International SEO Strategy
We're back with another post in our inbound marketing series. Today we're looking at International SEO Strategy, which brings up a number of talking points from a marketing perspective when planning a localization project.
With every language comes a new audience and you can't create an effective marketing strategy unless you know their persona inside out. Which means going back to the basics, so you can re-assess each stage of your inbound marketing campaign and focus it towards a foreign speaking audience.
A single language can have many dialects which has an increasing impact on your keyword strategy as Google understands variation and speech-like queries more accurately. From Spanish to French and Chinese to Korean, there are a number of dialect-rich languages, which means you need to consider regional factors in your keyword research.
Accents are a stumbling block for international SEO as well. People aren't particularly worried about grammar or spelling when they search and words without accents usually have a higher search volume. One option is to avoid accents in URLs and metadata, with accurate grammar in the main body of content - but this is something you will have to weigh up.Quality links are an international language
Relevant, clean links are still important regardless of which language your inbound marketing adopts. Google is tough on backlinks and the American search provider is number one in every country except five - three of which prefer Bing/Yahoo. The other two nations are Russia and China, where Yandex takes a similarly hardline approach, although Baidu still has some work to do.
Domain names and URLs
You can easily buy a domain name in another country - as long as it's available - and this is the best overall approach. Although it may get expensive if someone already owns the domain and this approach involves more work than other options.
The alternatives are subdomains and subdirectories, which are both easier to set up and come with some SEO incentives as well. The trouble is they are not the best options for user experience and the benefits of a country-specific URL pay off in the long run. You can read up on the pros and cons of different URL structures by checking out this article from Google.
Server location isn't a major ranking factor with Google anymore, which means you can host international websites from anywhere. That is unless you expand into Russia or China where Baidu and Yandex still consider location in their page ranking.
Content should always be created for people first and search engines second - which calls for the same human touch when it comes to translation. Machine translation can make the process much faster by taking care of the initial work, but human translation and cultural understanding are essential for multilingual marketing.
The unique idiomatic features of each language mean you will have to change content considerably to engage your new audience effectively, using their individual values, humor and cultural background - something you can't achieve with direct translation alone.
Search engines are getting smarter all the time and Google can normally see when the same content has multiple audiences. That said, you should still use the rel="alternate" hreflang="x" attributes to tell Google you who your content is targeting - and this page at Google shows you exactly how.
At the same time, you shouldn't have any problems with duplicate content if you translate your web copy correctly. Accurate translation changes enough of your content to keep your inbound marketing efforts on the right side of duplication penalties - yet another reason to avoid direct translations.
Next up for our Inbound Marketing Series:
With your multilingual SEO and content strategy in place it's time to move on to social media and how to grow brands effectively in foreign speaking markets. See how in Part 3: Global Social Media Trends.
Inbound Marketing Series:
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