If You Want Your Multilingual Website to Rank High in the SERPs, Investing in SEO is Critical
The days of being able to cheat your way to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) are long behind us. Black hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and link farms will do more harm than good to a multilingual website as search engine crawlers are smart enough now to figure out these tricks.
With the release of algorithm updates like Google’s Rankbrain, user experience is becoming an ever more powerful ranking factor. So just how can you get your multilingual website to rank higher through SEO?
1. Research Your Target Keywords Rather than Translating Them
The first step in trying to improve your multilingual website’s SEO is to figure out what keywords you actually want to be ranking for.
The best option, especially if you are not familiar with the language or culture you are translating to, is to hire an SEO and translation specialist. While this can seem like a daunting cost for a startup’s budget, it is often well worth it, as learning the intricacies of global markets, languages, and SEO is a difficult task, and translating a site without expert knowledge can often create problems due to cultural sensitivities.
A common mistake website owners make when translating their site is assuming they can directly translate their keywords. This isn’t the case for a lot of industries due to the way people search and colloquialisms within a language.
For example, the Spanish translation for ‘low cost flights’ is ‘vuelos de bajo coste,’ but the most popular search term in Spain is actually ‘vuelos low cost.’ Being able to conduct accurate keyword research for the country you are targeting and identifying those with the highest search volume will be key to the SEO success of your multilingual site.
2. Optimize Your Multilingual Website for Country not Language
When expanding your site into other languages, you need to do so for the country or the specific local area you are targeting, rather than for the entire population that speaks that language.
Most languages have dialects and nuances within them for certain countries or regions within that country. For example, even in English, the British would spell ‘colour’ and the Americans ‘color,’ British people say ‘trousers’ and Americans ‘pants.’
According to a Common Sense Advisory survey, 72.4 percent of consumers said they are more likely to buy a product when the information presented on the site is in their own language.
Not acknowledging visitors in their native languages and their differences provide poor user experience and is likely to result in a high bounce rate and lower engagement levels.
3. Pick the Right Search Engine to Optimize Your Site for
In most of the Western world, Google dominates with almost 90 percent of the search market share and we can get absorbed in our own bubble, forgetting that other search engines exist.
While creating great content that provides value to your users should definitely be a priority, it’s not going to help you generate traffic to your multilingual website if it’s not showing up where your users are.
In China, Baidu holds over 75 percent of the search market share and Google has less than 2 percent. Every search engine has a different algorithm, so by learning about their differences and what they use for ranking factors, you will likely find you need to change your SEO strategy for each language you translate to.
For example, if you get a lot of traffic by having one of your pages come up in a featured snippet in one of Google’s search results, it would be important to know that Baidu does not support schema markup, instead, they use Baidu Open, their own platform.
4. Link Building with In-Country Links
Link building is a vital part of any SEO strategy and should be your next step in making your multilingual website rise through the SEPRs.
A simple place to start is targeting links from directories of your target country, but if you are targeting highly competitive keywords, your link-building strategy will need to be expanded to include a diverse range of in-country links.
The value of links can vary differently to each search engine and some only count those perceived as high quality. But, from your search engine research, you should have a good idea of how the search engine you are targeting uses links in its algorithm, and can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Top Tip: Google’s penalization for duplicate content does not apply across languages so you can use translated content you have already created for your link-building campaign.
Whatever language you are targeting, SEO can often seem like an uphill struggle, as results don’t come overnight, and no one is ever safe when they do reach the top spot, as algorithms constantly change.
SEO is constantly evolving so, if you want your multilingual website to succeed, make sure your startup is prepared and equipped to adapt to the changes in the international market, and has a thorough understanding of the culture, language, and search engines it is trying to target.