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An introduction to multilingual SEO part 2: who?

By Josian Phillips, 

An online presence is something that most businesses invest in these days, for obvious reasons. Internet trading presents many unique challenges as it is, but doing so across borders can be even trickier to get right. The task of optimising your site for ultimate web visibility, for example, becomes particularly difficult when it’s foreign-language users you’re trying to reach.

Multilingual SEO – or search engine optimisation – is something that firms must consider if they’re to operate with maximum effectiveness overseas, but why is it such an important part of reaching your all-important target audience?

Crucial keywords

While the days of awkwardly stuffing keywords into web pages are thankfully behind us now, organic keywords still have an important part to play when it comes to boosting online visibility. Choosing the right search terms can be a challenge in itself; it’s a process that demands plenty of market research. For international businesses, though, even more work is required.

Just because a website has been thoroughly optimised for a UK market doesn’t mean that it’ll enjoy the same visibility in another area of the world. Yes, it is pretty easy to translate keywords into the appropriate language, but that’s not to say the new audience will still be using them in their searches. This is why the help of multilingual SEO experts is so crucial – they’re able to determine exactly what needs to be included in your site’s pages, before incorporating it in the most natural way possible.

The importance of engagement

Amid the rapid rise of the internet as a business tool, many companies started to do whatever it took to get ahead of their competitors in the results pages (SERPS). Their attempts often involved ‘black hat’ SEO – techniques which might’ve worked in the short term but were frowned upon or banned by the search engines (for good reason, of course).

The big search firms – namely Google – eventually acted to eradicate these bad practices by changing what it was they were looking for. Now, instead of going on keywords and links alone, the algorithms are used to generate the results deemed most useful and relevant to the searcher.

Thankfully, most companies have responded to the changes by ensuring they offer something of value in their copy and posts. By using a basic machine translation tool to prepare this content for another market, however, site-owners risk wasting their initial efforts.

It’s important to realise that content which is relevant and engaging to one market may not be to another. While you may feel the need to get a particular message across to your new audience, doing so in a way that works in another language will require much more attention than a computer algorithm alone is capable of giving.

Leave it to the experts

Tools like Google Translate and Bing, while useful in certain situations, aren’t designed to handle the effective translation of a full website; errors will be made and they will damage your chances of reaching your target audience overseas. Relying solely on the knowledge of a standard search specialist won’t cut it either, simply because multilingual SEO involves the use of such unique techniques. It’s important to enlist the help of a skilled linguistic expert who has professional experience in optimisation and knows the specific market they’re trying to reach. Only then will it be possible to fully capitalise on the countless opportunities that trading internationally presents.

Next > Part 3

Everything you need to know about multilingual SEO Parts 1-4:

An introduction to multilingual SEO part 1: what?
An introduction to multilingual SEO part 2: who?
An introduction to multilingual SEO part 3: how?
An introduction to multilingual SEO part 4: where?

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