In today's globalized world, having a multilingual website is crucial for businesses that are looking to expand their reach and attract international customers or people within one country who speak different languages. However, simply translating website content into different languages may not be enough to show up in online search results. To ensure that a website can reach targeted audiences who speak different languages, it is important to understand the principles of multilingual search engine optimization (SEO).
The most obvious aspect of multilingual SEO involves translating a website’s content into different languages. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Proper translation: Automatic translation tools such as Google Translate may allow content to be translated into other languages quickly and easily, but these translations often contain errors. Professional translators who are native speakers of the target language will be able to do a better job. At the very least, a native speaker should review any translated content to ensure that translations are accurate.
Cross-cultural adaptation: While maintaining accuracy in translation is important, it is also crucial to adapt content to meet the needs of the target audience. This includes understanding cultural customs or practices that might affect how certain information is presented or perceived.
Localized keywords: Performing keyword research for each language version of a website can identify search terms used by users across different cultures and regions. Implementing localized keywords will improve organic traffic for speakers of different languages from specific geographical areas.
Setting Up URL Structure
The URL structure of a translated website plays a significant role in search engine optimization. When it comes to multilingual websites, there are several options available:
Country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs): Using country-specific domain extensions (such as yourwebsite.es for the Spanish version of a site) is often the most effective approach for targeting users in specific countries. However, acquiring multiple domains for a site can be costly and time-consuming.
Subdomains: Different subdomains (e.g., es.yourwebsite.com) can be created for each language version of a site. This can allow for a separate website with unique content that will benefit from the domain authority of the main site.
Subdirectories: If a website has a strong overall domain authority, and similar content and URL structures will be used for different languages, organizing different language versions under subdirectories (e.g., yourwebsite.com/es/) can be a viable option.
It is also a good idea to fully translate the URL aliases for the pages on a site. Rather than using an English URL (such as yourwebsite.com/practice-areas), the Spanish version of a page can use Spanish words in URLs (such as yourwebsite.com/es/areas-de-practica), making the website easier to navigate for Spanish speakers.
Managing Technical Details
Paying attention to the technical aspects of a site is crucial for multilingual SEO success. Issues to address include:
Hreflang Tags: These tags, which are contained in the <head> section of a website’s code, will help search engines understand which language version of a page should be served to users based on their location or preferred language settings. Implementing hreflang tags correctly can avoid potential SEO penalties for duplicate content in multiple languages.
Sitemap and language annotations: XML sitemaps that include all language versions will assist search engine crawlers in discovering and indexing a site’s multilingual content correctly. Additionally, marking website pages with appropriate annotations specifying the language used helps search engines identify which pages should appear in search results for people who speak that language.
Contact Our SEO Experts
If you are a website owner looking to expand your online presence to ensure that your site can be found by people who speak different languages, the team at [[title]] is here to help. We make sure all the websites we design and develop follow the correct SEO practices. We can provide guidance on how to target a site to be found by people in specific areas who speak specific languages and are searching for answers that a website can provide. To learn more about our services, contact our SEO professionals at 630-635-8000.