If you operate a website that deals with different languages, how do you tackle your SEO practices? Learn more with this guide on multilingual SEO!
SEO in one language can be difficult to understand. Multilingual SEO is a world unto itself.
You understand that you need to get your website to the top of search results to get quality traffic. That can result in sales and leads for your business.
SEO for a multilingual site has some unique challenges. How can you get multiple versions of your website to get to the top of search results?
Here’s what you need to do to get your website to rank in multiple languages.
Table of Contents
The CMS You Use Matters
With a multilingual website, some content management systems are better at managing multiple versions of your website than others.
The question that you’re going to have to answer is whether or not you stick with the CMS you’re using now, or it is time to switch to another one.
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento are examples of CMS that are great to use for multilingual sites.
These content management systems allow you to have a multisite setup using the same database. This matters because if you update one version of your site, the other sites will update, too. If you’re already using one of these content management systems, your best bet is to stick with what you have.
How do you plan to set up your URL for multilingual sites? This will have an impact on your site’s SEO. You do have a few options.
The first is to use a country-specific top-level domain (TLD), such as www.yourdomain.es if you’re targeting Spain. It can be challenging to get the .es TLD, but it does make it easier to maintain separate versions of your site.
Using a subdomain like es.yourdomain.com is another option. This is also easy to maintain different versions of your site and set up.
The third way to set up your domain structure is to use subfolders, such as www.yourdomain.com/es. This does make it harder to separate your sites, but it is easy to set up.
Google has specific recommendations as to how to handle multilingual sites. They recommend that regardless of which option you decide, you should have links to the different language versions of your website and let visitors decide what language they want.
Keyword Research for Multilingual SEO
There’s one thing that you’re always going to have to do for SEO, no matter the language: keyword research. Keyword research is going to be a necessary step in ranking your site in different languages.
You should already have done keyword research for the English version of your website. You’ll have to do the same for multilingual SEO.
You’ll want to do keyword research and incorporate text with and without accents. You want your site to be grammatically correct, but you don’t want to confuse search engines.
It’s best to use words with accents in your text and meta tags while leaving the accents out of the URLs.
Multilingual Link Building
Yes, link building matters in multilingual SEO, too. The best place to start link building a multilingual site is to research your competition.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs or SEM Rush to see what pages are linking to your competition in any language or country.
When you find websites to get backlinks to, you want to make sure that you have sites link to you in the same language as your site.
For example, if your site is in French, you want the backlink to come from a site in French, not English. You also want to make sure that the anchor text is in the same language, too.
A site that links to your site in English with French anchor text will look suspicious to search engines. That could cause your site to be penalized.
What Really Matters in SEO
Google uses hundreds of variables to determine search results. While there are some things that need special attention for multilingual SEO, some things don’t change.
Take backlinks, for example. Backlinks are going to be an important part of your campaign.
Another thing that won’t change is the need to have your meta tags and heading tags filled in properly with the correct structure.
Where a lot of webmasters get tripped up is that they build websites for search engines at the expense of the user experience.
It’s important at every step of the way that you put the user first across websites. Cutting corners in any area of your website for the sake of time or resources could give users a poor experience.
For example, if you had a meta tag that was half English and half Spanish, you’re giving both users a poor experience and they won’t feel compelled to click through to your site.
Another example of poor user experience is to rely on Google translations to translate the text on your website. You could be missing out on important cultural nuances.
Let’s put it this way: there’s a reason why there’s a hashtag for #GoogleTranslateFail. You don’t want to wind up in this group of translation fails.
Instead of relying on Google, hire a company like Rev that offers Audio Transcription and translations of your text.
The best thing to do for multilingual SEO is to take care of the technical aspects of your site and always focus on the user experience. If you do that, then you will do well across your websites.
Multilingual SEO Made Easy
There’s a lot to consider when you’re working on SEO. Multilingual SEO can seem like a whole other universe.
It’s actually not that much different from SEO for any other site. Focus on the basics and provide a great user experience. If you have a solid technical foundation and stick with the basics, you’re going to rank well across versions of your website.
Ready to get your SEO started? Hire an SEO expert today.