How to target international customers with a multilingual SEO strategy?

How to target international customers with a multilingual SEO strategy?

Authored by Ameex Technologies on 23 Nov 2020

If your business is positioned for the international market or if you think of moving to newer markets other than your home country, then you should consider implementing multilingual SEO strategies as most times the country-specific users make the searches in their native or local languages and your websites should be able to rank higher in the local search engines.

What is a Multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO is the process of optimizing the website content for multiple languages or multiple regions. With a proper multilingual SEO strategy, you can improve your international online presence, drive more traffic, and create engaging experiences for your users. To give you an example, let’s say you have an online shop that sells cosmetic products in many countries. To increase your sales in Germany, you’ve decided to translate your content into German and created a German site. Now, you have two variations of the same page: an English and a German version. To direct users search in the German language to the German site you need to implement the multilingual SEO strategy. 

Key benefits of Multilingual SEO

  • Increased website traffic as consumers conducts searches in their native languages.
  • Provides a better experience for users due to local language content.
  • Better organic SERP ranking - increases the time spent on your website - greater chance of conversions.
  • Native-language keywords help in better SEO rankings on localized search engines.
  • Establish a global presence quickly and efficiently.
  • Your business gets a competitive edge in local markets and boosts your ROI in less time. 

5 key steps to build and optimize your site for any languages

At Ameex, our digital experts follow best practices and hands-on experiences to successfully implement multilingual SEO. Our 5-step high-level Multilingual SEO strategies include:

Step 1: Choosing the right domain and URL structure

The first and most important factor in creating a site that’s customized for different regions and languages is developing the right URL structure. You need to consider how the translated content will be displayed and what URL structure to choose.

  • Country-specific domain: As defined by Google, ccTLDs we use two-letter codes to indicate to users and search engines in which country, sovereign state, or dependent territory a website is registered. For example,
  • Subdomain: Internationalized content is placed on a separate "third-level domain" that may or may not pass or receive link equity from the root domain. E.g.
  • Subdirectory: Internationalized content is placed in a specific subdirectory, or subfolder, of a root domain. E.g.
  • URL parameters: A general top-level domain (like .com, .net, or .org) is targeted to speakers of a specific language by appending a URL parameter. E.g.

URL Parameter

Step 2: Adapting native language keywords and enabling human translation 

One of the important steps in implementing successful multilingual SEO is the ability to translate and localize the content. Let’s say you are writing a blog for the US market, you know how to set the tone, language, idioms, symbolism, etc. but you cannot follow the same style for the Japanese market as the meanings change due to cultural and social differences. 

To be able to fully adapt to the local SEO, you need to consider multilingual keyword research first. Keywords and long-tail keyword phrases are just as important as your own native site. This will help you rank better for your translated content. You need to carry out the same level of keyword research you conducted in your original language to ensure you’re really targeting your new audience. You can train your translator to do this for you so that they can optimize your site for international search while translating your content.

Further, by using native human translators you can overcome the problem of creating generic-content translation. A native translator can advise on the key cultural aspects and make recommendations for wording, images, etc. Some folks would recommend AI-translators, perhaps even Google does it, but it will not fulfill the purpose and provide disconnected experiences for the users. 

You should also provide custom content based on location, including local currencies, cultures, regulations, and general information to target specific groups.


Step 3: Setting up multilingual sitemap

Making the navigation easier and providing relevant content makes users spend more time on your site and increase their overall engagement.

By creating a detailed sitemap with the language content, the search engines can easily discover and index your pages. Additionally, if search engines see visitors lingering on your site and accessing many pages, it will assume that you are providing a lot of value to those visitors and your rankings will improve organically.


Step 4: Creating Hreflang Tag and Meta information

One of the potential problems with multiple languages is that of duplicate content. We ensure that Google and other search engines don’t want to see content that’s the same across your website.

By using the hreflang tag we can avoid the duplication issue in multilingual websites. Hreflang tags tell search engines that you have pages that are similar in meaning but that are targeted for different languages. With the hreflang tags, the search engine will be able to provide the correct site or page for searchers depending upon the language they want.

Example hreflang tag: <link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="fr-us"/>


Step 5: Enable the language selection option

By giving users the option for language selections on your main sites via a drop-down menu, foreign-speaking individuals can easily see if their language is available, and link to it quickly.


The bottom-line

If you have decided to optimize your site for international audiences and additional languages, you need to set it up properly. It all begins with the right strategy and adopting the best practices in translating your content for different regions and different languages. You need to think from the native user perspective and ensure that you are providing the best experience for them, only then you will see an increase in their engagement and conversion.

If you want to implement high-level multilingual SEO and boost your international market presence and ROI, talk to our digital strategists now.