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Multilingual SEO: Is its lack hampering your business’s growth?

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Lisa Skoglund photoBusinesses are often excessively cautious and feel paralyzed when presenting themselves in foreign languages. There are many misconceptions when it comes to translating corporate websites and SEO (search engine optimization) in particular is not well understood. If you are armed with the facts you might find that there is a world of new potential markets for your international business to tap into.

Some interesting facts

  • 75% of the world’s Internet users do not speak English as their first language.
  • Asia has the biggest percentage of Internet usage with 43% of the worldwide usage, followed by Europe and North America.
  • Local search engines now dominate some domestic markets.
  • The major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN now have their websites customized for many countries, especially in Europe.
  • Google reports that 50% of the searches on their site are multilingual.
  • Locally customized SEO is one of the easiest ways to get higher rankings on search engines.

ClientSide News Magazine pictureThe technical process of SEO does not differ from one country to another. It is the procedure of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines via un-paid algorithmic search results. The biggest challenge when adapting your website and translating your web content into another language is getting the actual translation right.

Most non-English speaking people will type in keywords in their native language when using search engines. Therefore correctly adapting keywords locally is crucial to reach your target group.

So how do you enter the world of multilingual web content and what do you need to take into consideration in order to do it properly?

Here are some guidelines to point you in the right direction:

Get it right the first time. Using a native translator who knows the language, nuances and dialects will bring a larger amount of higher quality traffic to your website. Remember that words have different cultural associations depending on locality. Cutting corners on getting the text right is a false economy.

Local hosting

You should also take into account the IP address, which should be in the same location as the target audience. If you want to set up a site in Germany, for example, then make sure that your server is in Germany. You risk being treated as a .com if the IP address and your website location are different.

Regional domains

If you are concentrating on search engines in one specific country then register a domain in that country. In Japan, for example, that would be the .jp domain.

Link building

The major search engines made changes to their algorithms last year making the destination of the links back to websites a critical factor for multilingual SEO. Using 10 quality phrases or relevant links within the target country can be more valuable than 100 links from directories, especially if the directory is not in the same language and semantically relevant. Remember to include the correct links both to and from your English site to your foreign-language site.

Local search engines

It is important to identify any significant local search engines. As the number of Internet users has increased, local search engines have become quite a common thing and you can no longer trust the main search engines to do the job for you when it comes to SEO.

Many of these local search engines are now dominating in some countries and therefore adapting the SEO for each country becomes crucial. In Poland, for example, the majority of Internet users prefer to use the local search engine called, which is the number one portal in the country.

Use multilingual SEO to your advantage

An online multilingual marketing strategy is essential for international businesses today. It is no use spending thousands of pounds on adapting your website locally if it cannot be found by your target groups.

Getting your website localized and optimized for different markets is necessary for it to be an effective marketing tool. The process requires language skills, technical skills and local know how. Few companies have all the necessary resources in-house, but that should not be a reason to hold back.

Author Bio

Lisa Skoglund is the Marketing Manager at TranslateMedia, an award winning global translation agency, where she is in charge of PR and marketing across all media channels and markets. She has recently been involved in developing new services at TranslateMedia, such as multilingual SEO, as a response to an increasing demand in the translation industry. After working in both New York and London, she has extensive experience in developing and adapting marketing strategies to various international markets. Lisa is fluent in Norwegian and English as well as having good knowledge of German, Danish and Swedish.

Published - November 2010


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