International SEO: an essential step in your plan to conquer new markets

76% of users browse the web in their own language and this has a significant impact on the online purchasing funnel.

If you decide to promote online engagement in your target markets, your international SEO strategy will have an important part to play.

You already know what is required for a successful SEO strategy in your own language, so now it’s time to turn your attention to multilingual SEO.

Before we look at the benefits of adapting your SEO approach to each target market, we should discuss some of the pitfalls you need to avoid.

International SEO: a few things to check before you get started

We strongly recommend testing your brand in the country first, so that you don’t miss the mark entirely.

The way we perceive an image, a message or tone of voice – even a product or service itself – varies across cultures.

Your brand name might have a particular phonetic connotation in the target language that will interfere with your marketing attempts from the start. It can happen to the best of us…

Avoid becoming the next funny anecdote to entertain translators.

Are the images you are using ‘appropriate’? Do your messages even make sense, regardless of the culture?

Finally, and at the most basic level, is your product adapted to your target audience at all? A product that works well in one country might not find buyers in another.

Using SEO to test the market

In fact, an international SEO strategy will help you assess the potential size of your target market ahead of time.

When done carefully, international SEO is an excellent way to get a feel for how well your products and services will perform in new markets.

It is a great way to obtain concrete consumer behaviour data.

Whether or not you also conduct ‘traditional’ market research, the data collected for SEO can also be cross-analysed with the results of your social media campaigns. Once the data is compiled, you can identify important trends to measure the engagement of your target audience.

In the end, your SEO strategy can also allow you to see how your competition positions itself in your key markets and save some time improving your website’s ranking.

You can also stand out by using keywords that they have not targeted and any other keywords specific to your business and unique value.

Multilingual SEO is an investment, not an expense

When you’re considering your options for organic SEO in different target languages, you may be tempted by ‘low cost’ solutions, but they will quickly compromise all your hard work.

If you have achieved a high search ranking for your local website, and want the same kind of performance for your foreign-language versions of the website, you need much more than a simple translation.

It will require more cultural adaptation than ordinary translation. And it would be counterproductive to translate your target keywords ‘as-is’.

You will need to try out several different keyword variations and identify the most popular ones, i.e. the ones that are searched for the most. The lexical field used to describe your product/service must be based on the actual search terms that people are using.

In addition to keyword performance, SEO translators will also pay particular attention to cultural aspects, and will avoid using any out-of-context keywords. Which is another reason that it’s so important to work with translators who are native speakers.

And, I’m sorry to say, but Fred from Marketing just won’t do, no matter how many semesters he spent in Europe.

There is no substitute for the skills of an SEO translator

Any professional SEO translator will test different options, ask relevant questions, make insightful decisions and gravitate towards the options that make sense in relation to their own country’s customs and traditions.

You should also keep in mind that Google is not the only search engine in the world, so you need to optimise your website to rank on the local search engines; this is something that can only be done by an expert.

In China and Russia, Baidu and Yandex are the leading search engines, so you’ll need to plan your SEO strategy to suit their search algorithms. Bing should also be considered when targeting the United States.

Of course, nowadays there are various online tools that will offer to translate your site’s content automatically, directly in your CMS (e.g. WordPress) or using a plug-in.

Aside from the fact that machine translation is fraught with errors and cannot achieve an idiomatic style, it is also unable to handle SEO correctly either, for obvious reasons. You would not want to publish low-quality content or say the opposite of what you intended, which is a one-way ticket to the bottom of the search results.

An SEO translation agency can offer you tailored services to help you achieve the international visibility you need.

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