One of the biggest challenges for marketers to increase their online visibility is to have website content in the native language of the visitors. Most of the world’s population is not so conversant with the English language that they find during web surfing. Smart web businesses are increasingly turning to translating their websites into local languages to create compelling content with mass appeal for target audiences. However, the problem of search engine visibility remains as it can be quite difficult to searchers using native language queries to find the websites of their choice. Hence, the importance of multilingual SEO, when done properly, elevates the site’s visibility and substantially increases traffic. Some common challenges associated with multilingual SEO are:
#1. Appropriate Content
In addition to having content that is relevant and of interest to the audience to whom the website is being targeted, perhaps the biggest challenge is that of making certain that the content is translated accurately in the local languages, and importantly reads well in that language. It is imperative that the content translations be done by experts in the native language who are also conversant with the nuances of the English language. A recent SEO Salt Lake City guide suggests that it is extremely important for the marketing department as well as for SEO to appreciate the cultural impact on the communication. It is also vital to earn links and coverage from other websites that are in the native language to enable building the relevance of links and text for search engines that will then be able to easily associate page contents with your business.
#2. Domain Names That Are Different
Rather than bunching all the native language websites as extensions of the main website, experts suggest that different top-level domains need to be created that have content that is distinctly different. Each country is required to be separately targeted when multilingual SEO is called into play. It is best that the top-level domain names belong to the domain allocated to the country, for example a site targeted at Japan should preferable have a .jp website. If, for whatever reason this cannot be executed then it is advisable that sub-domains be created on the main website to separate the languages. As far as the quality of translation is concerned, it must always be done by people who are fluent in the local language and never by automated translators such as Google translate.
#3. Beware of Duplicate Content
It is very important for website administrators to be aware of the menace of duplicate content as that is a sure-fire way of getting penalized by search engines and rubbishing your painstaking SEO efforts. According to a guide on SEO by examiner.com, a very easy way of being notified of duplicate content is to setup a Webmaster Tools verified account with Google. Upon duplicate content being detected by Google, an internal message is generated and sent to the website admin to enable them to take care of it before the site is driven down in the page rankings. You could also find duplicate content by checking for the Meta descriptions that are identical by clicking on the tab in WMT > HTML improvements.
Duplicate content can be flagged by the analytics when one page exists in many languages. It is imperative that the web team be consulted for the most appropriate solutions for avoiding this before switching to a multilingual website scenario. It is also sensible to make use of specialist audit tools that spot duplicate content such as the likes of Screaming Frog.
When duplicate pages are discovered, it is vital that the tag “rel=canonical” is added to them to show the original page to the search bots. You can do a lot of damage to your SEO by not doing this thoroughly. You should not leave large amounts of content of your website not translated as the local language SEO can be seriously affected. Experts hold that anything more than 10% of the website contents should never be left untranslated.