If you have been involved in internet marketing for some time, then you’re probably already familiar with most of the SEO techniques that are effective in boosting your site’s ranking. With the advent of internet marketing blogs and abundance of detailed and free guides that walk you through the process of ranking a site, every enterprising and smart marketer knows the basics of link building, social signals, and on-page optimization. The democratization of what used to be concealed knowledge coupled with Google’s increasingly complex algorithms has left marketers desperate for an edge over their competitors.
One method that could double the search traffic to your site but is seldom discussed by SEO experts is translating your site into different languages to branch out and reach a global audience. Many marketers conflate the notion of the English speaking market being the biggest one with it being the only one, neglecting the fact that 75% of all internet searches are not in English. If you aren’t satisfied with the traffic that you’re getting or you feel that your SEO campaign has hit a wall, it is probably time to consider investing in international SEO.
The best practices for translating websites and getting high rankings
It is essential to know that getting your website in front of an international audience requires much more than just the literal translation of text and titles. Various cultural and socioeconomic factors will come into play to render the process a little bit less straightforward and about more than just linguistic differences. Understanding what your target audience is searching for and for what purpose, having a grasp of dialectal variations, and being able to conduct keyword research in a different language are essential components of what makes a successful international SEO campaign.
The importance of keyword research
More often than not, the value of a keyword is lost in translation due to not just linguistic contrast, but also cultural differences. The right approach is to simply conduct proper keyword research in the second language; the key here is finding the corresponding keyword, not the literal translation. Having a comprehensive understanding of terminology, local competition, and the various metrics that make a good keyword is essential.
Making use of Hreflang Tags
Hreflang tags tell Google what language is used in a specific page of your website. They’re either inserted within the <head> tags in the site HTML’s header or specified in the sitemap if multiple languages are being targeted. Once these tags are configured, your site will show up in the search engine results to people searching in that language.
They’re a critical component of website localization and their implementation will have a positive impact on your SEO campaign.
Choosing the right site structure
How you structure your site is one of the most critical steps of an international SEO campaign. The four main options that you have at your disposal are:
- Country-coded top-level domains
- Sub-domains on a single global top-level domain
- Sub-folders on a single global top-level domain
- URL parameters
There are pros and cons to each of these, understanding the implications of each one is a primordial step before opting for a particular structure.
It is generally advisable to avoid URL parameters, and while Country-coded top-level domains tend to be the most accurate when it comes to geotargeting, they require a bigger budget than what a smaller company would be willing to spend. Subfolders are the best option for a small business as they’re accurate enough when used with hreflang and localization while requiring fewer resources.
Who should you hire for professional website translation?
When looking to translate your website, you’ll have the option of hiring a freelancer or working with a large agency, with the ultimate goal of finding results that marry the fundamentals of SEO with proper and accurate translation.
On one hand, agencies may alleviate the project management burden when you’re dealing with extremely tight deadlines or a large number of languages.
On the other hand, freelancers are the best option if you’re looking for more direct communication, a long lasting working relationship, and a more hands on approach when it comes to SEO. Working with a professional translator enables you to directly give specific instructions that you want and train the translator to follow the optimization blueprint that yields the results that you want in the search engine pages.
Translating your website while adhering to proven and tested SEO basics can do wonders to your ranking in search engine result pages. Exploring this often-ignored facet can help double your search traffic and offers you an alternative approach that is cheaper and less saturated than the usual SEO methods and tactics.