Making SEO Friendly Urls to Target Traffic of Nearby Countries

Thomas
I have a question I hope someone of the clever people in here is able to shed some light on/help guide me in the right direction.
So I have a company. We use a .com domain. We do business (incoming tourism) to The Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). Due to the nature of the business, we have never focused on an "online presence" or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for this company/page. However, as the company evolves, we are now about to change that. All text on the page is in English, but our target clients are travel agencies and event companies "all over Europe" (the company is a supplier to these companies).
We wish to be found in search with the various keywords + typically coupled with the name of the city (ex Team building + Vilnius or Gala venue + Tallinn, etc).
As we are not targeting local traffic (no clients locally), therefore page is only in English (we work in/have an office in all 3 countries).
My big question is:
Should we focus on one page/domain and try to optimize our content/pages/services in Vilnius/Tallinn/Riga under maindomain.com/tallinn, maindomain.com/riga, maindomain.com/Vilnius, or would it be better/beneficial to have 3 separate sites with .LT, .LV, .EE domains?
Any suggestions and comments would be highly appreciated.
Keep on rocking guys and gals and may you all have an awesome Monday!
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Arvydas
So your goal is to start targeting (a) local traffic for e.g. Team building + Vilnius (in Lithuanian) or you still be targeting (b) companies "all over Europe" which are searching for Team building + Vilnius (in English)? If it's B, then I would go with one .com domain for lt/lv/ee. In this case, you will be able to accumulate all authority (links, social, etc) under one domain, instead of diluting it to the 3 separate ones. If you are planning to go after a local traffic, then yes, 3 separate sites under .LT, .LV, .EE domains. Another option to consider is to go with local sites where your clients are. E.g. target local traffic in .DE, .NO, .SE searching for Team building + Vilnius (in it's local language).
Thomas ✍️
Labas Arvydas. Thanks for the answer. B is what I am after. We do not target clients locally, but f.ex a Spanish Travel agency who would be looking for "team building in Vilnius" for their clients going to Vilnius.
I was thinking that one .com would be the best due to the authority etc, but was not really sure if f.ex it could beneficial to have a .LT domain for our offerings in Lithuania and LV and EE for the same in Latvia and Estonia.
I have also been thinking about the other way with local domains of the type .no, .se, .dk etc to target local searches. That may be a strategy down the line, but for now I guess .com is right place to start (or rather continue).

Arvydas
.lt domain would hardly rank in NO for search terms in English, so I suppose it's the least effective option to go with. .com domain would definitely rank for English keywords in e.g. NO .no domain in Norwegian if the best option available, however, it would require much more resources. So yes, your conclusion to go with .com in English is the most effective solution 🙂
Thomas ✍️
Makes sense. The searches will come from various international Google sites, so having the least common denominator would be the way to go – in this case English and .com.
I do not think – as it makes no sense to me – that a travel agent in Norway would search Norwegian terms when they are trying to find information about "Team building in Vilnius". Also, they obviously would write/search in Lithuanian language.
Thank you for your input!

Susana
It's complicated and I don't have a definitive answer, but I'm wondering if your potential Spanish companies (for example) are searching for your service in Spanish on Google.es? If so it would make more sense to me to have a small Spanish site that links to your .com

Thomas ✍️
Thanks. This is what Arvydas above is talking about as well. Having a site in all languages is not feasible though. I am pretty sure the Spaniards would search on Google.es, but it is also my assumption that they would search for English terms (if they do not find their answers in Spanish first). It is an international business and in many cases, the primary language we all use would be English.
In the future, it may make sense to make a few international sites, however, the upkeeping of a bunch of sites would be way too much work in the end (especially for a small company).
Susana
Ok… it's such a mind bend! I've been thinking about this exact issue because I have a friend in a similar situation with her company.
I think if you definitely need to get customers via search I'd be tempted to try a language specific landing page on your .com then use PPC to get the right eyeballs on it. Test with one, see how it converts and then move onto the next.
What ways do you currently get your customers in the main?
Thomas ✍️
We never really got clients via search, as it is a "relationship-based" business where physical meetings, tradeshows etc is the way we get partners/clients. However, as the business is in charge, we see that in some markets, where we are weaker, this approach will probably not work out (too late to the party, so to speak). So we are re-focusing our efforts to an inbound strategy for new biz while continuing with the "relation based" efforts in the established markets/with the established partners.
As so much is changing and it makes sense (for us) to Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (GaryVee style) in order to earn new business.
We may also do some PPC on Google, as the keywords are extremely targeted and specific to our business.

Shastri
I would suggest to keep .com domain. And create folders as you said on main domain. Domaim.com/tallinn . You can create pages under these subfolders for your services in that particular region. The region dynamics, offerings might change based on location so better go with folders.
Also if you are on WordPress , use WPML plugin for language translations,Only if you think regional language will play a part . Working under too many domains will dilute your brand value . Also you might decide to use social media to communicate with user ,it will be of too much work i guess on every channel. All these are my personal views 🙂

Thomas ✍️
Thanks for your reply. It seems clear that having a .com domain and folders makes sense. It is an extremely international business with lots of clients and partners "all over Europe", while we are based in 3 countries ourselves. So we stick to the original plan! 🙂

Thomas ✍️
This was very useful and helped heaps! This forum kicks-ass!
Hossain
Its depend what you can do. If you are open to budget then having different domain for targeting. But it certainly will cost or needs more effort to manage all different domains. If you create subdomains targeting different countries will be easier to manage and low costs. Now, its your decision.

Thomas ✍️
Thanks! Our biggest problem with such a solution is time. So I think the one domain with subfolders is what we landing on. 🙂
Hossain
Yep. Effective and time consuming.

Matthew
Back when I did client SEO we did a lot of tourism and found that if you aren't targeting local traffic, then no need for local domains, the .com is fine.
The closest to you scenario I had was one client that went after British, Dutch and German customers primarily with multiple locations in South West England (across 3 counties – basically our states)
The way we set this up was to initially create silos around each of the locations – so in your case all the stuff about Riga in one, another for Tallinn etc. This was both the money content and the stuff about things to do in the area to get the topical relevancy working.
This was all done under a directory my domain.com/en which was a WordPress install set up in English. We then recreated this under /de and translated it into German and again under /nl for Dutch.
Each URL then had flags in the header – if these were clicked they took the user (and hence Google) to the same content in the other languages.
The first thing the user was greeted with on the home page was 3 flags and asking the user to pick the language. This was just static html that was split into 3 sections (one in each language) and acted as the portal in to the relevant content in each language eg a little bit on each location, the things to do, the conference facilities, in each language.
We did this, even though the user would rarely see it as they generally got sent to their language home page by Google. The aim was to further increase the topical relevancy of the links we got to the homepage.
We did this as subdirectories as at the time this was considered the better way to do it for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (and much less messing around with nameservers!) but you could probably do it with subdomains just as effectively.
The company we did this for was much smaller than many of the competitors, who were mostly national and international, but we got them top 3 rankings for pretty much all the terms they wanted and outranked the big boys with as little as ten percent of their links. It must be said the big players had terrible on-page, but it shows what can be done.
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Thomas ✍️
Thank you so much Matthew! Thanks for your help and insights!

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