Multilingual SEO: Let Not Language Stop You

How many times have you stopped yourself from going all the way international in your SEO just because you are not confident of dealing with a global community that uses foreign languages? If so, that would be the worst mistake you would have done in your whole SEO endeavour. Because international online presence is something that can simply not be underestimated. And if you think SEO in English is sufficient, that would be another mistake you make. Because once you step away from the perspective of an English speaker and browse from the angle of a regional language speaker, you’ll see that there are millions of multilingual websites and their users. In other words, you have a whole big world out there to advertise your product.

Creating search engine optimised content for multilingual websites is a waste of time and money only if you think that 99% of users are English. This, as you have guessed by now, is not true at all. For Google alone, as it reports, 50% of the traffic is from multilingual searches. With other search engines also saying similar stories the importance of an international online presence cannot be denied.

Many people believe that the largest user of the Web is North America, which is not true. As per the reports it is Asia that takes the lead, followed by Europe and North America. However, when it comes to multilingual SEO, more than the number of users the market potential of the community gets prominence. For example, though the users are more in Spanish speaking community than that of French speaking, countries like France, Canada and Switzerland have more buying capacity than Peru, Chilie or Bolivia. Similarly, habits and traditions play an important role within the same language community. For example, French speaking people in France are avid online buyers whereas their counterparts in Africa are more or less absent in the market.

Normally what scares entrepreneurs from promoting their business in foreign markets in exactly that: the foreignness! There are online marketers who fear the responses of user in regional languages! “What if a user sends a query in Arabic? Or a mail in Japanese?” If you were aware of the real power of English language, you wouldn’t be afraid of that. Just because a user’s native language is Arabic doesn’t mean the person doesn’t know English. Same for other languages. The users who use Internet are aware that English in the internationally accepted language everywhere. But when it comes to online search they would type the keyword in their native language. Which again brings us back to our main point: the importance and need of multilingual SEO.

Scared even more now than before to take the step? Wait till you hear more of multilingual SEO.

Consider a UK based business that intends to do a multilingual SEO in six different languages other than English (English of course would be sufficient in UK as well as United States bringing in pounds and dollars). Suppose the promotion is done in Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. You can (actually you can’t) imagine the exposure your business would enjoy and the currencies that would fill your coffers.

  • Japanese would cover the whole of Japan, where 70% of population uses internet!
  • French would cover not just France but Switzerland, Canada, parts of Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria
  • Spanish for not only Spain but South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Hispanic groups in North America
  • Russian for the rich online platform in Russia
  • Arabic that covers the whole of wealthy Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and of course Kuwait.

Just six languages and see the number of countries! Now what do you think of that?

When it comes to the actual optimising process of your website globally, it is more or less same as English SEO. Only thing that differs is language. Here are a few additional points to keep in mind while doing multilingual SEO.

  • Do a thorough keyword analysis for each of the language you have chosen for SEO. Do not forget that words always have cultural associations and variations depending on locality.
  • While keywords are translated to regional language take care that those are the words that are indeed spoken by the people in that country. Also, as in the normal SEO, take care of keyword density.
  • While translating the site content it is always better to get it done by a native translator who knows the language, its dialects and slangs intimately. Money spent for good translation would definitely be lesser than that lost due to bad translation.
  • Include proper good quality links, as in English SEO, but see that you include links of both English and the translated language.
  • When you choose a language make sure that the areas where it is spoken have good and safe delivery channels.
  • Provide the language options clearly and prominently in the site. You don’t want to lose customers because they couldn’t find the option to choose their language.
  • It is better not to use the flag of a country to denote the language spoken there. As we saw in the bulleted list above, a language might be spoken not in one particular country but in various parts of other countries as well.
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