Global Domination by Multilingual Marketing and SEO
This is a guest post by Christian Arno of Lingo24.
With international markets, content and localization go hand-in-hand. Sure, over 50% of the European Union speaks English to a native or fluent standard, but almost half don’t speak it to any reasonable standard.
Indeed, three quarters of the world’s population speak no English whatsoever and even the ones who can speak English to a reasonable standard simply prefer to communicate in their own tongue.
With this in mind,
the need to establish foreign language equivalents of your company website is imperative
if you want to tap into new markets.
Localizing the content of your company website should only be done by professionally qualified translators working into their native tongue. Fluency isn’t enough – the intricacies and nuances of language are such that only a native-speaking linguist should localize your important business communications.
Indeed, this even extends to specific language dialects. The differences between Swiss German and German (Germany) aren’t significant, but there’s little room for complacency when you’re targeting international markets. For example, Germany use the ‘ß’ (Eszett) symbol to denote a double ‘s’ sound, but in Swiss German, they tend to just use ‘ss’ in stead.
Moreover, the use of present perfect (Perfekt) for past events is much more frequent in Switzerland than in Germany where past simple (Präteritum) is preferred. This applies particularly to marketing texts where the reader is addressed directly.
Similar differences exist in the various French, Spanish, Portuguese and English dialects across the world. Déjeuner is ‘lunch’ in France, but ‘breakfast’ in Switzerland and Belgium. And coche in Spain is a car, whereas in many Latin American countries it is a baby stroller. And for those who speak UK English, a baby stroller is a pushchair or a buggy.
The point here is simple.
Before you even consider your international SEO efforts, you have to first talk to your potential foreign client base in their own language.
So, with a fully localized website in your target market, how exactly do you begin the SEO process? Well, the good news is it isn’t all that different from your domestic optimization initiatives.
However, the key is not to translate your keywords from English. Even a correct translation from a native speaker may not be what people use to search for products and services locally – they may use colloquialisms, abbreviations or, indeed, a synonym that means exactly the same thing.
In the same way as you research what words and phrases rank highly in your domestic market, e.g. through Google’s keyword finder, you have to use the in-country equivalent for each of your target markets. These should then be incorporated into your translated/localized website.
Further to this, there is an argument that says you can actually rise quicker on foreign search engines than on English language ones. English is the most dominant language on the Web in terms of content, but Asia accounts for 40% of the world’s internet users and China has around a third more internet users than the US. Most of the world’s internet users are native speakers of a language other than English.
This disparity between the web’s dominant language and the world’s dominant non-English languages means that there’s less competition for key search terms in other languages
– which in turn means you may find that you hit the giddy heights of Google’s top five much sooner than on Google.com or Google.co.uk. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.
About the author
Christian Arno is the founder of global translations company Lingo24, who specialize in website localization. Lingo24 has clients in over sixty countries and translated over thirty million words in 2009, resulting in a turnover of over $6m USD.