I will be presenting at Brand2Global with Andrew Smith of Escherman discussing the challenges of Multilingual SEO. Ahead of the event I was asked to write an article for Brand Quarterly, which was originally published in July. Here’s an extract of it.
Optimising your site for international markets is every bit as important as it is in your domestic one. The effort should match the dedication you apply to the source website. Research is therefore critical and there are a number of key factors to consider.
Linguistic and Cultural Suitability
- Ensure all graphics and content are as persuasive and attractive to the audiences in your target countries as they are in your domestic market.
- Deliver a properly localised site, i.e., one that is linguistically accurate and in line with the social norms and conventions your target audience are motivated by.
- Understand differences in buyer behaviour - don’t assume that one category of buyers in one locale act and react in the same way as buyers in another locale.
- Native speakers and residents with local expertise should be consulted early in the planning process.
- Avoid ‘local’ in humour, colloquialisms and concepts.
- Watch for where, in some instances, English words, rather than their translated equivalent, become default search phrases in foreign markets.
- For certain businesses with multiple products, it’s important to remember that just because a product works in one locale, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will work in another and so you need to ensure you have understood those local preferences and tastes.
- Pathways through the site should be carefully considered.
- Providing a foreign language page creates an expectation – the whole point of localising is that the customer feels that they are buying from a domestic site.
- A local language site that then leads to a non localised e-commerce page rather ruins the aim.
- Thorough research of keywords and phrases is essential as direct translations of the English words will not deliver quality SEO.
- Individual markets may use completely different words to describe certain products or have their own jargon, colloquialisms and slang.
- Consideration needs to be given to the fact that people will search ‘conveniently’ across the world and therefore we need to use their convenience words to describe our products. Therefore, native speakers who are also search marketing experts are crucial assets in creating the content for your foreign language site.
- Use local domains for your localised sites, but beware the different rules across countries. For example, registration of local domains for some is very straightforward whilst others will have much stronger rules and regulations over domains, local business registration, registered trademark or even local addresses or phone numbers.
- Local IP addresses will deliver much greater search engine rankings, but you will need to the consider cost of buying them, along with the administration and control issues that goes with setting them all up.
- Gaining local links back to your site will also greatly improve the SEO performance and whilst this takes time and effort, the results it can generate make it worthwhile.