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ABC’s of SEO: M is for Multilingual

Welcome to the wonderful world of multilingual SEO, where the right words get the right results! At SiteVisibility I have had the opportunity to deliver multilingual campaigns for a number of our clients, and I would like to share with you the true challenges that it presents.

Mutlilingual SEO - GlobeClients look to expand their customer base by offering their services and products in different markets. This means that the content and text surrounding these products needs to be targeted in those specific languages.

Saying that is the easy part, doing it is another matter. The process of constructing multilingual content is a combination of two worlds; accurate and native quality translation, as well as best practise SEO tactics. The phrase ‘simple translation is not enough’ resonates loudly within multilingual SEO.

Keyword research clearly needs to be adapted, requiring a different thought process:

What am I looking for? How is this translated? Is this term used? Is there a more relevant term? And is the English term more commonly used? Here is a quick example of why you should never be tempted to use an automated translator:

Mutlilingual SEO - Translator

Here we see how an automated translator directly translates word by-word to create a phrase which contains a direct copy of the English version, which unsurprisingly is not used in French. Further research finds that French people use the term ‘Référencement naturel’ as an equivalent for search engine optimisation. Google translate can’t tell you this – only a good understanding of the local search landscape will help you to correctly identify these types of terms.

Research Markets
Before selling to new markets, research which terms they search for. If they already search for that particular product or service using English terms, then translating the copy or launching a new foreign site is less important.

Further importance must be stressed on researching your product within the country that you wish to export to. Search trends and volumes will differ and sometimes by a large extent:

Mutlilingual SEO - Sock Search

Multilingual SEO - Chausettes Search

We can clearly see from these graphs that there is a large difference in search volume for the term ‘socks’, with there being a much greater amount of searches for this product in France. This can lead us to believe that perhaps the demand is greater, and we can also deduct from the graphs that the monthly search trends are significantly different.

Accents
Another issue is how the variation of a keyword can increase due to foreign characters containing accents. For instance, the term ‘Hotels in berlin’ is simple in English, however if we were to translate it to French we would get several variations in spelling such as:

• Hôtels à berlin
• Hotels à berlin
• Hôtels a berlin
• Hotels a berlin

We can then ask ourselves, what does Google think when it sees keyword variations due to accents? Does it record varying search volumes?

Let’s Experiment…
So the term cotton candy receives the following search trends:

Mutlilingual SEO - Cotton Candy Search

If we translate this term into French we get the correct spelling of ‘barbe à papa’:

Multilingual SEO - barbe à papa search

However, if we were to misplace or forget the accent on the ‘à’ we will see a completely different set of data:

Mutlilingual SEO - interet search

In fact we can also compare how slight differences in the same language create completely different search results. Again using the term cotton candy, we know that in the UK the more frequent term for this is ‘candyfloss’, and the following results highlight the search volume difference and how vital it is to choose the right words in the right market:

Multilingual SEO - candyfloss search

Summary
If you want to optimise content on an international basis, then it’s important to have an SEO agency that can not only accurately translate copy, but can also analyse the local search landscape and discover what the best possible term to optimise for is. This will enable you to overcome the linguistic nuances that every language presents and it will provide your business with the key information in which to base its international SEO campaigns.

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1 Comment
  • Manju on December 13, 2011

    Informative article about multilingual seo. I gained more knowledge about keywords

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