Ask any seasoned SEO, and they will tell you of the sleepless nights they’ve had trying to outwit Google’s ever-changing search algorithms. Finding the right keywords and optimizing a website is an uphill battle, especially with the advent of social media, which requires the constant production of fresh content and perpetual engagement on all social media fronts.
Throw the need to reach multilingual audiences in the mix, and you’ll see why reaching the top Google search spot seems like a distant dream. That may be the case with the heavily saturated English web but not necessarily so if you look at the foreign language internet. With less content and less competition for keywords, reaching the top of the search engine rankings is well within the reach of savvy e-marketers daring to look beyond borders.
As the prevalent majority of netizens prefer browsing in their native tongue (Common Sense Advisory’s “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” report), digital marketers should embrace a multilingual approach if they wish to spread their message across cultures. But how do you get traffic to your website from abroad?
The good news is that multilingual e-marketing is not rocket science, and it doesn’t take much to tap into the tremendous opportunities that emerging markets present.
Here’s how to achieve this…
Localize your keyword research
If you’re not new to SEO, you’ve probably honed your optimization skills while brainstorming keywords for websites in English. So the natural first step would be to simply translate your keywords into the respective target language. Unfortunately, literal keyword rendition rarely works: just like languages and social conventions, search habits vary across cultures and there are numerous search quirks to be considered. Even countries sharing the same language will need localized keywords that will match local intricacies of expression.
To nip any cultural faux pas in the bud and be culturally and linguistically appropriate, you should seek the help of in-country native-speaking marketers: they will be aware of local search particularities and be naturally switched on about linguistic subtleties that are so important for identifying the right keywords.
Beware of the temptation to use online dictionaries or automated translation software when researching keywords. One mistranslation or wrongly identified keyword, and your website will be impossible to find.
Put terms to the test
So, you’ve now identified potential keywords in different languages with the help of professional translators or native-speaking marketers, but still need to fine-tune them before applying them to your web content.
The best keyword analysis tool is Google AdWords; just type in your suggested term to see how many people have searched for it and how likely it is that it will drive traffic to your website. While Google hogs the search engine market in Europe and the US, however, you should not forget other local search engines that are more prominent in certain countries, such as Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China. All it takes is some meticulous research to identify the search engines of choice in your target markets.
Once you have identified, selected and analyzed the foreign language keywords, it’s time to see them in action. Incorporate them into your web content in an inconspicuous way and see how they perform.
To measure the performance of keywords and see which ones drive the most traffic to your website, you can use tools such as Google Analytics. If some keywords don’t yield conversions, you can leave them out altogether. Similarly, you might want to play around with others which you think might perform better.
Don’t be afraid to tweak words and phrases if necessary: after all, it’s the positioning of your website that is at stake. Monitor the performance of your multilingual keyword campaign, constantly refine your keywords and you’ll soon find your website at the top of search engine rankings.
Christian Arno is the founder and Managing Director Lingo24, global provider of translation, website localization and multilingual marketing services. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has 160 employees and clients in more than sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over sixty million words for businesses in every industry sector. Follow Christian (@l24ca) and Lingo24 (@Lingo24) on Twitter.иконииконописikoniсвети георги