10 SEO Geotargeting Tips Plus a Webinar

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “10 Tips for Sending International SEO Signals.”


Search engine optimization for multinational sites isn’t all that different than SEO for a single U.S. site. It all boils down to the same three pillars: getting indexed, being relevant by using the most popular keywords and being popular by acquiring links and social mentions. That said, the specifics of those three pillars are different for multinational sites versus a single U.S. site.

Each country has its own language, languages or even dialects within a language. Each country has a different mix of search engines that are popular among its citizens. China has Baidu, Japan still clings to Yahoo and most of the Americas, Europe and Africa prefer Google. In addition, international SEO multiplies the challenge of optimizing a single site by the number of countries targeted. A site for a single country with a host of SEO issues will likely have 10 times the issues or more when multiplied across 10 countries and languages. International SEO is an incredibly complex challenge, but these 10 geotargeting tips will get you started.

1.    Site Structure: Where to host each country’s content is the first critical question. The best option for SEO is a subdirectory such as www.site.com/en-uk/ and www.site.com/fr-ca/. Hosting content on a single domain enables each country to benefit from the links acquired by the other countries and the domain as a whole. Register the ccTLD—the top-level domain for each country—as a defensive measure and for promotion, and redirect that ccTLD to the content at the subdirectory. For example, site.co,uk would redirect to www.site.com/en-uk/. Country content can also be hosted at the ccTLD or a subdomain, but each comes with its own drawbacks.

Nine more geotargeting signals to come! Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

International SEO WebinarIf you’d like to see a webinar on this topic, head on over to Practical eCommerce for my recent presentaton on International Search Engine Optimization. The archived presentation is free, but you’ll need to log in to Practical eCommerce (also free) to view it. Enjoy!

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Mind the Language Gap: Localization vs Translation Online

My name doesn’t exist in Spanish. Jill would actually be pronounced Heeee – J’s make an H sound and LL makes a Y sound. Jill works just fine in the American Midwest, but when I moved to California for college I encountered a whole new world of Spanish-speaking folks who were genuinely confused by my ridiculous name.

On a far larger scale, the same issue exists across the internet as sites attempt to expand their reach from their native language to serve other countries in other languages. American English is very close to the Queen’s English, but American English just doesn’t speak to the British in the same way. It’s more than sprinkling in some U’s and swapping Z’s for S’s. In Wisconsin I’d stuff a package in the trunk, but in London they’d place a parcel in the boot. I watch my step, they mind the gap. And we’re not even going to talk about the double meaning of fanny packs, yikes.

Some sites translate their navigation and major headings only, but leave the featured image content or product detail information in the original language. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate that customers speaking that language are not a priority. Sears uses a translating technology that autoconverts English textual content to Spanish, but the featured content images are still in English. Message to the Spanish-speaking population: You don’t matter as much but we’d like you to give us your money.

Would you send your English-speaking founder to the streets of Paris to sell the widgets he’s passionate about and communicates magnificently well in English, armed only with a sheet of common French phrases and expect him to sell like gangbusters? Of course not. He won’t be able to communicate effectively there, no matter how passionately he believes in his widgets. Similarly, French customers are not going to drop $300 (or euros) on your site if your French content is poorly written and archaically constructed. You wouldn’t write your primary content woodenly, why on earth would you translate woodenly? It’s ineffective and even insulting. You can’t just slap a French flag on it and call it a day.

In some cases, the navigation is in the original language but some linguistically orphaned content exists deeper in the site. If you can’t read English, how could you navigate the English Virginia.gov site to find the Spanish translation of the preparation for college guide? Lovely that it’s offered, but how will the people who need it find it on the site?

Sites communicate most strongly in the languages of their creators, naturally. When attempts are made to create content for other languages, many sites make the mistake of purely translating the same words they use to the equivalent word in the other languages. Not so good unless you just really don’t want to make a connection with those readers / customers. In that case, save everyone the time and don‘t bother to translate in the first place.

I enjoy babelfish as much as the next gal, but it’s no way to localize content. Localization is about creating content specifically for a geographically defined audience in their preferred language. It’s about carrying your message to them as an important audience equally valuable to the one that speaks the core language of the site, not expecting them to piece together your message and thank you for the opportunity to enjoy your delightful site so clearly not targeted at them despite its translated status.

If you’re serious about expanding your reach to other languages and countries, take the time to hire or contract with someone native to that country fluent in the dialect required. Don’t ask him to translate the content you’ve already written, boil it down to a series of key message bullets and allow him to create the content from those key messages in a way that will resonate best.
For more on localization and SEO, Andy Atkins-Kruger is an excellent resource at Multilingual Search Blog or WebCertain.com.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.