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Multilingual Search Engine Optimisation – Not Lost In Translation

Andrew Mobbs
Andrew Mobbs

16 November 2012

Optimising your website for multiple languages (multilingual SEO) is similar to standard SEO, except that it’s carried out for a different language. Specifically writing content for the country you are targeting is important because there is a high chance that citizens of that country will be querying in their native language. For example, a resident of Milan may search “noleggio auto a Milano” for “car hire in Milan”.

When venturing into another language, you also need to take into account your keyword research. For example, keywords in English are not equal, in terms of search volumes, to keywords in Italian (see below).

Another factor to consider is obtaining the highest possible domain name for your target country. This is critical because of the effect it has on your internet traffic and the overall relevance of your website, in particular from a search engine point of view. So, using our theme of car hire in Milan as an example, a good domain would be: http://www.noleggioauto.it/

The use of multilingual SEO can be implemented when a company decides to grow and expand. It can be difficult to know where to start when deciding to apply multilingual SEO to your business plan. Whether it is ecommerce or a digital service you are providing, there has to be a structured plan before diving deep into international SEO.

A carefully thought out plan can help develop your campaign:

  • Ideally, you want to understand the nature of where and who you are trying to target. Knowing your catchment area using Google Global Market Finder Tool can help you translate keywords into the language want to translate to. The tool can also help by seeing where customers are searching for your product or service.
  • Seeing potential in an area of a country or the country as a whole will be a great chance to implement some SEO strategies. Translating your website into the local language is essential so that the website is user-friendly. Understanding the target country’s culture is also important. It would be a waste of money to create a marketing plan to launch in a country which has little need for your product or service.
  • Competition abroad, both for keywords and in general, can differ. Focusing on your niche market and growing from there is vital especially if you are expanding. However, understanding your competition’s digital strategy and figuring out whether they use SEO can be a huge asset to your marketing plan. This will ultimately determine the level of competition online they have with you. From there you can create more efficient strategies, thus allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.

The question of why companies use multilingual SEO is simple: to profitably penetrate into a country which has a clear target market. There are various techniques through which a company can expand using multilingual SEO depending on the website’s current position.

Companies know that once they have taken the first initial step of pushing towards multiple languages online, their business can only grow and become more profitable.

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