International content marketing strategies

Domain name extensions map Europe Cities and Countries

Multilingual SEO in Europe

Millions of companies now trade internationally and the starting point is their websites.  Internet marketing is therefore a key component of any marketing strategy. For SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to work effectively, it has to address both the on-page SEO and high quality content marketing to make your website appear as high as possible on search engines, particularly Google which around 90% of Europeans use to search the net.

Whilst this is true for every website, there are additional considerations for international SEO in Europe and some of these are examined below.  According to research on content marketing in Europe, “97% of European marketers believe in the power of content marketing.” – making it the marketing strategy with the highest score by far in their research.  To this end, nearly three quarters of all international businesses are increasing the content (and the marketing) of their websites, creating one of the most significant advances in international marketing to date.
 

Know your target countries

As with any marketing campaign, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the European countries in which you wish to do business before the start of your campaign.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • The spoken language.  English is spoken in many more countries than just the United Kingdom, as is French (for example, parts of Canada and Switzerland, Mauritius and Algeria), German (including Austria, parts of Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg) and Spanish (including many South American countries).  Consider whether you wish to expand to other countries, or stick to the main European countries of Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • Marketing and Advertising Regulations. There has been some global harmonisation of advertising regulations, especially within the European Union (EU), but it is best to check specific regulations within each country separately to avoid possible problems later.
  • Culture and customs.  Each country has its own customs, from religious or other festivals and public holidays, through to the significance of particular colours (important when it comes to designing logos and web pages). Being aware of important festivals or public holidays is essential when it comes to having seasonal promotional campaigns, for instance.
     

Use native speakers

One simple example that demonstrates the importance of using native speakers to write quality content in each language is with the simple word, “you”.  In English, the same word is used in every context – singular, plural, formal and informal.  This is not the case in other European languages such as French, German and Spanish, which differentiate according to whom the words are addressed.  While the formal “you” is a safe bet, a native speaker will understand which “you” to use and this will help your content be well received. Do a Google translate of “you” into Spanish and it suggests 16 different possible translations, that should be sufficient to show you that a professional SEO translator is required!

Yet a further consideration is the use of accents.  Whilst German, French and Spanish all use accents which change the pronunciation and sometimes the meaning of some words, accents are not used in English.

While many people omit accents when searching in Google, we recommend always including accents in your content, as Google’s smart enough to know what people meant to search for and places correct spelling and grammar above having an exact keyword when that keyword is spelt wrongly (which omitting an accent from a keyword essentially makes it).  The exception to this is in URLs, where it’s best to transliterate accents, so é would become e, for example, as some browsers don’t display accented URLs well and they also don’t copy neatly into emails or Word documents.
 

Use local domains or sub-domains

If you’re at the domain name buying stage, we recommend that you use separate domain names or separate sub-domains for optimal multilingual SEO.  If you’re targeting specific cities, then it’s now possible to buy domain name extensions for some of the largest cities in Europe, as well as specific domain extensions for different countries.  The map at the top of this page shows both the European cities that are available as domain extensions and the appropriate extensions for different countries.

One of your internet marketing strategies involves a decision about whether to have different domain names for each country. If you have local domain names for each country, you will appear higher for visitors searching from that country.   Alternatively, you can use an international domain name - example.com, example.net or example.eu, for instance and local sub-domains like fr.example.com, then use something called geotargeting to tell Google which country each of those sub-domains is targeting to attract more customers from specific countries for each sub-domain.  If you have a physical address in each country, then ensure you include it in an obvious location on your website (perhaps as a footer on each page) together with a local phone number.

International Marketing Management

When you want to find out how to do international marketing, it is best to find a company with the right kind of experience and expertise to help.  The emphasis must be on quality from the word go. This means ensuring that each page of your website is well-designed, easily navigated by your visitors and sufficiently sown with keywords (but not over-planted!) to assist in appearing on internet searches through on-page SEO.  The content must be well-written and the importance of using native language speakers has already been discussed.

Having established the right kind of quality content on your website, it’s also essential to build links via great content that maintain the same level of quality, with original, well-written articles on related sites, attractive infographics and catchy social media or directory submissions to ensure that your business thrives in the competitive world of international content marketing. 

Please contact the team at Indigoextra if you would like to know more about how we can help with your multilingual content marketing campaign.

International content marketing

Do local keyword research

This is one of the most critical areas for multilingual content marketing. If you simply translate content, then there’s a high risk that you will end up targeting keywords that aren’t as relevant in other languages, resulting in poor SEO.  Take the table below, which shows the monthly searches for ‘last minute flights’ and related terms in English, then a French translation and the monthly searches in that language.

English Keyword

Monthly Searches

French Keyword (Translated)

Monthly Searches

last minute flights

165,000

vols dernière minute

480

last minute travel

74,000

voyage dernière minute

4,400

last minute flight

3,600

vol dernière minute

1,600

cheap last minute travel

110

voyage dernière minute pas cher

8,100

If you’ve done your keyword research in English and decide ‘last minute flights’ is your top priority keyword as it has 165,000 monthly searches and simply translate this into French, you’ll be optimizing your site for a term that only has 480 monthly searches. On your French website, you would be far better to make “voyage dernière minute pas cher” your top priority keyword, as it has over 16 times as many searches, even though in English, the equivalent translated term is practically not used.

Some keywords simply do not translate well in a multilingual context, especially when there is a 30 or 55 character limit for Pay Per Click or metatag titles. German is a case in point, as this article on how to do German SEO shows.

German words can be a considerable length, because words that are separate in other languages, such as “Land transport permit transfer of competence regulation”, can be translated in German to become “Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung” – try fitting that in your PPC title!
 

Using Google's Keyword Tool Internationally

If you use Google's Keyword Suggest Tool (which is free, but requires you to have a Google Adwords account), then there's a bug in it which it's important for you to be aware of.

Let's say that you look up 'hotel' as your keyword.  The next thing you will probably do is use their international targeting options shown below.

Targeting international markets

Let's say that you want to target all Spanish speaking countries, it would be natural for you to select 'Spanish', as shown below, where you'd discover that there are around 1,000,000 searches a month for 'hotel'.

Spanish travel keywords

If you're doing SEO in more than one language, then you might select 'German' next:

German Google SEO keyword suggest

That's strange you'd think, there are 1,000,000 searches from German speakers too.  How about French speakers?

You would discover that there are 1,000,000 again!

Basically the language setting on Google's keyword tool is only used to help Google suggest which words are relevant, however if a word exists in multiple languages, the total search volume will still be shown across all languages.  This means that only using the volumes shown under 'language' is not an accurate measure for total traffic as multlilingual keywords will give much higher volumes than keywords that are only used in a single language.

In order to get accurate searches, you have to select a country, as shown in the 2 images below.

Spain SEO Management
Germany SEO Management

If you are completing an international marketing campaign in only one language, but across multiple countries, we recommend selecting the language, but also selecting all the countries who speak that language (e.g. for French, you would select France, Canada, Congo, Madagascar, etc.)