As your ecommerce company begins to scale globally, the first order of business is to help audiences in new regions find you online. Search engine optimization, or SEO, plays a key role in that strategy.
While you’ve likely made significant investments in SEO for your origin website, building value and rank in search engines in global markets has a different set of challenges. Use these three core best practices to overcome them:
As you’d expect, international SEO also depends on selecting and optimizing for the keywords that international visitors are likely to search for online. When you’re building an SEO strategy for your multilingual site, ensuring that you have translated versions of those keywords will help local and regional search engines index and rank the site more accurately.
When translating their sites, some B2B businesses look to save costs by only translating certain portions of the site or building localized microsites that are meant to serve international markets. But if SEO is valuable to your business, it’s ideal to translate the entire site to not only build in-market brand trust, but to help feed search engines with keyword-rich content that will help your relevancy and rank.
Don’t forget to work with experienced translators, too. They’ll ensure that keywords aren’t just translated verbatim, but that they’re localized with the cultural nuance or language variations that are appropriate for the market. And the best ones can store your translated content in a special translation memory database so you can use it countless times—and in multiple channels for added SEO value—without having to pay to translate it more than once.
The more seamless of an experience you can create for your online guests, the better, so most companies will benefit from connecting and integrating all of their global online properties by ensuring they’re thoroughly cross-linked.
Search engines will value these internal links for their strong relevance, and customers will value them for making their user experience smooth and easy to navigate in their preferred language. Also, consider implementing capabilities that allow your site to detect what language your visitors are likely to speak, and help direct them to the localized version of your site quickly and easily.
You should also consider hreflang implementation. It’s a website protocol that includes metadata, sitemaps and link data. Ensuring that it’s set up properly along with the other settings on your site will allow people searching on the web to know that your site exists in alternate languages.
Beyond ensuring you have a sound international SEO strategy, ecommerce companies can make some simple technical adjustments to their sites to help search engines find and surface translated versions.
Submitting localized site versions directly to search engines—including sites that serve specific markets like Russia’s Yandex and South Korea’s Naver—will help them appear more quickly in organic search results. Businesses should also be sure to deploy multilingual sitemaps, as search engines use them to help determine the relevance and rank of multilingual sites.
Many companies overlook the importance of translating metadata, but titles and descriptions, image alt text (a text description that can be added to an image’s HTML tag on a web page), and other “under the hood” information across your site can be important SEO fuel. Localizing this material helps search engines know that your site contains valuable, relevant and high-quality content that deserves prominent placements in search results.
International SEO doesn’t have to be complicated and these best practices often can be implemented quickly and easily for your global sites.
Great international SEO is part marketing, part cultural knowledge and part technical expertise. But making the investment in optimizing and implementing these core best practices can help ensure that global customers can find your brand anywhere and everywhere around the world.
Craig Witt is chief revenue officer of MotionPoint, a provider of technology and services designed to help business sell online to international markets. Follow him and MotionPoint on Twitter @motionpoint.