You have now translated your website and you are wondering: how do I improve the SEO position of my newly translated website abroad? SEO becomes a lot more complicated if you have multiple websites in different languages. In this article, we provide some tips for SEO multilingual websites.
International SEO for multilingual websites: what's different?
With single-language SEO, you have to figure out what the customer wants, and make sure potential customers find your site for that. Multilingual SEO adds to that: you have to do it all in a foreign language! That means extra effort, but also extra benefits: you expand your reach tremendously through multilingual SEO. However, it is important to consider the points below to ensure that your international SEO works well. If you do, international SEO can be a powerful way to increase your online presence in other countries. Compared to international advertising with Google Ads, international SEO can be a more sustainable way to get your website seen by people in other countries because you don't have to constantly pay money to get your website seen.
Here are some tips for multilingual SEO:
1. Research your international target audience: international keyword research
One of the first steps for multilingual SEO, is to research your future target audience. SEO taps into the needs of future customers, so you need to know what your foreign customers want. Suppose you have a sports store, which you are expanding into Germany. The SEO of your Dutch site is mostly about field hockey. Your German target audience is just absolutely crazy about soccer. Then it makes sense to gear your German website a bit more in terms of SEO to keywords around soccer. Every target group is different. Find out what your target group wants, and build your translated website around that.
Therefore, make sure that your texts are well written. It is advisable to have a native speaker (someone whose native language is the language you use) look over your texts. That way you can be sure that your website has been translated correctly and contains the right keywords. A native speaker often also knows which keywords are best suited to your site.
Another tip: don't forget to translate the URLS, meta-titles and image descriptions either! These parts are all too often overlooked.
These could be the steps to begin international keyword research:
- Brainstorm: start by coming up with keywords that are relevant to your website and the country you are targeting.
- Ask and look around: ask people in the country you are targeting what keywords they use when they search for products or services you offer. Also look at websites of competing companies to see what keywords they use.
- Google suggest and related searches: use the Google suggest feature to get ideas for new keywords. Also look at the related searches that appear at the bottom of the search results to get more ideas.
- Google's keyword planner or a tool like ubersuggest or semrush: use Google's keyword planner or another tool to see how often certain keywords are searched for and to get new ideas.
- Google Search Console review: look at the keywords displayed in Google Search Console to see which keywords are currently leading to your website.
- Making lists: make a list of all the keywords you have collected and organize them by importance.
- Subdivide into categories: divide your keyword list into categories to make it easier to target specific keywords. Also, create a category for query-related keywords, as these are nice when creating blogs.
2. Choose a good domain name or url
How to choose a good domain name or url? There are some things you should do and some things you should not do. Some good tips:
- It may be smart to use a generic domain name, such as .com or .net, if the website is intended for more people in different countries: using a generic domain name. This can help ensure that your website ranks better in search engines in different countries.
- Use keywords in the domain name: using keywords in the domain name of your website can help ensure that your website ranks better for those keywords in search engines. Just make sure that these keywords are correct in the user's language. Therefore, always do a keyword research before choosing a domain name.
- Choose a short and concise domain name: The longer the domain name is, the harder it is for people to remember it. Therefore, choose a short and concise domain name that is easy to remember.
- Use only letters: using special characters or numbers in a domain name can lead to problems with search engines. Therefore, choose a domain name consisting of only letters.
- Use a domain name that is easy to spell: If you choose a domain name that is difficult to spell, it can lead to problems with search engines and can also make it harder for people to find your Web site. Therefore, choose a domain name that is easy to spell.
3. With an additional language, you do not automatically target all residents in countries that speak that language
If you have a Web site aimed at international markets, it is important to remember that a country is not the same as a language. While using a .com domain name can help indicate that your website is available to people in different countries, that does not necessarily mean that your English website will be findable in all countries where English is spoken.
One reason for this is the country codes you target your website at. If you are targeting your Web site to the United States, for example, it is important to make sure that you use the right country codes, such as the hreflang tags, to indicate that your Web site is available to people in the U.S. or, conversely, to people in the United Kingdom. Similarly, using the language French does not automatically make you highly visible in countries outside France. In Europe, for example, people also speak French in Wallonia(Belgium), and French is also spoken in Switzerland. German is also spoken in Switzerland and Austria. If you only have a .fr website and in the technical settings of the website France is indicated as a target group, you will probably not or hardly score in Belgium and Switzerland. For that you could then use, for example, Clonable.
