Localization and SEO: how to adapt your content strategy internationally?

Anticipate traps to avoid disappointments

Now you’re ready! You’ve decided to localize your content on the web to engage people in your target countries.
During your global deployment, you will address new, very specific audiences and you will have to face competition particular to each market. So, to ensure the success of your project, you will need to pay attention to a few essential rules beforehand.
First and foremost, if you want to keep your identity as well as the general spirit of your brand, be careful to understand the cultural specificities of the target market to anticipate possible blunders. It is highly recommended to test your branding on site in order to avoid pitfalls: even very large brands have had to face problems with the translation of a slogan or the meaning of a name which completely missed the point, or worse, became off-putting.
Changing the name in a country may be necessary if phonetically the original is not very well-suited and may therefore be counterproductive. Sometimes it may be funny and get people talking on social networks but it would be a somewhat risky strategy.
Meeting local expectations while ensuring the overall consistency of your content remains your main challenge! Offering consistent content on social networks while mastering cultural diversity definitely deserves a preliminary step for analysis and reflection. Don’t forget this step, it is essential!
Remember that you must also pay attention to the possible adaptation of your visual identity; some images do not produce the same effect depending on the local culture.
As a reminder, even if this may seem anecdotal, keep in mind that a translation can have implications on the number of words and consequently make the layout much less harmonious than in its initial version.

Get to know the behavior of internet users in your target country

For your social media strategy, try to integrate the popularity levels of networks, such as usage habits, trends, etc. For online sales, think of shopping habits but also of the most popular payment methods.
Also anticipate the seasonality which may not be the same as in your national market. There is most certainly a specific calendar which, if well mastered, can become an asset: local festivities will certainly be an opportunity to guide your content a little differently at these times.
Last but not least, since Google is not the only search engine in the world, you must optimize your SEO for local engines. If Google is not the leader in the targeted country, and more specifically in China or Russia where Baidu and Yandex are the respective leaders, you need to think of your SEO according to their algorithmic logic. It would be a shame not to take this into account and deprive yourself of a portion of internet users, in this case tens of millions of people! The local SEO pros will know how to support you in your content strategy in these countries.
For those who want it and who have the means to integrate it into their strategy, resorting to local prescribers like recognized influencers will allow you to lend more weight to your content. As they are followed by large communities of internet users, this will inevitably save you time in your conquest. The interest of this option nevertheless needs to be assessed depending on whether your strategy is B2B or B2C.
To boost your SEO, it is desirable to have the content supported by local backlinks, which implies that you have established connections with well-established sites in your target country and if possible, with high traffic! And yes, the digital strategy is not only dematerialized and this is a good thing. Creating links locally will only have positive effects.
Finally, also consider looking at the sales strategy adopted by your competitors. It can be a rich learning opportunity and can reveal good as well as bad strategic choices.

Pamper your words to optimize your SEO

Regarding lexical use, keep in mind that one language may not be the same depending on the country where it is spoken. It is important to be aware of the local specificities and subtleties. If they are poorly anticipated, they can mangle the readability of your content. You don’t speak the same Spanish in Mexico City, Buenos Aires or a fortiori in Madrid, nor the same French in Paris or Montreal.
It is important to have your keywords translated into all their possible variations to identify those that are most searched for, and therefore the most popular in the target language.
Establishing precise terminology guides adapted to each country is essential. It is also advisable to test all the variations and to take into account phonetics, semantic research in its entirety, and possible interpretations. The semantic field used to describe your product/service must be perfectly adapted to your market.
Once this stage is over and the tests have been validated locally, you will be able to make educated decisions concerning goals while keeping in mind that your work around SEO will be subject to continuous adjustments. Now you know that for your SEO results to progress, you must consistently think of optimizing and structuring your content.
Don’t consider resorting to machine translating your keywords. This may only work if you are dealing with highly verticalized content enriched by translation memories. Even with human inspection and in-depth verification, we do not recommend this method. You could also be penalized by search engines for duplicated content. Also note that your visitors do not deserve poor translations. They won’t be fooled; so polish your content!
All the recommendations made so far obviously apply to the translation of the keywords of your SEM campaigns; you would not want to spend your budget unnecessarily.

Choose how to manage the localization of your content

You are wondering how you are going to manage your international expansion and in particular the localization of your content. Who in the company is in charge of this strategy? Headquarters, subsidiaries, marketing department, export department?
Depending on the ressources you are willing to allocate, the solutions will necessarily be diverse. Do you have an on-site subsidiary, and have you planned or are you planning to have a dedicated customer service? In this case, do you plan to deal with the localization of your content on site?
You can of course do it from your country. But in this case make sure that the translators you have chosen to work with are native to the language (and language variation) they translate into and that they are regularly immersed in the local culture.
Outsourcing content localization is the option chosen by most companies. The possibility of having a single point of contact dedicated to your project at your service provider allows you to delegate the management of this with complete peace of mind. Beforehand, it is important to clearly define the framework of your strategy to set in motion a well-oiled process that will suit all parties involved. For regular publications to be translated very quickly and efficiently, outsourcing is certainly a very good option. Faced with increasing volumes of this type of request, advanced translation companies have implemented very relevant tools.
If you already have subsidiaries in the target country, you can create guides by gathering expertise in your own country then adjust them locally during the review. The on-site team will be able to bring a relevant look to the guide.
In the test phase with a country, the strategy which consists of testing the market by localizing content and improving the SEO can be completely relevant. You can then have concrete feedback on consumer behavior without having to establish yourself physically.
As you can see, the localization of your content and the associated SEO strategy can allow you to effectively enter into a new market. If they are carried out with the usual precautions as described above, they are an excellent means of testing and capturing new audiences.
Do you need help on this subject? Do not hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to discuss this with you.

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