In this guide you will learn about “Multilingual & Multiregional SEO”. This may be surprising but true that 63% of the population in the world are non-English speaking.
In such a case you’re at a high risk of losing out customers in non-English speaking countries if you concentrate all your online efforts in English only. The only solution to this is optimizing your site for multi-languages.
What Are Multilingual SEO & Multiregional SEO?
- Multilingual SEO is the practice of offering optimized website content in a variety of languages or user's native language.
- Multiregional SEO is the practice of creating optimized website content that is tailored specifically to multiple geographic regions.
- The main aim of Multilingual SEO is to make websites more visible in search engines across the world & to ensure they are relevant and appropriate for the specific market they are targeting.
- Multiregional SEO explicitly target users in different countries. A news portal might target a worldwide audience or a retail chain might only be interested in users who are from the countries they operate in.
Benefits Of Multilingual & Multiregional SEO:
- One of the major benefits in running a multilingual and multiregional site is appearing high on Google SERP's in different languages and regions.
- Boosts your sales and generate more traffic to your website.
- Helps in spreading your business across the globe.
- It helps diversify your visitors, hence steady traffic.
- The ability to increase your web site's inbound marketing is greatly increased with these strategies.
- Having a multilingual website will give you a definite edge over your competitors.
- Your customers will see that you are taking an international approach to business. This leads to a good impression on the visitors to your website.
- Increases click-through rates, time-on-page & conversions by optimizing your global web presence for local audiences.
- Having content in the users native language increases their comfort level & builds their trust towards the brand.
Multilingual VS. Multiregional SEO (Language VS. Country Targeting):
Why Multilingual SEO Is Important For Your Business?
Creating Your Multilingual Online Marketing Strategy:
1) Determine Your Business Goals:
- The first thing you need to do is determine what regions you are targeting.
- Next, you need to decide which languages you are going to make available to those regions. This is critical, because it allows you to lay out the entire project.
- Use Google’s analytics to determine whether or not your business has an international audience to help you hone in the countries/languages with the greatest opportunity.
2) Where To Host & How To Structure Your Domains:
The considerations of hosting a multilingual site are numerous and complex as challenges can arise no matter where you host.
Choices when targeting multilingual and multi regional audiences are generally split between three main options, though each comes with its own individual benefits and challenges.
So how do you decide where and how to structure your domains and what are the pros and cons of each method?
Hosting Options & Their Pros/Cons:
Using Root Domains: Using root domain i.e. Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD’s) to create completely separate domains managing separate language content.
These type of domains are widely regarded as a best practice option.
Using Subdomains With gTLDs: It is considered as the easiest & least complicated option to use sub-domains to categorize site language and region/audience, hosting under a Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD).
For example: fr.example.org
Subdirectories & Subfolders: As the most economical option, using subfolders or subdirectories with Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD’s) enables you to place all content onto one site, then use subfolders to split content into separate languages and regions.
So Which Hosting Option Is Best?
- We’ve now outlined the pros and cons of the most popular methods for geotargeting in a URL or domain, but, which is the best option for you?
- The answer to this question entirely depends on your organization behavior and unique audience and targeting considerations.
- Top-level domains are a strong indicator to Google, so they can be a good option.
Important Information About Top Level Domains:
- Some domains are generic and others are location-specific.
- According to Google, these are the Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) which do not specify a area or country.
- Google treats the following as gTLDs that can be geotargeted in Webmaster Tools.
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs):
Regional Top-Level Domains (rTLDs):
According to Google, these domains are associated with a region, but they treat them as top level as well (much like .com or .org).
Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (gccTLDs):
According to Google, these domains are associated with a country code. Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .tv, .me etc.) as gTLDs, as we've found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted.
Keep in mind that Google is always changing this list. Also, this list is specific to the Google search engine.
Google Webmaster Tool Geotargeting:
Google Webmaster Tools allows for manual geotargeting of gTLDs (such as .com & .net) with the Geographic Target tool.
To set up geotargeting in Webmaster Tools, follow these steps:
- On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want
- Under Site configuration, click Settings
- In the Geographic target section, select the option you want. If you want to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region, select Unlisted.
