13 Multilingual SEO Best Practices For Global Visibility

Increase your visibility with these multilingual SEO best practices. Optimize your website for different languages and reach a wider audience!

13 Multilingual SEO Best Practices For Global Visibility
Enjoy the benefits of blogging for business in various regions and languages, fueling your brand's expansion through quality traffic and high conversions. Discover how multilingual SEO best practices can transform your digital footprint into a global juggernaut.

What Is Multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO Best Practices
Multilingual SEO Best Practices
To rank well in search engine results across various languages and regions, language-specific content is essential. By creating unique and relevant content in multiple languages, we can effectively target users searching in different languages and locations. By providing users with valuable content in their preferred language, we can increase engagement and drive more traffic to the website.

Using Hreflang Tags for Language and Regional Targeting

Hreflang tags are crucial for indicating language and regional targeting to search engines. This HTML attribute tells search engines which language a specific page is targeted at. By implementing hreflang tags, we can prevent search engines from generating duplicate content issues and help them understand the language and regional targeting of each page on the website.

Optimizing Meta Tags and URLs for Different Languages

Meta tags and URLs play a vital role in multilingual SEO. By optimizing meta tags (such as meta titles and descriptions) and URLs for different languages, we can improve the visibility of the website in search engine results across various languages and regions. It also helps search engines understand the content and relevance of the website to users searching in different languages.
Backlinks from multilingual websites are crucial for improving the authority and ranking of a website in search engine results for multiple languages and regions. By acquiring high-quality backlinks from multilingual websites, we can improve the website's credibility and visibility in search engine results across different languages and locations. This helps drive more organic traffic and reach a broader international audience.

Why You Need To Implement Multilingual SEO For Your Website

Multilingual SEO Best Practices
Multilingual SEO Best Practices

International Recognition and Global Branding

Multilingual SEO is a powerful tool for establishing your company's rapport with local and international customers. It makes it easier for them to understand your products or services, contributing to international recognition and global branding. By optimizing your website content for different languages, you can effectively reach and engage diverse audiences around the world.

Competitive Advantage

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, having a multilingual website can give your company a competitive edge. It provides a more professional and corporate aura, helping to build trust with potential clients. With the rapid growth of online businesses in countries like Japan and China, the virtual space has become a global marketplace.
By implementing multilingual SEO, you can outperform major competitors in your industry and access a broader customer base. This strategic advantage allows you to drive traffic to your website and expand your business on a global scale.

Reach a More Specific Target Audience

A key benefit of multilingual SEO is the ability to reach a more specific target audience. Rather than simply translating your website into multiple languages, this process involves identifying the specific group of people you intend to reach and translating your website into their native languages.
Geo-targeting is essential for providing a platform for a more targeted reach in specific locations. By tailoring your content to local languages and preferences, you can establish a deeper connection with your target audience and drive more meaningful engagement.

Boost Your Site’s Overall SEO Ranking

Implementing multilingual SEO can significantly boost your site’s overall SEO ranking. Having translated versions of your site increases your chances of appearing on the first page of search engine results. A multilingual website can attract more traffic than a single-language site, as search engines recognize all translated versions as part of a single site.
This integrated approach helps drive traffic to your main website and creates a positive compound effect on your SEO ranking. By optimizing your content for multiple languages, you can enhance your visibility and attract a larger audience across different regions.

Grow In Many Countries At The Same Time

Multilingual website translation offers a unique opportunity to grow your business in multiple countries simultaneously. By reaching a wider audience and increasing your revenue, you can expand your business globally. Some countries have local search engines that differ from popular ones like Google and Bing.
By optimizing your website for multiple languages, you can leverage these local search engines and attract more traffic. This diverse approach allows you to tap into new markets, establish a strong online presence, and drive business growth across different regions.

Key Challenges Of Implementing SEO Practices On A Multilingual Website

Multilingual SEO Best Practices
Multilingual SEO Best Practices

Poor Content Translation And Optimization

Translating the content on your website into multiple languages while maintaining its context and SEO parameters intact is challenging. It's tough to translate Spanish content into English while incorporating relevant keywords in the respective language. Literal translations can change the meaning of the original content and weaken the SEO strategy.

