Internet Marketing Association - December 29, 2015
By Colt Foutz, Director of Digital Content Optimization, TransPerfect
“If you build it, they will come.”
This advice, dispensed by a supernatural Shoeless Joe Jackson in the classic flick Field of Dreams, may have been golden for attracting beyond-the-grave baseball outcasts—not to mention fathers—to a healing reunion in the Iowa cornfields. But when it comes to launching your website in a new international market, it just ain’t so, Joe.
In the competitive world online, you can’t just hang a digital shingle and expect customers to show up. Which is why, as a localization company, we take search engine optimization so seriously. Our game plan begins with an SEO audit.
What will a good SEO audit tell you? If you plan to base your localized site on a source site in English—or any other language—an audit will point out issues you should fix before they’re replicated in translation. This analysis isn’t limited to your content. Going beyond keywords, meta data, and body copy is, well, key, since even the best translated sites can suffer an Achilles heel when not optimized for technical and linking issues.
Our audit delivers answers to all of the questions you should be asking before you begin a localization initiative, as well as many you may not have thought of, including:
Which content elements are most crucial to optimize for the dominant search engines in each of my target markets?
How do I effectively select and optimize keywords for each language?
How crucial is mobile-responsive design in each target market? (Quick, timely answer: for markets where Google dominates, a recent algorithm update makes mobile design crucial.)
How should sitemaps be handled?
How am I currently doing on social media and how can I improve?
How important are backlinks from other sites and how can I improve those signals?
So how does the audit work? Using a proprietary algorithm, we grade your site’s health on 64 individual factors crucial to SEO. Based on the results, we build a customized roadmap to strategically position your site for success. Our teams can then help implement your best-practice strategy, including keyword research, content optimization, and link-building tactics. We also advise your internal web development team as they upgrade your site for technical factors.
The long game of international SEO success depends on more than closing your eyes and taking a big swing. Audits train our focus on the seams of the ball, and allow us to spot gaps where we’ll have the biggest chances for success—both on Opening Day and in the stretch run.