Top Tips For Multilingual Keyword Research

Keywords have always been an integral part of a website’s functionality and visibility, helping to draw searchers to a company’s online world. When going global with several multilingual websites it is important to tailor the keyword research and optimization strategy to each language in question.

Simply translating what already works, usually from English, rarely achieves the best results. The terms people use to search vary from language to language (naturally), as well as from culture to culture. Investing time in researching and understanding your new customers’ keyword preferences and their culture will maximize your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and ensure it is attracting traffic.

So How Do Keywords Work?
Keywords match the content in a website with the terms or phrases being used in search engines. As people search for a particular product or service, the websites best matching the ‘search criteria’ are listed, with the most relevant (and best optimized) appearing first.

Naturally, every website wants to be at the top of that search list (search engine results page, or SERP) and getting there requires a combination of different SEO strategies. Working the right keywords into a website’s copy is the cheapest and most effective way to increase online presence, and it applies to all websites in all languages.

Choosing The ‘Right’ Keywords
The process of identifying the ‘right’ keywords for a website can seem counter-intuitive. Rather than using technical product terminology, people tend to search the web in more day-to-day terms.

Online tools, such as Google AdWords, are great for identifying key search terms. A search for specialist tea, for example, brings up 1,300 hits; however, a search for fancy tea brings up 6,600. Where Google AdWords excels is in pointing out that special tea – not a million miles away from the first search – produces over 18,000 searches. Making the tiniest of tweaks to a website’s copy can have an impressive impact on a website’s SEO.

Google AdWords is also great for identifying market competition. Despite being almost three times as popular in searches, special tea has less than half the amount of competition that fancy tea does; so which phrase would a tea vendor best use on their website? And the principle can apply to any sector or topic; knowing how consumers search is just as important as giving them the content they want when they get to your website.

Multilingual Keywords
Exactly the same principles apply when creating a website in another language. Working with a professional localization and internet marketing agency is worth every cent and highly recommended. Simply translating a crib-sheet of English keywords is not enough, and foreign language internet marketing agencies provide the vital cultural insight and the language skills needed to guarantee optimization across all your target languages.

Key phrases can even vary between countries sharing a common language. For example, in Spain, coche is commonly used for car, whereas in Latin America, it is used for a baby-stroller. Losing potential business for such a simple mistake can be a major optimization problem.

Current and Creative Content
Keeping your website content creative and up-to-date is a given for any successful website. Blogs and news sections are great avenues to keep the website current, as well as to boost its SEO. Keep abreast of issues both internationally and locally (in the target cultures), and work the relevant keywords into topical articles; their currency helps the website’s search engine rank position and the keywords help to attract interested consumers.

Other Important Keyword Rules
Once the ‘right’ keywords have been identified, they should be incorporated throughout the website. Google prefers a keyword density of around two to four percent, so apply the power of one to your keywords; once in the title, once in the description, and once or twice within the article…and in the URL as well. But as with everything, less is more – you should aim to optimize each web page for no more than two keywords. Articles that read like a hit-list of keywords are not only boring for readers, but can be flagged-up by search engines as spam.

Honing the content of your website through a few simple language choices can truly maximize its search engine performance, and the effects can be seen surprisingly quickly!

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