Managing a multilingual website can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to optimizing it for search engines.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of website management, and it plays a vital role in improving your website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here are the top 10 SEO tips for managing a multilingual site:
1. Localize Keywords Instead of Translating them
Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy. It helps you identify the most relevant keywords and phrases that people use to search for products or services you are selling.
You may choose keywords to target the most popular searches in your country. When managing a multilingual site, you must research keywords in each language you want to target.
So rather than asking a translator to translate these keywords, when managing a multilingual site, you should localize the keywords and consider search volumes in their proposed translations. This way, you will help understand the language nuances and find the most relevant keywords in each language.
2. Use Appropriate Language Tags
Language tags are essential for search engines to understand the language of your website’s content. Google and Yandex utilize HREFLANG to ensure the correct version of a page appears in localized search results.
HREFLANG informs search engines about the various language versions of pages, acting as a coded version of a language selector. The feature indicates the URLs of other language versions for a given page.
ISO 639 language codes (EN, FR, ES) are used in HREFLANG markup to identify page language choices. Combined with country codes (in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format), it allows for more precise geotargeting. This feature helps provide country-specific content in the same language.
For instance, multiple versions of English-language pages for audiences in Britain, the United States, or Australia would utilize the codes en-gb, en-us, and en-au.
3. Create Unique Content for Each Language
Creating unique content for each language version of your website is essential. Duplicate content can harm your website’s SEO and result in search engine penalties. Therefore, ensure that each language version of your website has unique content, including titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags.
4. Optimize URLs for Each Language
URLs play a critical role in international SEO. Optimizing your website’s URLs for each language is crucial to ensure that search engines can crawl and index them correctly. This includes using language-specific URLs, including language tags, and avoiding machine-translated URLs.
You should ensure that every page version has a unique URL translated into its target language. The best practice is to use a folder for each language (but you can also use a subdomain) and treat the first level as the home page of your site in this language.
Avoid using parameters to indicate translated versions.
5. Use Localized Content
Localized content is an essential aspect of managing a multilingual website. It helps you connect with your target audience using local idioms, expressions, and cultural references.
Localized content can also help you rank better in local search results using local keywords and phrases.
A website translation tool like Linguise can help you create localized content for all your website pages by leveraging the power of AI. On top of that, you can easily manage the translation, add or remove languages or proofread the translations.
6. Optimize Images for Each Language
Optimizing images for each language version of your website is crucial to ensure that search engines can crawl and index them correctly. This includes using language-specific alt tags, captions, and file names. Additionally, ensure that your images are optimized for size and loading speed to improve user experience.
7. Use Localized URLs and Hostnames
Localized URLs and hostnames can help you rank better in local search results. For example, using a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) like .es for a Spanish website can help you rank better in Spanish search results. It also helps users recognize that they are on a localized version of your website.
8. Do not mix languages on the same page.
Search engines match URLs with a single language. Google can automatically determine a language for each URL it finds on your site based on the page’s content, and it uses this language as a ranking factor.
Providing translations on the same page can be tempting, and you may consider this a good user experience. But because search engines are trying to determine a single language for each page, doing this will cause all sorts of problems for your SEO.
9. Use a language selector
We recommend linking all your language versions of a page on multilingual websites. For instance, if a product page exists in English, French, and Spanish on a site, it should include links to the Spanish and French versions.
Language selectors provided by plugins are a popular solution for this matter. However, it is essential to note that national flags may not always be the best indicator of languages. For instance, if a North American site aims to target French-speaking Canadians and Spanish-speaking Americans, the British, Spanish, and French flags would not be appropriate indicators for these audiences.
Some sites utilize ISO 639 codes to denote language choices. This is a standardized classification system for languages, with English identified as EN, French as FR, and Castilian Spanish as ES.
10. Monitor and Analyze Your Website’s Performance
Monitoring and analyzing your website’s performance is crucial to ensure your SEO strategy is effective. Regularly check your website’s rankings, traffic, and user behavior to identify areas for improvement. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track your website’s performance and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
In conclusion, managing a multilingual site requires careful attention, as things can go south quite easily.
I hope you found this article useful for getting your multilingual website SEO right and reaching a global audience.
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