Multilingual marketing, localisation and SEO
English has emerged as the global language of commerce and the lingua franca of the internet, but it’s worth pointing out that three quarters of the world’s population speaks no English whatsoever.
So the need for businesses to speak to international consumers in their own tongue can’t be overemphasised. Even though English is the most widely spoken second language, the fact remains that most consumers will search for services/products in their mother tongue first.
So for any business looking to go global, the need to ‘think local’ means you should consider the multitude of cultural and linguistic complexities that you will face when entering new, emerging markets.
For example, the French in France and the French in Canada (Québéquois) is largely the same, but there are enough dialectal distinctions between the two forms of French to mean that separate marketing strategies are essential when targeting each market.
By way of illustration, ‘email’ is simply email in France, but in Canadian French it is courrier électronique (literally, ‘electronic mail’). And déjeuner means ‘lunch’ in France, but ‘breakfast’ in Switzerland and Belgium.
There are many such differences between the French dialects in France, Canada, Switzerland and Belgium which help to highlight the importance of properly localizing your services for each specific target market. The same can also be said for German (Germany)/Swiss German, Portuguese (Portugal)/Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish (Spain)/Latin American Spanish and, closer to home, US/UK English.
How to localize your SEO
So assuming you intend to properly localize your website for international markets, there are a number of issues you must consider when optimizing the content so that you gain as high a position on search engines as possible.
Firstly, there is the domain name. Your choice of name is entirely up to you, though you may want to consider something that is suitable for the country that you’re targeting – your brand name may work just as well abroad, but you are best using the services of a specialist translation/localisation company who can research any potential negative connotations of your name in your target market.
Equally important is your choice of web host as the server they use should be located in your target country – Google considers the IP address of the server in its algorithms, so make sure you ask where their server is based before committing to using their services.
Then there is the issue of keywords. There is a strong argument that says you should NEVER translate keywords, simply because even a direct dictionary translation may not be what people use to search for a service or product locally. They may use colloquialisms, abbreviations or acronyms instead.
In the same way as you would use something like Google’s keyword tool when identifying the most popular industry keywords in English, you should thoroughly research the key search phrases that are incorporated into your new foreign language website too.
Localisation and SEO should underpin any international online marketing strategy, as it will not only help ensure linguistic and cultural nuances don’t impede your entry into new markets, but also your visibility is maximized on foreign search engines.
Cross-platform desktop SERP position tracking and reporting
- Windows, Mac and Linux
- From $99 to $599/year
- Desktop and server editions
- History, analysis and reporting
|Functionality||4/5||ably performs position tracking and reporting with a regularly updated database|
|Interface||4/5||logically organised with several time-saving features|
|Value||4/5||good value and scalable for search engine marketing agencies, but you buy your infrastructure|
|Support||5/5||very detailed and extensive documentation, active forum and email support|
While the debate rages on about the wisdom of solely focussing on search engine results page (SERP) positions there is no doubt that some form of tracking is part of a competent SEO toolkit. The difficulty is that Google openly frowns on applications that automate the process by scraping SERPs.
In spite of this there are many options both web and desktop based for performing the task. Advanced Web Ranking is of the desktop breed and has exploited many of the benefits brought by binaries.
Organic Rank Tracking
Advanced Web Ranking allows you to have multiple projects containing the websites and keywords being monitored. You can import your keywords, add them manually and get suggestions from Google Suggest and WordTracker. Strangely it doesn't offer the ability to get known keywords for a site from the search engines API- a feature available in both Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing APIs.
Regional versions of Google along with niche search engine definitions are included- an essential for targeting non-US audiences but absent from many online tools.
A Note on Scraping
Search engines frown on and sometimes openly outlaw the use of results scrapers such as Advanced Web Ranking. Google has specifically named Web Position Gold as a package it doesn't approve of. This puts search engine marketers in a difficult position as tracking the position manually, especially of long tail keywords, is impractical and their APIs frequently don't mirror their web results.
Advanced Web Ranking declares itself as 'search engine friendly' in spite of scraping web results. It does this by limiting the request rate and emulating normal human browsing behaviour (both configurable). This reduces the load on search engines and is difficult to block but does still violate terms of service. That said, their behaviour is being tolerated.
