Have you tried search engine optimization, or SEO, yet? This clever “trick” gives you more visibility by moving you to the top of search engine results. However, it takes a bit of work—and if you are an international business reaching out to a global market, it can be even harder. Although the process can be intricate and complicated, the key to SEO lies in using the right keywords. And when you market to more than one culture, this can get tricky.

“Napkin” or “serviette”? “Sneakers” or “trainers”? “Sandwich press” or “toastie maker”? Your word preference depends on your cultural background. These questions represent only a small number of the differences in identifiers that you will find in the English language for things that are the same. How many times have you listened to someone speak the same language as you, only to find yourself lost and confused because you could not understand his or her dialect? Remember that individual words are central to SEO. So, when using it to increase your visibility internationally, be careful to pay attention to and account for any differences in word preference that exist between cultures.

Cultural values and the search engine. A less obvious problem arises when using SEO to market your brand internationally. You probably already know that different cultures place value on different things in the professional world. For example, in the U.S., boasting about our abilities is an accepted form of advertising; however, this practice is frowned upon in many cultures. So, to make yourself look good using SEO in the global marketplace, you have to focus on other features in order to appeal to international clientele. Depending on their cultural background, prospective clients will oftentimes conduct a search for a product or service using keywords that highlight unique characteristics they value. Again, be careful to keep this in mind. Without special attention being paid to the subtle cultural differences in your international market, even the best attempts at SEO will only work to promote your business in your home country.