Frequently Asked Questions About Multilingual and Global SEO

Welcome to our frequently asked questions and answers section about multilingual and international search engine optimization and digital marketing. I’ll expand this section with new content on a regular basis since global SEO is ever evolving and new industry terms seem to appear on a daily basis.

I also invite you to join my LinkedIn group when you can ask questions and learn additional information about this fascinating industry.

Question: What is international SEO?

Answer: International SEO (ISEO) is the process of optimizing your localized and multilingual websites, after properly optimizing the source language website in order not to replicate mistakes, to rank on top of the search engine results pages. It involves addressing each and every ranking signal in Google’s (and other search engines’) algorithm. Most of the rankings signals can be “placed” onto one of the following five pillars:

  1. The technical health of a website
  2. The functionality and usability of a website
  3. On-page SEO, which consists of things you’re able to implement on your website such as keyword research, website content creation and optimization, meta tags and alt / image tags optimization, content marketing and more
  4. Off-page SEO, which consists of things you can do outside of your website, such as increasing backlinks from other higher quality sites to your website, adding your website to business listings and more
  5. Social media marketing

The foundation of a strong international SEO strategy is content development and marketing.

Question: Why do I need to consider International SEO?

Answer: Having an SEO strategy for your English website is a great way to start getting noticed by search engines. But if you’re localizing your website into several languages and you don’t have an international SEO plan, you’re missing a big opportunity to reach your target foreign language audiences. People prefer to browse online in their own language. Understanding how they’re searching – what terms (keywords) they’re entering into search engines – and then optimizing your multilingual websites is one of the fundamental components of global SEO.

Question: What can I get out of doing global and multilingual SEO?

Answer: By implementing a winning international SEO strategy, you can increase search engine traffic, resulting in more revenue and increased global brand recognition.

Question: We have our English keywords. Why isn’t it enough to simply translate them for our multilingual websites?

Answer: Many people think that it’s enough to just translate the English keywords, but it’s not. The keywords actually have to be transcreated, which is the process of taking the English keywords and researching terms in the target languages by linguists who are trained in SEO. Make sure to read article An Introduction to International SEO Keyword Research and the Transcreation Process for additional information.

Question: How do I set up my domain structure for my multilingual websites?

Answer: There are basically three different options:

  1. Unique domain names or country code top-level domains (ccTLD): (e.g., domain.fr, domain.de, domain.ch)
  2. Country-specific subdomains (e.g., fr.domain.com, de.domain.com, ch.domain.com)
  3. Country- and language-specific sub-directories (e.g., domain.com/de, domain.com/fr, domain.com/ch, domain.com/us/en, domain.com/us/es, etc.)

There really isn’t one clear answer, as all of these options have pros and cons. There are technical things on your website that you need to consider, including international targeting, website speed, the implementation of hreflang codes, etc.

For additional information, make sure to read these tips by Google and don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to discuss these option with you.

Question: What’s an hreflang tag?

Answer: Hreflang is a tag that enables you to select which language to serve up to Google on a specific page. It seems like implementing hreflang codes would be a straightforward task, but just like setting up your domain structure, there are certain considerations that you need to take into account.

Question: OK, our multilingual websites are now optimized. Are we done?

Answer: Optimizing your multilingual websites is a very important part of the international and global SEO process. However, your efforts don’t stop there. Developing and executing a multilingual content marketing strategy is key to your long-term success and it will ultimately get your web pages ranked high in search engines.

Question: How do I get started with multilingual SEO?

Answer: Global SEO can definitely take time and resources, and it’s not a service that just anyone can provide. If you’re interested in learning more about how I could potentially assist you and your company, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Question: How can I learn more about international SEO?

Answer: I used to teach a three-day digital marketing workshop which also included a global search engine optimization component. Since I now focus more on teaching half- and full-day workshops here in the Denver area, as well as private workshops for companies around the globe, I ended up professionally recording and creating an online course of this workshop. The online digital marketing and SEO course is roughly seven hours long. It is now also part of the University of Strasbourg, France TCLoc and CAWEB Master’s Degree which I teach online. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the online training.