one is in dollars and the Australian one is in Australian dollars. Premier Ship Models is a small business with a small team of staff and if the office was flooded with orders it would be difficult enough to manage without the added hassle of dealing with orders being placed in multiple different currencies.

The first problem: Dealing with orders in multiple different currencies

The solution: A multi-store website back end management program such as Prestashop

Prestashop is designed to help you manage your e-commerce website. It helps you track orders placed, the products on your website, adjust prices and communicate with customers. The solution to Premier Ship Model’s first problem was Prestashop. It allows you to manage all stores, UK, US and AU from the same place. Every order on each website is placed in its relevant currency and it appears in Prestashop as that currency. Prestashop also allows you to have the same product range across all international websites and manage that product range from the same place. For example, you can adjust the price of a particular product for the UK, US and AU store from the same place. Alternatively, you can disable a product in the UK store but keep it enabled in the US and AU store, again from the same place. Prestashop is essentially the solution to managing an international store online, but there are other CMS (content management system) out there that offer the same service. Check out this page to see some of the best CMS as voted by users.

With the UK website live we had already spent a lot of time creating website content, from the text on each web page and perhaps most importantly on each of the products to the images on each product. With over 500 products on the UK website and with a plan in mind to replicate this product range on the Australian website; was it a simple matter of copying every single product along with the pictures and the text across? Unfortunately not.

The second problem: Duplicating content from the UK website across to the Australian website

Solution: Geo-targeting

The main issue with duplicated content relates to search engines such as Google. Google uses the content of a website to determine its relevance to a search query. This is what people call SEO (search engine optimisation) which is the service of adding content to a website to increase its visibility in search results on engines such as Google. The higher up the search results the website is the more traffic it will get and therefore the more potential there is for revenue.

The problem with duplicated content in terms of SEO is that if Google finds two websites with the same content it has difficulty determining which website is more relevant to the search query. All websites have a domain authority which is what Google uses (amongst other things) to determine how much reputation the website has and therefore how highly it should be ranked. Domain authority is affected by a number of things for example the age of the website and the amount of times the content of the website has been shared by others (this is also known as link building).

In our case, because the Australian website had only just been created and because none of its content had been shared by anybody else, its domain authority was much lower than the UK website. So if the content was identical on both websites, the Australian website would be punished by Google and potentially taken off their index; meaning it wouldn’t rank at all for any search queries! This issue was solved using geo-targeting, under the direction of our website developers Teapot Creative, we implemented geo-targeting on the Australian website which is the process of telling Google that this website also belongs to us and therefore so does the content. Google will also use geo-targeting to determine a websites relevancy to the search query based on where the user is searching from. In other words, if a user is searching for ‘model ships’ in Australia then the Australian website will appear higher than the UK website.

The results of our hard work

The Australian website has now reached its one year anniversary. The response within the Australian market has been overwhelmingly positive to our website and business. We believe the popularity amongst Australian consumers lies in the maritime history and culture present in the country. After launching the Australian website we launched a French website and are now looking forward to a German one. If you have an online business or are thinking of starting one and are looking to expand internationally then we hope you find this article a useful source of information. If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Finally, if you know anyone who is in the position of expanding their business internationally please share this article with them to help them out.

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