Global Digital Marketing and Multilingual Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A Necessity for Every International Business

As a frequent speaker of all things international SEO and global digital marketing, I have the chance to travel all over the world. This was the case when I recently spoke at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, British Columbia in Canada. TRU’s Modern Marketing Association, a club on campus, hosted their annual Business Gala on March 29, 2019, and I was invited to give the keynote. This formal event was held to promote networking between students and local business professionals. I joined my friend Julio Viskovich, a TRU marketing professor, in speaking about how to use global digital marketing to engage with an international audience at the event. Global digital marketing is a broad topic, so I had to cover the subject at a high level. Here’s a very brief summary of what I shared with the audience about four of the most critical components of global digital marketing.

Global Digital Marketing Strategy

#1 – Content Marketing

If you want to be found in an online search, you need to have a solid content marketing strategy in place. Content marketing is the foundation of SEO. It involves producing and publishing the highest quality content that’s actually useful to your target audience. If done right, it will generate brand awareness, increase traffic, and earn you trust from your potential customers. Content marketing is not a thing you can do sporadically. Regularly, you’ll have to create content such as blog posts, articles, case studies, etc. that is informational, educational and engaging. Two great tools that will help you identify topics that are trending are called BuzzSumo and Google Trends. By using these tools, you’ll find topics that your target audience is actually interested in.

Have you ever heard the saying that people don’t want to be sold to, they want to buy? One of the most important rules of an effective content marketing strategy is that the content can’t be salesy. Instead of trying to sell, sell, sell—make sure to share your best knowledge and use this opportunity to show your readers that you are the top expert in your field. The Internet has put us consumers in charge. Before making a purchase, we use search engines such as Google to research the products or services that we intend to purchase. By developing several pieces of high quality and educational content around a specific topic, you’ll significantly increase the chance that your content will appear high in the search engine results pages.

Content marketing truly is the core of a digital marketing strategy. If you have rich, interesting content, you can serve it up in a variety of ways to appeal to customers. Content marketing feeds into two of the other components of digital marketing: SEO and social media marketing, which I’ll discuss next.

Also, if you’re about to translate your website’s content into multiple languages, make sure to work with a professional localization company. Don’t have your company’s CEO’s nephew translate your website into French because he studied a few years in France. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it will cost you more than what you’ll save in the short term. Professionally trained linguists have a formal education in translation, and it’ll ensure that consistent terminology is used through the translated content. A professional translation agency also uses tools such as style guides, glossaries, translation memory technology, etc. that reduces the cost and improves the quality of the translations over time.

If you don’t have the budget to translate the entire website professionally, I recommend you translate the most important pages in a first step. Machine translation technology is improving rapidly, and in some cases, you may get away by translating certain content, such as press releases, by using a machine translation tool such as DeepL. I’m a native German speaker and I shockingly surprised by the quality translations that DeepL is producing. Always make sure that a native speaker proof-reads the machine translated content before publishing it to the website; just in case.

#2 – SEO

SEO is all about helping Google, and other search engines, understand what you do as a business. There are many moving, evolving parts to SEO, but essentially, by applying SEO and multilingual SEO best practices, you’ll be able to help Google make a connection with someone searching for specific content and your website. As mentioned earlier, having an excellent global content marketing strategy is one of the ways that you can do this. By generating high-quality content that’s being searched for, you’ll make yourself known to Google. It’s critical to know the SEO keywords – meaning, the word(s) that potential customers are entering into search engines to look for the products or services you provide – and then use those keywords in the content that you develop. This content can be in many forms: website copy, blog posts, white papers, social media messages, etc. If you continue to generate high-quality content using keywords, it will help Google to understand what you do. You should start rising higher and higher in organic search engine results, leading to more visits to your website, and hopefully, more customers.

As a globally operating business, you need to make sure that you don’t just translate your target SEO keywords, but that they are actually transcreated into the target languages. In an article entitled An Introduction to International SEO Keyword Research and the Transcreation Process, I discuss this process in detail.

#3 – Social Media Marketing

Love it or not, but social media marketing needs to be part of your global digital marketing, content marketing, and SEO strategy. Statista estimates that there will be approximately 3.2 billion social media users around the globe by 2021. Statista’s findings of the most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2019, shares some interesting information. While social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp still lead the pack, international social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ, Qzone, TikTok, Sina Weibo, Douban (all Chinese social media platforms), etc. are starting to catch up.

Fact is that most people today are on some form of social media, so you have an opportunity to reach customers through this channel. You need to really understand your target market and what social media channels they use and when. Overall, Facebook may have the highest number of monthly visits, but if China is an important market for you then using only Facebook may not make sense. The goal with social media marketing is to get people back to your website to hopefully convert them into paying customers. So determine which channels you should use, develop rich content and promote it through social media.

Also, search engines often enter into partnerships with social media platforms. Whenever you publish a new blog post or article on your website, make sure to announce it in a Facebook post, a tweet, in a LinkedIn post, etc. This will ensure that Google can discover the newly published content on your website and you don’t have to wait for the search giant to crawl and discover the content via its googlebot.

#4 – Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

SEM and PPC are great ways to land at the top of search engine result pages as an advertisement instead of through organic search. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee (aka cost-per-click). For example, if you search for the branded term “target diapers,” you’ll see that the store Target lands at the top spot of the search engine results with several display ads in a carousel format. Approximately 80% of all people will click on the organic search results. However, about 2 out of 10 people will actually click on the paid ads. As you can see with the below Target example, many companies are willing to pay for Google to display ads in addition to organic search results:

PPC and Google Ads Strategy

This strategy ensures that you basically completely dominate all listings on page number one on Google and that your company captures every click. “Target diapers” is a very high intent search term, meaning that there’s probably a 90+ percentage chance that they’ll get the sale. I checked Google’s Keyword Planner tool to see how much Target is willing to pay per click for this particular case. As it appears, Target is willing to pay between $2.13 and $14.23 per click on one of their ads.

With PPC, you can easily and quickly penetrate international markets. If your website doesn’t already rank naturally high for its target SEO keywords in global markets, you can obviously use SEM and PPC to get listed quickly and to get some traffic to your multilingual pages at least. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for each click and it can become costly fast.

Is Your Website a Candidate for SEO and International SEO

Not sure if your website could benefit from SEO and international SEO? I encourage you to use our website audit tool. In less than a minute, you’ll get an 8-page report which also includes a list of action items that you can implement right away:

What’s Your SEO Score?

Enter the URL of any landing page or blog article and see how optimized it is for one keyword or phrase.