If you plan to target customers in new regions, especially those where people speak different languages, you’re going to have to revisit your approach to SEO. It takes more than translation to drive customers in new markets to your website and landing pages. Indeed, you must implement a multiregional SEO strategy that is based on multilingual best practices.
That’s not an easy feat. There’s more to multilingual and multi-regional SEO than simply dealing with language differences. There are technical and cultural considerations at play. It takes a very dedicated effort to make this work. Fortunately, all of this hard work to apply multilingual SEO best practices, can pay off with increased traffic, search engine rankings, and other rankings. You can begin your journey by implementing these tips for better SEO for multilingual websites.
Think Beyond ASCII Characters
When it comes to SEO, two of the most important metrics are traffic, and the amount of time visitors spend on your site. When people feel at home using your website and are able to navigate easily those numbers increase. So do conversions. That’s why one of the first multilingual SEO best practices you should implement is to optimize your website to display UTF-8 characters.
If your multilingual and multi-regional SEO objectives include marketing to customers in Asia, and other currents that don’t use standard ASCII characters, this change is absolutely mandatory. It will allow your website to display Chinese characters and other text.
Think Beyond Bing and Google
If your SEO strategy has largely been based on Google’s standards, you aren’t alone. However, keep in mind that Google isn’t necessarily the most popular search engine across the globe. If you are implementing multilingual and multiregional SEO and engaging in global marketing, you have to optimize for other, globally popular search engines. These include:
- Baidu for China
- Shenma for China as Well
- Yandex for Russia and Other Parts of Eastern Europe
In addition to optimizing for the right search engines, your multilingual SEO best practices should take social media platforms into consideration. For example, Facebook is blocked for Chinese nationals. To use social content to boost SEO for multilingual websites and social media platforms, you’ll need to create and optimize your presence on Sina Weibo. There are many other international social media pages to consider as well.
Use Geo-Targeting to Communicate with Search Engines
If your multilingual SEO best practices include serving up content that is customized for audiences in different regions (it should!), then geo-targeting is the way to go. This approach is also helpful if your product offerings, date formatting, and currencies will also change. By creating geo-targeted web content, you can be sure that all of your audience members see what is most relevant to them.
There are a few ways to approach this. One popular method is to use entirely separate domain names for each region. So, landing pages for the UK would end with .co.uk. Web pages for Germany would end in .de. You can also maintain a single website, but develop separate pages with content for each targeted region. If you do this, you can use Google Webmaster tools to declare a target country for each page.
Localize Both Existing and New Content
When brands begin to expand into foreign markets, they often take the time to have their existing website content translated and localized. This is, of course, one of the better multilingual SEO best practices there is, but it isn’t enough.
Websites that consistently earn the top rankings are the ones that regularly post relevant content. As new content is published, Google and other search engines crawl and index your site, taking into consideration things like keywords, tags, and metadata. If you want that process to benefit your multilingual and multi-regional SEO efforts, new content must be translated and localized. In fact, you may want to use a resource like Pick Writers to help you find a content translation service with which you can forge an ongoing relationship.
Not only can a professional help you with translation, but they also can provide you with cultural understanding, and keep you current on the topics that are relevant to your new target audiences. Keep in mind that content that moves people to answer your CTA will vary from place to place.
Engage in New Keyword Research
You’ve probably already done thorough keyword research and optimization on your current web pages. Well, there’s bad news, you’ll have to go through the same efforts in order to boost SEO for multilingual websites. Simply translating keywords won’t work. Instead, you will have to conduct keyword research to determine the search terms that people in your new target markets use when they are interested in your products and services.
Here’s a good example. If you optimize for the keyword mobile phone in English, translation websites will tell you the German version of that is Mobiltelefon. However, if you want to implement multilingual SEO best practices, you’ll use the more commonly used term ‘handy’ in your content.
Earn Backlinks from Local Influencers and Content Creators
Earning backlinks is another good practice to improve SEO for multilingual websites. The practice will increase your thought leadership in new markets, boost your credibility, and increase content engagement. Just remember that you aren’t going to get the best results by relying on influencers from your home country. Instead, you’ll need to engage in influencer outreach in order to build relationships with local bloggers, publications, and other influencers. If you earn backlinks that happen to be written in the native language, that’s even better.
In fact, as you implement multilingual and multi-regional SEO, you might consider your own links as well. Whenever possible, use links to sites that are written in the language you are targeting. This is an ideal practice for improving multilingual and multi-regional SEO.
Final Thoughts on Multilingual Multiregional SEO Best Practices
If the key to SEO for multilingual websites was simply translation, the process would be easy. Unfortunately, the most effective approach requires taking multiple steps that include, getting to know the interests and values of your target audience, implementing multilingual and multiregional SEO best practices, optimizing for new keyword sets, even focusing on new search engines and social media platforms. Your efforts to increase traffic, rankings, and ultimately conversions depend largely on your efforts in these areas.