When I first started out as an entrepreneur, people used to create companies focused on one specific country.

For example, if you were based in the United States you would create a company for the people within the United States.

But that’s no longer the case.

These days, it benefits companies to be global or at least to consider it for future growth expansion.

Just look at NeilPatel.com. I don’t focus my marketing on just the United States, I focus on the world and that shows in my traffic stats.

And my ad agency NP Digital is expanding by adding 10 countries this year.

In essence, we do marketing, and even SEO, on a global level. Both for ourselves and our clients.

So for fun, I thought it would be interesting to see which countries are the easiest to do SEO in.

Because there are so many countries out there, we focused on the top 20 countries in terms of GDP, excluding China and Taiwan.

How did we run our analysis?

First off we used data from Ubersuggest because we already track rankings, sites and keywords in almost every country. So all we really had to do was slice and dice reports from our database.

We started by looking at close to 1 million keywords before selecting approximately 250,000 keywords that were looked at in this analysis.

We broke down industry-specific information by country in both English and their native language (if applicable).

Of the 20 countries chosen, 16 countries had at least one more native language that we also analyzed. And for each country, we took the top 1,000 keywords per industry in English as well as the top 500 keywords for the same industry in their national language (if applicable).

As for the industries, we choose 9 industries where the keywords were chosen from.

These industries are:

BusinessE-CommerceFashionHealth & FitnessNews & MediaReal EstateRetailTechnologyTravel

Let’s dive into the results.

What industries had the highest SEO difficulty for each country in English and in their native language?

For the majority of countries, their native language had a significantly higher SEO difficulty across all industries. Some countries had high difficulty scores in multiple languages such as India and Indonesia.

News & Media had the highest SEO difficulty on average while Retail had the lowest average SEO difficulty.

Business

Ecommerce

Fashion

Health & Fitness

News & Media

Real Estate

Retail

Technology

Travel

In almost every case the United States was the hardest and most competitive to rank in. As for the easiest country to rank in, it varied depending on the category as you can see above. From Turkey, to the Netherlands, to Poland to South Korea, it varies based on the industry you are in.

If you are going after other regions, you’ll notice that their native language is more competitive than English and that is because English isn’t used as often within most of those countries.

When looking at the data per industry above, keep in mind that not all industries are equal. In some countries, certain industries are more popular and are searched for more often.

A great example of this is that within Indonesia, travel is a popular category compared to Turkey based on the percentage of searches within each country.

How much search traffic can you generate from each country?

For fun we also looked at the average search volume for these popular terms in each country. That way when you expand your SEO efforts to new countries you can see what the average search volume is for the top keywords in each country.

If you look at the graph below, in the bottom right corner you can see the average search volume for popular terms within that region.

In the graph, you also see the upward slant of the line indicates that there is an overall positive correlation between the average search volume and population for each country (which is to be expected).

Anything above the line indicates there is a strong positive correlation. Note that only English speaking countries are above the line.

Even though some countries may not have as high of a GDP per capita or just overall GDP, keep in mind that countries like India are growing at a faster rate from a percentage point than countries like the United States.

So if you have the time and resources I would start expanding into these other countries now, versus going after them later on when it becomes more competitive.

How many backlinks are needed in order to be considered a top-ranking website in each country?

Links make Google go round and round. So how many links do you need to be a top site and rank well?

We analyzed the top 10 to 20 sites per industry for each country (total of over 2500 websites were analyzed). Here is the average backlinks per country for the top sites.

To make the charts more readable, here is a version with the United States removed.

And if you were wondering what the backlink distribution looks like per industry for each country, here is an overview.

How many keywords do you need to rank for to be considered a top-ranking site in each industry?

Here is the average number of ranking keywords a top site ranks for in each country.

If you remove the United States, you can get a much clearer overview for the rest of the countries we analyzed.

Keep in mind that the distribution of keywords you need to rank for varies a lot per country and industry. For example, in Japan, you don’t really need to rank for a lot of keywords in the business industry but you need a ton in fashion compared to other countries.

How much organic search traffic does your website need to be considered a top website in each country?

Here is the average search traffic you need to be considered a top website within each country.

And here is what it looks like when you remove the United States from the chart.

The traffic needed also varies depending on the industry you are in. Here’s a breakdown by industry for each country.

Conclusion

There is no easy answer to which country is the easiest to do SEO in.

It’s easy to identify that the United States is one of the hardest countries, but depending on the industry you are targeting the degree of how easy or hard SEO is varies substantially.

The bad news is that it is going to get harder over time. But the good news is, it is still early for many countries and this is the time to expand your SEO efforts.

So what countries are you going to focus your SEO efforts on next?