Some services are still wildly underrepresented in different languages. If you are looking to expand your site and tap into markets in different languages, both locally or internationally, translating your website is a must, and a crucial element of website translation is multilingual SEO.
While multilingual SEO can sound intimidating, with the right team and the right approach, it’s not half as hard as you think. Do your market research, pick the right language, and it could be huge for your business.
What is Multilingual SEO?
SEO, or ‘search engine optimization’ is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility or ‘ranking’ when people search for products or services related to your business in Google and other search engines. The higher you rank in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your website.
Multilingual SEO refers to optimizing content for multilingual markets, and increases your chance of being found and clicked in the search engine’s results in a foreign country.
Multilingual SEO is a challenging task that consists of keyword research, content creation and optimization, on-page optimization, and link building. Undoubtedly, it should be handled by a team of professional translators that are also SEO experts.
How is Multilingual SEO Different to International SEO?
International SEO is multinational, but not necessarily multilingual. International SEO is used by global businesses that market themselves to speakers of one language. An example of this is a brand that is based in the United States, that wishes to target audiences in Australia or the United Kingdom.
Competition for keywords is usually much higher for international SEO efforts, as international seo strategies will have companies competing not just with other local businesses, but also multinational corporations.
Our Tips to Driving Traffic to Your Multilingual Websites
Optimizing your website for an international audience will have you ranking high in your target audience in no time, but there is work to be done first.
1. Pick the Right Language
You don’t need to translate your website into every single language. You need to decide which regions would be beneficial for your business to target.
Google Analytics is a great tool to explore where your visitors are coming from. For example, you may be based in the United States, but get a lot of traffic from Spain.
You can also examine your social media pages, check where your followers are coming from. Who’s messaging you directly on Messenger?
2. Pick the Right Content to Translate
You may not need to translate all your content. Prior to starting the website translation process, you should do an audit on your content, this will help you identify content that could be redundant and out of date.
Once you have audited your content and identified the content to be kept and translated, you can prioritise your highest converting content, and translate this first.
- Consider Setting Up a Subdomain or Subfolder
The easiest way to establish a multilingual site is to have different versions of the site in each target language, and there are several ways you can go about this.
- Set up a new subdomain
Subdomains are simple to set up, but you only really need them if you’re creating separate sites for separate languages. This does require additional work as you need to ensure all subdomains are up to date with the latest content, and you also need to pay for additional subdomains.
3. Create subfolders.
Subfolders are more affordable, as you’ll only have one web host and one web domain. However, you should only go with subfolders instead of subdomains if you’re not planning to change your web content or design dramatically.
4. Add Hreflang Tags & Consider Technical SEO
According to Aoife Mc Ilraith, Vice President of Marketing at Semrush, technical SEO now makes up 30-40% of SEO strategy. While key words and content is important, if you don’t implement the right steps in your primary architecture or code, it will hinder your campaign.
This is where Hreflang comes in. If your website has content in multiple languages, then you must understand and use the hreflang attribute. Hreflang is an HTML attribute used to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage, and it is vital that this is implemented correctly.
If you have multiple versions of the same page in different languages, your hreflang tag lets Google know about these variations, and this allows them to serve the correct version to different countries and languages.
Hreflang attributes are also important when it comes to duplicate content. For example, if you have two versions of a page: one which is intended to target a UK audience, and one which is intended to target a US audience. Aside from a slight difference in spelling, the two pages may be almost identical. As such, Google may view them as duplicate content and choose one version to index. Hreflang tags help Google to understand the relationship between these pages.
Other technical elements that should be considered when building your site content is the speed of your website. Says Aoife, “Speed is one of the top-ranking factors with Google.” Utilising next gen-image formats, as they are much lighter, can change the speed your site loads from minutes to seconds, and instantly improve your technical SEO.
5. Never Translate Using Machines
While you may be tempted to use machine translations instead of a translation agency – such as a plugin, this is not recommended. Machine translation is rarely accurate, and the user experience is poor. Machine translations lack nuance, sometimes have terrible grammar, and it could be difficult to understand the message you are trying to convey. This is particularly true in the case of brand names and slogans. For example, if your product or program name is Advance, the machine translation wll translate the word every time, eliminating the product name every time!
To harness the power of multilingual SEO services, you must first identify the languages you need to target. Once you have identified these, you can identify the content you need to translate.
Working alongside a team of highly trained translators who are well-versed in multilingual SEO means the right questions will be asked prior to starting each project, which will allow you to collaborate to create fresh, comprehensive and localised content in different languages.
Are you looking to reach customers in a target country? Language Department has native speakers in over 60 different languages, and boasts over 25 years of experience. Contact us today for reliable, budget friendly and high-quality multilingual SEO services today.