A New Approach to SEO for the Global Marketplace
Current SEO methods work up to a point; follow the “rules” and your website should rank reasonably well with Google. But now that everyone is using the same techniques, many businesses are finding their competitive advantage is slipping.
More than 52% of all online content is written in English – but this could be a serious mistake for your brand:
- Just 25% of people online are English speakers.
- 45% of Europeans never browse the Internet in any language other than their own.
- 42% of European shoppers will not buy if the product description is not written in their language. Factor in the rest of the world and this figure increases to 85%.
- 56% of shoppers claim that product descriptions written in their language are more important than the price of the product.
With that in mind, the benefits of localisation are fairly obvious – you are giving customers what they really want from your website.
And the most important benefit? Customers will spend more with websites written in their own language.
How Other Businesses Have Won With Localisation
Localisation has played a key role in helping some businesses expand their global reach.
Airbnb – localisation fuels explosive global growth
Originally setup as a room-sharing app for users in the San Francisco area, Airbnb quickly realised that their service would be useful to travellers all over the world. Airbnb prioritised localisation so that as many people as possible could use the app and website.
Central to this strategy is the use of computer aided translation tools, dynamically converting content into one of 26 languages according to the user’s preference. Dynamic translation has allowed Airbnb to grow their service incredibly quickly – the Japanese localised site took just one week to implement.
Apple – micro-localisation for a truly global audience
Although the same language is spoken in different countries, there are significant local variations. “German” spoken in Switzerland is very different to that spoken in Germany or Austria for instance – and your potential customers will be able to spot these differences.
The Apple website is tailored to include these variations, ensuring that the text shown to French-speaking Canadians is localised to include the idiosyncrasies of the language, rather than showing them “generic” French text. The same is true of Spanish (Spain, Mexico, Colombia etc), Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil) and even English (USA, UK and Australia).
This attention to detail means that copy is fully-optimised to the audience, dramatically improving its effectiveness – and conversion rates.
Apple operates 115 localised websites to ensure that they always speak the customer’s language. This fine attention to regional language variations is best achieved using manual translations provided by native speakers.
How to Use Localisation to Improve Search Engine Rankings
As you can see, localisation is a powerful tool for entering new markets on the world stage. Here are some important tips for improving your international SEO.
1. Plan your target markets carefully
Good business practice dictates that expansion should be steady and controlled to ensure that you can provide customers with the very highest levels of service. Rather than trying to take on the whole world, your SEO strategy should be tailored to a few key target markets.
Once you have identified the countries you want to reach, you can then narrow down the languages that your content needs to be written in.
2. Map out your content
A common mistake when building internationalised websites is to simply translate your existing text – but this could be a huge mistake. You must analyse your chosen market to identify the preferences of consumers; their desires may be completely different to those of your home market, so the website text may need to be adapted to suit.
You will also need to undertake keyword research in your chosen markets to ensure your website is optimised towards the search terms your target audience uses. The same is true of Doubleclick and other display ad technologies.
3. Simplify your content
Also known as ‘internationalisation’, you should review all content – particularly new pages – to ensure that the language used is as simple as possible. Make sure that the ‘message’ of each page is clear.
Simplifying text in this way makes the actual translation process much safer, so that none of the message is lost when switching between languages.
4. Choose your translation technique
The size of your website, and the content to be translated will affect the choice of translation technique you use on your localised websites. Where the content updates frequently, or in real time, you will need to consider the use of CAT tools (Computer Aided Translation) and machine translation to simplify the localisation process.
For downloadable assets, or cornerstone content that changes infrequently, manual translation by a qualified translator may be more appropriate. CAT tools are now incredibly accurate, but human translation offers additional peace of mind as the quality of the final text.
5. Target the right search engines
Although Google and their many international sites dominate the search industry, there are other regional services you must consider. In China, most consumers rely on the Baidu search engine to find new products and services. Similarly, Russians use Yandex, and many Arabic-speaking nations choose Maktoob.
When choosing a translation provider, ensure that they are familiar with the algorithms used by these regional search engines.
Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels
Although software is unrelated to your website and SEO, localisation is still an important consideration. Every interaction with your international clients needs to be consistently high quality to convince and convert.
Sales emails being sent via Marketo or Salesforce also need to be written in the recipient’s native language. The same is true of Doubleclick display adverts – they will be ineffective if shown to people who cannot properly read them.
Time to Act
Localisation techniques can be used by businesses of any size to better connect with their customers. If you can speak their language, you can better communicate the benefits of your products and services – which means that you stand a much better chance of winning their business.
To learn more about your localisation options and how Travod can help, please give us a call.