Multilingual SEO allows you to build a search ranking in multiple countries and deliver content to audiences in their native language. Naturally, translation is a key component of this and there are a lot of creative decisions to make along the way, too – especially in terms of content marketing.
At the same time, multilingual SEO is the most complex search marketing strategy you can take on. Before you can put any of your creative decisions into action, you have to make sure you have got a firm grip on the technical aspects of managing a multilingual website – and this is where a lot of international businesses struggle.
The technical aspects of multilingual SEO
The technical aspects of multilingual SEO are responsible for building a website that can host multiple languages and ensure the right version of each page ranks for each audience. It is important you approach the technical process correctly and follow best practices to avoid costly mistakes.
All it takes is a misguided decision or a poorly written code to cause serious problems with your online presence. Here are some of the key essentials you need to master:
- Use dynamic coding to build each version of your site so that you can make global changes from a single location.
- Choose a domain structure that allows you to host separate versions of your website for each language – take a look at this documentation from Google for more details.
- Use the correct tags to define the language of pages on each version of your site (e.g. hreflang tags for Google and Yandex, meta language tags for Bing, etc.).
- Implement location detection to automatically redirect users to the local version of your website, even if they type in the wrong URL (e.g. yoursite.com > yoursite.com/es).
- Add language and/or location selection to your website so users can manually change settings.
- Choose a hosting service that is fast, secure and reliable while paying close attention to traffic limits and other restrictions.
- Optimise loading times: The further users are away from the website server, the longer it takes for pages to load – a common challenge with multilingual websites.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up loading times in locations further away from your server.
- Enable caching to speed up loading times for repeat visitors.
- Optimise for mobile because a lot of international markets are mobile-first or mobile-only.
Make sure you have all of these technical aspects covered because issues with any of these can make multilingual SEO difficult to manage. For example, choosing the wrong domain setup will force you into choosing an alternative domain and using redirects that hurt your search ranking, make loading times slower and, subsequently, hurt your search ranking even further.
Building upon the technical aspects of multilingual SEO
With the technical aspects of multilingual SEO covered, you can concentrate on the more linguistic and creative parts of your strategy. This starts with audience research and understanding the nuances of each language audience so that you can determine which interests they have in common and where they differ.
Where interests align, you can create content and then translate it into each language for relevant audiences. Where interests differ, you will need to localise your content to suit each audience or create entirely unique content from scratch for certain audiences, in their native language.
These creative decisions define the most successful multilingual SEO strategies, but delivering this content simply is not possible without having the technical side of things covered first.