Learn how you can use the geographic targeting tool in Webmaster Tools to associate your site with a particular region:
To learn more about geotargeting click here.
3) Server Location:
- One often mentioned factor in SEO is website response times.
- Many websites uses content distributed networks to serve your site as quickly as possible regardless of physical server location.
- Cloud content distribution networks alleviate the need to worry overmuch about physical server location.
4) Where To Focus -The Language Or Region:
- Are you attempting to target by country or language?
- Language targeting might be best if your product or service is information based then your site needs to be language-centric.
- On the other hand, if you ship your product, geographical location is important to consider. In this case national focus is more appropriate.
5) Hreflang Tags: A Must In Your Arsenal:
Now that we’ve discussed region, URL structure and geotargeting in Webmaster Tools, it is time to talk about hreflang markup.
The Hreflang attribute is simple a way of telling the search engine that this is a different language version of a page.
The rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” annotation is used to help Google identify which URLs should be served to which visitors based on language and geographic location.
It is important to note that there are specific hreflang supported values for language and region. For example:
- de: German content, independent of region
- en-GB: English content, for GB users
- de-ES: German content, for users in Spain
The X-Default Hreflang Attribute Value:
So, what happens when someone visits your site from a country that you don’t have a landing page for? Perhaps you’d want them to land on a generic home page, or a page where they can select their country or language.
Thanks to a new bit of markup from Google called “x-default”, you can now specify a default page for users outside your target regions.
You might have a cluster of HTML link tags that look like this:
- <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-gb” hreflang=”en-gb” />
- <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-us” hreflang=”en-us” />
- <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-au” hreflang=”en-au” />
- <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”x-default” />
Above, http://example.com would be the default page for users outside of Great Britain, the United States or Australia.
6) Different Meta Information For Each Page:
- When it comes to the meta information on these pages, it is generally a good idea to vary them based on language and region.
- Use distinct Meta Title and Description for each page.
- Your Meta information should include your targeted keyword.
7) User IP & Use Agent Detection:
- User agent detection is the process of detecting the device a person is using and delivering content based on the best practices for that device.
- IP location detection is the practice of detecting the location of a user and delivering content based on what is more relevant for that IP location.
- If you implement this correctly, there is a probability that you will lower bounce rates, increase conversions and show the user what they are looking for more quickly.
This is a very common practice for mobile optimization (as we often detect location and device), but it is also important for multilingual and multiregional SEO.
Multilingual SEO: Things To Remember
1) Language Recognition:
- Stick to only one language per page
- Avoid side-by-side translations
- Use the same language for all elements of the page: headers, sidebars and menus etc.
2) URL Structure:
Language-specific extensions are often used on multilingual websites to help users (and crawlers) to identify the sections of the website they are on and the language the page is in.
But what if you want to create URLs with characters other than English? Here’s how to do it right:
- Use UTF-8 encoding for non-English characters.
- Make sure your UTF-8 encoded URLs are properly escaped when linked from within your content i.e. If a URL contains an “é”, which is a non-English character: http://www.website.ca/fr/contént.html
Here’s how it will look properly escaped: http://www.website.ca/fr/cont%C3%A9nt.html
3) Crawling & Indexing:
- Avoid redirects based on user’s perceived language, they could prevent both users and search engines from looking at more pages on your site.
- Keep the content for each language on separate URL's.
- Cross-link page by page.
For example: Hotels.com gives the user direct access to the desired language via a mega dropdown menu. The language status consistently remains as a tool and status indicator.
4) Keep the content for each language on separate URLs.
5) Organize pages in same language together and put them into different country-level domains or sub directories or sub domains.
6) Use both localized titles and descriptions for each page. This might require extra research, but is worth the extra time!
7) Make sure you even remember to translate alt tags!
8) Make sure comments are translated, too, so clients feel confident about posting a product review or engaging in dialogue.
9) Add the site to Google Webmaster Tool & set geotargeting for each part to indicate their targeted countries.
If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.