Expanding your brand’s global reach requires more than just translating website content. To effectively engage international audiences, you need to implement multilingual SEO best practices. In this article, we will explore the importance of multilingual SEO in your international strategy and provide actionable insights to optimize your website for different languages and regions.
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Understanding Multilingual SEO
Multilingual SEO is crucial for websites with an international presence or those targeting countries with multiple official languages. It goes beyond international SEO, which focuses on countries sharing a common language. Targeting consumers in their native languages is essential, as 55 countries have more than one official language.
Language and Location Targeting with Hreflang
Hreflang is a tag recommended by search engines like Google and Yandex, enabling you to prioritize users based on language and country in organic search results. Implementing Hreflang correctly is one of the key multilingual SEO best practices.
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="https://example.com/en-us/page.html" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="https://example.com/en-gb/page.html" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-de" href="https://example.com/de-de/page.html" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-ch" href="https://example.com/de-ch/page.html" />
You can also target users in all countries speaking a particular language without specifying a country code:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="https://example.com/en/page.html" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://example.com/de/page.html" />
Multilingual SEO Best Practices for Hreflang Implementation
To ensure a seamless multilingual SEO strategy, follow these best practices when implementing Hreflang:
- Return links — include Hreflang URLs on every version of your page to indicate language and country targeting.
- Self-referencing URLs — include a self-reference URL along with alternate URLs for other countries or languages on each page.
- Canonical URLs — only use canonical URLs in Hreflang implementation to avoid conflicting signals.
- Cross-domain alternates — organize an international website with a folder structure or domain strategy to simplify Hreflang implementation and leverage domain strength.
- x-default attribute — use the optional x-default attribute to specify the page to display in search results when none of the specified Hreflang URLs match the searcher’s location and language settings.
Other Search Engines: Bing and Baidu
While Google and Yandex recommend using Hreflang, it’s important to consider other search engines. Bing and Baidu, for example, recommend using the content-language tag in the HTML <head> section:
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-us">
This tag informs Bing and Baidu about the language of the page but doesn’t support listing alternate URLs like Hreflang does. Therefore, when it comes to multilingual SEO best practices, it’s advisable to consider the content-language tag alongside Hreflang.
Multilingual Keyword Research through Native Speakers
Comprehensive keyword research is crucial for a successful global content strategy. Translating keywords and content without native linguistic expertise may lead to missed organic traffic opportunities. Involve SEO professionals who have a native or near-native command of the target languages to ensure high-quality translations and optimize title tags, meta descriptions, and page content.
Monitoring Keyword Performance
Monitoring keyword performance is essential for optimizing your multilingual SEO strategy. Rank tracking tools offer country-specific tracking, allowing you to evaluate keyword rankings and the performance of ranking URLs. If URLs intended for specific countries rank incorrectly, investigate the accuracy of your Hreflang implementation and seek expert guidance if needed.
Mastering multilingual SEO best practices is crucial for reaching global audiences effectively. By implementing Hreflang correctly, conducting thorough keyword research with native speakers, and monitoring keyword performance, you can enhance your website’s visibility in different languages and regions. Take advantage of these strategies to unlock new opportunities and connect with audiences worldwide.