Duplicate Content Issues

Duplicate content across language versions can lead to SEO problems. Having multiple URLs with the same content can confuse search engines. They might interpret them as separate pages, causing duplicate content issues and possible penalties. Avoiding and managing duplicate content is crucial for maintaining strong SEO performance.

Keywords Lost in Translation

Keywords may lose their effectiveness in translation since different languages have varied search behaviors, synonyms, and localized terms. Finding the right keywords for each target market is essential but can be tricky.

Hreflang Tags Implementation

Incorrect implementation of hreflang tags can confuse search engines, leading to improper indexing and ranking. Hreflang tags are crucial for signaling language and regional targeting of content. It's crucial to master their use for multilingual SEO success.

Automatic Redirects

Automatic redirects from one language to another based on the user’s browser can prevent them (and search engines) from viewing various versions of your website.

Streamlining Blog Publishing with Feather

Feather is an SEO-friendly blog that allows you to publish blog content through Notion, without needing coding or design skills. Feather enables companies to write blog content on Notion and publish it automatically to their Feather blog. You can easily set up a Subfolder blog (domain.com/blog instead of blog.domain.com, which is better for SEO) and get the HubSpot experience through Notion by managing CRM and website blog management on the platform. Feather also offers features like custom CSS design changes, email collection, and more.
Try Feather’s notion to blog software for free today — create a new account and go from notion to blog in minutes!

13 Multilingual SEO Best Practices For Global Visibility

Multilingual SEO Best Practices
Multilingual SEO Best Practices

1. Use Dedicated URLs

One of the main fears with multilingual sites is duplicate content. While not all duplicate content is detrimental, content that appears within multiple URLs may lead to penalties such as lowered rankings or even deindexing. To avoid duplicate content penalties, Google’s best practices recommend using ‘dedicated URLs’ that include a language indicator.
The indicator enables international search engines and users to identify the language from the URL alone. For example, an original page might be www.example.com, while the French version could be www.example.com/fr/, the German version will be www.example.com/de, and so on.

Choosing the Best URL Structure for Language Indicators

The placement of the language indicator in the URL depends on the URL structure you choose, particularly the difference between using dedicated Country Code Top Level Domains (CCTLDs) and subdomains on your own site. For clarity, the three choices are
  • Top-level domain (e.g. www.example.fr)
  • Subdomain (e.g. www.fr.example.com)
  • Subdirectory (e.g. www.example.com/fr/)
Even a language indicator, though, can still be misinterpreted—so defining your URL parameters is an important step to take in making sure your site is SEO-compatible, but definitely not the only one. The choice of URL structure for a multilingual website depends on various factors, including the target audience’s geographic locations, the website’s size and complexity, and available resources for SEO and maintenance. Subfolders are often recommended for their simplicity and consolidated domain authority, but the best choice varies based on specific business needs and goals.

2. Start With Quality Keyword Research

To kick things off, it’s important to do comprehensive keyword research before translating your website content. This is because different segments of your global audience have varying interests—in other words, different search intent.

Keyword Research for Multilingual SEO

For example, say the keywords ‘content creation’ in English and ‘creation de contenu’ in French. The French translation may have a significantly lower search volume than the English version. Quality keyword research helps you put your translation and localization efforts into perspective. This way, you can analytically determine which keywords to pay more attention to for each translated version of your site.

Tools for Multilingual Keyword Analysis

Ahrefs and Semrush are great tools that can help you find out the search volume of your desired keywords in different languages. Gaining mastery of the appropriate use of keywords in your language can be tasking. You’ll try to ensure you’re not using keywords that do not help boost your content’s SEO performance. Doing this in multiple languages you don’t understand could be even more daunting.

