SEO is really the most fantastic thing for digital marketing. When done correctly, you can take over the world (not in an evil genius type of way).
However, to really reach everybody, all over the world, you need to make sure your SEO is multilingual. This way can reach thousands, millions, or maybe even billions of new potential customers.
Multilingual SEO could mean that your content not only ranks high in your native language but in 20 different languages.
You can do this, without creating any new content, too. All you need is new web pages and new content that is available to new audiences, all around the world.
Of course, it’s not just about translation – it revolves around localization. Only then will your SEO efforts be beneficial for you.
This will enable you to reach a multitude of new customers
For this reason, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to increasing your website SEO, with content localization.
Table of Contents
What is website localization?
Website localization is the act of translating different content into other languages, with a little bit extra.
It also makes it personalized to specific cultures, people, and languages. It goes much further than just a simple translating.
As you’ll be aware, precise translations aren’t always successful. Not only do they use archaic words, but often the translations don’t even make sense.
Also, with languages – certain words or phrases are used by certain groups of people. For instance, younger people have so many different dialects to older generations.
Different skill groups (professionals to students), also react differently to jargon and technical talk. It’s all relative. Localization helps with this.
With SEO, keywords are also important. However, in different languages, specific keywords and phrases won’t have the same impact if they’re simply translated.
Localization takes culture, format, and usage into consideration, and helps you to ensure your keyword research spans all languages and dialects.
Every time that you approach a new market, you should consider localization.
Why is it important?
Translating from one language to another is super important, that’s true. However, different regions may technically speak the same language, but may not use the same terms.
For example, Spain and Argentina both speak Spanish, but it varies quite significantly. Certain phrases and words mean very different things.
In terms of SEO, this is extremely important. In different regions and cultures, people will search for very different things online.
You need to adapt accordingly.
So, how do you do it?
Plan it out
The first step to optimizing your site for multiple different regions is that you have to plan it.
Exactly the same way that you planned out your SEO plan for your current SEO plan.
The first step is definitely deciding which locations and regions are the best for you and your site.
Though it might be appealing to expand everywhere – this takes a lot of time. One step at a time, or one country at a time.
To decide, you should check your site’s analytics. If your e-commerce store in English reaches a lot of people in the United States, but Google perhaps shows that a lot of German natives enter your site, it could be worth localizing your site to German.
If you get a lot of Spanish Facebook messages or Instagram comments, it could also be worth localizing your site for your Spanish customers.
If you already have these customers, it is definitely with making them feel seen and heard.
It is impossible to pass up on visitors, conversions and recommendations.
Which regions you localize to, should always depend on what already exists. Think of it as supply and demand.
Chances are, your current content is already perfect for a global audience. It just needs to be localized.
As an example, imagine you’re an online bike store. If you have a blog post (written in English) that revolves around the best safety gear for cycling, this will still be relevant for any Spanish, German, or Arabic customers.
It’s a great idea to localize all your existing content – it’s pretty straightforward, and gives you an array of content for SEO purposes, all for global audiences.
Of course, if any blog posts won’t be relevant for different audiences, think local news, then it’s obviously best to avoid.
We touched on this briefly, but when you check your analytics, you need to ensure that you have considered the specific areas.
For instance, the Chinese audience that you attracted on your site may be running their Google searches in San Francisco.
Likewise, your Spanish speaking audiences could be coming from England, not Spain or Nicaragua. It’s important to check the specific region, not just the language.
This way, you can make your SEO efforts more productive, and also publish local content.
SEO relies heavily on blog content; some of which will be local news and information. For instance, information about pop up shops, new legislations, or delivery.
The world is getting much smaller, people emigrate and vacate. Your audiences could be coming from all over the globe, for very different reasons.
A great example of this is websites directed at tourists and backpackers. Despite the content being “The best places to eat in Thailand,” it will more than likely be written in English – due to the extreme number of European and American backpackers.
This is extremely important to consider.
With all this in mind, before you go through with localization, you may be wondering what the benefits of localizing your SEO on your website.
Here they are.
The main benefit of localizing your SEO efforts is keyword research.
You ultimately adapt your messages to local markets and make it appealing for the local people.
Language-specific SEO makes a big difference, in ensuring that you appear high on search results in every single location.
Just like how you invested the time and money to make your English website work well for Google and its algorithm, you have to do the same for the other languages/locations.
Language diversity means that people search for extremely different things online. Simply translating your keywords from English won’t make you a favorite for search engines.
You can see this with the English language, too. For instance, the British say “holidays”, and Americans say “vacations”. Similar different Spanish and French-speaking locations used different phrases and words, for essentially the same thing.
For this, you should work with local SEO experts, and find the right terms for people to use, in relation to the products and services that you offer online.
Don’t forget to translate all your content in the same way – including metadata, title, meta tags, and meta descriptions.
