SEO is something that not everyone is comfortable with or even fully understands. That is even more true for multilingual SEO. For a good reason, Google’s search algorithms are hideously complicated, and a large part of their search rankings are now determined by A.I. Google employees therefore won’t understand 100% of how the search engines works, even if that’s their job.
Small websites also require a different approach to SEO than larger websites. Many companies choose to work with international SEO consultants to help ensure they’re adopting the right overall strategy.
That said, we know many aspects of the search engines processes, how we can use language and location-based SEO techniques, and we can use these to increase traffic to our website.
In this article, we explore the three essentials for your multilingual SEO strategy. By implementing and understanding these basic steps, you are already on your way to increase your brand’s international visibility.
1) Create a multilingual SEO strategy
In layman’s terms, an SEO strategy is simply organising your website’s structure and content to improve the likelihood of appearing in search result pages or increasing the place our results are located (also called ranking). It also includes building up a knowledge basis and a centralised method of storing, organising and sharing information. Customers can access the centre to learn about the business services, products, industry, mission, and more.
An SEO strategy will also help you stay on track when creating content for your website. Many people create content based on the principle of what they think people will search for. A multilingual SEO strategy helps you define and create the international content that people are searching for.
Tools like Google Trends allow you to see which keywords are popular over time in different countries. If you’re at the early stages of going multilingual, the first thing to do is keyword research to establish what the search volume is like in different countries, then do a cost/reward analysis.
2) Understand translating keywords
Everyone has heard of keywords and the importance they have in SEO. Keywords are the search terms people use when looking for something on a search engine. These can be split into two different variations: Short tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are general searches using one or two words; long-tail keywords use three to five or even more words.
When we look at multilingual SEO, these keywords become even more critical. The keywords that work in the UK might not work in the US, Germany, or France. Therefore, translating keywords outright without proper research is usually a bad idea. Always make sure to do your research. Consider using a multilingual SEO expert to do the research for you.
There are two basic approaches to keyword research:
- Translate content first, then optimise it.
- Do the keyword research first and put together a translation directory that matches similar keywords.
My personal preference is for the second of these two options. If you match your English keyword with a foreign keyword before translating the content, it’s a lot simpler to then optimise the content as you translate it.
3) Build multilingual links
Number three from our tips, but most likely the most valuable one for your organisation: Building multilingual backlinks. Backlinks are nothing more than a link to your website from a different website. If you have more links coming into your page from reliable websites, Google will take your website as trustworthy.
The trick with a multilingual SEO strategy is that your focus has to be on international backlinks to foreign language pages and local, English backlinks to your English site. You’ll need to create content for other sites using the same language, otherwise these looks suspicious to Google who might penalise you for manipulative link building.
To get your work published, guest blog on other sites in the language that they use. This is a two-part process:
- Write at least 500 words per blog (the longer the better). Ensure that these include relevant keywords you want to rank your site for, and are informative / engaging, rather than commercial.
- Conduct guest post outreach. Research and approach potential blogs who will accept your guest post. Ensure you use a professionally translated covering email and focus on how the blogger benefits, as well as requesting a link from within the blog to your site.
It’s going to take some work, but the payoff will be well worth it—link building is just as crucial a ranking factor as on-page SEO.
Multilingual SEO need not be difficult. Even with some basic small steps, we can already improve the way people find our website and how they interact with us.