By Judd Marcello, Smartling
To effectively compete in today’s global market, it’s no longer enough to have a website and SEO strategy targeted only at the English-speaking world. Companies that have customers around the globe — or multilingual customers in the U.S. — need to think about translating and localizing their websites, mobile apps and other digital content, and then optimizing each for relevant organic search ranking, traffic and conversions.
Here are five tips to help you master the global SEO process:
1. Your Customers Should Determine The Most Important International Markets
When kicking off a global SEO strategy, there are two important steps you must do before anything else: analyze your website’s current international organic traffic and search activity, and then identify and prioritize the most important international markets for your business.
When tackling the latter, the most important thing to remember is that the location and spoken languages of your customers and other target audiences matter the most. Global SEO will help you expand into new countries and reach new multilingual customers in the U.S., but you must first make sure you’re delivering high-quality localized content for your current customers.
2. Customize Your Translation And SEO Approach For Each Country And Culture
When it comes to translation and international SEO, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Every country and nationality is different. What works in one country might not work for the rest — even within countries that speak the same language, their behavior and traditions will be different. For example, by some estimates, there are more than 100 languages spoken in India. And English in the U.S. is very different from English in the U.K., just as Spanish spoken in Spain is very different from Spanish spoken in various Latin American countries.
The best global SEO strategies go beyond simply enabling new languages on a current company website. Rather, they involve developing completely new websites that target each individual country that has been identified as a priority. They not only localize content and SEO, but the overall user experience as well.
3. Use A Trusted, Proven Translation Resource
Leveraging the right translation resources — those that you can count on to deliver high-quality multilingual content that truly reflects the way your audiences live, act and speak — is imperative to a successful SEO strategy. Different markets describe points and ideas differently, so content and keyword lists have to be generated and customized by country and language. A trusted translation resource, in combination with a translation management software platform, can help you localize the user experience and implement the right topics, terms and phrases for each specific country and language.
4. Strive For Local Inbound Links
A global SEO strategy should strive for local inbound links, such as those from blogs and social media. If you’ve gone through the trouble of developing a specific country- or language-based site, researching relevant keywords and creating high-quality multilingual content, you don’t want inbound links to fall by the wayside. Off-site SEO, such as inbound links, give sites authority; and authority translates to higher search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, links within a native country matter to many global search engines — particularly if the site is also hosted within that country. Building your brand name is important when you are looking to go global, and one major way of achieving this goal is to create authority through linking.
5. Continuously Monitor Your International Search Results
After you’ve launched and optimized your international Web versions, you should continue monitoring your search results for each country and language. Doing so will help you verify how you’re ranking against your competitors in your international markets and identify trends in the results, such as the types of pages that are ranked and how well they are optimized.
Translation + International SEO = Global Awareness
When paired with high-quality multilingual content that’s been translated and localized for each specific country and language, a global SEO strategy can have a tremendous impact on brand awareness, the customer experience and the company's bottom line. In today’s crowded marketplace, translation and global SEO are the keys to differentiating your business, and attracting and retaining customers around the world.
Judd Marcello is the VP of Marketing at Smartling, a New York-based translation management software platform company.