SEO Guide to Multilingual Websites

Chances are that, if you're in a major city or one with a large population of a specific heritage, you would likely benefit from a website that caters to that particular demographic. We have clients in New York, Miami, and Texas with Spanish versions of their websites, in Canada with French versions of their websites, and even one or two maritime clients who handle international cases that cater to multiple cultures and languages. Google does offers a translate option (called...Google Translate...) which will allow a user to translate a web page's content from one language to another. This is an effective tool for anyone who is bilingual as they likely came to your website after searching for a specific keyword or keyword phrase in English. But what about the potential clients out there that don't speak English? Obviously it goes without saying that your office should be able to effectively communicate in any language that the demographic that you're marketing your website to speaks. If you feel as if you have the resources in place to manage a second website (monthly content in another language, managing the contacts and Analytics, monitoring search engine rankings, etc.) in another language then that may be an option worth looking into. Unfortunately it isn't as easy as translating some text and pasting it into Wordpress. The site itself also has to be coded based on the new language, you need to be educated with the keywords of that language that you want your new site to be found for, and if Google or other search engines start seeing discrepancies between two different languages your search engine rankings may suffer. Google posted a blog post on what to consider when working with a multilingual website on their Webmaster Tools blog. Based on clients with Spanish, French, or other-language-speaking websites' success, it's best to keep the English version and other language version separate through either sub domains for the site speaking a second language or through a completely different domain altogether.

The good news about launching a Spanish or French speaking website is that you now have an additional website that you can use as link leverage for link building/SEM purposes. Just be sure that your web design company has produced a website in that language before and aren't just going to translate the content, throw it up, and send you out on your own. You would also want to look around to see if there are other search engines that are popular within the culture that you're trying to market to. Google may be considered that world's leading search engine but that doesn't mean that everyone uses it.

Take the time to look for search engines used in countries that speak the language you're optimizing for and see if you can submit to those search engines. For link building, look around for directories, blogs, articles submission sites, answer sites, and other websites that are popular within that particular demographic. Yes, you probably need to speak the language in order to be able to find these sites, so training a paralegal or assistant in your office who speaks the language fluently on how they can become a "link ninja" may be worth the investment. If you launch and manage a multilingual website in your area successfully, there's a very good chance that you could capture the niche market that you're going after and grow your business as a result.

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