Multilingual SEO – What is multilingual SEO and how keyword localisation can help increase your website’s rankings
Multilingual SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) refers to the process of optimising your website so that it ranks as highly as possible on search engines in other countries. Translating your website is a great way to target potential customers abroad, but website translation alone is not a guarantee that your company’s website will appear in a prominent position on overseas search engines. This is where multilingual SEO (or SEO translation/SEO localisation as it is sometimes known) comes into play. It is another step in the website translation process and is key in order to ensure an optimal internet presence in your target countries.
In this blog, we will look at different elements of multilingual SEO, in particular how keyword localisation can help with on-page SEO and boost your website overseas.
Keyword localisation refers to the process of assembling a list of keywords in different languages that prospective customers will type into a search engine when looking for a company, product or service like yours. A multilingual SEO specialist will carry out market research in your target country to determine which keywords and search terms your potential customers are using there to find the services and products that you offer. The SEO expert will use their own experience of the language, market and sector, as well as specific SEO tools to determine search volumes for different search terms. In this way, they will build up a greater understanding of the search behaviour of your overseas customers and the main keywords they use to find businesses like yours.
It is important to keep in mind that these may not be literal translations of the keywords and expressions used by customers in your country, and in some cases they can be completely different. For example, UK customers looking for a website translation service might search for ‘website translation services’ whereas French customers might search for the equivalent of ‘website translation agency’. When you are building a multilingual SEO strategy, it is therefore key to assemble the right keywords for the target country, which are not simply a translation of your original keywords, but reflective of how your target customers actually search in those countries.
At this point, we should mention different search engines: in Western Europe and the USA, Google is dominant, but in other countries such as Russia or China, other search engines have the edge. Depending on the country you are targeting, research on search volumes should be focussed on the search engines used predominantly by customers in that country.
Once this list of localised keywords is ready, the next step is to perform a website translation in such a way that these keywords are included within the website content, in the right locations on the page and in the right numbers. The level of keyword density that your website has will play an important role in determining the ranking of your site on the relevant search engine, so it’s important to get this right. There are a number of tools available that can help evaluate how well the page reads from an SEO perspective, which should be checked before the page is published. This process may mean that your translated website will not be an exact word-for-word translation of your original website, however this will sometimes lead to a translation that reads more naturally and that will be more likely to be found on search engines.
If you have already completed your website translation without completing the multilingual SEO work, do not worry! The SEO localisation work can be completed and then the website translation can be edited afterwards in order to ensure that the correct keywords appear in the text.
Don’t forget about meta descriptions either, which should be translated as well as the on-screen text for maximum search engine exposure. It would be counterproductive to be found on a search engine, only for the descriptive text to appear in the wrong language in the search engine results! From a technical perspective, when translating your website, you may want to consider the best workflow option for your needs, and how you want to achieve CMS integration.
We would also recommend that you also consider subtitling and voiceovers for any video translation requirements you may have and document translation for any pdfs or downloads on the site, in order to make sure your website makes the maximum impact with your target audience. If your website is written in a particularly creative way, transcreation may be necessary, where we take a much more creative approach to the language, whilst maintaining the core message that you want to get across.
The above multilingual SEO activities can help with your overseas marketing, but they are not the only factors to consider: one important point for SEO (in any language) is the amount of internal links within your website, as well as the amount of quality external links that the site references and which link back to your site. Site speed is increasingly a factor in determining how highly ranked a website is in a given country, so this should also be considered when building a multilingual website strategy. Moreover, Google penalises duplicate content on websites so try and avoid having this wherever possible. It is also generally considered good practice to only have one language on a defined page, which is clearly marked as being for that target market. Lastly, it is also recommended to keep your website up to date with regular new content to build your website’s domain authority.
In summary, there are many factors to consider when it comes to multilingual SEO – such as website speed, internal and external links in the individual countries and regular streams of new, unique content – but researching the right keywords and ensuring that your website translation is sufficiently populated with these terms is an excellent way to boost your multilingual SEO and achieve the highest return on investment for your business overseas.