SEO becomes more and more important in a localization process. On the border between digital marketing and localization, SEO is a set of techniques needed to reach your audience and appear in the top search engine results.
But its use is much more complex than simply adding keywords to your content. Localization management can become a strain on your project management team without proper organization. Here are our suggested techniques for building your strategy.
The SEO approach
When you run a business on the web, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects to think about. It could be defined as the process of increasing the traffic to a website using organic search results. To do that, you will work on the keywords and relevance of the website content in order to increase the quality traffic on your webpages because users tend to visit websites that are closely related to their targeted search queries.
Most of the time, the traffic will come from people residing in your area. But you might want to target global traffic. It is therefore very important to identify each target locale and attract local consumers in those markets. Let’s discuss how SEO could be integrated into your localization process.
How to use SEO in a localization process ?
Simply translating your website into other languages will not guarantee it achieves good rankings in the local search results of your target markets. That’s why integrating SEO in the localization process is really important.
Translating keywords directly does not work, because keywords are the fruit of a language, and are rooted in the local culture. Their relevance will vary from country to country. You will have to do some research to identify the highest searched and most lucrative keywords that your website should contain according to your target audience, so that you rank highly in major search engines.
Some of the standard localization tools can be used to streamline the process that includes content optimization. For example, Translation Memories (TM) could help you to have a clearer view of what has been changed in the optimization process and to track keywords performances.
Titles, meta descriptions, URLs and alternative text tags should not be neglected either. The title is the first thing anyone sees when searching for something on the Web. That’s why it needs to be accurate and interesting according to the local culture of your target audience. It’s not necessarily going to be the same title as the original article. A simple translation is often not enough. Well-written and catchy meta descriptions are more likely to attract readers. Also, you have to make sure that your URLs contain keywords and be careful not to make them too long.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that colors and images go hand in hand with the editorial strategy. Graphic standards can vary enormously from one culture to another: for example, a site will not have the same look if it addresses an Asian audience or if it targets Western sites. What seems commonplace or obvious in one culture can take on a completely different meaning in another.
All in all, it is important to understand that the translation of your site alone will not be enough to be well positioned on the various search engines according to the countries you are targeting. You have to ask yourself these questions: should 100% of the content of my site be translated? Do I need to adapt certain parts of the site to fit the local culture? Then, once the content is adapted to the audience, you can use the different SEO techniques suggested above to improve your SEO ranking.
How will SEO and localization techniques evolve in the future?
In the future, more importance will be given to the mobile version of your site rather than the desktop version. It is therefore important to optimize with a focus on mobile.
On the other hand, having a responsive site will not be enough to satisfy the search engines. It will be necessary to clean up the pages of the site and make the content stand out. Banners, pop-ups and sliders will be less appreciated and should be limited.
In terms of localization, it will be necessary to research the usage habits of your target audience in order to improve their user experience. The versions of your site may be completely different visually.
We can also imagine that in a few years, voice search will have become more important. Voice searches are often longer than simple keywords, so it is possible that article titles will have to be modified to attract more people.
Companies will have to focus on so-called “long tail” phrases rather than short keywords and put even more emphasis on interrogative forms.
This study shows us that SEO and localization techniques are still evolving. As the web and new technologies change, SEO and localization professionals will have to constantly adapt to new market requirements.