Optimize for more search engines
For us, Google is the master – in fact, Western Europe and America use Google. However, this isn’t the case for the rest of the world.
If you’re expanding to Russia or China, you have to adapt accordingly. This includes the search engines that you use. These can be Shenma, 360 Search, Baidu, and Sogou.
Content optimization for various search engines differs and is an important part of website localization.
It will boost your SEO, and help you rank higher in all search results – including Bing, Yahoo, and any other search engine that your audience uses.
Do your market research, and then look into the specific algorithm for those search engines.
Localize for countries
When you localize for states, and not languages, you’re considering culture and tradition. This will make those visiting your page feel respected, noticed, and, well, targeted. This is a piece of excellent news for your e-commerce stores, blogs, and service websites alike.
Languages vary a great deal depending on the local history. In fact, it’s important to research into this, so that you minimize the risk of accidentally offending your target audience.
If you don’t do this, your visitors are going to search for a website that they understand, and that understands them.
Importantly, high bounce rates can be extremely detrimental to your SEO efforts. Conversely, users that stay on your website, and click on multiple numbers of pages per session, this is great for Google’s algorithm.
Localizing for countries is a great benefit for your SEO efforts. It enables you to not only gain new visitors to your site, but retain them, and enable them to recur.
You’ll reach the right audience
When you’re searching for local coffee shops in your area, Google automatically shows you the places nearby.
46% percent of searches are local – which is why the algorithms are focused on finding local versions of all websites.
For instance, car repairs, hairdressers, and camping grounds benefit greatly from being localized – even if it’s in English. This means you should mention the city or town that you’re located in.
You may have seen Google’s development of vertical-specific ranking factors. This provides accurate and helpful results for each search and emphasizes heavily on local results.
When you localize your website, you’ll ultimately ensure that your site performs well on Google’s new algorithm.
To ensure that you make the most out of these features, you need to ensure that the following is taken care of:
- Your sitemap should contain all the information about the localized and translated pages.
- Your URL should be indicated to Google that the local websites are local versions of your English site. This is through subdomains, top-level domains, and subfolders.
- Upload your localized websites to local servers, this increases the site speed, which also helps with SEO.
- Localized versions should all be mobile-friendly. More than 50% of search queries globally come from mobile devices.
Localization as a preventive measure
More importantly, localization also takes a more careful approach to cultural sensitivities, which acts as a preventive mechanism for unfortunate bloopers.
What’s considered absolutely normal in one culture or country may not be as innocent in a different one. You’ll probably never see a baby care advert in a Muslim country that will feature a child’s feet. Not that you’ll see an adult’s feet on display for that matter. The reason? In many Muslim cultures, it’s profoundly disrespectful to take pictures of someone’s feet or soles. Whereas, Western cultures never shy away from doing so.
There are also considerable cultural differences between how Western societies see things, as opposed to many Asian cultures. Therefore is safe to say that if you intend to enter the Asian market, it is absolutely essential that you do it with a professional Chinese translation company like Pick Writers or a cultural consultant.
The same can be said about the translated content. We previously touched on how various companies can incorrectly translate keywords, which can damage their SEO traffic, but sometimes businesses will make unfortunate translations that will damage their brand’s reputation forever in certain regions.
A well-executed localization project will ensure that your site/business will not have to deal with such issues.
With localized SEO, you’re providing your users with fresh content in a language that they understand.
People love to read about their community and local area, and a simple post can generate really strong emotions in your readers. That’s why localizing is so important.
However, it can only be successful when you make sure that what you’re publishing is important to you. This requires people to identify with what you’re posting. This requires a great deal of research but proves advantageous for your SEO efforts.
The best way to do this is to hire local contributors. This ensures that you come up with fresh content, that improves your SEO performance.
With SEO, it can be easy to write for a search engine, and neglect the fact that you should be writing for the people. Localizing helps you to stay focused.
Google will always favor positive experiences. This includes a user entering and staying on a site, leaving a review, or sharing your posts across the internet.
Localizing will help you speak like a local, and allow your users to have a great experience on your site. Your SERP ranking will ultimately grow, and you’ll gain a wider audience.
Resources for localizing
Localizing might feel quite daunting, mainly when translating seems hard enough.
The good news is; there are tonnes of resources available, especially online. In fact, basically every company, regardless of the size, will have to use external resources for content localization.
You can use translation agencies to ensure that all your content is translated properly. Though online translation services are useful, they often make mistakes and have grammar issues.
Local contributors that have SEO experience are also an excellent option for you.
Of course, localization experts should also be used. There are services and tools that you can use online to help with this. These can be Computer Assisted Translation, Quality Assurance tools, or Translation Management systems.
To summarize, content localization is a great way to not only improve your SEO efforts, but reach new markets, and again meaningful relationships with people all over the world.
Translation doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to SEO – everything has to be a little more personalized and specific.
If you not only want to expand internationally but also rank high on different search engines globally, localization is your best choice.