What do we mean by multilingual SEO? SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers to the process of optimizing a website so that Google and other search engines, such as Bing or Yahoo, consider it relevant when a user performs a search on a particular topic. In recent years, it has become a key focus of any digital marketing strategy. SEO uses language, page layout, and published content to catch search engines’ attention and help websites reach wider audiences by appearing among the top search results.
With the constant growth of the Internet and the fact that more and more users from all over the world have access to it, content has increased in all languages. As a result, the languages that once accounted for the majority of pages are beginning to lose some of their online edge. In many non-English-speaking countries, for example, English is losing ground to the local native languages. This means we need to take a more local approach to SEO, adapting it to each language and culture.
Multilingual SEO goes beyond traditional SEO. It allows companies to connect with their customers all over the world, in any language. Broadly speaking, it consists of adapting a company’s SEO strategy to all the languages it communicates in. It is not merely a matter of translating keywords and content from one language to another; they need to be fully localized to reflect how users speak and the terms they are most likely to use in searches.
This process requires extensive knowledge of the culture and language of each region, as well as the subject matter of the content to be translated and the target market. Only a specialized translator can deliver a translation that reads naturally while also ensuring effective multilingual SEO in the target language.
In contrast, the use of machine translation for this purpose can lead to generic translations that are unlikely to pique readers’ interest. This is because we need to take into account not only what we are translating but also everything else related to that text.
Shown below are the keys to achieving good multilingual SEO:
Offering quality content in multiple languages is essential to improving positioning. The original content must be carefully localized, taking into account any cultural and linguistic references it might contain.
The localization must be accurate and tailored to the end customer, as a good localization that reads naturally will foster a more immediate connection with the reader and generate interest. This will keep people reading longer and get them to share content, thereby encouraging search engines to identify the page as relevant.
If the target market is very different from the source market, and mere localization of the content is not enough to create that sense of proximity with the customer, transcreation can be used to produce original and interesting content for a much wider audience.
Like content, keywords have to be adapted to the target market to achieve good multilingual SEO positioning. A literal translation of the keywords in the source language is unlikely to result in the most appropriate terms, so we have to go a bit further. Before choosing the translation of a keyword, it is important to do a detailed search.
We have to make sure the selected terms will work in the target market. There are several tools for doing this: from consulting the search trends in a given region to creating new keywords based on a field of specialization. Some well-known examples include:
Google Keyword Planner
Answer The Public
Beyond the Text
When adapting SEO content to any language, we should bear in mind that a literal translation can hinder both understanding and search engine positioning; hence, the need to localize any content we publish. In addition to translating the text and keywords, we must also properly adapt the following aspects of the content:
Cultural References and Double Entendres
From references to local news stories to information about a country’s institutions, local sales and deals, or plays on words, it is important to suitably adapt our written resources to the target language and country to ensure our readers understand us and enhance our SEO positioning.
Readers must be given a clear message. Ensuring the information we are conveying is clear and easy to understand is what will allow us to connect with our customers. If our content is not well adapted, it can be misunderstood or contain unnatural constructions in the target language that keep the reader from focusing on what matters. As a result, fewer users will interact with it, and search engines will consider it less relevant.
When adapting content for multilingual SEO in a country, we must also localize any links. It makes no sense to keep a link that potential readers may not understand, and, indeed, that is something that search engines will logically penalize.
We can adapt links to take us to pages in the same language as the content being localized or use equivalent links to local pages, which will be much more useful to the consumers of the content.
Enabling and Adapting Tags
Adding tags that refer to the language of the text in the content we publish is another good idea. Doing so allows us to include metadata in our posts that improve the content and direct it toward our exact target. They can be specific to a particular language or generic, if we are looking for a broader profile.
Adapting the structure of URLs also makes it much easier for search engines to evaluate a website. URLs should be adapted to the target language so that search engines can detect whether our content is relevant and consistent in a given language.
Cultural and linguistic adaptation is essential to achieving good multilingual SEO. It helps us connect with our target audience quickly and effectively. Specialized translators play a very important role in this process. While machine translation can be quite effective for some purposes, in cases such as this, it does not provide the necessary degree of adaptation to achieve the content we want.
Localizing our content, keywords, references, links, and tags will also bring us much closer to both our audience and search engines by generating a coherent document in terms of content and language. This, in turn, will benefit our positioning, improving our multilingual SEO.
If you are interested in having your website use language adapted to multilingual SEO, or if you would simply like to learn more about the localization of your multilingual content, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to help you.
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