5 Crucial Decisions for Multilingual SEO
Whether your website is used for education, marketing, or online sales, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to attracting more of the right visitors to your site. In short, SEO is the practice of optimizing your site's code and content to rank higher in relevant search results.
When you decide to launch multilingual websites, you want to make sure each site is optimized for its specific language. Multilingual SEO strategies will vary depending on your specific objectives, but these five points will help you decide how your multilingual site(s) should be optimized.
1) Which method will you use to translate your website?
There are five ways to translate your website. Each method has its pros and cons, and you'll want to decide which is best for your specific situation.
A common misconception is that the best way to maintain an optimized translated version of your website is through a multilingual content management system (CMS). Unless you have an in-house translation team that is fully trained to use your CMS, you'll likely prefer an alternate solution.
2) How will you structure your multilingual website?
There are four options to choose from when structuring the URLs for your multilingual sites.
Country-specific top-level domains (example.fr)
Subdomains on a general top-level domain (fr.example.com)
Subfolders on a general top-level domain (example.com/fr/)
URL parameters (example.com?loc=fr)
Google Webmaster Tools lists the pros and cons of each option, and generally does not recommend using URL parameters.
3) Select the right multilingual keywords.
People search for information using different terminology in different languages. Understanding how your audiences search for information is crucial when selecting new keywords. Often times, directly translating keywords doesn't work because non-English speaking users are searching for the same information using completely different phrases in search queries.
This is where website translation transitions into website localization. Sometimes this research can be pretty overwhelming, so consulting with localization experts can help simplify the process.
4) When should you optimize your site?
If SEO is priority for you, clarify it with your website translation provider from the start. The best way to optimize your multilingual site is by incorporating relevant keywords and phrases naturally throughout the site's content. Your website translation provider will help you select the right keywords and localize the content, giving it a natural look and feel.
If SEO is not a priority for your multilingual sites, you can get away with directly translating your existing keywords and content into the target language. If you find that your target audience isn't engaging with your translated site(s) as expected, consider optimizing your meta-tags with more accurate keywords and phrases.
5) Implement a Multilingual Link-Building Strategy.
When your translated website is optimized and launched, it's time to boost its authority by increasing the number of inbound links on relevant blogs, online directories, and forums.
You can do this by entering your selected keywords into various search engines, and submitting short articles and company descriptions to the top blogs, directories, and/or forums in the search results.