Among the many reasons for having a multilingual site is the possibility of showing up at the top of Google searches and or other search engines and get noticed in those new markets. The process used to promote a website to the top spots in a search is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When we talk about this process for a multilingual site, we call it “multilingual SEO”.
Appearing in search engines through search engine optimization is crucial to maximize the reach of our content. But it is not only about reaching a lot of people: we need to put across the right message to the correct audience. What is the role of a good translation in SEO?
People Buy in their Native Language
For any organization trying to access new markets to reach clients in different countries, it must understand that each region and each culture is unique. In this sense, to localize a website we need more than just a plain translation approach. Even extremely talented translators often fail in the SEO translation process because they lack the technical and marketing expertise to know what are the words and terms that will resonate in searches and give you the advantage over your competitors to appear at the top of search results.
Given the choice between buying similar products, 66% of respondents will choose the one with information in their language. For the least competent in English, the preference hovers around 85%.
Source: CSA Research
Several research initiatives have found that it is key to correctly localize your content. A survey of more than 8000 global consumers in 29 countries in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America, found that 76% of online shoppers prefer to buy products with information in their native language. In addition, 40% will never buy from websites in other languages.
The challenge has increased during the pandemic, with the huge global spike in digital buyers and the growth of e-commerce. And while English is still the most popular language in the web, offering content in different languages is still a good strategy to be more competitive and succeed in different regions. In fact, more than 70% of people on the internet speak a language other than English.
In 2020, over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide.
The first step in order to create a successful multilingual site is to identify our ideal target audience. Companies need to know who is interested in their product or service to be able to offer customized information that caters to their needs, without losing sight of the essence of their core values.
We must be flexible with content so that it can attract people all over the world, respecting the peculiarities of each culture so as to avoid expressions that may be considered offensive.
The Pros of Multilingual SEO
If we put our multilingual SEO in the hands of experienced SEO translation professionals, instead of using machine translation or overly literal translations which might obscure our message and may incur in serious mistakes, our website will stand out and achieve:
- Trust and Reliability: A multilingual website creates more trust in potential customers when purchasing or hiring services.
- Professionalism: By improving the company’s perceived image, websites can strengthen the brand and contribute to boost positioning.
- Relevance: Feeling addressed by the content —even if such content was generated in a different country— increases its impact.
- Experience: Websites that “speak the same language” as their audience and respect their culture and traditions improve the online experience of users.
If a company chooses to not localize the buying experience, they risk losing 40% or more of the total addressable market.
Creating an emotional connection with potential customers is only possible if we have real knowledge of their culture. In addition, the same country usually includes multiple communities, and a multilingual SEO may also require multi-regional SEO, to address these differences and complexities.
This approach is vital when hiring translation services that will allow us to transcend borders and bring us closer to diverse markets we wish to enter. Our content will not only be among the first hits in search engines: it will be memorable.