Ah, multilingual SEO.
SEO itself is pretty complex. Multilingual SEO? Well, we guess it’s even more complex.
The good news is that it’s also what will set you apart from the competition by opening your website up to, well, the whole world!
Yup, it’s that powerful. Instead of ranking and optimizing for keywords in one or two languages, you’ll be all set to rank for multiple languages.
And that means more customers.
Of course, there’s work to be done. In this article, we’re going to simplify things so that you harness multilingual SEO to your advantage. Let’s take a look at what you need to do.
Pick The Right Languages
No, you don’t need to translate your content into every single language on the planet. Instead, you need to decide which regions would be beneficial for your business to target.
Take a look at your Google Analytics to find out where your visitors are coming from. For example, you might be a U.S.-based store that’s getting a lot of traffic from Spain.
Take a look at your social media profiles, too. Where are your followers coming from? Who’s messaging you directly on Messenger?
Pick The Content You Want to Translate
Once again, you don’t have to translate all your content.
Well, you might decide that you want to translate it all, but it’s not necessary.
How come? Because as you go through your content, you’ll find that some of it is redundant and out of date.
First of all, perform a content audit. This will show you which content should be kept and thus translated, and which can actually be cut altogether.
Then, prioritise your highest converting content (that which drives lots of traffic already and leads to conversions). In other words, you should translate this content first before working on the rest.
This is an example of a subdomain:
Here’s one in another language (German):
Subdomains are easy enough to set up, but you only really need them if you’re creating separate sites for separate languages. If you go down this route, understand that search engines will then see them as separate sites. However, to make your life easier you might want to create subfolders instead.
A subfolder would look like this:
Subfolders are worth setting up if your technical skills are limited. They’ll also save you cash because you’ll only have the one web host and one web domain. However, you should only go with subfolders instead of subdomains if you’re not planning to change your web content or design dramatically.
If you’re already using WordPress, you can use a plugin such asWPMI to help you.
Add Hreflang Tags
Okay, this is where things get a bit complicated …
A hreflang tag uses X as the language, and it needs to be added to your homepage so that Google knows which parts of your site are for which regions.
A hreflang tag looks like this:
<link rel=“alternate” hreflang=“X” href=“http://X.mysite.com/” />
If you have a German version of your website on a subdomain, you’d replace the X with de.
If you need help with language codes, you canfind them here.
Never Translate Using Machines
You might be tempted to use machines (such as a plugin) to translate your website’s content automatically into a different language. However, it’s not recommended as they’re very rarely accurate. Worse still, the user experience is awful. Users will find it hard to understand what you’re saying, they’ll be appalled at the grammar – and they will bail out, which is really bad for SEO.
That said, it’s possible to drive more traffic to your website using automated translations if you then hire a native speaker to smooth things out or invest into adapting high-quality AI solutions. You could translate the text automatically using a machine first, before asking the native speaker to make the corrections.
Do Multilingual Keyword Research
Keyword research is at the heart of good SEO, which basically means that multilingual keyword research is at the heart of multilingual SEO.
If you don’t speak multiple languages, a good rule of thumb is to hire a translator to do the keyword research for you. You’ll have to train them to do keyword research, of course, but once they’re up and running they can optimise your website for international search for you.
They’ll also be able to translate your content on the go, too.
The good news is that multilingual keyword research follows the same process as keyword research in your native language.
Before you do anything, though, it’s well worth taking a look at yourcurrent keywords to make sure they’re even still relevant.
Keyword research might be at the heart of SEO, but backlinks are the soul. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher you will rank.
Now that you’re expanding into international markets, the opportunity to grab even more backlinks is right there for you. You can reach out to International bloggers and webmasters, build more relationships, grab more links and rank higher in different languages.
If you’ve already launched link building campaigns before, you’ll know what you need to do. The difference now is that you’ll need to expand your search into international directories and find bloggers whose content is available in different languages.
To this end, you’ll need to work with a translator. Your translator can help you create the perfect pitch, and they can also help with the writing of the content.
Start with languages that are going to benefit you the most. For example, if a lot of your traffic is already coming from Spain, target Spanish bloggers in your niche first.
As a final tip, it’s a good idea to hire a translator and a marketer who is fluent in different languages. A skilled marketer can manage your outreach tasks to a high standard, and they might even bring new tactics to the tabbed you haven’t thought of before, and which work well in their language.
Essentially, multilingual SEO is a case of identifying the languages you need to target, before identifying the content you need to translate.
Then, you need to work alongside translators and marketers to create fresh, exciting content in different languages, while building links from other nations.
It’s going to be an exciting if – at times – complex and ongoing process. Once you’re up and running, you’ll soon start seeing the rewards.
Get In Touch
If you’d like to find out more, then you can contact Aljaz directly via his Twitter profile.
Alternatively, if you’d like help with your Digital Marketing from an award winning Digital Marketing Agency, then you need to speak to GrowTraffic!
About The Author
Aljaz Fajmut is a digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of Nightwatch
— search visibility tools of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut