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
To manage your international marketing, start by creating a content marketing plan that shows what content to create each month, keywords to target and the purpose it serves.
Alternatively, you may wish to work with an international marketing 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.