The “what,” “why,” and “how” of applying SEO to multilingual content

What is SEO?

If you aren’t already familiar with SEO, surely you’ve at least heard the term be thrown around. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In our increasingly interconnected digital world, it’s becoming more and more vital to use this tool to increase your website’s traffic and reach—especially if your content is multilingual. This tool ensures that your website will appear higher up on the results page of search engines when your potential customers are researching phrases or words relevant to your work. You can have incredible content, but if no one can find it and engage with it, it’ll be for naught. You want your website and content to be used and seen by as many people as possible, in order for this to happen, incorporating SEO is a must.

Why is it so important that it’s multilingual?

Optimizing your website is only half the battle. It is essential that you make sure to localize your content too, as there are many cultural factors that differ from country to country or even between regions of the same country. The most blatant difference is language; a single country can be made up of several different languages. Some prime examples are countries like Singapore, India or South Africa, which are among the most multilingual nations, with the majority of the population fluently speaking three or more languages. It is also estimated that half of the world’s population is bilingual (or multilingual), so multilingual SEO further increases your reach. In addition differences in language, the preferred search engine used may also differ depending on the country. In China, Baidu is their search engine of choice, while in Japan it’s Yahoo and in Russia, Yandex. You must become familiar with the most used search engine for your target audience and stay sharp on how to have your website appear as high as possible on search engine results.

Now that you know the importance, let’s take a look at how to do it.

5 tips when applying SEO to multilingual content

  • Analyze your competition in that region. You should research their SEO activity in order to get an idea for what they are doing to attract people. It is always a good idea to analyze competition as you’re both targeting the same group of people.
  • It is highly recommended to use a simple country code top level domain (ccTLD). Doing so allows people to find your website quickly and without hassle. The ccTLD is the domain suffix that associates the website with a geographical location, such as .us or .fr.  In addition to using a simple ccTLD, you can also use Google’s Webmaster tools in order to ensure that your website is intended for a specific location. It’s very simple to do—all you have to do is go into your Dashboard and select the target region of your choice. After you have done so, search engines will now be aware that your website is intended for a specific region, which also helps Google prioritize the site for that region.

  • Never hesitate to hire an experienced language service provider. Although you may think that you have everything under control, it’s better for the future of your company to invest in quality translations. These linguistic professionals specialize in the language of your target region and understand cultural nuances. For example, they would know that the word “color” is spelled differently in US English vs. UK English, or that the Spanish word for “computer” varies between Spain and Latin America.
  • Constantly monitor and measure your efforts. It is important for you to document and analyze the results of your SEO in order to determine whether your strategies are working or whether it might be a better idea to switch it up. You can analyze your efforts by monitoring your site traffic on Google Analytics and looking at which keywords directed visitors to your site the most. If you find that your tactics are not working, it may be best for you to conduct new research to determine which keywords are most effective. It’s also a good idea to do routine research because search algorithms are constantly changing.

  • Avoid duplicating content. Make sure to proofread the content on your website several times before publishing and making sure there isn’t too much overlap from your previous posts. This will keep you from sounding repetitive and it will show a variety in your content.

Most important tip: have high-quality content

First of all, while it may be tempting to copy and paste text into machine translation, cutting corners with machine translation might actually hurt your business. Using machine translations often leads to poor translation and several errors. However, text written or translated by a native can also be low quality. With that being said, perhaps the most important thing is that your content is high quality; that those who visit your page are engaged and inspired to share your content. If you can achieve that AND do a great job of SEO, your page will be bustling with traffic.

If you want to maximize the number of people who visit your site and stay ahead of your competition, it is essential that you take the time to do your research and use these tips to to apply SEO to your multilingual content. Start today!