We talk a lot about the importance of translating your content and marketing messaging to reach a global audience. But if you really want to take your brand global, you’ll want to look into multilingual SEO too. This includes everything from the coding and structure of your website to the words used in image descriptions, and of course, your main content.
By optimising your website for different languages you’re showing your customers that you care about their online experience. In fact, a 2020 study showed that over 75% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product, or service, from a site written in their native language.
But where there are opportunities for growth, there are also challenges you’ll face when optimising your site for international users. Luckily, we’ve created an ultimate guide to multilingual SEO, including any potential pitfalls.
Some Language Stats
Before we take a deep dive into the world of multilingual SEO, here are some stats to open your eyes to the opportunities of international search engine optimization.
As of April this year, there are 5.18 billion internet users worldwide, which is around 64% of the global population. But that’s not all — this number has grown by 147 million in the last 12 months and it’s estimated that by 2025, there are likely to be 7.5 billion global users. Just think about the potential growth for your brand if you could tap into that!
With Asia being the top continent for internet users worldwide, it probably won’t come as much surprise that Chinese is the second most used language online after English. That’s followed by Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian, French, Japanese, Russian, and German. So while your brand could get by on just using English, there’s a whole host of international, potential customers waiting for a company to go that extra mile.
Quick note: over 50 countries have more than one official language, like Isreal, Belgium and Switzerland. Multilingual SEO is meant to explicitly target users where the content in the native language really matters.
The Benefits of Multilingual SEO
We’ve touched on some of the benefits of multilingual SEO already, but let’s take a closer look at how implementing it can propel your brand internationally.
Reach New Markets
This is the most obvious, but as the above stats show, these new markets are not only huge but offer a vast amount of potential for your brand. Revenue is always going to be the bottom line for a business, but expanding into new markets will bring a whole new element to your brand awareness campaigns too.
If you optimize your website correctly for these new markets, languages and regions, you’ll see increases across the board for international search engines. Although Google is the most prominent almost everywhere in the world, there are others that you should keep an eye on — Bing is becoming more widespread with its new AI chat tool, for example.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Another great benefit of Multilingual SEO is the competitive edge it’ll give you within your industry. Although more and more brands are beginning to see the value in investing in this marketing strategy, it’s still not as widespread as you might think — unless we’re talking big name brands like ASOS or Amazon, of course.
Many companies will opt only for translation of their sites, so going that step further by implementing localization, transcreation and multilingual SEO will not only show your customers you care, but it means you’ll be ahead of the curve.
Improving User Experience
These days, most search engines — especially Google — are all about user experience (UX). This encompasses everything from how easy it is to navigate the site to the tone of voice used in the content. And as we mentioned, three-quarters of internet users would prefer to search, and shop, in their own language, but this extends to how the site is set out too.
When implementing multilingual SEO, it’s more than just the language that is important. We’re talking currency (an obvious one for e-commerce sites), localized external links and imagery that resonates with the new target region.
This all works together to offer your users a relatable experience, meaning you’re likely to see increased engagement and drastically reduced bounce rates.
*Bounce rate: A measurement showing the number of users that viewed only a single page on your site.
Building Trust and Credibility
Not only will implementing multilingual SEO help with user experience, but it also proves to your new target audience that you care about and appreciate their country and culture. Localization is a huge part of multilingual SEO — it means adapting not just your marketing messaging, but the brand itself, to be culturally appropriate to this new market.
This attention to detail will help you build trust and credibility with international customers — something Google is particularly hot on these days. But never mind the search engines, this leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, meaning you’re far more likely to see returning visitors to your site. So it’s a win win!
Hopefully, we’ve shown how optimizing your content for different languages can help you tap into new markets, drive more traffic to your website, and, ultimately, boost your conversions. But before you dive in headfirst, it’s important to understand the challenges that come with this strategy. How do you select the right keywords? What about duplicate content? And how do you handle technical issues? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In part two of this guide, we’ll focus on the challenges of multilingual SEO, and how best to overcome them.