01 Jul SEO in a Global Economy: 7 Tips to Get it Right
In today’s global marketplace, you need to be visible to potential customers in any number of international markets. Search-engine success will depend on your ability to optimize your site for search engines in several languages.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) today has gone well beyond keywords, and now requires expertise in design, copywriting, translation, localization and technology.
Let us assume you already expect to translate/localize your company website into several languages. But before you do that, it’s important to have all the SEO elements in place already. This way, you don’t duplicate mistakes on the multilingual sites you’re planning to launch.
Google (and most other search engines) use sophisticated algorithms to grant greater visibility to sites that are easy to navigate (and that are built so “search bots” can index them effectively). Search bots crawl your site almost constantly in order to determine suitability for the search-user. This, in turn, affects your search engine results page (SERP) position.
The latest Google algorithms can detect all manner of troubles: from flawed spelling and grammar to writing made awkward by improvident use of keywords. It’s safe to say the algorithms today align well with what most of us would agree is “good content”. Therefore, create your site content for humans looking to solve a problem, learn something new, be inspired or entertained. Once they find you, they are the ones that will grow your business with purchases, tell their friends and come back for more.
Here are a few elements to work on before you hit that “let’s go global” button:
- Use original and natural language: Google can detect when there’s duplicate content and will penalize heavily. The copy must also read the way people speak, with clear and succinct language. While some industries require the use jargon, it’s best to keep it to a minimum.
- Vary your keywords: Google’s “Rankbrain” is an AI tool that can detect synonyms when indexing your site, and that means you’ll want to vary your descriptions. If you rent lakeside cabins, you should add words like “tiny house on the water”. This tells Google that your “lakeside cabins” page can be served when someone is searching for a “tiny house on the water”.
- Deploy Anchor text: When you hyperlink a word or phrase, you’re also telling search engines that particular phrase is relevant to your business and should be indexed accordingly. For example, if your business sells swimming pools, instead of linking “click here for more”, use “indoor swimming pools for all weather”. Make sure the anchor text leads to a page that broadens the topic. Look for opportunities to anchor text throughout your website —it makes the site more navigable — and write them the way people type queries: for instance, “tulips for spring weddings”, or “bouncy mats for toddlers”.
- Perfect your Pillar content: Pillar content pages typically tell users what you do. Often they are long with lots of opportunities to add anchor text, and you can tell search engines that this page is a “pillar” page. This helps guide the bots when indexing your site. In the target pages, you can offer videos or infographics to make the experience varied but the copy should have information that expands the topic.
- Pay attention to Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are those that are very specific to what you sell—and while not often entered by users, much more targeted when matched to a user looking for that particular thing. For example, someone searching for “chairs” may not be as ready to buy as someone searching for “steel bistro chairs”. Be specific about your services and products in your copy, using syntax that mirrors search queries.
- Create for conversion: Getting found is important, but matters a lot less if no one is buying, signing up, or getting in touch. To optimize for conversions, don’t give people too many choices and keep the most important content “above the fold” (positioned in the upper half of a web page so it’s visible without having to scroll down). Have a clear intention for each page you create and be very specific about what you want visitors to do. One or two calls to action per page will keep them focused and these good practices will be carried over to your translated sites.
- Localize after you translate: Work with experts that will do the research for each local culture so the right keywords are used to describe your services and products. For example, a company sells “lorries” in the UK but “trucks” in the US. Also, important information like measurements and references to specific currencies should make sense to each target audience. You’ll want to work with localization experts that manage your project with in-country linguists so there are no ambiguities—or worse, awkward content that’ll reduce your audience’s trust in your brand.
Global SEO is complex and its importance can hardly be overstated. Partner with a localization agency that truly understands how to make sure your localized sites mirror their original with all the correct elements in place. The result will be sites that rank higher and are rich with impactful multilingual content that resonates with your target audiences.