Multilingual SEO: 5 steps for a website optimization

optimization website multilingual seo

Multilingual SEO: 5 steps for a website optimization



What strategies should you implement to optimize a website? And how can you enhance performance on every level? Here below we will give you some tips to get yourself to the top of the rankings on Google SERPs.

But first, let’s take a step back.

What is the purpose of a website? Inform, offer a service, act as a showcase for your business, a product, offer an online platform where purchases are made. Whatever the case, it is essential that a website actually get visits, otherwise it is like the story of the tree falling in a forest. And who decides how and how often one website should be visited? Well, basically Google is behind it all. The order of Google search results (or any other search engines, with Google covering 85.5 percent of searches globally, so let’s talk about Google here) Google decides whether your site will be visited by many people or it will be relegated to the bottom of the results page or even, horror of horrors, to the second page.

optimization website

What is SEO?

Leaving aside sponsored search results (which is what SEM, Search Engine Marketing, deals with), SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is concerned with studying and understanding how the algorithms Google uses to push websites to the coveted top positions work, through “organic” (read: free-of-charge) optimization  of results.

If your website is available in multiple languages, because your products are offered in different countries or just because you want to be a global presence, it is important that your website is optimized for the SEO in all the languages it is presented in, and that is where multilingual SEO comes in.

SEO, without getting to technical, uses several tools to optimize a website, from the use of the right keywords, to the site’s metadata, the description (the three preview lines in Google’s results), so as to follow what Google’s algorithm “likes” and places higher in the results. Multilingual SEO applies this approach to versions of the same website in other languages.

Sounds simple, right? Just translate the whole thing and that’s it. Well, that’s obviously not the case, as we’ll see together. Here are five important factors for a website optimization with multilingual SEO.


Help Google understand your website

Google’s algorithm is complex and layered, relying on numerous factors to decide which websites to reward and send to the top of the list. Google needs to understand what your site is about, the structure, how the pages are divided, what languages it is offered in, whether the content is original, and more. The two most valuable elements for Google are definitely the Title and Meta description. The first is the “name” of the website, the title of the main page displayed in Google search.

At the SEO level, it must be accurate and relevant in all languages the site is presented in. The second is a brief description of the site that appears below the title. This is a sentence part of the main page of the site and serves as an introduction to the content. It should be short, concise and summarize the content of the site in a limited space. In case of multilingual SEO properly carried out, the description is usually very different from one language to another, as well as the title, depending on the needs of a different target audience. It leads us to a second key point.


Understanding your audience

We have already mentioned that audience groups from different countries may have different needs. Statistics from tools such as Google Analytics provide vital information about the audience-visitors of your website. To optimize traffic you need to consider factors such as where the audience is coming from (from social media? From other links on external websites?), age groups, internationality. As for the latter, multilingual SEO comes into play. Do you have a significant audience group from a specific country? Perhaps it is worth to study international content targeted to that audience group. With data in hand, you can better target your website optimization for an international audience.


The importance of the URL

The URL is the “business card” of the site; it is the first thing a user sees in the browser address bar as well as the way the user can physically reach the site.

There are several possibilities for URLs for the different languages on the site, but the two main ones are distinguished by a .com or . org domain, or .net (technically a gTLD) or the top-level country domain (ccTLD). Certainly a formula like:

gives a strong signal to the customer in the target country, indicating a stable and decisive presence in that market. However, if you have a .com domain, the structure called “subdirectory” is widely used:

Both are valid options; however, it is important for Google that the URL structure is the same for different languages, i.e. that all links are the same and differ only in the language part, whether expressed as a top-level domain or a subdirectory. It is also critical to the search engine algorithm that content in different languages must be on separate web pages. An HTML attribute called hreflang, which must be set and specified properly, tells Google that there are multiple language versions of the same page so that the correct one is always accurately accessed.


Keyword focus: the key to optimizing your website

Keywords, in SEO, are critical to optimizing your website. These represent the words that users will type into their search engine when they need to find something, whether it is a service, product or information of any kind.

optimization website keyword focusKeywords for SEO can be used to attract specific customers to your website, assuming they will search for a product using certain words, e.g., “comfortable boots.” What about other languages? As we said above, a “simple” translation is not enough to optimize a website in different languages. Popular keywords for the Italian audience, for example, might not be popular in France or the U.S. in their translated equivalent; a user searching for a pair of hiking boots in Denmark might use the keyword “comfortable” more than a Spaniard who will search more by associating the word “breathable,” and so on.

Machine translation? Maybe not now

As mentioned above, the SEO process is not a 1-to-1 translation process. As much as machine translation is taking great strides, it still cannot figure out which keywords are best for a given market, whether to use a shorter description for one version of the site or a more precise one for another, etc. After all, going back to the example above, “comfortable” is not a translation of “breathable.” SEO is made up of subtleties, peculiarities, numerous researches and attention, and it is definitely critical to optimizing a website. If you want to optimize yours and help it climb Google results, we at Creative Words can certainly help.


foto mirco


Mirco Carlini

Unstoppable reader and videogame lover, he loves peaceful hikes in the mountains as well as relaxing and swimming in the sea.


Creative Words

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