Why do you Need Multilingual SEO for your International Website?

by Manas Chowdhury
5 minutes read

Over the course of the last few decades marketing has drastically changed. Innovation and technology have come into play and have brought additional benefits and creative solutions. Businesses are becoming more and more international by the day, and the aspect of expansion has never been more present.

To achieve such a goal, businesses must have adequate exposure strategies that allow them to establish partnerships and undertake the necessary steps towards enlargement. This is where search engine optimization comes in and offers a number of ways to address this challenge. Thus, in this article, we are going to talk about the importance, benefits of multilingual SEO for international websites, and best multilingual SEO strategy & practices.

Understanding the importance of SEO

SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization. The process of SEO optimization is concerned with improving the overall quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing a website’s exposure on search engines. There are multiple important factors during the implementation of SEO. Search engine optimization writing, keyword research, and strategy building all have their respective requirements. The process itself is demanding and must be continuously maintained. Nonetheless, if implemented adequately, the benefits of SEO can trump issues faced along the way. 

“Many brands and businesses know (or think they know) that they need SEO for their digital properties, and the benefits they will get from the SEO work being implemented on their behalf” (Hollingsworth, 2021).

Search engine optimization has a broad list of components. SEO can be divided into four major types that include the following:

  • On-site SEO – Search engine optimization conducted within a site which includes keyword research, content optimization, title tag optimization, page performance optimization, and internal linking
  • Off-site SEO – Search engine optimization is concerned with all occurrences outside of the website. This type of optimization can include guest blogging, email outreach, and broken link building
  • Local SEO – Search engine optimization that is location specific
  • Technical SEO – Search engine optimization concerned with organic search result appearance

What are the benefits of SEO?

We briefly mentioned that search engine optimization can bring a number of benefits. Nonetheless, a good percentage of the time businesses do not fully understand what they stand to gain from the implementation of SEO. Such benefits can range from increased traffic to customer satisfaction. The following aspects pinpoint the exact reasons as to why search engine optimization is a highly relevant factor and component in marketing:

  1. Increased traffic through organic search
  2. Increased trustworthiness from customers
  3. Encourages businesses to focus on customer experience and engagement 
  4. Increased brand awareness
  5. Provides additional statistical information and data for businesses 
  6. Allows for tracking progress upon implementation
  7. It ties in well with other business marketing strategies, aspects, and initiatives. 
  8. SEO implementation is not budget heavy 

How does the International (Multilingual SEO) Factor Come into Play?

As mentioned previously, search engine optimization is of key importance for businesses wishing to increase their level of exposure. However, if such businesses operate in an international environment, the approach has to be diverse. Multilingual SEO practices refer to the process of optimizing website content for multiple languages. Doing so enables broader exposure and increased website traffic. A strong multilingual SEO strategy includes the following: 

  • Usage of dedicated URLs – implements the usage of language indicators that enable search engines and users to identify the site language from the URL
  • Usage of hreflang tags – Google uses hreflang tags which aid in determining both the language of the page and the region the language is intended for, hence allowing for effective integration of multilingual SEO.
  • Having one language per page – when providing content in multiple languages it is essential that there is no overlap between languages. Thus, good practice in this scenario is to have one language per site. 
  • Translating Metadata – In addition to translating the content of the site, it is important that the functional side of things is translated as well. This is where the process of translating metadata comes into play. 

“We can define international SEO as the geolocation of SEO, in which, instead of optimizing your website to attract traffic from your city, state, or country, you will be optimizing for different countries and languages. In other words, despite the name suggesting something rather unknown, international SEO in practice is more familiar than you might think” (Giraldo, 2021).

How can multilingual SEO be approached?

Having an in-house team that specifically deals with the process oftentimes is not sufficient. Thus, outsourcing and finding possible solutions as to how multilingual SEO can be approached is necessary. The process is complex and requires a number of different specializations to be included along with the main goal of diversifying from a language standpoint. Prior to addressing the language aspect, let us discuss the technical side of things.

