How and Why To Localize Your SEO Materials
Suppose your product is a resounding success in your current market. You might be thinking, “my fellow Americans love my product, and I’ll bet people elsewhere will love it too”.
You’re excited about international expansion, but first, you need to ready your website. So, how do you tailor your website to people who speak different languages and come from other cultures? If you’ve pondered this question, you’re in the right place.
Our helpful guide will outline exactly how and why you should localize your SEO materials. Let’s get into it.
Why Localizing Your SEO is So Critical
At its core, SEO is about gaining visibility online. You can have the most wonderful product in the world, but if the world can’t see it, you won’t gain any traction. It’s like having a beautiful mansion in the middle of a thick jungle, but you don’t build a driveway and lock all your internal doors.
Most people won’t see the mansion at all, but those lucky enough to hack their way through the dense bush and stumble upon it still find themselves stuck in the foyer with nowhere to go. SEO provides visibility and access to your website.
Becoming a successful competitor in a new market requires an in-depth understanding of your potential buyers. You can’t sell to people if you don’t know who they are, what they want, and how they find what they want. These factors, and others, can vary significantly between countries. As a result, a website with solid SEO in English could become the mansion in the jungle in a foreign market.Now, let’s get out of the jungle and into some helpful tips on how you can effectively localize your website’s SEO.
Top Tips for Localizing Your SEO
Researching Your Keywords
You probably have a good understanding of the keywords your target buyers use to find the content they need in your language. However, search habits differ from culture to culture, so you can’t simply directly translate your keywords from English to another language. As an example, the word “analytics” can be translated to either “解析” or “アナレティックス” in Japanese.
And while both of these translations are correct, older generations are less likely to use the latter word. As a result, you might struggle to target specific sections of the population if you rely on direct translations.
Preparing Content For Different Cultures
Let’s say you have a stellar article that you want to translate for your new audience. Great – excellent content should appeal to everyone. However, you must ensure that your content can transcend cultural barriers and maintain its meaning after translation.
In other words, don’t rely on free translation services that will result in an awkward reading experience. And even when you find a native speaker to translate for you, ensure they’re a good writer with a strong understanding of how to adapt details for different cultures.
We see cultural details changed all the time in movies to appeal to specific audiences. For example, in Disney’s Inside Out, the Disgust character is first introduced when Riley’s dad attempts to feed her broccoli. However, in Japan, green peppers were used instead because broccoli is a popular food in Japan – it would seem strange for a child to dislike the tree-like vegetable.If you fail to pick up on cultural details like these, your content won’t make sense to your target audience, and your search rankings could suffer as a result. Why? Because people will click away from your site sooner, not share your content, and not revisit your site.
Use Hreflang Tags For Translated Pages
In simple words, when you have the same content translated into different languages, hreflang tags tell Google which page to list in which country. For example, you can use hreflang= “en” for English and hreflang= “es” for Spanish. You can also use hreflang tags if you have different versions of the same page targeted at other countries that speak the same language, like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. So, for example, to show a specific URL to English speakers in Canada, you would use the tag “en-ca”.
Consider Internet Speeds in Your Target Country
Google considers site speed in its search engine ranking, and with good reason – almost 50% of internet users expect a page to load in two seconds or less1. Suppose your website contains many bandwidth-intensive web elements like visual plugins, unoptimized media (videos, images, logos), or bloated HTML and CSS. In that case, this could cause your website to be slower in other regions. Why? Because different countries have different internet providers and speed standards. What you can get away with within your country might not be feasible elsewhere.
You can solve this problem by simplifying, stripping back, or optimizing your website when launching in a country with slow internet speeds.
Build Local Backlinks
If you know anything about SEO, then you know how important backlinks are to your search engine ranking. If you want to rank high in local search engines, you need to build local backlinks. The same rules apply here; you’ll want to focus on relevant keywords and excellent domain authority.
You Should localize lead Generation Websites Too
If you have a lead generation website (separate from your main website), you should ensure it’s built to speak to buyers in a specific country. This means using local SEO keywords, creating content focused on long-tail key phrases, and ensuring content stays hyper-relevant to the target country.
Although not everyone uses them, lead generation websites can give you a broader reach in search engines and funnel more leads to local partners, which helps strengthen relationships in your target country.
If your website fails to gain traction in a new country, it’s probably because better websites with better content (content more relevant to the target audience) exist. In other words, you’ve failed to localize your SEO materials effectively. We hope this guide has put you on the right track for your international expansion – good luck, and keep localizing!