Nowadays, nearly everyone running a commercial website can succeed running a product store or a service provider on the Internet. It became possible thanks to the high power of the Web, allowing possibly any online entrepreneur to be engaging the millions of potential customers all over the world. And addressing the multilingual audiences across the borders will naturally need you to add multilingual SEO to website (otherwise international SEO).
That way, running a proper Search Engine Optimization on the multilingual (international) level can quickly become even more efficient than a precisely targeted local SEO. Not to say that when you add international SEO to website, you are merely opening the door to the innumerable myriads of different opportunities for your online project (particularly if compared with the conventional brick-and-mortar commercial doings). Taking it for granted - the necessity to add SEO to website allowing it to stand out and be addressed to the global audience has recently become a MUST for possibly any online business owner, willing and ready for a really tremendous success.
Before you start
First of all, before you can take a well-formed decision to add SEO to website on the international level, you will need to establish yourself as a leader dominating a certain market niche. Once your new business completes this primary goal in one language, the next stuff to do is going out addressing to some precisely targeted audiences in some other countries. Apparently, that process starts with translating your web pages into a second and third language, while keeping in mind a dire need to add SEO to website on each subsequent multilingual level. So, let’s finally consider the matter step by step.
One thing at a time
Very often the companies are rushing out to launch their websites in multiple languages from the very beginning. Considering you’ve got a really large budget for the startup period, the idea may seem sound. But here comes a caution. Imagine, we have successfully launched a web store that is displayed on the top of the search engine result pages (the SERPs), for example in English. And is there any guarantee that our foreign versions, for instance, translated into Spanish or German, to perform as well? I think not. So, when should we start this multilingual expansion? I believe that the best time is once you have already launched and managed to maintain a successful website in English:
Have a business website model that works well in English
Put the right focus on a reasonable CMS and website structure
Be smart to launch only one new language at a time (doing so, you’ll have enough time to add SEO to website in that language, and hence get an exceptional ranking in the SERPs before entering the next multilingual level)
Handle a proper keyword research for each target language you are planning to add (that way, pick only relevant keywords having a high search traffic, but still weak organic competition)
Each newly translated version of your website must include at least a couple of your blog pages, or any other shareable content (do it as soon as possible, while promoting your web pages through a multilingual link building campaign)
Double-check control over everything
Going multilingual, you should consider taking a single multi-language friendly Content Management System (CMS). No need to handle several different databases at a time, as I recommend keeping the same CMS to translate your written content over and over again. There are many modern Content Management Systems allowing you to create numerous websites in different languages sharing a single database. Among the others, I suggest using one the following: Joomla, Magento, WordPress, or Drupal. That way, you can have some good advantages, as follows:
reduced hosting space, with much cheaper hosting expenses (remember, Google makes no difference for your host location, as the search engine uses another signs to indicate your actual target audience)
efficient stock control over different versions or multiple websites
wholesale update for all your websites at the same time, should you handle a redesign or development for a single one
I recommend considering the following possible options to build up your website structure:
Top-level and country coded domains (for example .de for Germany)
Each global-level domain should have sub-domains
Sub-folders coming for every global-level domain
Consider URL parameters
Control the language with cookies
As for me, choosing country-coded domains to add SEO to website has several advantages. Having a country geotargeting is great for branding, as every user will be told at once, that your international business is serious enough to be focusing on each particular state individually. After all, a domain name rich with keywords can be easily translated for each country to make online promotion for your core product or service even more focused (note, this option will not do, if you are dealing with some multiple ranges, which are already focused on a single keyword or a key phrase).
The rest of global optimization stuff I used to add SEO to website of my own.
Having a single CMS database is great. But it’s still worth checking if the overall configuration is fully correct. That way, you can use hreflang tags telling Google exactly what language (not country) it’s each web page is actually written in.
Considering some translation peculiarities, particularly regarding flawless grammar appreciated by Google, you should use only the most correct writing grammar for every section of your website. But delving deeper I noticed that grammar rules might sometimes be neglected, purely in favor of technical optimization. I mean that many websites with high ranking are often using many poor grammar keywords or phrases, which still prove to be very relevant and fitting. So, I recommend following strict grammar rules for your full paragraphs of text, and everywhere else. Just remember that for your Metadata, URLs, and Anchor text you are free to put a particular emphasis on the searchable key phrases solely, rather their grammar.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight it once again - using a standard translation usually skipping a lot of critical elements is the worst way to add SEO to website. To achieve an excellent international optimization for bilingual search, I recommend to have only accurate website translation, which incorporates a thorough link building and an in-depth keyword research. And never rush out trying to cover several languages at once, as a purely successful international business online needs doing everything persistently, one thing after another.