International Websites and Opening in New Markets: Q&As with Alex

Intellitonic SEO Founder Alex Bruner

“I do business in the United States and want to expand my e-commerce business into Canada. Should I create a separate international website and GMB Manager before I open in this new market?”

This is a question with a couple of answers, and we’re going to give you both the short and the long answer.

The Short Answer 

Instead of creating a brand new website, you should set up a subfolder in your existing website to serve content to users and search engines in your new market. The subfolder will appear to the right of the domain, like this:

yourwebsite.com/ca

You can even mirror your content, but you should change denominations (such as pricing and measurements) as well as language to match the vernacular of the region you are newly focused on. This is called “localization.”

Once the content is set up, use HREFLANG tags within the pages or themes on the subfolder to identify the language code and country code. This will tell Google and Google.ca which content is intended for which market.

You should only set up new Google Business Profiles for the new market if you have one or more physical locations in that market that will serve customers. Setting up these new profiles for your physical locations in the new market will identify and reinforce geographic signals to Google. This will boost your SEO efforts in the new region.

And Now, the Long Answer 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Each situation is different depending on a number of variables, but the most important factor to consider is your company’s long-term strategy. Your two best options:

Option 1: Creating a new website to target your new geo

Creating a new website to target the region in question will mean using an entirely different domain from your existing website. For example, if Intellitonic were to expand into an Australian market, we might use intellitonic.au. Domains like .com or .net can be accessed from and rank for any country, but a country-specific domain will be better for SEO and may help your website rank better for that new region. The domain may also be more familiar to users in your new market, which will help users find your website.

This would allow you to build authority more quickly within Google Australia because you have the .au domain. It also has other benefits such as:

  • The ability to target your content and your metadata to search terms popular in Australia

  • The opportunity to build region-specific backlinks and referring resources

  • The ability to set language and region code to those used in Australia

The main drawback of this approach is the new domain will function as an entirely separate website, meaning you could create confusion for visitors who arrive at the wrong domain for their region. Additionally, you will have to do all the same maintenance tasks such as:

  • Split your marketing efforts across two properties

  • Perform upkeep for both websites, including updating images and copy targeted for each region

  • Create separate link-building campaigns for each region

Option 2: Creating a new path and subfolder on your existing website

If managing two websites and two completely separate marketing campaigns sounds like too much work, you could create a new path on your website to a subfolder, as mentioned in the short answer section above. This would look like intellitonic.com/au/ and initially could be a copy of the content from the main website, which could later be localized and customized to your new market.

The benefits to this approach include:

  • The website will be easier to develop and manage

  • There will be one overall server and one overall domain for which to manage search authority

  • These subfolders typically don’t lose authority in the same way subdomains sometimes do

Creating a new domain or adding a subfolder to your existing website both come with benefits. Our general recommendation is to create a subfolder such as yourwebsite.com/ca, both to help you accrue search engine authority more effectively and to save time on website maintenance. However, creating a brand new domain could help you generate authority faster in your new region. It’s important to assess your particular situation and arrive at the strategy that’s right for you.