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Multilingual money-makers

SEO for international audiences
More and more website owners are considering expanding their web presence into foreign markets. To achieve this, they need to produce multilingual versions of their website. The prospect of doing SEO on your multilingual websites may seem rather daunting. So here are some pointers to get your multilingual SEO on track.

Language: what barrier?
Probably the biggest challenge you will face when you begin doing SEO for websites aimed at foreign markets is language. The cornerstone of effective SEO is quality, relevant content. You must ensure your content is well translated so that it’s useful for your target audience.

Working with a professional translator will provide the best results. Having a professional translate your content means that any idiosyncrasies in your text, such as slang, metaphors and abbreviations, will be properly dealt with.

It will ensure your translated copy is as natural as possible. If you are on a limited budget, there are automatic translation services, like Google Translate, which you could use. These services give fairly good results, but they won’t be nearly as good as human translation.

Translating keywords
When you’re working to translate your keywords, you can’t rely on a service like Google Translate, or even a foreign-language dictionary. You can’t be certain that the translation of individual keywords will be accurate enough.

And we’re sorry to say, a professional translator probably won’t be enough either. Even they won’t know what search terms people use locally. However, if they know and understand SEO practices, then they will be able to research the correct keywords for the target country, using tools such as Google AdWords’ Keyword finer.

As with English-language keyword research, you need to aim for a variety of the most popular keywords and also ‘long tail’ keywords that will have lower search volumes but will be easier to rank highly for, and bring more potential custom to your website.

Use country-specific domains
Google has versions of its search engine in over 100 regions across the world. It’s vital that you target the local search engines in your foreign-language SEO.

To get the best rankings in local versions of Google, you should host your website on the relevant ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain). For example, if your website is aimed at the Swedish market, use a .se domain (e.g. http://www.yourdomain.se/). You can boost your local search engine rankings even further by hosting your foreign domains on servers located in the target country – so it’s best to ask your web-host where its servers are based, you may be surprised to learn that it’s something on the other side of casino online the world. Google uses such data in its search algorithm when determining its rankings.

Link building
You should aim to get as many back-links as possible from other websites within your target country, which have the same ccTLD. If you have a .se domain, your rankings in ‘Google Sverige’, and other local search engines, will be improved by getting back-links from other .se domains. The methods for doing this are pretty much the same as your link-building campaigns for your English websites. You should also look out for any local web directories which may be worth submitting to. As with any web directory you are thinking about submitting to, check that it is well-established and has a good Page-Rank.

You should look to identify prospective link partners in the same way as you do with your English-language websites. This usually involves analysing your competitors’ websites and targeting the site owners with whom they have placed back-links. You may need the help of a professional translator to determine the quality of the websites you propose to target and to help you write emails to other webmasters.

Social media
Local social media marketing within your target regions is a great way of building links and driving more traffic to your website. The methods are the same as those you would use for English-language websites. For example, identify local blogs, especially those with the same ccTLD, and become a regular commenter, or offer to write a guest post in exchange for a back link. Submit your website to relevant social bookmarking sites within the country you are targeting, and try to find forums that are relevant to your audience and start posting.

The methods involved in multilingual SEO are similar to the ones you use for your English-language websites. If you remain focused on the basic rule-of-thumb that good SEO is all about providing relevant, quality content for your target audience, you won’t go far wrong with your multilingual SEO.

Once you have completed your first foreign-language website, you’ll find it easier to produce others.

About the author
Christian Arno is founder of professional translation services company Lingo24 that specialises in website localisation. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has clients in over 60 countries and a turnover of £5m.

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