How to overcome Multilingual Seo hurdles

by oskarokupa on July 28, 2011

When it comes down to run multilingual sites a number of issues arise. You need to have a truly multinational staff to be able to deal with all the intricacies that International marketing, local internet legislation or simply cultural nuances, come with it.

Being organised is key, so there are three initial steps to take if you want to target a foreign market with your website:

  1. Assesing the market (keyword research, available payment methods in the target market, legislation hurdles,  competition analysis, etc)
  2. Planning a local strategy, ideally being flexible enough to customise it for that market, not just rolling out your native market one into it.
  3. Implementation and optimization


Assesing the market

Assesing the market is going to require some local knowledge. Every niche has its own peculiarities regardless of culture of language (for example weight loss will mainly be a female dominated demographics whereas videogames will focus on young males) however, when you want to dig deeper into the local differences you will need someone with certain knowledge of it. You can go the expensive way, and commision a full market research, or you can just bring a language student in and teach them how to do it. In any case you will need a local.

This local person doesn’t need to be a trained Internet marketer. You can teach keyword research to someone in 15 minutes. Once they have done the keyword research they can apply it to the translation of the site, making sure that they will use the keywords that are being used by their compatriots while searching.

Once the keywords and the general usability of the translated copy has been assessed, taking a look at the competitors that are ranking in that query space in the most popular local search engine (it could be a local version of Google or a different engine alltogether, like Naver, Baidu or Yandex) will not be difficult. Teaching them what to look at in the competition analysis, both onpage or offpage is essential, or you can just ask them to gather the data, take some notes about the content of the competing sites and let a senior SEO make sense of it.

Planning a local strategy

As mentioned before you will need to map your strategy with the local search engines and their characteristics. If you want to optimise for the Russian market, and therefore for the local engine Yandex, you will need to put an emphasis on massive link building. If you want to target Brazil, a content strategy will take you far, because of the lack of properly optimised content in that market. Those are all optimisation peculiarities that you will need to find out about, either reading blogs in English written by specialists in those markets, or getting your intern to read the local blogs and sources and debrief you.

Implement and Optimize

Armed with your keyword research, your market assesment and your local optimisation tricks, now you can flesh out the localised content, taking into account all the research you have done.

After that, usual promotion techniques will be carried out. It will be a slower process that with your native market but the learning process will allow you to be able to improve in the future.

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