Although multilingual search engine optimisation (MSEO) is no longer a novelty, many websites do not utilise its full potential to achieve a top ranking in search engines. The main reason? Their SEO is not correctly aligned for all the languages offered on their website. This issue is easily solved, however, with the right expertise and helpful tools. These five most common mistakes are the ones you need to avoid:
1. Translation is not the same thing as localisation
Do you know the difference between translation and localisation? We agree that it’s not always easy to distinguish between them at first, especially if you don’t work in the field, so here is a brief explanation: During localisation, the content of a text is not only translated but also adapted to the respective target market. This includes a cultural as well as linguistic alignment of the entire text – from pictures and graphics to formats (time, date, units of measurement, etc.) and nuances of language such as regional dialects.
Tip: Where necessary, make sure that your web content is not only translated but also localised and aligned with your SEO strategy.
2. Your message is not reaching its target audience
To develop a successful content strategy, first and foremost you need to determine whom you want to address with your content. This point involves far more than just the three following questions:
Who is my target audience (age, gender, profession, education, etc.)? In welchem Land befindet sich mein Zielpublikum? Welche Sprache spricht mein Zielpublikum?
For example, are you thinking of launching your product in Russia? For which search engine should you be programming your site, Yandex or Google? Which algorithms are the search engines currently applying? In addition to Russian, do you need translations into other languages spoken in the region, such as Ukrainian?
Tip: Bring a localisation specialist on board if you don’t have the necessary expertise, language skills, capacity or resources yourself.
3. One-to-one translation of keywords
Oh, if only it were so simple! Keywords should never be translated literally; they always need to be researched and redefined in each target language. This is the only way to ensure that your website will show up in searches in the respective foreign languages and rank well based on the defined keywords.
4. Overlooking “hidden” details
The ease with which your website is found and how well it ranks with the respective search engines depends on a variety of different factors. Some of them, such as keywords, appear obvious. However, if you want an optimal multilingual SEO strategy, the following factors must not be ignored under any circumstances – and must also be adapted to align with each individual language:
– Meta titles and meta descriptions – URLs and permalinks – Pictures and captions – Page speed – Contact forms – Newsletter and ad pop-ups (pop-ups in general)
5. Ignoring link building
Generating what are known as backlinks from other websites to your own page not only helps your ranking, but can also strengthen the authoritativeness of your website – provided, of course, that the links come from credible and reputable sources. These sources will vary from country to country and must be adapted for multilingual websites. Make sure you don’t forget one important rule, though: Quality over quantity!
Warning: Backlinks can be negatively evaluated by search engines under certain circumstances. Look into the various link building strategies that can have a positive effect on your website.