Analysis & Reporting
Neatly tucked in its tabs are different ways to slice and dice the collected data. This enables great flexibility to suit the targets of your SEO efforts without resorting to a spreadsheet in most cases.
Reports can be emailed, exported to PDF or several data formats. For search marketing agencies generation and email can be automated- a smart productivity addition.
Desktop-based versus Web-based
Advanced Web Ranking is one of the best-of-breed desktop SERP tracking applications, leveraging the advantages of running locally as opposed to on the web.
There are no restrictions on the number of URLs you can track (think competitor monitoring), unbounded keywords (very long tail) and engines to watch. This can't be said of any web-based tracker on the market. The reporting and analysis functions are more responsive and flexible.
But, you have to pay for and maintain the hardware and bandwidth. Plus it's a pony that can do some good tricks in the keyword monitoring stable, but it doesn't integrate with paid search channels and other components to maximise the value of the data.
When choosing a tool to track keyword positions on search engines the real choice is between a desktop or web application. If you opt for the desktop, then Advanced Web Ranking is a well supported, long established, powerful tool that's also reasonably priced. I haven't found a better, well rounded package.
Create and manage keyword taxonomies
- Keyword suggestion, automatic categorisation and administration
- Web based (Flash) application
- Integrates with Google AdWords API
- Export function for other PPC providers
- Starting at $300/month
- Cost based on size of your keyword database
|Functionality||4/5||does what it does well, some room for other integrations and refinement|
|Interface||5/5||very elegantly manage a huge keyword database|
|Value||3/5||affordable entry point but could be replicable for lower cost|
|Support||4/5||they've just launched with VC backing and good testimonials|
Managing tens, or hundreds of thousands of keywords is a common requirement for serious search engine marketeers. Typically, unwieldy spreadsheets are devised that can be used to target the medium and long tail terms an SEM desires.
Keyword suggestion tools are plentiful but in popular spaces Larry Kim asserts their efficacy is limited, as organisations battle for the same terms. His tool, Wordstream, aims to allow you to build up and easily manage your own private keyword database- developing a taxonomy uniquely your own.
Keyword Taxonomy Management
Wordstream is a hosted service seeded with keywords from your web server logs, file upload or manual entry. From there it automatically groups these keywords into a hierarchical categorisation navigable using a familiar folder structure, except that these are buckets.
While an analytics package reports new keywords by analysing the referrer URL,what sets Wordstream apart is its ability to automatically place these under theright bucket. Typos are no problem for the software states Kim. Clearly this makes adding to your long tail keywords much easier. Goals and traffic alongside further unlocks their value.
Traffic & Goals
The value of this can't be downplayed as one of the drawbacks of long tail theory is that you can easily burn time and chase the wind of valueless terms. Again, the data's probably available to you at the moment, but Wordstream's seamless presentation, categorisation, and administration of it is elegant.
From within Wordstream you can place a PPC ad for your newly identified keywords and manage existing campaigns with its Google AdWords API integration. One of the key aims of Wordstream is productivity and this feature facilitates more productive campaigns.
Somewhat disappointing is the lack of integration with Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft AdCenter. While the data can be exported, and Google is the focus of many PPC campaigns, it would be nice to see these brought into the fold. With this the unified view would negate a need to use anything else for campaign management.
Once Wordstream unearths new terms it's up to you to action them for SEO. Creation of landing pages, on and off page optimisations aren't executed in the tool. The value of data it unlocks and makes manageable, however, means it is certainly a powerful tool in your SEO arsenal.
Kim provides the example of Wikipedia: they are fantastically optimised for organic search due to the site and content structure with a page for each topic. Wordstream in the hands of copy writers brings that a step closer for any site.
The tool itself is well executed and thought out. This means that even though some of the component parts are available elsewhere, the core automatic keyword categorisation and management that it does coupled with goals, traffic, suggestions and AdWords integration adds to its value.
If you're struggling under the weight of your keyword management or would like to pursue an elusive long tail then Wordstream is worth a look with their free trial. It's easy to see how it will make PPC and SEO more productive if you're generating tangible return from niche keywords efficiently.