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.
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.