3. Apply Hreflang Tags

Google also uses hreflang tags to help determine both the language of the page and which region it is intended for. These tags can be inserted in the header section of the original page or submitted via a sitemap.
For example, an hreflang tag referencing a French page intended for readers in Canada could look like this:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-ca” href=”http://example.com/fr/” />
If a page is intended for multiple regions, multiple hreflang attributes can be added.It’s worth noting that this whole process is both complicated and time-consuming, particularly for beginners.
Acquiring backlinks is an essential step in building a successful multi-language website. Search engines like Google see backlinks as “votes.” Generally, the more votes you have, the better your chance of ranking well in search results. The majority of your backlinks need to be from relevant websites—both niche- and language-wise. If you sell bodybuilding supplements and have translated your content into French, building a link from a health and fitness blog that covers supplements in French could be valuable.
When building links, always aim to build links from reputable, high-authority websites. Links from high-authority sites carry more weight. These are generally websites that publish high-quality content. Popular niche websites, bloggers, and news websites are all good examples.

5. Stick to one language per page

Google uses the visible content of your page to determine its language—so you need to make the language obvious by sticking to one language for content and navigation. Side-by-side translations are a no-go! Having more than one language on a page also impacts the user experience, as it can be confusing and the context can be easily misinterpreted.

6. Translate the often over-looked parts of your website

SEO incorporates both the content that users see and the content they don’t—and both are equally important. When creating multilingual websites, it’s easy to forget about your website’s “hidden” parts.
This refers to the text that works in the background and the pages that users only see when they perform a certain action and they include:
  • Metadata descriptions
  • Metatag titles
  • Alt text for images
  • Checkout pages
  • Contact pages
  • Newsletter sign-up forms
  • Error messages
The metadata and metatag titles are particularly important for SEO as they appear in the search results on Google.

7. Translate Your URL Slugs

When translating your website, it is also important that you pay attention to your URL slugs. Slugs are parts of your URL that follow your domain name. For instance, if the URL for the payments page of your website is mysite.com/payments, a customer searching the French version of your site should see it as mysite.com/paiements.
The slugs here are “payments” (English) and “paiements” (French). This is helpful for both search engines and actual human visitors, as it makes it very clear that these are 2 versions of the same page, only in different languages.

8. Create a Multilingual XML Sitemap

Just like a normal sitemap, the multilingual one helps Google better understand the structure of your website. A multilingual XML sitemap will tell the search engine what language and which locale is used on every single page of the site.

9. Strategic Internal Linking

Internal linking, the practice of linking to other pages within the same website, is pivotal in SEO. It helps search engines understand your site’s structure, distributes page authority across your domain, and improves your site’s navigability for users.
When managing a multilingual website, it is crucial to ensure that internal links lead to the correct language version of a page. This practice enhances user experience and strengthens your site’s SEO performance by providing clear signals to search engines about the relationship between pages in different languages.
Google has recently rolled out AI-powered changes to its search engine to make the experience more seamless than ever. In mid-2023, the tech giant unveiled Search Generative Experience (SGE), which uses generative AI to suggest more accessible, conversational insights when using the search function.
To add even more context, it features images and videos it believes to be relevant to the search experience. Later that year, it expanded to accommodate even more languages, like Indonesian and Spanish—further impacting multilingual search.

Adapted SEO Strategies for SGE

That means the traditional multilingual SEO strategies may no longer apply here. SGE emphasizes Google’s E-E-A-T criteria (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) to offer the most relevant results possible to users. Instead of plain hyperlinks, the results are phrased casually to add more context to search queries that are often written as questions—typically made up of long-tail keywords, which are more specific and usually made up of at least 5 words.

Leveraging Long-Tail Keywords in SGE

Long-tailed keywords come in handy for narrowing your target user intent, so content that specifically answers a particular question will have a higher visibility through SGE. It may be worth experimenting with long-tail keywords in your different markets to see what resonates better with your audience, as you’ll also have a more refined idea of what content they find most useful.

11. Provide A Language Selector

Good practice for multilingual websites is to provide a country language selector. A language selector refers to a user interface (UI) component that empowers users to select a language they prefer while exploring a multilingual website. They help address different language speakers from the same country, distinguish between languages, and communicate effectively with customers. This can help uphold your SEO efforts by offering better usability and website crawling.

