Any brand expanding into a new market must reach the top of locally relevant search engines in its new target territory. But what’s the best way of ensuring you rise to the top ranks?
This is exactly where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in, and it’s also why you need a solid SEO localization strategy to ensure your website is at the top results in more than just your home country.
A quick look at the ultimate localization guide will show you that localization is almost like trying to throw a ball as far as possible. If you’re an American brand, you’re trying to throw that ball as far as Europe. Regardless of the type of ball (product) you’re pitching, the effort you put into the pitch determines whether you make it into the international market or not. And the key to perfecting your effort is understanding the local linguistic nuances and customs, which can be done through localization.
In this post, we explore SEO localization and best practices to ensure your multilingual website offers users in every territory you target an experience as close to native as possible.
Understanding SEO Localization
We already know that SEO is the set of practices we use to help improve the ranking of our websites on search engines. SEO localization, therefore, revolves around localizing your website with these practices in mind to cater to more than one target language.
When done correctly, localization ensures that the user experience you offer to prospective clients is culturally relevant across multiple languages. With international SEO, this is narrowed down a little further and sees the focus shifting to the local search engines and how well your multilingual website ranks.
Even if you’re an American brand targeting British customers, you need to deploy a strategy to help you overcome language barriers when expanding a business. Yes, both your target audiences might speak English, but American English and British English vary in terms of grammar, and these regional differences can get in the way of you ranking highly if you don’t optimize your SEO for the new region.
Adapting your SEO strategy according to regionalisms can help improve your multilingual website rankings on the local search engines while also improving the customer experience for your new target audience.
The Importance of an International SEO Localization Strategy
A brand just entering a new market must do whatever it takes to boost its visibility. While localizing your website to accommodate multiple languages will ensure your audience has a more native user experience, those audience members won’t even find your website if you don’t appear on their online search results.
When you localize your SEO, your website’s visibility will increase on international search engines since it’ll include key search terms that users in the new region use.
Although merely translating your source content can work, it only does so to a degree. Direct translations don’t always produce the key phrases that your new audience uses when they search for something online. There’s also a risk of being penalized by search engines for using content that overlaps between pages.
However, by taking a few simple steps and following best practices, you can easily optimize your SEO for your various target markets.
Search Engine Optimization Localization Best Practices and Tips
Perform Keyword Analysis for Each Region
To successfully localize your SEO, you need to be sure what local keywords your target audience is searching for in the market you’re approaching. You can use tools like SEMrush and then filter the results you get by language and locale to understand the market’s most frequently used keywords. Working with a localization partner is always recommended, as they can help you identify linguistic nuances like idioms and slang that keyword tools might not be able to identify.
Use Geotargeting for Your Multilingual Website
Search engines like Google pick up on geotargeting, which is when you track the location of your audience to localize content according to their specific region. If you implement geotargeting in your international SEO strategy, there’s a higher probability that you’ll rank higher. Implementing a strategy like this often sees development teams creating unique URL structures and “hreflang” tags so search engines can easily index your content. It’s important to work on your coding, so search engines will know what pages you created for which users. Making the language of each page explicitly clear is a fundamental step in search engine optimization localization.
Translate Your Site Elements
Although nobody really sees your image alt tags, elements like these play an essential role in the localization of your SEO. Alt tags are used to describe what’s contained in an image, and if you don’t localize seemingly ‘unimportant’ elements like these, it could negatively affect your rankings on the search engine results pages.
Optimize for Specific Search Engines
Google might be the superior search engine in many parts of the world, but this doesn’t mean it is used in every country. In China, for example, they use Baidu. Yandex is Russia’s second most popular search engine after Google. Google doesn’t rank sites the way Baidu or Yandex does, so it’s essential to do your homework on the most popular search engine in the location you’re targeting to understand how they index and rank results.
Another best practice for international SEO localization is to use regional or country-specific hyperlinks within your localized content or to link to content written in the local language. It’s also a smart idea to set up a backlinking strategy where you encourage other local websites to link back to your site since establishing a local link-building relationship can help improve your local SEO score.
Any brand expanding into new markets needs a carefully crafted SEO strategy that is localization-ready since it can help drive organic traffic, build trust between you and your customers, and drive ROI.
An SEO localization strategy is a powerful marketing tool that can help your brand reach new heights. It can ensure you’re targeting more local customers, enhancing the local user experience, and building credibility to support and sustain international growth. With the best practices we’ve highlighted in this article, you should be able to optimize and localize your SEO for each new market and target language you’re expanding to.