Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a part of any effective content marketing strategy—but what happens when you’re marketing to a non-English speaking audience?

Spanish is the world’s fourth most widely spoken language and the second most common language in the US, after English. It’s no wonder that well-done Spanish SEO can bring serious results—but it does require conducting in-depth research and creating new SEO strategies for each Spanish-speaking target market.

Here are four major considerations for Spanish SEO, including why it’s so important and how it differs from English SEO.

Why is Spanish SEO important?

a street with dozens of flags from different countries

Spanish is the official language in 20 countries across Europe and Central and South America. It’s also widely spoken in countries like the US, Philippines and Belize. In 2019, the US alone had over 41 million native Spanish speakers.

It’s important to note that around 76% of online shoppers prefer to shop in their native language. In fact, 40% of consumers say they will never buy from websites in another language. 

So, when learning that Spanish is the third largest language on the internet—making up about 8% of all internet usage—it’s no surprise that Spanish is a key target language for many global brands.

Spanish-speaking markets are worth the investment. If you aren’t successfully reaching Spanish customers, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. 

As Sonia Khurana, Chief Operating Officer, Digitas India, puts it: 

“Internet usage has gone far beyond English speakers, and so must brand communications. It’s critical for marketers to speak to the next 100 million internet users in a language closest to their hearts. It’s respectful, thoughtful, and the most powerful way to connect.” 

How is Spanish SEO different from English SEO?

An American flag versus a Spanish flag

No multilingual SEO strategy will bring good results without doing the required research. And the Spanish language is no exception, especially given that there are vast variations in the way Spanish is spoken across different countries and continents.

Spanish SEO, in particular, requires an insider’s knowledge of the Spanish-speaking market you’re targeting—whether that’s a Hispanic market or European market. You need to work with professionals who understand your specific market’s many nuances, including cultural differences, consumer spending habits and digital maturity.

One major distinction is that most Spanish-speaking markets are still catching up to English-speaking ones.  

“The digital maturity in Spanish-speaking markets is a lot less mature than in other countries, particularly the English-speaking ones. I have had some recent experience with a Latin-American country where it was so difficult to do people-researching there…I was so surprised to find out that keywords such as ‘buy this,’ ‘purchase that’ etc., you just wouldn’t find them.” – Montserrat Cano, Spanish SEO expert

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting advancements happening in these markets.

Let’s take a look at Spain. 

Despite being one of the biggest European markets, Spanish internet users actually spend less time shopping online, only 5%. Compare that number to the UK, where it’s around 19%.

Search engine usage statistics in Spain

When it comes to search engines, locals in Spain will almost exclusively use Google as its search engine of choice in 2023, compared to an 88% market share in the US. 

Meanwhile, in the US, 66% of the Latinx population pay attention to online ads, roughly 20 points higher than the general population. 

All of these examples prove that consumers in Spanish-speaking markets—and therefore the SEO targeting them—are a little (or a lot) different from English-speaking ones. 

“Customers are so different in English vs. Spanish markets… In Spanish markets, people aren’t so used to buying online, although it’s increasing in Spain. We buy in other marketplaces, for example, we buy on Amazon here in Spain, but in Latin America, MercadoLibre is the most popular one.” – Gemma Fontané, Spanish SEO Specialist

However, one thing is the same as English SEO: good SEO starts with quality content. 

Before you dive into translating keywords, here are four things to consider to ensure your Spanish SEO strategy will succeed. 

Pro-tip: For a complete breakdown on how content marketing differs in Spain from the US, see our article on Content marketing in Spain vs. the US: 9 key differences.

1. There are several Spanish dialects and cultures

Push pins on a tiny globe showing South America

With over 477 million native Spanish speakers, it is no surprise that Spanish varies a lot. 

Slang, everyday vocabulary and even entire grammar constructions might exist in one dialect and not in another. The dialects in LATAM and European Spanish are so different that it’s even possible for native speakers to misunderstand each other. 

One clear example of this is the formal and informal forms for referring to multiple people at once. In European Spanish, speakers use “vosotros” for everyday speech, while “ustedes” is used only for formal situations. Whereas, in Latin America, they use “ustedes” for every occasion, formal or informal. 

Even within Spain, Spaniards speak Castilian (the language most people mean when they refer to “Spanish”), Catalan, Galician and Basque—and each region has its own history, culture and values.

See below for an example of differences between English, Castilian and Catalan. 

example of differences between English, Castilian and Catalan.
Source: Delante

With all of this variation, knowing your audience becomes more vital than ever. What words are your Spanish target audience searching for? Is a computer a “computadora” or an “ordenador”? Do you know whether “coger” is an innocuous term in your target region or does it mean something more crude? 

Great SEO looks beyond search terms, too. To dig into a new market, a brand has to consider their audience’s culture, values and pain points. 

