Table of Contents
Why Localization is Necessary
Internet consumers, no matter where they may reside, want information that is in their language. While English is spoken in many places around the world, as a second language, it is not preferred by foreign-speaking consumers. In fact, 85% of them prefer to do online business in their own languages. And if you want to beat your competition in any foreign-speaking marketplace, you would be wise to do so in their languages. And to do this, you will need to do more than a mere translation of all of your content into a target language.
Localization Goes Beyond Translation
Just getting words and sentences translated is not enough. There are cultural values, beliefs, and principles that must be honored. A photo that may be appropriate in Western culture, for example, may become totally inappropriate in Middle Eastern culture. Words matter too. Words and phrases that are perfectly understandable to all native English-speakers will not be in other cultures. And many large enterprises have made big mistakes in this area.
For these reasons, businesses would be wise to employ the services of professional translation and localization agencies, like PickWriters– agencies that have native experts in target languages who can both translate and localize content.
The Implications of Localization for SEO
When a brand’s content is localized well, there are implications for SEO. After all, one of the goals is for foreign-speaking audiences to find you when they conduct searches in their own languages and via their most-used search engines. If your content is not SEO-friendly, then your efforts to capture foreign audiences will be lost.
Understand who your customers are
When you want to localize content and boost SEO, you should start by understanding your target audience. You may want to use specific keywords and types of language that your customers might not understand. Therefore, you should start by doing extensive research on their preferences and collect data on their buying behavior.
Localization increases your customer’s satisfaction!
Most of the clients prefer to read the product’s instruction and description in their local language. It helps them understand the information better and use the product correctly. On the other hand, they would also prefer a customer service delivered in their local language. Therefore, localization improves your customer’s satisfaction and helps you stand out from your competition.
Localization helps you identify and use local trends. Thus, in case any words represent an offense to your audience, then localization will help you identify and avoid them. Localized content enables you to overcome the linguistic barrier. The entire process will reveal everything about local traditions. For instance, if you want to launch a product with a unique design for Christmas, localization will help you avoid a crucial mistake. Some of your targeted areas might not have Christmas as an important cultural tradition. Therefore, instead of investing your budget in an SEO and marketing strategy that won’t work, localization will help you be wiser and stay on the safe side.
Any information that you collect will help you create a profile for your target customer. Thus, it will become easier for you to create a localization strategy and use the correct language to determine people buy your products. The data collected during market research will also tell you which keywords to use to strengthen your brand’s position on the market and grow your visibility.
How to Localize Content to Gain SEO in Foreign Markets
There are several things that help you to localize content and improve your SEO in foreign markets. Here are the most important:
1. Keywords/Keyword Phrases
Keywords are still critical to SEO, because searchers use these, no matter what their native language. And Google algorithms are now using AI to determine the most popular and relevant keywords and phrases occurring in searches. As long as consumers use keywords for searches, they will be connected to any SEO efforts.
But keywords do vary by language, regions, and countries. And machine translations simply are not “smart” enough yet to take into account the nuances of languages.
Hiring a native SEO expert is the wisest strategy. That individual can do the right research in the language and identify those keywords that are most used for your niche. If you do not do this, you will risk losing a large audience/customer base and going into a foreign country will be for naught.
Voice search also involves keywords, and the considerable use of mobile devices all over the planet means that consumers are using voice search more and more. And people speak in their own informal, everyday language, not like dictionaries of translated words.
In short, translated content must be right for localized keywords, and they should appear in your page titles, in your content, in your meta descriptions, and in your advertising. Human pros can help you come up with the right keywords to make your message resonate and to be “found” by search engines.
2. Use Hreflang Tags
You want search engines to index your pages correctly. They cannot do this without the right signals from you – after all, they are not mind readers. Using Hreflang tags tells the search engine the language in which your content is. Thus, you use “en” for English, “es” for Spanish, etc. In this way, the search engines know which pages to use in publishing search results. You can even become more specific. For example, the Spanish spoken in Spain is different from that in Mexico. You can specify ‘es-es” for Castilian Spanish and “es-mx” for Mexican and other Latin-American countries.
If you don’t use Hreflang tags, you may not reach the right local audiences, and your other SEO efforts will have been in vain.
3. Maximize Site Speed
Site and page load speed are important factors in search rankings, no matter what the language. Almost half of the internet users expect a page to load in less than 3 seconds, and that is not just English speakers.
A lot of things can affect speed – the site host, visuals and other media, lots of plugins and ads, etc.
Internet providers also vary in standards for speed in different countries. You can research this, and if you are going into a country that has a slower pace, build a simpler version of your site, at least at first. Google PageSpeed Insights will provide you with local performances, as well as suggestions for maximizing load speed.
4. Obtain Local Backlinks
You already know how relevant backlinks can be to search rankings. But remember, they have to be quality backlinks, or you face “punishment” from Google. Search out related businesses in the locale and “court” them for reciprocal arrangements of linking to one another. This can be difficult if you are not fluent in a language and have no initial contacts with business owners in a target country. If you have the budget, this is where a local SEO expert may be invaluable.
Other things you can are these:
- Make sure your contact information is on your site, especially if you have a physical presence in a country.
- Sign up to Google My Business
- In some countries, buying backlinks can work – just be certain they are from related niches and that the business has a good reputation. If your content is of high quality, reputable businesses will be willing to take a look at you.
- Your Local URL Format – It’s Important
Here you have three choices:
- Top-Level Domain: This is by far the most straightforward and probably the most effective. In the U.S., your domain is yourdomain.com (your business name). When you localize content, you simply use your business name plus “es” or “fr” for the URL. Thus, you have, yourdomain.fr, or yourdomain.it. But you will be building a distinct website for each country, and, if the original name of your business is not available, you may have to tweak that name.
- Subdomains: This is where your translated sites are housed within your original site. The URL will look something like de.yourdomain.com. This tells the search engines which pages to load for each country.
- Subfolders: Localized pages are a part of your original website, and the URL will like, yourdomain.com/fr. This is the easiest build because you are just adding more information to your original website. And it may help with SEO, as Google will use your current ranking history and backlinks.
You may have to experiment a bit. Large companies with significant budgets will use option one, but that can get expensive.
Localization for expanding into foreign markets is a “must.” But just translating and localizing will not get you the traffic you want. You have to localize content and integrate a solid SEO strategy into your expansion. If you use these five strategies and hire the expertise you need for them, your chances of successfully moving into a foreign market will significantly increase.