How does website language affect regional SEO?

Businesses that want a Web presence in a bilingual community or across a number of countries need to make special considerations for search engine optimization. Whether the site is multilingual, such as a Texas-based service company targeting both English- and Spanish-speaking audiences, or a multi-regional website, like a small business making the leap to the global stage, SEO best practices change as more languages are involved. 

"SEO best practices change as more languages are involved."

To reach a new audience, you can't simply direct translate a Web page from one language into the another. Not only will the content be confusing and ineffective to your target audience, but search engines will punish your website and it will drop in the rankings. This could hurt your business in both language demographics.

As business globalization has increased, search engines like Google reward websites that have fully integrated multilingual platforms and subdomains, rather than quick translations that are often inaccurate. Complete online translation services can help you create a web presence in a different language that is comprehensive and welcoming to consumers, while also pleasing to Google and other search engines.  Make sure you're business is following these multilingual website SEO tips. 

Don't let your keywords get lost in translation 
Keywords are a critical part of how people will find your business on the Web. When people look up a term related to your business, the better that that term is integrated into your website's content the higher you could appear in a search engine's ranking, increasing the likelihood that they'll click on your site and become a customer. 

"Direct translation keywords can be ineffective."

However, as with website copy and content, direct translation of a keyword from one language to another won't help your website at all. Colloquialisms, culture and other linguistic reasons can render your directly translated keywords ineffective and damage your presence in that language's community. Content management firm Joomla! pointed to an example of mistranslation between the English and Italian languages, as well as in between the U.S. and Italy. 

"'Cheap flights' in the US gets 6.12 million searches per month and in Italy 'voli economici' – the literal translation – gets 33,000 searches [per] month. If we tweak that for the culture, 'voli low cost' gets 246,000 searches per month. That's a big difference," Joomla! explained.

Instead, businesses should use complete website translation, localization services, and redefined culture- and language-specific keyword searches to get better results. Incorporating these new keywords into translated or new content may help boost Web traffic. 

"Make the subdomain for a different language clear in the URL."

Indicate language in the URL 
It's important that your website's URL reflects a different language subdomain. Google explained that a subdomain or subdirectory in a different language should be clearly distinguishable in the URL for SEO best practice. This allows search engines to better understand the content of your website and provide the best Web pages to your desired audience.

Experts also advise that business stick to using multiple subdomains or directories rather than completely different domains for multiple languages to avoid confusion. 

Additionally, each Web page should only contain one language. The entire website, from directories to indexes, must be fully translated into another language to get the optimal return. Search engines crawl through that data as well. 

Tell your search engine about duplicate content. 
Whether a product landing page or message from your CEO, content duplication can be part of business globalization, but it's important that your search engine understands that the content is in different languages for different audiences. Make it clear in your website's code that the content is equivalent copy for different languages and redirect people as needed. If this is done poorly, it could appear to your search engine as unnecessary duplicated content and hurt your ranking. 

Providing unique content for different audiences is the best SEO option, but it can be difficult. When you translate website copy, ensure that it's being translated by experts to fit the culture, audience and area you're targeting. 

Reconsider geotargeting 
Geotargeting allows your business to focus on one specific community that speaks a language in an area. However, this isn't always the best option. While it can help your business reach that one section of the population better, it can also provide limitations. If your aim is to reach an array of language speakers from different locations, avoid relying on geotargeting. 

4 tips to help you master regional SEO

If you find search engine optimization confusing, you aren't the only one. The process of creating content for your website or mobile app that organically drives traffic and downloads is influenced by many factors, and Google's search algorithms change regularly.

This can be compounded even further when you're trying to manage SEO across several geographic regions and languages. However, if you work with professional language translation from the ground up, you can achieve effective regional SEO that can give your small business a huge advantage in foreign markets.

1. Distinguish markets from languages
While geographic regions and foreign languages often correspond, this isn't always the case. Determine first if you want to target speakers of a specific language – for example, employing Japanese language translation to optimize your content for speakers of that language – or if you want to target a given geographic region. This subtle but important distinction will affect not only linguistic considerations like primary dialect, but also regional differences that a machine translation service may not catch. For example, English is spoken in both the U.S. and the U.K., but spelling, units of measure, currency and even popular colloquialisms are different between the two countries, meaning that a company that priced its services in dollars rather than pounds will likely be penalized on the SEO front if U.K. users attempt to search for it.

You should have a plan to optimize your content for SEO in any region.You should have a plan to optimize your content for SEO in any region.

2. Master your domain
If you want to expand your business into another country, one of the simplest steps to improve your international SEO ranking will be to register the correct domain. While you technically can take your company's existing dot-com address and simply provide content translation, that's not the most efficient way to handle SEO. It may be a good idea to register domains specific to each country you want to access. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers allows webmasters to register regional domains – like a domain for sites operating in the U.K., or .fr domains for French markets. Not only is this a smart move from an SEO perspective, but it's also a way to maintain tighter control over your brand by snatching up any domain names bearing your company's trademark before somebody else does.

"Register domains specific to each country you want to access."

