There are a whole host of things to consider when you first launch your business into new markets. For a while now, companies have understood the need for a local language website when selling internationally, and they have also begun to realise the benefits of localising their content and website for their target markets. Instead of a single piece of content being translated word for word, companies are now adapting their content to resonate and engage, allowing them to compete more effectively against local competitors. However, one thing that is often not considered at launch is how you set your site up to achieve online visibility, something that is key for maximising success.
We spoke to our strategic partner Translation Laboratory and asked them for their advice. They are a specialist website translation company that helps launch businesses into new global markets. They weave SEO into the translation process and review cultural conversion barriers to leave their clients with websites that resonate locally and are built for organic visibility.
Nicola Carmyllie the Managing Director from Translation Laboratory shares her best practices on increasing your websites visibility in new global markets.
SEO is often thought about as something that should be done once a website has been built. However, there are some aspects of a site’s infrastructure that must be considered before a website is launched to avoid extensive rework. Researching which keywords you need to rank for after a website launch also means a lot of content may need to be rewritten, which leads to extra translation costs. But how do you go about building in SEO at the start?
Here are our top three SEO recommendations when launching into new markets.
1. Carry out localised keyword research
Unfortunately, simply translating domestic keywords will not ensure online visibility in new countries. This strategy doesn’t consider the search volume in different markets or country-unique keywords that may have high search volume but no domestic equivalent terminology.
The only way to ensure you are targeting all the relevant keywords in a new market, is to use mother-tongue linguists who also have a sound understanding of SEO and the process of keyword research. These keywords can then be built into the translation to optimise your local language content to rank in your target markets.
2. Pick a site structure that is right for your business and SEO needs
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how you structure your international websites. We find our clients benefit from choosing a domain structure that is right for their business and future expansion plans. There are three options to choose from and they all vary in terms of the following criteria:
- Strength of location signalling they give search engines
- The trust they instil in users
- The link authority, which is a ranking factor based on the quality of inbound links to a website, that is shared between the different websites.
Here are the main three options:
ccTLD - Country code top-level domain (example.fr)
This is often the preferred domain option as it not only sends a strong signal to search engines that you are targeting a specific country, but it also establishes trust with the user. The disadvantageof this structure is that it doesn’tenable link authorityto be shared across the local websites. Essentially this means all new websites in a ccTLD structure will have to build up their own link authority, which may take some time and impacton your rankings in the short term.
With this structure, shared link authority of the top-level domain is the main benefit. This means any inbound links across all the country sites will benefit each subsequent site because that link authority is held within the top-level domain. This will create a positive impact on rankings in all markets. However, this domain structure creates less trust and is also a weaker location signal than the other two options.
With a sub-domain approach, there is a degree of location signalling,as you can host separate sub-domains in separate countries.There is also some link authority sharing from the main domain, but certainly not as much as you would see with the sub-folder approach.The disadvantage to this structure is that there will still be some linking activity required as you won’t benefit from all of the link authority of the ccTLD.
3. Ensure your hreflang is implemented correctly
When clients come to us with existing international websites, we often find their hreflang has been implemented incorrectly. Hreflang is a HTML tag that is added to the source code of a page to signal duplicate content in multiple languages. It helps search engines ensure localised content is served to the right users in the right market. If it is implemented incorrectly, the wrong websites can appear in search engine results pages.
It is also important to implement hreflang correctly for two bits of same-language content that targettwo different countries e.g. French for France versus French for Canada.
Weaving SEO into your website translation is the key to optimising online visibility in new markets and maximising your success. Implementing the three recommendations above will help you ensure you are targeting the right country-relevant terms, your site is structured in the best way for your expansion plans and SEO needs, andlocalised content is shown to the right users.
When it comes to integrating SEO and translation into one workflow, a significant consideration is whether to have one vendor who specialises in search engine-optimised website translation or two vendors, one an SEO specialist and the other a professional translation company. It is important to keep in mind that some digital agencies may be experts in SEO, but they may not have the same expertise when it comes to international site structures or international keyword research. Also, by using a translation agency without SEO expertise, there is the potential for previous SEO work to be overwritten every time you update content.
If you need help with website translation and integrating SEO into your international strategy, contact one of our experts.