5 Ways to Improve Your International SEO Strategy


5 Ways to Improve Your International SEO Strategy

WSJ.com – April 8, 2011
Reposted from Mashable

Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services.

Web users in the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Europe have embraced Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms as vehicles for communication, commerce, and revolution. If North American-based businesses are to reach this rapidly expanding, increasingly sophisticated Internet audience, they must get smarter about international search engine optimization (ISEO).

Just like domestic SEO, international SEO aims to boost the likelihood that a particular website will rise to the top of search results, thereby enabling increased conversion rates. The challenge internationally is selecting the right SEO strategies for an enormous number of locales, cultural norms and languages. Here are some key points to consider when tackling ISEO.

1. Humans Beat Machine Translation

Even with adequate time for review and planning, machines can make small errors in localization that have significant consequences. The pressure to get it right via social media is exponentially greater, since time is short and engagement expectations are high. Brands need human experts who can quickly identify faults in automated translations and repair them before damage occurs in important markets. This is also true for accompanying imagery, which can convey unintended messages if not properly vetted.

2. Learn Vernacular and Optimize Keywords Accordingly

Whether a user seeks out information via a regional search engine or through Facebook pages or Twitter hashtags, the company looking for that prospect must anticipate the phrases he or she will employ. For example, a young person in one part of the world may search for shoes using a slang term, such as, “tennis shoes,” “sneakers” or “kicks.”

No two search engines use the exact same algorithm to produce organic results. The techniques required to optimize for Chinese search engine Baidu, for example, may be vastly different from those needed to optimize for Google. Businesses that want to reach targeted users need expertise not only in language, but also in culture and technology. This is one reason why enterprises must adopt an integrated approach to ISEO that determines the right wording and creates consistent, relevant messages in ads, landing pages, social media posts and search engine marketing.

3. Make Every Character Count

Improving the visibility of a website abroad — which demands knowledge of regional cultures, dominant local search engines and top keywords — starts with translation. Effective localization requires more than plugging words into a bot that spits out literal interpretations. This is certainly true for global websites, but the importance of connotation intensifies as communication gets more compact. Twitter’s strict length parameters, for example, make every character choice a critical one, particularly when you consider that English text can expand in character count when translated into other languages. Translating for this kind of platform requires not only timesaving software solutions, but seasoned human translators, as well.

Multi-language tweets can be a valuable tool in numerous communities around the world, but 140 characters in English do not neatly translate into 140 characters in Arabic, for example. To communicate convincingly with multilingual audiences via social networks, companies need more human involvement. Engagement is key.

4. Register a Local Domain and Apply ISEO

Global search marketing requires local domain and IP registration, as well as meaningful and fresh content that is keyword-specific. It demands descriptive tagging, rich media, social media distribution and internal and external links. These elements must take into account the search habits of target audiences and the algorithms of the search engines they are most likely to use. There is little value in going live with a website that is not optimized with these needs in mind. Only when ISEO and design are done in conjunction can a business be certain that customers will find it online. This principle applies to social media as well.

5. Get to Know Your Audience

Internet World Stats show that 86% of web users live outside North America. Many of them speak languages other than English, and capturing their business depends upon quality website translation, localization, and smarter ISEO. Increasingly, that business opportunity also hinges on extending multilingual campaigns to social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

To break into promising regions in the Americas, the Middle East, Europe and Asia, enterprises are applying these principles to all of their electronic communication points with customers, and therefore maximizing their prospects for success.

Know your audience’s lingo, its concerns and its preferred platforms so it can quickly and easily find and do business with you. Use social media to show that your company took the time and effort to communicate with global customers in a meaningful and authentic manner.


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