As part of their website translation and localization solutions, language service providers should also offer global and multilingual search engine optimization services to their customers. This article discusses four of the most common options on how to do so.
When was the last time you picked up the Yellow Pages to look for a service provider? It’s probably been some time. The Internet allows us to find anything within a matter of seconds. However, for potential customers to find a website organically in online search, it must be optimized for search engines such as Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu. As an international search engine optimization expert, I frequently get invited to speak about the topic around the globe. When I present at localization and translation-related conferences, I always enjoy meeting and chatting with the owners and marketing executives of language service providers (LSPs). Most of these executives realize that sooner than later, they will have to offer multilingual and international SEO (ISEO) services.
In this article, I’m addressing a question that I get asked all the time: How can we offer multilingual SEO to our website localization and translation customers?
Sooner than Later, your Customers Will Expect that You Offer Multilingual and International SEO as Part of Your Website Localization Services
Many of the larger LSPs have already recognized the importance of integrating ISEO into their core website localization process. As such, they now frequently add an optional line item for ISEO in their proposals. Automatically adding this line item in the proposal, is a great way to offer added value to their customers and to make them aware that the localized websites also need to get optimized.
Some of these larger LSPs have either created a dedicated team who’s able to offer basic ISEO solutions to their customers or they have set up a strategic partnership or white label solution with a dedicated ISEO agency. Especially the strategic partnership or white label solution ensures that their customers end up with fully localized and also optimized multilingual websites that will perform well in online search in the new target markets. Indeed a win-win situation for the LSP and the customer.
There’s no doubt in my mind: Sooner than later, website localization customers will expect that their service provider not only translates the website but also applies global SEO best practices. If you’re an LSP who currently doesn’t offer this service, this article is for you. I’ll discuss the four most common options on how LSPs can provide multilingual and global SEO to their website localization customers.
Before Tackling ISEO, the Source Language Website Needs to Get Optimized
Many businesses have an SEO strategy for the source language website, but very few globally operating companies have an ISEO strategy for their multilingual websites. Even worse, they haven’t even thought about it as part of getting their website localized. These companies are missing an opportunity here to be found organically and compete with local markets. If companies are going to spend the money and time to localize a website, they should also consider optimizing the translated website for global search in the new target languages.
You can’t translate a website if the source language content weren’t ready. The same thing applies to multilingual SEO. Without the source language website being entirely and accurately optimized, you may end up replicating the same mistake(s) into multiple languages. So before agreeing to optimize the target languages for online search, get confirmation from the customer that the source language website is optimized correctly.
I’ve been on several calls with an LSP and one of their customers who were interested in ISEO. Once we found out that the source language wasn’t properly optimized, I educated them about the process, cost, and timeframe to do so. If you’re not sure what the necessary optimization process entails, I invite you to read an article entitled What is Search Engine Optimization?
At the very minimum, you’ll want to confirm the following:
- Keyword research for SEO has been done
- The keywords have been mapped to each page on the source language website
- The mapped keywords are present in the content
- The meta tags have been properly optimized
If these tasks have been done, you’ll be able to perform basic multilingual on-page optimization tasks. I’ll discuss these tasks further below and will also include links to additional resources and information about these tasks.
After educating the customer-side localization lead on what it takes to optimize the source language website properly, they frequently run into one or more of the following issues:
- They don’t get buy-in from the marketing team to get the source language website optimized. They see it as interference or as the localization team overstepping the boundaries.
- They realized that they don’t have the extra budget to accomplish this task.
- They are under time constraints to get the website localized as soon as possible, and there’s no time to get the source language first optimized.
- Upper management doesn’t think it’s necessary to optimize the source language website, but they are insisting that the new target languages get optimized.
In this case, I recommend only localizing the website but not to offer ISEO services. You won’t be able to do a good job, and the customer will not be happy with the results.
If you find yourself in a situation like that, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to sign an NDA and jump on the call with you and your customer. They may eventually find the budget to optimize the source and target language websites properly, so it’s worth a try.
Let’s discuss the four most common options or LSPs to offer international SEO to their website localization customers.
1. Offer Basic SEO/ISEO Solutions by Hiring In-house SEO Experts
As mentioned earlier in this article, many of the larger LSPs now offer basic SEO and ISEO solutions by hiring in-house SEO experts who now lead these efforts. From having spoken with some of these larger players, I understand that they mainly focus on on-page SEO tasks such as keyword transcreation, meta tags transcreation and keywords placement throughout the content.
