In today’s globalized world, businesses are expanding their reach to a global audience through their online presence. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is integral to outranking your competitors and reaching more users worldwide.
However, not everyone speaks English and so if you want your content to reach a broader audience, you will need to think of creating multilingual content and SEO strategies. If you want to learn more about this from experts from different marketing and translation companies, then keep on reading!
What is Multilingual SEO?
But what is multilingual SEO? It is the process of optimizing a website and other forms of content that would make it visible across search engines under different markets and languages. Multilingual SEO, like regular SEO, has a lot of techniques and practices that would help your website rank in the SERPs.
You might be wondering. What makes it different from conventional SEO?
Multilingual SEO is different from conventional SEO as it will require you to adapt to your target market, and even though the language you are using is similar to other markets, it can differ greatly. For example, the Spanish market is vast. So if you are targeting the Mexican market, you can’t reuse SEO and content strategy when entering Spain’s market.
It is because each language has its own specific search phrases and keywords. Also, some languages have written characters that are very different from English, so aspects of technical and on-page SEO techniques, like the meta descriptions and title tags, need to be translated according to the language of your target users.
Is Multilingual Good for SEO?
There are various reasons why incorporating multilingual and multi-regional SEO for essential for any brand that wants to expand into a new market. We listed a couple of them below, as follows.
- Increasing Traffic and Visibility: When it comes down to it, SEO is all about making sure your website reaches your target users. Doing so will help you conquer local search SEO rankings and make your brand more visible to your international audience.
- Enhancing User Experience: Multilingual SEO aims to improve the user experience by providing users with content that is relevant and meaningful to them. By optimizing content in their native language, businesses can offer a personalized experience that resonates with their target audience, leading to better engagement and conversion rates.
- Competitive Advantage: Businesses that invest in multilingual SEO gain a competitive advantage over those that don’t. By targeting multiple languages, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and establish a strong brand presence in different countries or regions.
- Increased Conversions: Multilingual SEO can lead to increased conversions by providing users with a seamless experience that encourages them to take action. By providing content that is relevant and appealing to their target audience, businesses can increase their chances of converting visitors into customers.
- Improved International Reputation: By optimizing content in different languages, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to serving customers from different countries or regions. This can improve their international reputation, leading to increased trust and loyalty from their target audience.
Because of how specialized multilingual SEO is, many businesses choose to work with experts, like a translation company or global SEO marketing specialist, to ensure the quality of multilingual content and proper implementation of SEO.
Failing to properly integrate a multilingual-first approach to your global expansion can offend your users or discredit the credibility of your brand to your new audience.
The Difference Between Multilingual SEO and Multiregional SEO
As you delve deeper into multilingual SEO, you might have encountered the term multiregional SEO. Essentially, multilingual SEO is optimizing your website for different regions and markets. Like with multilingual SEO, you will need to adapt the content to the preference of your target users and implement ways to make transactions and communication easier for your target audience.
For example, you can make your customer support available during the working hours of your target market, offer payment transactions in their currency, and have the contact information in the local number of the region, making it toll-free for them.
7 Experts’ Best Practices for Multilingual Websites
We researched and interviewed various experts in multilingual SEO and website development. We gathered some of their best practices for creating a multilingual website and implementing a multilingual SEO strategy.
- Laying the Foundation with Multilingual Keyword Research: If there was one piece of advice that Kate Banaag, the demand generation manager of Tomedes, a translation company that offers translation and multilingual SEO solutions to businesses worldwide, would want people to know about is that keyword research is absolutely essential before you set out to translate or localize a website or marketing content. It is because you will need to integrate the keywords in your content creation process and when you build your multilingual website. Even if two markets have the same language, the keywords will vary as with the intent, and in the end, you could end up missing opportunities due to failing to research.
- User Search Intent is Crucial for Any Market: Whether it is to create content for another market or build international brand credibility, if you don’t know who your users are and what is the intent behind the keywords and keyphrases they often use online, it can be problematic when you start to create a strategy. According to Molly Donovan, the former global head of content of Lionbridge, an international language and interpretation company, simply the approach in which they search online like, whether it is through a desktop or through a mobile phone, can affect their search intent and the language or colloquialism they use to make their queries.
- Know Your hreflang tags: One of the issues that Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR, an SEO expert from Holistic SEO, a company specialized in global digital marketing and multilingual SEO, sees in many multilingual websites is that they fail to integrate basic multilingual website SEO practices, such as hreflang tags to their website. Never skip it. It is because hreflang tags help search engines explore the web page better, which will prove your website’s ranking. That is why it is imperative that when you offer alternative versions of your website‘s content in another language, it should have hreflang tags, and all internal links should be connected to the translated page should have it as well.
- Plan How to Build Authoritativeness and Expertise in Your Niche for Your Target Market: Before content creation and translating your website, building brand credibility and trust are some considerations you have to take into account. For Hinde Lamrani, the in-house subject matter expert for International SEO and SEM for RWS Holdings, an international company that offers translation and localization solutions, building credibility can be hard, but that’s where off-page SEO takes place, like link building and collaborating with other multilingual websites that have high demand authority and traffic. By publishing content under your niche expertise, you are building backlinks and brand awareness in your target market.
- Implementing AI and Machine Learning to Increase Output of Multilingual Content: With the launch of ChatGPT and machine translation tools readily available online, it would make sense that you should be wondering if you should be using these new technologies when creating a multilingual website. According to Maria Johnsen, the founder of Golden Way Media and writer of maria-johnsen.com, these new tools and technologies have greatly influenced SEO and digital marketing. Many of these tools are being used to further enhance the user experience of websites. So it wouldn’t make sense not to use it if it means it could make it more convenient for your users. However, technology isn’t perfect, which is why you should still have experts oversee the content creation process and execution of your multilingual SEO strategy.
- Analyze and Track Your Progress: It can be overwhelming when you get into multilingual SEO. But even so, Ariel Craine, a marketing copywriter from Vera Content, a global marketing content agency, stated that it is crucial that you keep track of your published multilingual content, like its organic traffic, impressions, and CTR. This is the only way for you to identify if your strategy is working or not. There‘s always the possibility that you missed translating your metadata or failed to integrate keywords that would make it more visible to your target audience.
- Identify What Search Engine Your Target Audience is Using: Google is the most used Search Engine website worldwide. However, that doesn’t mean that all markets use it. According to Elisabeth De Cannière, the strategic solution consultant of Language Wire, a multilingual services and management company, China banned Google in their country. So Chinese users primarily use Baidu as their search engine. So your multilingual SEO strategy will have to adjust accordingly to the search engine website that your target audience uses often.
The Difference Between Multilingual and Multi-Language
After discussing the best practices of multilingual SEO from various experts on how you can integrate it into your business plan, let’s finally talk about the difference between multilingual and multi-language content.
Multilingual content refers to tailoring content and making it available across different languages for a target audience. This can be done by making your website available across different languages to cater to international users. This process is typically used by businesses that want to generate content that would resonate with their global customers.
Multi-language content is similar to multilingual content as it tries to make content more relatable to its target market. However, how they go about it is by having content that contains more than one language. This happens because the target market has users that are more comfortable with code-switching, using two or more languages.
For example, in the Philippines, many users code-switch as they use both English and Tagalog in their day-to-day conversations. Some marketers do this as it is a “more natural” way of communicating to their target audience, who don’t normally use only one language in their conversations.
In a globally competitive market, it is not enough to just have your content in English. Multilingual SEO is not an option but a necessity. Hopefully, the best practices and tips from experts in marketing and translation companies will be useful when you begin your market research, content creation, and multilingual SEO campaign.