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Website support for overseas distributors

Let’s say we’ve got a distributor for our products in France, or Germany, or even Brazil. Someone who knows the market, and can handle enquiries and orders domestically, and in the country’s language for customers who prefer that. How are we supporting them online?

In too many cases, I see only the most tenuous of links. The manufacturer’s website, presumably in English, is the repository of all information about the company and its products. There’s an ‘international distributors’ page which lists its overseas representatives, and links to their websites. These websites are in the native language, but may or may not contain significant product information, or even reciprocate the link. In many cases they’re just a bit rubbish.

Now look at that from the point of view of a prospect in those countries making an online search, in their native language, for widgètes bleus or Blauewidgelementen or whatever. How likely are they to be presented with either the manufacturer’s website (with lots of information, but in another country and in English) or the distributor’s (with little information, but at least in the right language)? Neither is likely to appeal to the search engine much.

One way to overcome this would be to use search advertising heavily in each country, but as any long-term advertiser knows, this only works if there’s the content on the landing page – in the right language – to support the promise of the advert.

So what we’re going to need is two things: better content on the manufacturer’s website about the distributors, and better content on the distributors’ websites about the products. In both cases, it’ll probably be for the manufacturer to initiate the exercise, but for the distributor to do the writing*.

It’s not really possible to generalise about if and how search engines prefer local summary content in local languages, or in-depth content in different languages, but why not start to cover more of the bases?

*Top tip: an overseas distributor asked to write a dozen web pages about the products in their own language turns out to be surprisingly less motivated to do so than one who’s sent a dozen web pages about the products translated by Google Translate and asked to make some corrections so they read better.