See also: Standard Spanish: How to broaden your reach across Spanish-speaking audiences

So, what Spanish market should you be targeting? That depends on your company, goals, and what you ultimately want from your multilingual SEO strategy

“I’ve been working in SEO in Spanish only in Spain, so I’ve been targeting only Spain. For example, when we are working in e-commerce, we do get a lot of traffic from Latin America. But that traffic doesn’t convert. So the question that I often get is, ‘Why do we have so much traffic and yet we don’t have many conversions?’…If I was to optimize something in Spanish, I would probably target Latin America because I feel like there is a whole new world to explore.” – Filipa Serra Gaspar, Spanish SEO Specialist

If a brand is looking to boost conversions from the widest Spanish-speaking audience possible, then targeting their SEO for Latin America could make the most sense, based on population numbers alone.

Pro-tip: An international SEO agency can help determine how to localize Spanish content based on your goals. Check out: How to choose the right multilingual SEO agency to grow your business 

2. You can’t simply translate your English keyword research

VeraContent’s CEO, Shaheen Samavati, and head of business development, Kyler Canastra, chat about when to create content from scratch vs. translating it in this episode

Don’t make the mistake of translating your English keyword research word-for-word into Spanish. 

Online translation tools are a great starting point, but they’re not a replacement for a human. Why? Keyword research takes a native understanding of a language’s idioms, expressions and nuances. Textbook fluency isn’t enough. 

Instead, it’s important to localize your keywords so they maintain the right “feel” in Spanish. Successful localization translates the meaning, not just the words.

If you directly translate your English keywords, you risk ending up with clunky, nonsensical keywords that don’t actually relate to your audience or how they actually search. And that’s a waste of time and resources.

To get your content to Spanish-speaking consumers, you need to know what they’re searching for.

How do you choose Spanish keywords? 


  • Search volume: What does the data say? What are people commonly searching for in a specific region?  
  • Competition: As with English SEO, you must look at how competitive a keyword is. SEO tools can give you hard numbers, but also look at what keywords local brands and global, localized brands are using. 
  • Seasonality: Many Spanish-speaking countries are in the Southern hemisphere, so their seasons will be reversed from European or Central American markets. Plus, different markets celebrate different holidays. This can affect the relevancy of certain keywords.
  • The market: What are the needs and pain points of the target market? Each will differ.

With these questions, we’re tapping into the complexity you should consider before launching a Spanish SEO strategy. 

See also: What is international SEO and how to do it the right way

Freebie: VeraContent offers comprehensive Spanish SEO services . If you aren’t sure whether your brand is effectively adapting content to local markets, download our free interactive worksheet below.

Get your free guide by filling in the form below!

3. Don’t forget the behind-the-screen details

Like English SEO, Spanish SEO relies on a mix of technical elements that affect rankings for search engine results. 

One important SEO practice is link building. When someone links to your content (called an inbound link), that tells Google that your page is trustworthy. It views an inbound link as a “recommendation” that your page has credible content. Having inbound links increases the likelihood that your page ranks higher on search engine results. 

This goes for both English and Spanish content, which is why building rapport and relationships with local influencers or content creators can benefit your SEO. By increasing your Spanish link building, it establishes that your content is valuable to Spanish audiences.  

See also: Spanish social media management services

Some other essential technical considerations for Spanish SEO include:

  • Language or region-specific URLs
  • Hreflang tags: tags that express what language a page is in
  • Metadata: indicators that can affect your site’s organizational structure and SEO—including titles, descriptions, alt text or categories 

To make sure your content is being crawled and ranked properly, ensure your pages contain these indicators. 

As always, keep in mind that search engine rankings depend on many factors. Google’s search engine algorithm changes often, as do user preferences and search volumes. 

4. Collaborate with a trustworthy Spanish SEO agency

The three VeraContent founders based in Spain

There’s a lot to consider before launching a Spanish SEO strategy. It takes a comprehensive understanding of a brand’s target markets, which is impossible without experts who can navigate tricky Spanish SEO practices. 

Unfortunately, dodgy SEO practices are common all over in the industry, especially in Spanish markets. Untrustworthy SEO agencies will use black-hat SEO tactics that ignore search engines guidelines and look for shortcuts rather than long-term success. They can seem tempting with promises of overnight results, but they may be using harmful practices, such as link-building using irrelevant sources. 

“I still see some dodgy practices sometimes, such as private blog networks, in the Spanish market that perhaps is not so common in the English-speaking market.” – Filipa Serra Gaspar, Spanish SEO specialist. 

A trustworthy Spanish SEO agency can show you client testimonials and case studies, and walk you through their white-hat SEO practices. 

See also: How to choose the right multilingual SEO agency to grow your business

At VeraContent, we know quality content and legitimate link building are the best ways to improve SEO. We specialize in helping global brands adapt their content strategy to local markets. To find out if you qualify for a free content consultation, get in touch today.