Reaching a global market for their products or services is the goal of many businesses. After all, it’s all about widening a customer base. And given the fact that consumers are willing to make purchases from companies in far-off lands, it only makes sense to have a multi-lingual focus.
This, of course, means translating a website and localizing it for a foreign audience.
Translating is one thing. Localization is quite another. It requires a cultural awareness of the target population so that language and visuals are appropriate. Most website owners employ natives of the target population to provide the translation and localization to ensure that users have a great experience.
Beyond the translation and localization activity, however, are the SEO issues. You may have an amazing site with a great ranking in your native language because you have done all the necessary things – you have great content; you have used scientific methods of keyword research; you have worked hard to get backlinks from reputable sources. But gaining that same SEO advantage when a website is translated and localized is quite another matter.
Avoiding the Common SEO Issues
Once you have a native-language expert in tow and your website has been localized, it is time to think about SEO. This will involve the following:
1. conducting relevant keyword research in the target language to identify those keywords that have strong search volume and competition as low as possible.
2. At least some of your better blog posts with those new keywords inserted in strategic and natural places
3. Develop a strategy to promote the site via link building.
The Keyword Research
You have two options here but you must take one of them if you intend to incorporate keywords with high volume.
1. There are a number of multilingual SEO agencies that provide this research and you can certainly contract with them. You provide your native tongue keywords, and they will perform a search of related words and phrases in the target language and provide a report of the most highly recommended ones. Many of these agencies will also go through your content and insert them strategically.
2. There are a number of tools which you can use yourself to conduct this research. Again, you will insert native keywords, related keywords, and phrases. The tool will generate the same in the target language but will also generate a report on the difficulty, the volume, and even the use of them by competitors. It will then be up to you to insert those you select.
Structure of the Website
While there are several ways to structure the website, probably the best method is to have country-coded top-level domains. Thus, you would use .fr for France or .de for Germany. The SEO advantages are as follows:
1. They will receive a ranking boost on local search engines
2. Visitors will know right away that you are focused on their country
3. If the domain name is keyword rich, then it can be translated for each country. This works if you have a core product or service.
These will let Google and other search engines know the language of each page, rather than the country, and it’s a good idea to have these tags for every page. This means that pages get indexed correctly.
Link Building Strategies
The process of building links for multilingual websites is not much different from what you have done in your native language.
1. Search Google and other local search engines by your keywords/phrases. You can then submit an article or your company info to blogs, forums, directories or even ad sites that are on the first couple of pages. Remember that each submission, although it may be similar in content, must be unique.
2. Use a good tool to search for backlinks that your local competitors are getting. You might be able to get the same backlink as well. Make sure the backlinks you are getting are in the same target language and do not try to manipulate the anchor text that you use. If, for example, you write articles in English and use anchor text in your target language, you will be penalized.
3. Just as it does in your own native SEO strategy, link building takes time, and it is important that the sites from which you gain backlinks are reputable. Do not by any means, just take any backlinks, thinking that some are better than none.
Other Important Considerations
1. If you are serious about expanding into foreign markets, then you to be certain that you have the budget to do it right. This means hiring all of the local expertise that you may need. There are SEO agencies in every country that specialize in foreign clients, and using them rather than attempting to do everything yourself, with simply a native translator may not get you the results you want.
2. Go slowly. You are probably not a Coca-Cola. As our budget allows, expand into one language/region at a time, put all of your efforts into that one project, and then move on to the next, as budget and time allow.
3. Local search engines can be just as important as the “big boys” like Google. One of the things that a local SEO agency understands is those search engines and their algorithms. They can advise on content as well as just keywords.
4. PPC advertising is a great way to get your website and brand spread. Do not overlook this strategy. Using a reputable SEO agency, again, will mean that your ads are placed strategically and on reputable websites that will tabulate your click-throughs honestly.
5. Don’t forget social media. While backlinks from social media platforms are generally not given as much significance as those from sites and blogs, they do count somewhat. And after all, the goal is to get visitors to your website and to convert them into customers. If you can establish yourself on one or two local social media platforms and employ a local content marketer/firm to create some engaging humorous or inspiration posts on a regular basis, you can gain a following that will build over time. And using the same strategies, such as discounts and free trials, can be just effective with any demographic.
6. Your website should have an established blog. Initially, post a few of your best posts (translated, of course). Over time, regular posts will generate readership, and these can be “teased” on social media too. Content is just as important for local search engines as it is for the major international search engines
SEO is not an activity that is ever fully accomplished. Search engine algorithms change; new strategies are continually developed; keyword popularity changes over time. While you monitor your native website for all of these things and make the necessary changes, you must do the same with any translated and localized website too.
Expanding your brand to foreign audiences is exciting and carries a real potential for revenue growth. If SEO is done right the first time and is continually monitored, your chances of success are assured.
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