There’s a significant opportunity for marketers who take time to understand markets beyond their home territory and deploy search programs that allow them to connect directly with consumers in their native language. “In their native language” is the make or break part of succeeding in a new market, yet too many companies fail to even consider many optimization fundamentals when they are localizing their sites for specific markets.
A global market research report from Common Sense Advisory & Lionbridge reported that 72.4% of consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Fully 72.1% said they spend most or all of their time on sites in their own language. Another study by the Localization Industry Standards Association found that companies can expect to recover $25 of value for every $1 they spend on localizing content.
Companies are using this type of research to justify their localization expenditures. It fascinates me that companies can see the value in localizing their site content, but then don’t allocate any money for optimizing that content so it can be found and rank well in search engines. Make no mistake: this is not request for a global SEO pity party, but more of a call to action for companies to integrate search optimization into their localization workflow.
The image below is a slide from that presentation I gave over ten years ago in a dozen countries at Internet World conferences showing how SEO fits perfectly into localization process. Sadly, no one listened then and only a few listen today. The point is as strong today as it was then: integrate or fail.
The first—and most obvious intersection—is integrating your keyword research into the glossary development phase of the project. Developing the glossary of your “key product terms” is one of the first things your localization firm will develop for you especially if they use translation management tools. Rather than looking at them blankly when they ask you for it, you can start with the list of keywords from your local market. So unless you consulted a crystal ball to decide to enter a market you should have at least a rough list of critical terms in the local language and understand their relative importance via keyword demand.
I strongly suggest you bounce your list of words and search volume against the glossary developed by the localizers to make sure both lists are complete and contain not only linguistically correct words but the most popular keywords used by local searchers.
During the content translation phase things can get a bit tricky. As noted above, translators will use the most appropriate word for that language when they work on the content, pulling from the glossary and their knowledge of the local language. It is important to ensure your localization firm understands the optimal places for local language keywords such as titles, headlines and developing a compelling and action-oriented meta description and first paragraph. While the translator will develop a well-written and linguistically correct piece of copy, they may do so at the expense of keyword inclusion. Remember, they are experts in localization and are unlikely to have much search knowledge.
The last phase is the page and site quality control phase where, if performed correctly, can almost guarantee success in your local SEO project. During step this step language tags are checked as well as ensuring the meta description, anchor text and alt tags were translated. In an optimized quality control process, editors check for keyword prominence and the overall content relevance of the page. However, if unaware of the optimization best practices, editors can unravel optimization integrated in the previous step by removing duplicate uses of keywords or replacing more frequently searched terms with a variant of the word they think is more suitable.
While integration cannot guarantee high rankings or financial success in a local market, integration can significantly reduce post launch optimization and content update costs for site owners. The increased traffic and savings from the economies of scale further solidifies the value of the search team to the organization. With the exponential growth of search usage around the world, companies who can develop compelling, relevant local market content and get it in front of the right audiences can reap true riches from the goldmine of the “interweb.”
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.