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An introduction to multilingual SEO part 3: how?

By Josian Phillips, 

Realising that your website requires multilingual SEO – or search engine optimisation – in order for your business to successfully grow internationally is the first step up the ladder. Finding skilled linguistic experts who are also well-versed in website optimisation is the second. So what’s the third?

Answer: actually doing it. But when you’ve handed your website over to the experts, what exactly must be undertaken to give it the best opportunity for success overseas?

It gets audited

Firstly, the multilingual SEO team will conduct an on-site SEO audit which involves going through every individual page, checking for broken links and ALT tags for images, reading through pieces of content and so on to decipher the overall healthiness of the site. Using best practice, experts should then make recommendations for improvements that will bring the site up to scratch.

Then it’s time for some in-depth analysis of your site, in order to create an action plan moving forward. This could include examining existing link popularity and search engine saturation, improving the user experience through site navigability and updating source code.

It gets localised

The next stage often begins with the experts establishing generic country code top level domain names for the regions in which your business operates, before undertaking keyword research. This must take into consideration the local dialect and information from Google Analytics.

It’s not enough to merely translate your site’s existing keywords; those words may not have much relevance in different countries, producing little search traffic. Multilingual SEO experts will conduct keyword research in each language, forming a list of keywords based on the search volume and relevance for that audience. The same goes for your website’s content; professional translators must be used so that, firstly, it makes sense, and secondly that the foreign-language keywords are added correctly.

An issue that is likely to crop up if multilingual SEO is implemented without the use of skilled professionals – instead attempting to use only Google Translate or a similar tool – is that of duplicate content. When your website shares content with another – in this case, your regional websites – Google is forced to choose one over another. SEO experts will ensure that having multiple versions of content on different regional sites works for your business, not against it.

It starts geotargeting

The website is then able to begin geotargeting – delivering different content to visitors based on their location (this can be as specific as their region/state, postcode, or even IP address) as well as improving search rankings in individual countries. Each website should also be optimised for use on mobile devices. If all the work done on your multilingual sites has been delivered correctly, it will give your business the best chance of success internationally.

Not only should the people working on your website be fluent in a variety of languages AND experts in optimisation, but they must also be creative writers, too. As the process becomes more dense and complex, it becomes increasingly obvious that machine translation has no place in such a large project. Language is complex, and an element of cultural knowledge is integral to improving not only the content, but all aspects of the website, right down to images and design.

Optimising a website for a foreign audience is more than simply translating the content; it’s extremely involved and requires technical insight which stretches to a knowledge of the specific country in which the site will go live. Multilingual SEO, simply put, can’t be done by just anyone; if you want great results, then you’ll need to engage skilled experts.

Next > Part 4

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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