3. Link locally
A good portion of a site's SEO ranking is determined by its link structure. Google looks at what sites a URL links to and takes their credibility and relevance into account when determining how useful that URL is from a search perspective. In other words, if you're trying to publish Web content in a foreign country, but you don't connect that content to sources local to the region you're targeting, there's a good chance your site will lose some SEO relevance. By including links to regional content, you can boost your site's SEO score in a foreign market. As an added bonus, you may even spark a relationship with local industry leaders that can then use their regional clout to help spread the word about your company.

4. Separate your content
Dynamic Web design has led to aesthetically driven websites using features such as infinite scrolling to display all its content on one page. While you may think this is a great way to boost user experience, it's not doing you any favors when it comes to international SEO. Google will translate all the content on a given page at once, which means that if you have different language translations all on one page, you'll end up with a lot of duplicate content. This is one of the red flags Google's search algorithms look for when weeding out optimized sites from spammy linking practices. If you know that your content is going to be translated into another language, create a separate page where each language can live to avoid getting penalized by search algorithms. 

Avoid embarrassing bloopers by using a professional translation service

For some app developers, translation may be an afterthought. Especially for those who work in small startups where expanding internationally may not have been part of the original business plan, when it does come time to move into overseas markets, it's often tempting to turn to quick and easy translation solutions to take care of the text so you can spend more time on design or UX implementation.

However, there's far more to proper translation than just transcribing the meanings of individual words. International regions have not only their own language, but often their own colloquialisms, proverbs and other common sayings that have meaning over and above the literal one. Here are some key ways professional translation can help you make sure you're understood.

"Web-based services are historically awful at distinguishing nuance."

Proverbs and colloquialisms
Colloquialisms and folk-sayings are perhaps among the more difficult errors for a machine service to detect, since on a word-by-word basis these common sayings may not be mistranslated. Rather, it's not the individual words, but the overall meaning as a whole that must be preserved in these instances, and Web-based services are historically awful at distinguishing this kind of nuance.

For example, if you're working in a German market and you see the common phrase "Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks," a machine service would tell you that means "You walk me animally on the cookie." You wouldn't be mistaken if you thought this was meaningless babble – but a professional German translation service would tell you that this is actually a common saying akin to "You're driving me crazy." This is just one of many examples that demonstrates that preserving the spirit of a message is just as important as translating its content word-for-word. 

Unfamiliar languages
If you aren't familiar with a given tongue, it's possible you may not even know that a translation error has occurred. In such cases, unwitting developers may even preserve the erroneous translation thinking it's grammatically correct.

One example highlights an instance where a company tried to translate the Chinese for "restaurant" into English. The machine translation service used wasn't able to come up with a suitable option, instead returning the message "Translate server error." Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with English may not realize what such a message means, and may even assume that "Translate server error" is in fact the translation they're looking for. This embarrassing mistake can sabotage your efforts at moving into foreign markets, as well as cost you money in revising printed and online materials.

4 budgeting tools to help manage your small business

Founding and running a startup is exciting, as it gives creative people a chance to see their ideas given form. One aspect of small-business management that can be far less sexy and far more confusing, however, is creating and maintaining a budget.

Not every entrepreneur has a business background, but that doesn't mean that your business' budget has to be a black box of confusion. Here are some tools to help you master your company's budget.

1. You Need A Budget
The secret to budgeting success is to have as much information on where your money is going as possible. You Need A Budget is a tool designed to do just that. The service is designed to help users not just track expenditures, but gain greater control over them by establishing a category for each purchase and, as the app states, "giving each dollar a job." The ability to plan around future deposits and expenditures means users can focus on the near future as well as the immediate present.

YNAB offers a desktop app and is available on a variety of mobile platforms, meaning you can make real-time changes to your budget as you spend. The service is optimized for either independent freelancers, or small businesses with few employees.

2. inDinero
You may have heard of the popular budgeting service Mint. inDinero follows the trends established by that app and applies them in a way that makes sense for small businesses rather than individuals. 

The app lets users connect their bank accounts with their inDinero accounts, allowing for quick referencing between cash flow, expenses and projections. It also itemizes expenses into categories and can automatically sort them, making it easier to see how much money is being spent on a given type of product or service.

Many budgeting tools offer mobile apps to let you update information on the go.Many budgeting tools offer mobile apps to let you update information on the go.

3. FreshBooks
Freelancing is a popular career path for many, but one of the more difficult aspects often revolves around invoice management. Fortunately, FreshBooks provides a low-hassle, seamless way to create and track invoices.

The app gives users a variety of invoice templates to which they can add their logo and client information. After that, all that's left to do is enter specific line-item information, and the invoices are automatically populated and sent to the clients. It can also be useful in following up with late payments – the app lets users see when invoices have been viewed, and tracks how long it's been since clients have received them. It's then possible to prioritize follow-up communications based on this information.

4. Google sheets
For some, specialized budgeting software may not be necessary. It's important to remember that there's always the easy accessibility of Google's own spreadsheets. Anyone familiar with existing spreadsheet software such as Microsoft's Excel will be right at home, since the functionality between Google's and Microsoft's offerings is the same.

As an added bonus, Google provides a mobile app for its spreadsheets, giving small-business owners the same flexibility in updating their budgets on the go they'd have with other programs. Of course, it's a relatively lo-fi solution, but for entrepreneurs who are wary of spending additional money on budgeting software, it's a good free choice.