When attempting to target international audiences, it is essential to understand the importance of multilingual link building best practices. Link building refers to the process of establishing effective hyperlinks. Such links are better known as backlinks and can significantly improve the level of visibility for websites.

“Reaching an international audience is an opportunity that is now available to small and medium businesses in a way that has never been possible historically. Many business owners create a website and find that they are receiving international inquiries about their services, or receiving orders from other countries. Although they expected their market would be local, or at best national. With the vastly reduced price of international communication and shipping, a logical next step is to launch a multilingual website” (Woods, 2017).

When in the process of adding links to a website, it is important to note the key aspects that make links effective. The following components are essential and basics in multilingual link building:

  • Authority of the site – qualitative links are determined by the sitewide authority 
  • Authority of the page – the page that links users to your website can substantially affect the outcome of SEO results 
  • Relevance of the site – the relevance of a site’s theme to that of a website plays an important role, nowadays even more than the rank of the page where the link appears. 
  • The position of the link on the page – it is suggested that links appear in the body of the web page where they are most visible and attractive. 

With regard to the translation of page content, outsourcing professional translation services present a fruitful pathway toward a quick, effective, and efficient solution. As mentioned earlier, in-house teams cannot always translate and adapt content adequately. Thus, professional translators can aid in the process of translation and accommodate the content more fittingly to the respective language the content is being translated to. 

Addressing the need for proper SEO

For businesses, implementing an additional marketing strategy that requires human and financial resources can pose added challenges. As such, businesses can resort to unethical methods of SEO that do not necessarily result in increased website traffic and performance. Such methods can bring results in a rather fast manner, however, their implementation can cause damaging consequences. Overall, search engine optimization can be divided into two main categories which are:

  • Blackhat SEO
  • Whitehat SEO

Blackhat SEO techniques are regarded as unethical and are mainly utilized to generate results instantly. However, doing so can result in penalization and fines. In the worst-case scenario, using Blackhat SEO techniques can result in a ban on the website employing them. On the other hand, Whitehat SEO techniques follow community guidelines and tools. This method of SEO presents a long-term marketing strategy that is user-oriented and qualitative content. In essence, the main difference between the two categories boils down to who respects Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and who does not. 

Blackhat SEO includes:

  1. Cloaking and redirects 
  2. Concealed text
  3. Keyword stuffing
  4. Link manipulation
  5. Irrelevant backlinks 
  6. PBN, link farms
  7. Comment Spam

Whitehat SEO includes:

  1. Qualitative content
  2. Natural links 
  3. Brand building 
  4. Content Strategy
  5. On-page optimization
  6. Keyword Research 
  7. Immense focus on overall quality

“While white hat SEO involves looking for ways to improve user experience, black hat SEO relies on manipulating Google’s algorithm to improve rankings. To put it simply, if a tactic is designed to make Google think that a site provides more value to users than it really does, it’s deceptive — and it’s black hat SEO” (Zheng, 2018)

Worth mentioning is that search results can be divided into two main categories, paid results and organic results. If businesses wish to reduce SEO expenses, it is recommended that they follow the path of organically generated results. 

Key takeaways on Multilingual SEO Strategy

We have covered the importance of search engine optimization, the importance and benefits of multilingual SEO, as well as the do’s and don’ts with regard to the ethical implementation of SEO strategies. All in all, it can be concluded that search engine optimization, when implemented correctly, can substantially pay off in the long run.

As far as multilingual SEO goes, the best approach possible is one that does not shorten the pathway to the procurement of qualitative content. Adapting a website’s content to another language at times can seem tedious and irrelevant. Nonetheless, when content is translated adequately and professionally, the number of users reached can largely be increased and the impact can be of paramount importance.

Furthermore, understanding the essence of search engine optimization requires immense effort since at times the results may seem miniscule compared to the amount of dedication put in. Businesses must understand that search engine optimization poses a process that cannot be considered a one-off process that is implemented once. Search engine optimization requires persistence and continuous maintenance in order to see its full potential and benefits. SEO is an important factor in digital marketing that must be studied, mastered, and sought after carefully.

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