multilingual SEO strategy

You have spent so much time getting your website ready. You have work hard on the text of your website to attract more clients.

The day has come.

Your website is up and running and you’re proud of showing it to the world.

 

But… Nothing happens.

You don’t receive as many visits as you were expecting.

That’s disappointing, right? This may even make you think whether all the effort has been worth it. I completely understand, because I’ve been there too.

If you have invest time and money in a well designed, written and translated website, you should be making the most of it.

 

But first things first… What is SEO?

Let’s have a look at the definition on Wikipedia:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.

 

In other words, SEO is using strategies to make search engines like your page so they rank it higher in their searches.

 

Things get more complicated when two versions in different languages of the same website are involved. How can we SEO optimise both versions? We can’t use the same strategies in both of them.

 As a translator specialised in marketing, I had to deal with these issues when translating websites for some of my clients. That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of things we should consider when implementing a multilingual SEO strategy.

Let’s see what we can do.

 

1// Not just translate, but adapt the content

Before optimising our websites for the search engines, we need to optimise them for people, our actual readers that are going to enjoying our content.

 

If they don’t read your content and leave your website after a few seconds, Google is going to notice sooner or later your bounce rate.

Forget for a moment about keywords, headlines, metadescriptions, and think about what your readers want to read.

 

What should they spend their time in your website?

 

In order to do so, your content must be adapted to their cultures, not just translated. There may be concepts that, even if they’re translated into a different language, may not be clear for your audience.

And example of this could be the currency of the different countries. For example, someone in Spain may not be familiarised with pounds or its exchange rate. It’d be better to set a pricing in euros if you’re targeting a Eurozone country.

 

2// Do I need to get a new domain to implement a multilingual SEO strategy?

Some people say that if you get a new domain for your website, you’ll rank higher for searches in different countries.

For example, if your website is example.com and want to get it translated into Spanish to target people in Spain, it’d be advisable to get your domain example.es to rank higher in searches in Spain.

Getting a new domain implies investing money to acquire a new domain and if you’re not familiarise with setting a new domain for your website (I wouldn’t dare to do it myself!), you’ll need someone to do it for you.

 

Is it necessary?

 

I wouldn’t say it is. It may help, but I use the same domain and it works for me. I’ve got www.circalingua.com for my English version and www.circalingua.com/es for my version in Spanish.

Anyway, it is worth considering this if you’re willing to invest in a new domain. Maybe I’ll give it a try one day (I’ll let you know if I do!)

 

3// Be careful with duplicated content

This is one of the most common mistakes that I find in the project that I work on.


Please, never translate your website with Google translate. It doesn’t work and it’s going to result in a Google penalty.

 

Why?

 

Let’s see this with a real example of a piece of text from my website:

multilingual SEO strategy

Apart from grammar, vocabulary and style errors that those of you who speak Spanish will notice, you can see that both sentences share the same structure.

 

This is ok if it’s just one sentence in your website. But imagine the text of all pages on a website sharing the same structure than its translated version. This may be interpreted by Google as a duplicated content, which will result in a penalty, hence your website won’t rank high in Google searches.

 

 

Make sure that you use a translation plug-in to indicate that your content is translated and not duplicated. I personally use String Translate WPML. This is how it works:

You can also use Google Webmasters to see if duplicated content has been detected on your website.

multilingual SEO strategy

4// Don’t translate keywords

Keywords must be researched and not translated. And this is another common mistake.

 

People normally think that the translation of a relevant keyword must also be relevant in a different language. But this isn’t always right.

 

We need to perform a keyword research to find out a relevant keyword in the target language and adapt the content to this keyword.

 

Let me explain this with an example:

Imagine that a Spanish website designer has used the keyword “servicios de diseño de páginas web” [literal translation: services of design of websites] in the Spanish copy of his website.

This keyword has this search volume in Spanish:

multilingual SEO strategy

 

Now he wants to translate his website into English. Let’s see what would happen if we translate this keyword with Google Translate:

multilingual SEO strategy

Let’s see the search volumes of this keyword:

multilingual SEO strategy

 

30 searches a month? It seems that Google Translate didn’t come up with the best keyword, right? (Oops!)

Let’s try a more accurate translation of the Spanish keyword:

multilingual SEO strategy

 

It seems that we have found a better keyword here. However, if we do some research, we can find other keywords with better search volumes such as:

multilingual SEO strategy

As you can see a translation isn’t enough when dealing with keywords in different languages. We also need to invest some time in researching the best options to implement the best multilingual SEO strategy.

 

5// Website structure and understanding your readers behaviour

We need to understand our readers behaviour to adapt the structure of our website.

 

For example, English native speakers living in the UK or USA are more used to buying online than Spanish native people living in Spain. It’d be a good idea to have a face-to-face meeting with a Spanish client before closing an important sale, as you’ll be more likely to close this sale in person.

That’s why you may want to include a call to action to have a meeting with this client in the Spanish version of your website.

 

Also, make sure that all the links of your website correspond to the correct language in your website, otherwise your readers may get lost and leave your site.

 

6// Translate your content marketing strategies

Sometimes, I’ve been followed on Twitter by people who only tweet in a language that I don’t speak. As obvious as it may seem, I’m not going to follow people who I can’t understand, what’s the point?

 

And this is how your audience thinks as well. If you want to target an audience that speak a different language, and you get your website translated into your language, make sure that you also optimise your marketing efforts.

Your new audience is never going to follow your social media networks if they can’t understand you, and they’re never going to read your blog if they can’t understand the content that you write.

Make sure that your content is optimise to them to attract more people to your new version of your website.

 

Have you got a multilingual website? Would you like to share more tips about how to implement a multilingual SEO strategy? Are you thinking about getting your website translated? Don’t hesitate to get in touch leaving a comment below!

About David Miralles Perez

My name is David Miralles and I am aware of how languages can influence professional environments. Honing communication between two cultures has become crucial in today’s globalized world. And that is what I do by means of my translation and interpreting services. Small and medium enterprises and individuals can now spread their messages through cultural and linguistic barriers and make a big impact on an international scale.

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