Larger LSPs usually treat ISEO projects as one-off projects. This means that after the website has been localized and optimized, there are no ongoing SEO efforts. Truly succeeding with SEO and ISEO requires weekly or monthly efforts. For our customers, we usually create a 6-12 months plan that includes tasks such as monitoring and improving technical and functional aspects of the website, analyzing and tracking data, ongoing content marketing and storytelling efforts, off-page optimization, and so on. We’ve been working with some customers for over six years and the work never stops.
2. Offer Basic SEO/ISEO Solutions by Training In-house Staff
If option number one is not a realistic scenario for you at this point, you’ll want to train in-house personal. A great way to learn the required knowledge is to take a web-based class, such as the self-paced online SEO training course that I created. The 7-hour long training also includes a global SEO module. After taking the online course, you and your team should at least be able to offer essential SEO/ISEO services to your customers.
Alternatively, I also provide personalized half-, full-, and two-day workshops to companies around the world. Workshops are customized to meet a company’s specific needs attendee, but an agenda could look something like the following:
- Source language SEO: Keyword research, keyword mapping, meta tags, and on-page optimization
- Functional and technical SEO considerations and best practices
- An introduction to multilingual and international SEO
- Project and process templates
- Learn how to use tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other tools to support your efforts
- There’s more than Google: Learn about other search engines such as Yandex, Baidu, and Naver
- Step-by-step: The basic ISEO process
- Learn how to quote and budget for an ISEO project
- The ISEO keyword research and transcreation process
- The multilingual keyword mapping process
- Global on-page optimization and content marketing best practices
- Global off-page and link earning best practices
- Global social media marketing
- Learn how to audit and measure the results of your efforts
Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can answer any questions or if you’d like to discuss a custom workshop for your team.
By training in-house staff, your company should be able to offer services such as multilingual keyword research and transcreation, meta tags optimization, and on-page SEO. For additional information on how to provide global SEO solutions to your customers, I also invite you to read the following two articles:
- What is International Search Engine Optimization (ISEO)?
- How To Get Started With International And Multilingual Search Engine Optimization
3. Offer the Full-Range of SEO/ISEO Solutions Through White-labeling
As you’ve surely learned by now, search engine optimization has become quite technical and pretty involved over the last few years. The on-boarding process can be quite lengthy and requires a constant stream of communication by phone, in-person or online meetings, and email exchanges. If you choose the white-labeling route, a lot of this back-and-forth will have to be managed by the LSPs project manager.
We’ve teamed up with LSPs in a white-labeling capacity in the past. However, it’s not our preferred option since we ended up spending more time managing the project than actually performing the work. That said, I don’t recommend white-labeling.
4. Offer the Full-Range of SEO/ISEO Solutions Through a Strategic Partnership Approach
The strategic partnership approach is probably the most efficient and best option if you…
- you’re not in a position to hire full-time in-house global SEO experts,
- you currently lack the knowledge to offer basic SEO/ISEO services,
- and you don’t want to burden your project management team with the issues that the white labeling approach could bring with it.
We’ve successfully teamed up with LSPs to provide SEO and global SEO service as a strategic partner. Open lines of communication with the end customer will save all involved parties time and resources, and it will also keep the budget in check.
However, most importantly, your website localization customer will see the results they’re expecting. Throughout the project, you’ll be kept in the loop, and you’ll also be able to attend weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly status update meetings.
Thanks for reading this article; I hope you found the information useful and invite you to get in touch with me if I can answer any questions. One way or another, if you work for a localization company I do recommend that you take this topic seriously. As your customers get more educated about the importance of SEO in general, you’ll be asked to offer this service. We’re certainly here to support you all the way if you need us.
Meet the Author
My name is Chris Raulf and I’m the founder of CR Global Digital Marketing. My team and I assist companies around the globe with all their online marketing needs. I’m originally from Basel, Switzerland and have lived in the USA since 1996.
I enjoy teaching students around the globe on how to improve their website’s rankings in online search. My international background has made me one of the few professionals in the industry who truly live and breath multilingual search engine optimization on a daily basis. To learn more about me, make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn and to follow me on Twitter.