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  • Multilingual SEO Advice

    Creating SEO-optimized content for multilingual websites present a whole new challenge for SEO. Needing a multilingual site is a good problem to have. It usually means that you have customers in multiple countries. However, it also means you have to double or triple your SEO efforts.

    The good news is that optimizing your foreign-language web site is very much the same as optimizing your English one. You just do it in a different language. Here are some guidelines that should serve as reminders of what you should plan to do during the SEO process:

    • Translate keywords into the new language. In some cases, you won’t be able to translate your keywords into a matching word in another language. In that case, you’ll need to choose new keywords. As in SEO for your English site, be careful to avoid keyword stuffing.
    • Translate existing web content. Again, translations can sometimes be squirrelly. Unless you’re an expert in the language to which you’re translating, hire someone to do it for you. A bad translation could cost you more in lost traffic than the services of a good translator.
    • Apply all of the same SEO rules to your foreign content that you’ve learned for your English content. Just because the language is different doesn’t mean that the search engine or the search engine crawler is any different.
    • Include the proper links both to and from your English site to your foreign-language site, but also include the appropriate links to English on the foreign-language site.
    • Make language options clearly available on your web site. If these options are not clearly marked, your foreign visitors could miss them, and then you’ll lose visitors before they’re fully engaged in your site.

    SEO is really no different in any other language than it is in English. The biggest concern when translating your site to another language is the actual translation. The SEO efforts are essentially the same, but getting the language wrong could cost you just as much as not having a foreign language site at all.

    Guest post by Andy MacDonald of the Blogging & Marketing Tips for Webmasters Blog.


    18 Responses to “Multilingual SEO Advice”

    1. Justin says:

      Having multi-language sites isn’t worth the effort becuase 95% of the world online goes for english. Is there any point to bother to get traffic from other languaged people?

    2. What if you are trying to sell to people who don’t speak English?

    3. Nick Wilsdon says:

      I hope you’re joking Justin…

      Baidu was recently found to take 5.2% of the worldwide queries (3.4billion) each month – in Chinese. Russia has 21 million internet users. There are huge Spanish regions of the internet.

      Whenever I find someone putting forward your viewpoint Justin, it turns out they only actually speak English themselves. Of course then, the internet looks to be 95% English. If you spoke another language you could explore that region of the net and get a very different perspective.

      The point of dealing with all these countries? If you’re just dealing with English you are ignoring a huge marketplace. These countries have a lot of money to spend and having a local presence enables your company to access to those markets. There are plenty of American businessmen learning Chinese for exactly this reason.

    4. Nice to see you really reaching out to the millions of non-English speaking customers across the world there, Justin ;)

      Even if they have some understanding of English, most people want to use websites in their own language. It would be extremely disrespectful for multi-national companies to expect to operate in foreign countries without making any provisions for the local language or culture.

      Plus I don’t think saying it progressively louder and slower until they understand works on the web.

    5. Justin i think you are wrong. I agree with Nick, in that although most of the web is in English, there are still billions of people out there that doesn’t know English, and people who are not reaching out to that sector of the market are fools!!!

    6. SEO in french is not so easy as it is in english for the same product or service. You should consider market property and behavior clients. Many companies have to propose multi languages sites, and Search engine Optimizer need to deal with. Fortunately, it’s more work for them!

    7. Hi,
      Justin, it seems that you are in the wrong blog. Just in China there are more than 210 million internet users, that is almost 70% of the US population.

      English internet users are just 30% of all the international community, and the rest of the 70% ? what languages do you think they speak? take a look at this web page and see a very interesting statistics.

      To complement this post, I’d like to say something. Translating a web page is not enough, for example, in Spanish, not all the words have the same meaning in Argentina, Mexico or Spain. So even in the same language could make some variations of the words. I know that A car is a car, but jargon matters.

    8. I am just now starting an SEO campaign for Spanish keywords – anxious to see how that effects pagerank, traffic, etc.

    9. Kristan says:

      Glad to see xenophobia on the web is being supressed!

    10. I agree with Nick. I have a Dutch website concerning SEO and I think it is a plus on English sites because the most countrymen like to read in their own language. If you have the language skills, you should do it.

    11. Alex Hammond says:

      Translating keywords from Englsh isn’t enough. To really get value from this kind of work, it is essential to get genuine local insight into a market.

      Of course, we can all look at comparative search volumes for specific keywords using Google Insights, but, as is clear in English, search volumes don’t automatically mean the “right” visitors.

    12. Jon says:

      Hi Nick

      Interesting article. I’m about to do an experiment with a company in the UK. They want to attract foreign visitors to travel to the business in the UK. Which would you say is the best method to do this? Translate a landing page in their current website ( with a foreign page titles etc…) or create a new site with a foreign domain name?

    13. Sai says:

      What if we have English website and language translation plug on the page?in this case, is if feasible to go fore multilingual SEO?

    14. U akram says:

      What about the domain, should we have
      uk.mysite.com, fe.mysite.com, us.mysite.com
      mysite.com/uk/, mysite.com/fe/, mysite.com/us/
      mysite.co.uk, mysite.fe, mysite.us
      something else?

      Which one works the best for the customer as well as search engines?


    15. A.Jesin says:

      I have a wordpress blog (http://jesin.tk/) which uses english as the primary language translated using a plugin I have almost all of the pages translated using the plugin but google has only the English pages indexed. How do I make sure all translated pages are indexed ?

    16. Jon says:

      There’s a lot more questions than answer lol. Any experts out there!

    17. Who says that foreign-language speakers have to be in a foreign country? The US has a massive market made up of people who do not speak English, and I am certain that this holds true in many other countries. You do not have to be an organization with international customers to need a multilingual website.

    18. What do you know about being penalized for duplicate content, even though the content is translated, and on a language specific, geo targeted domain? Does Google somehow figure this out and penalize?

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