4. Set language tags
Another tip for improving your multilingual SEO, is to set the right language tags. Language tags are pieces of HTML code in your pages that let the search engine know what language it is for that page. This is how a search engine directs visitors to the correct pages.
Moreover, search engines do not view pages translated by language tags as duplicates (so-called "duplicate content"). On a British-English and American-English page, almost everything can be virtually the same. The language tags indicate that it is British or American. The search engine then still sees these pages as different. It is important to implement these tags properly because they can help prevent your website from being shown in the wrong language or for the wrong country.
If you choose to subscribe to Clonable, Clonable will help you set up language tags.
5. Translate URLS!
Another tip is to translate the URLs. This is still sometimes forgotten! URLs are hugely important for SEO, so they should also be translated. A good keyword in the URL can make a big difference. Moreover, foreign customers prefer to go to a website with appropriate URLs. That is much more reliable for the customer.
URLs can be translated in several ways. They can be translated manually. Then you translate each URL individually. This is doable for smaller websites that do not have many pages. For larger websites it becomes a huge job. Then it makes sense to translate them automatically. For example, our tool, Clonable, can automatically translate URLs. This is also convenient because new pages then also get a translated URL automatically. Then you don't risk forgetting.
6. Other technical settings
There are a number of technical issues to consider when taking your website abroad:
- International sitemaps: if your Web site is available in different languages, it is important to make sure you have an international sitemap that indicates in which language which pages are available. Search engines use this information to understand what language a particular page is in.
- Search Console settings: if you are taking your website abroad, it is important to adjust your Search Console settings to see how your website is performing in the country you are targeting.
- URL structure: if you are taking your Web site abroad, it is important to make sure you have a clear URL structure that indicates in which language which pages are available. This can help search engines understand which pages are in which language.
- Hosting: if you are taking your website abroad, it is important to ensure that your website loads quickly for visitors in the country you are targeting. This may mean considering hosting your Web site with a provider with servers in the country you are targeting.
7. Check your website carefully for errors!
Once you have fully translated your website, it is advisable to check for errors. Whether you have used a translation engine, translator, or a tool like Clonable there is always a possibility that an error will creep in. Therefore, carefully check your entire site for errors: URLs, links, text, images, etc. After all, an error can damage customer confidence in your website. This, of course, must be prevented.
One tip is to get a fresh look at your website: have someone other than yourself check the pages. That way you won't read through your own texts too quickly. Another tip is to search the most important and popular pages first. This is because if there is an error among them, it will be noticed more quickly by visitors.
8. International link building
Link building is an important part of SEO, and international link building is no exception. Below we provide some tips for international link building:
- Look for relevant websites in the country you are targeting: it is important to ensure that the websites you link to are relevant to the country you are targeting. Therefore, look for websites that are popular in the country you are targeting and that fit the topic of your website.
- Take advantage of local partners: if you work with local partners, it is easier to get natural backlinks. Therefore, look for ways to collaborate with local businesses or organizations.
- Use social media: social media can be a powerful tool to get backlinks. Therefore, look for ways to promote your website through social media in the country you are targeting.
- Use local networking groups: there are often online networking groups for people in specific countries or industries. Search for these groups and take advantage of them to promote your website and get backlinks.
- Take advantage of local blogs: there are often blogs that specifically target certain countries or regions. Search for these blogs and try to establish a partnership to promote your website and get backlinks.
- Take advantage of local press: try to get in touch with local press and try to get your website mentioned in local articles. This can be a powerful way to get backlinks and bring your website to the attention of people in the country you are targeting.
- Take advantage of local events: for example, if you are going to a trade show in the country you are targeting, it is a good idea to try to have your website mentioned in the marketing materials for the event. This can help get backlinks and bring your website to the attention of people in the country you are targeting.
- Use local tools: there are often tools that specifically target certain countries or regions. Search for these tools and try to get your website listed to get backlinks and to bring your website to the attention of people in the country you are targeting.
Multilingual SEO is a step up from normal SEO. Hopefully these tips have helped you somewhat. Do you still have questions, or want to know more about Clonable? Please contact us!