A good place to start your global marketing efforts is to adapt your website to multiple international markets. But what good is a localized website if your audiences can't seem to find it? You've put a lot of time and money into catering your website to fit your customers' needs (that's great!), so why not take it a step further and invest in search engine optimization?

Because search engine algorithms are constantly shifting and getting more complicated, you need to prevent your website from getting buried in the sea of competitors' sites. Multilingual SEO (MSEO), in particular, can get a little tricky if you don't have the proper tools and knowledge.

If you want to boost your website traffic overseas, you need a localized strategy for each market. Here are five SEO tips to keep in mind during the process.

1. Know your customers

Knowing your customer may seem an obvious prerequisite, but thinking like your customers can be challenging if you don't speak their language or understand their culture, attitudes, and thought process. People in the US may like your products for one reason, while people in China may find it pleasing for other reasons.

Say you sell power tools. Research may show that people in one locale appreciate your products for their strength, but elsewhere they may appreciate their prices; accordingly, Web surfers in the first region may search for "durable power tools," whereas those in the other locale may search for "affordable power tools." That's why understanding your markets' thought process and demographics come into play when you're choosing keywords.

You want to understand your markets' languages as well. Keywords need to be in the target audiences' native language and localized to accurately reflect the way locals think about your product and industry.

2. Research keywords and phrases

Selecting relevant keywords and phrases is not as simple as choosing words in your source language and then translating them. Each word or key phrase will need to be re-created for the target region, carefully considering culture-specific user behavior. It also needs to go through a thorough local review process. Only an in-country, native-language-speaking global marketing expert can tell you which terms are appropriate and target-specific.

Moreover, the specialized terms that your organization uses internally are probably not likely what your customers will search for. For example, "low fare" is a travel-related industry term, but your customers would more likely search for a "cheap flight."

You should also consider preferred search engines and how they differ from country to country. Google may seem the obvious choice, but in Russia, for example, the dominant search engine is Yandex. Learning about local search engines and their algorithms is key to ranking in their search results.

3. Adapt your content

High-quality content is most likely to be found and shared. That's true for all languages.

Make sure your tone and style align with what audiences prefer in each locale—that is especially true in the case of humor. You don't want to leave a wrong impression of your brand or, worse yet, to offend anyone visiting your website.

The more people enjoy your website and share your content, the better you'll rank in search engines and the easier it will be to find your site. Therefore, ensure that all your content is localized to the local language and aligns with local values.

To encourage further sharing, you may want to include multimedia localization—localizing videos and images for target locales.

4. Perform regular testing; monitor site traffic

As with everything you do in marketing, you need to measure your results and continue to gauge the effectiveness of your MSEO efforts.

Use tools such as Google Analytics to measure website traffic. Look at organic search rates, keywords that referred visitors to your website, where people are coming from, and more. All that information will let you know whether your keywords are striking a chord with local audiences.

If they aren't resonating, you may need to do some market research to see why. It could be that you need to do some further outreach and content creation. The more localized content you have for a region, the more likely those in that regions will be able to find you and your website.

5. Seek out the professionals

If this process seems daunting, there are places you can go to get quality MSEO services. Because of the nature of this work, you need an in-country SEO expert. If you don't have the resources internally, you can look to most language service providers. They offer this service and already have resources lined up to help you find the most relevant keywords for your industry and brand. They can even incorporate MSEO into your overall translation process and workflow.

Don't let your website be lost in translation. Guide your global customers to your website with proper multilingual SEO tactics and start seeing the revenue roll in.


  • Multilingual SEO is more than taking traditional SEO tactics and translating keywords into the appropriate language.
  • To properly execute search engine optimization on a global level, you need to localize your keywords and understand how each target locale searches for your product or service offering.
  • Proper multilingual SEO execution will keep your website from being lost in translation. Work with in-country, native-speaking marketing experts to be successful.

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image of Rachel Chilson

Rachel Chilson is an online marketer at Sajan, a language translation and localization provider with offices around the globe. She is responsible for Sajan's online content strategy and social media efforts.

Twitter: @RachelChilson_

LinkedIn: Rachel Chilson