Are you looking to expand your products or services outside of your home market? Long gone are the days of doing business strictly on a domestic level. In July of 2017, EMarketer.com predicted that worldwide retail e-commerce sales will reach $2.290 trillion by the end of the year. By 2021, sales are predicted to hit $4.479 trillion.
Local markets are often saturated and localizing and optimizing a website into other languages provides an excellent opportunity to tap into global markets; relatively inexpensive and fast. E-commerce is booming and setting up an online shop is certainly easier than trying to establish a physical presence in other countries around the world.
In this article, I’ll share a basic overview of two key components that absolutely need to be part of your international market strategy. Let’s start with multilingual and international SEO.
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Getting Started with International SEO
Before you can even think about translating your website, your source language website needs to be properly optimized for online search. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing traffic to a website through improving (organic/unpaid) listings in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo for your target SEO keywords. Article What Is Search Engine Optimization? shares in detail the various steps required to properly optimize your source language website for online search.
A survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory revealed that 75% of Internet users would decide to purchase a product if the description is in their native language. Shockingly, a large number of Fortune 500 companies have not yet localized their website into multiple languages. And even more surprising, many of these websites are not properly optimized for online search.
Multilingual SEO is a hot topic these days and I now speak globally about the topic on a regular basis. No doubt about it; multilingual and international SEO is not for the faint of heart. It takes time, resources and the right knowledge—or partner—to succeed.
In a recently recorded hour-long webinar, Seth Carter, Managing Director at MWI Marketing UK, joined me in sharing an introduction to ISEO. I invite you to watch the recording of the webinar to learn proven and tested strategies that will help you reach new markets, increase inbound lead generation, and boost sales from your multilingual websites.
Transcreate Your Target SEO Keywords; Don’t Just Translate Them
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when getting started with multilingual and international SEO is that they simply translate their target SEO keywords from one language to another language.
Keywords need to get transcreated by researching terms in the target languages. The key to transcreating English keywords into specific target languages requires native-speaking language experts, who are trained in SEO practices.
Let me share an example: Let’s say one of your English target SEO keywords is “cell phone” and you’re thinking about targeting Germany and the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Using tools such as Google Translate (or even better work with a professional linguist) and Google Keyword Planner, you’ll find out that the most common term for “cell phone” in Germany is “handy”.
However, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, a substantial number of people are searching for “natel” so you’ll definitely want to consider both keywords in your multilingual SEO strategy for Switzerland.
Once you’ve successfully transcreated your list of target SEO keywords, you can now get started with basic on-page SEO tasks such as optimizing your website’s title, description, keywords, and alt / images tags.
You’ll also want to incorporate the transcreated keywords into the copy of the respective web pages, etc. Make sure to read article What is International Search Engine Optimization? for additional information, tips and best practices.
Google Global Market Finder: An Amazing Free Resource
Sadly, many companies neglect to do proper global market research and sooner than later they’ll fail. A great place to start is with Google’s Global Market Finder.
The free online tool will give you a head start on your international marketing strategy. Google is in the business of making money so of course, the tool will also help you consider advertising solutions (I.e. Google AdWords) and the importance of analytics and measurement. Regardless, taking advantage of this tool is a MUST in my opinion.
Get started by entering your website.
In a first step, Market Finder will recommend the best markets for your business. The tool will allow you to create your global business plan using detailed market insights. You’ll get data on how your potential customers use the internet, what their disposable income is, and much more.
Once you reached a decision about which markets you’d like to tackle first, you can use the various Market Finder tools, guides, and resources to plan the next steps. Market Finder will even assist you to navigate areas like translation, localization, international payments, logistics, etc.
This should get you started and give you a good idea on how to best reach global customers who are looking for what you sell.
[Bonus Tip] Google Analytics Will Show You Potential “Low-Hanging Fruit” Markets
To see what kind of traffic your website is already attracting from other countries, make sure to check your Google Analytics. It’s a great way to identify potential “low-hanging fruit” markets. Simply click on Audience, then on Geo and then on Location.
As you can see from the example below, one of our e-commerce customers is currently generating most of their sales from the US. However, by implementing a solid SEO strategy for, let’s say Canada, we should be able to steadily increase sales from this particular market.
Multilingual and international search engine optimization presents an amazing opportunity for anyone to conduct business on a global scale. It’s also a great way for language service providers to offer a much-needed service to their customers.
Just localizing and translating a website doesn’t cut it anymore. The multilingual versions of a website have to be optimized for online search since they will have to compete with hundreds if not thousands of other websites that already exist in the target country.
About the Author
Hi- my name is Chris Raulf and I’m the founder of Boulder SEO Marketing, a boutique search engine optimization training and consulting agency located in beautiful Boulder and Denver, Colorado and London, UK. My team and I assist local, national and international clients with all of their SEO, social media, content marketing and online marketing training and consulting needs. I have over two decades of hands-on experience under my belt and my international background has helped me become a globally recognized multilingual and international SEO expert.