The Internet is a world-wide construction and a natural domain for international marketing practices. Effective multinational digital marketing requires multi-lingual marketing collateral, principally websites and online content.
English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch – No matter what language your business website is presented in, you face a universal challenge: When a potential customer submits a relevant search query, your website needs to rank on the first page of Google search results, ideally in the top 10.
This demands multilingual SEO: The creation of optimized website content in a variety of languages. Two basic approaches are (1) translating and optimizing existing content and (2) creating new optimized content specifically tailored to serve multiple geographic and linguistic regions. The latter is often referred to as Multiregional SEO and goes beyond on-page SEO to nuances of domain and URL structuring and other site development considerations.
The two may overlap, and a site can be both multi-lingual and multi-regional. A multi-lingual SEO strategy is generally the quickest and least resource intensive. Let’s take a look at a few basic on-page SEO tips that can help ensure high search rankings in a variety of languages.
1. Choose productive target languages for your multilingual strategy.
Review site analytics to gather detailed information about the people searching for what you offer. For example, Google analytics may reveal a lot of visitor traffic from France and Spain at your UK-based English language e-commerce site.
Along with that data, a check on the origin of calls and emails, Facebook messages, and other communications shows you are getting a lot of French- and Spanish-speaking visitors. They like your products and may know just enough English to get around your site.
Your site is popping up in these folks’ searches. These visitors are obviously interested enough to go through some effort to learn more about what you offer. You would very likely benefit from reaching out to these customers in their own languages, and content presented correctly in those languages would probably rank higher than your English content.
2. Understand your new markets.
You can rely on the expertise of astute native-speaker translator/marketers for help in developing a profile of your new audience. Anecdotal information on linguistic and cultural backgrounds, demographics, buying, and spending habits, seasonality and so on is always valuable, but don’t neglect formal research strategies. Use resources like Kantar TNS Digital Life, Comscore, Globalwebindex, and Euromonitor International. You might also consider putting together custom market research efforts.
3. Identify optimal target language keywords.
Translate your most important keywords in the language of your new audience. You can use Google Translate, but a fluent native-speaker translator, ideally a content specialist, will yield the best results. Run the translated terms through the Google Ads Keyword Planner. Set the Planner to “All Locations” and note the search traffic counts for the keywords. Now you have a list of useful keywords but remember that quality content is more important than keywords.
4. Offer quality multilingual content.
Even if you simply translate existing content, take a quality approach. Google or other machine translation techniques are out. A translator fluent in the target language and ideally a native speaker is what you need. The perfect choice is an experienced translator who is also a multi-lingual web content author.
There may be no need to employ the full localization techniques that might be used with a multi-regional strategy. However, a good translator/content writer can touch up a few cultural and linguistic points in the content in ways that make it more appealing, useful, and shareable to the target audience. These are qualities that the new Google search algorithms favor.
Want to Rank High Across the EU? Call in the Professionals
It takes a bit of effort to make sure multilingual website content is optimized to rank high in searches by consumers in new markets. The work and investment pays off when your business accesses broad new markets and conversion rates climb on your multilingual sites.
As it can be complicated to keep up with the announced and unannounced updates of the search engines and bad SEO is worse for your company than no SEO, the quickest way to success in international digital marketing across the EU is to enter a partnership with experienced multilingual marketing and SEO experts. There is nothing to be gained by starting from scratch, and search technology, consumer behavior, and SEO strategy changes so quickly nowadays that keeping pace is a full-time occupation. Spend a bit of money, leave it to the pros, then rest easy and focus on running your business.