Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of helping customers find your business online. It involves many different components, from making sure your website is set up properly to understanding how people are searching for what you’re selling to creating high-quality content on a regular basis. Having a powerful SEO strategy is critical in today’s digitally-driven world if you want your website to be found on top of the search engines in order to boost sales and brand visibility.
Many companies invest some level of effort into optimizing their English website, from outsourcing the work to having a full-time staff. Many companies have also localized and translated their websites in an effort to reach customers in other countries. And that’s a great start since you dramatically increase the chance of getting the sale if you’re able to address your target audience in their native language.
Translating the content of your website into other languages is just the beginning. As with your English website, you need to have a winning SEO strategy in place for the localized websites if you want to be found in online search. Yet, many global businesses will not take the time to implement an international SEO strategy for their localized websites. And that’s where an international SEO consultant comes in.
What Is an International SEO Consultant and Why Could You Benefit from Working With One?
In short: An international SEO expert can help your business optimize your localized websites in order to increase organic (aka natural) search traffic from foreign-language markets. The expert will also work closely with you and your business to establish a global SEO strategy that will yield results for months and years to come. For additional information, I also invite you to read an article entitled What is International SEO?.
I’ve been doing global SEO for nearly two decades now and have been working with some of the biggest and well-known brands in the world. I teach my own courses and I’m also a Lecturer in Global Digital Marketing for the University of Strasbourg, France. Getting your multilingual SEO strategy right is absolutely crucial to the success of your company since it could dramatically support your company’s bottom line. If you’re not sure if you could benefit from working with an international SEO consultant, I invite you to reach out and schedule an introductory call with me. No strings attached.
There are roughly 250 main ranking signals in Google’s algorithm (and potentially thousands of sub-ranking signals). The better you address each and every one of these ranking signals, the better your chance that your site will appear on page number one of the search engines. Below you’ll find a few of the considerations that we’d discuss in an initial conversation:
The Current Status of Your English Website
Before you can even think about looking at your multilingual sites, you need to have your English website evaluated to see if it’s properly optimized for SEO. If it’s not, you’re just going to replicate all these mistakes in your multilingual sites, which is a very costly mistake.
If you’re not sure what the current status of your website is, make sure to use our free website audit tool. In less than a minute, the tool will create a basic 10-page report and send it to your inbox. One of my team members or I will be happy to review the findings of the report in a complimentary call or screen share session together with you:
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.
Site Structure Considerations
There are different ways to set up your localized websites, including having unique domain names or country code top-level domain (ccTLD), country-specific sub-domains and country-specific sub-directories. Let’s briefly discuss the three most common options:
Option 1: Unique Domain Names or Country Code Top-level Domain (ccTLD)
For example: domain.fr, domain.de, domain.ch
This is probably the best option for SEO but also the most expensive and complex way to manage your international pages.
Option 2: Country Specific Sub-Domains
For example: fr.domain.com, de.domain.com, ch.domain.com
Subdomains are typically easier to set up and manage than buying the different top-level domains.
Option 3: Country and Language Specific Sub-Directories
For example: domain.com/de, domain.com/fr, domain.com/ch, domain.com/us/en, domain.com/us/es, etc.
Undoubtedly, this is the easiest and most convenient way to manage multilingual sites.
Keep in mind, all of these options have pros and cons and it’s very important to analyze your site to determine which option may work best for your situation.
Other technical considerations include things on your websites like international targeting, website speed, the implementation of hreflang codes, etc.
There’s More Than Google: Global Search Engines and Optimization Tips for Baidu
As a global SEO expert, I’ll discuss with you what search engines people are using globally because – perhaps shockingly – not everyone uses Google as their primary search engine. For example, Yandex is the leading search engine in Russia, Baidu is the leading search engine in mainland China and Naver is the top choice for most people in South Korea. So you can’t just assume Google is it – you need to know what search engine to target in each foreign language market.
If you are planning on targeting China as part of your global expansion strategy, here are a few tips that will help you increase organic search traffic from Baidu:
- Baidu usually gives higher domain authority to those websites with .cn ccTLD.
- ICP (Internet Content Provider) license is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to permit China-based websites to operate in China. In order to obtain an ICP license, your website should be hosted in Mainland China or Hong Kong. Many advanced site verification procedures in China (such as Baidu Trust) require an ICP license. These verifications unlock additional badges or widgets which would display on the SERP. It helps build trust and improve click-through-rates (CTR) in return. Make sure to include the badge in the bottom of your website after getting the ICP license.
- Baidu uses meta keywords as a ranking signal and it is recommended to add 3-5 keywords per page.
- URLs should be descriptive and in Pinyin (phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet).
- Backlinks are one of the major ranking factors for most search engines, including Google and Baidu. Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. For Baidu SEO, the Chinese search giant values backlinks from China-based websites much more highly than foreign sites.
International Keyword Research and the Transcreation Process
One of the most important multilingual SEO tasks is to research and understand how your customers in foreign-language markets are searching for things in their language. Finding these “golden nuggets” is called the SEO keyword transcreation process. You may think that it’s enough to have English keywords translated into their equivalent in the foreign language. In reality, that’s not how the process works. Just because something works for an English market, it doesn’t mean that it’ll equate properly in a foreign market. And languages vary based on where the language is spoken. For example, the German language can be different for Germans who live in Germany versus the way German is used in Switzerland or Austria. As you can see from the below Google Keyword Planner example, the term Handy is used when people talk about a cell phone or Smartphone in Germany, while many people in the German-speaking part of Switzerland will use the term Natel.
As part of the international keyword research and transcreation process, we work with linguists who are located in-country and who are trained and knowledgeable about the ISEO process. This allows us to take your English keyword list and determine what terms to use for your foreign languages.
Once the keywords have been properly transcreated, then the on-page optimization process (keyword placement in content, meta tags, image tags, internal linking, etc.) can start and a multilingual content marketing strategy can be implemented.
Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Content marketing, as well as social media marketing, need to be a part of your global digital marketing strategy. The content that you produce should not just be translated for your global markets. It has to be customized for your target audiences so that it sounds, looks and feels as if the content was created by someone from that particular country. In order to have a chance to compete with existing native content, the translations need to be of the highest quality and include the transcreated SEO keywords.
Boost Sales from Foreign Markets with Global SEO
As an international SEO consultant, I help businesses expand their global reach and boost sales from foreign markets. With over two decades of experience in multilingual digital marketing, plus my 15+ years in the translation, localization and globalization industry, I’m proud to say that I’m one of the few global SEO experts who live and breathe this topic on a daily basis. Please don’t hesitate to reach out; I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.