12. Invest in quality translations

Quality translations are essential for multilingual SEO success. Accurate and natural-sounding translations ensure that your content resonates with the target audience, maintaining credibility and engagement.
Avoiding automated and AI translation tools is crucial to prevent inaccuracies and maintain the integrity of your message. Invest in professional translators who understand the nuances of the language and culture to deliver content that effectively communicates your brand’s message across different languages.

13. Always localize your content

Creating localized content involves tailoring your messaging to specific cultural contexts, preferences and behaviors of different target audiences. This approach goes beyond mere translation, encompassing adaptations that resonate with local customs, traditions and colloquialisms.

Other Considerations For Multilingual SEO

Multilingual SEO Best Practices
Multilingual SEO Best Practices

Social Media as an SEO Support System

Social media channels can play an important role in supporting your website’s SEO, with platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram providing high-quality backlinks.

Integrating International Keywords on Social Media

Social media also allows for easy integration of international keywords into your content.
For example, you could have a French version of your website with French keywords for SEO, but include an English title and description that would still pull in an English-speaking audience interested in French topics.

Leveraging Social Media for Multilingual SEO

I’ve found that promoting your multilingual SEO campaigns on social media is essential, and you can also use these channels to promote specific content from your website. I would also recommend using their formats to create content that appeals to a local audience -- for example, using images that feature local landmarks in your region, or sharing posts that are specific to that area.
At the end of the day, building a good social media presence can help support your website’s SEO, and promote your content in new languages.

Content Strategy & Search Terms for Successful Optimization

You need to consider the content and search terms on your website, and how those might be best localized to pull in an audience in other territories. Remember to integrate international keywords into your content strategy.

Language Optimization for Targeted Audiences

You may want to optimize your content to match the language searchers are using in different countries -- for example, if you’re targeting French-speaking searchers, you might want to use French keywords. Remember to consider your target market and their interests when you’re producing content. Someone in New York might be more interested in local New York City businesses, while someone in Texas might be more interested in Texas businesses.

Expanding Content Reach for Global Audiences

If you’re trying to appeal to a global or international audience, consider adding new content for different languages and territories. For example, if you’re targeting an English-speaking audience, consider adding content to your site in different languages and territories, such as Spanish or French.
You can also optimize your content for different countries and territories by offering it in different languages or using international keywords in your content.

Visitor Statistics & Google Analytics

Google Analytics can help you identify where your traffic is coming from right now, and how much of that is coming from searchers. You can use this information to help identify who your target market is and where they come from.
You can also use Google Analytics to help you understand what percentage of your traffic is coming from searchers, and compare that to where you want it to be. This can help you understand how well your website is performing in different markets, and identify areas for improvement.

Ecommerce Considerations & Multilingual SEO

If you’re running an international store, you’ll need to consider currencies and how your products meet the needs of different markets.
For example, if you’re targeting an English-speaking audience, you’ll want to make sure your prices are in US dollars, but if you’re targeting a French-speaking audience, you might want to offer prices in Euros. You can optimize your products for local SEO efforts by offering them in different languages or using international keywords to help you localize your products for different markets.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Search engine results pages, or SERPs, look different in different territories. For example, when I search for “Multilingual SEO Best Practices” in the United States, I see different search results than I would in Canada or the United Kingdom.
To test how your search queries look on different versions of Google search, you can use a proxy server to simulate search queries in different territories. This will help you understand how your website is performing in different markets, and identify areas for improvement.

Use Notion As Your Blog CMS With Feather

Feather is a cutting-edge SEO-friendly blog platform that allows users to easily publish blog content through Notion with no coding or design skills required. This innovative tool streamlines the process of blog creation and management, making it an ideal solution for companies looking to enhance their online presence and boost their search engine rankings.

SEO Benefits of Subfolder Blog Structure

Feather allows users to set up a Subfolder blog, which is hosted at domain.com/blog instead of blog.domain.com. This approach is superior for SEO purposes, as it consolidates website content on a single domain and prevents blog content from competing against the main domain for search engine attention. By taking advantage of a Subfolder blog structure, companies can strengthen their search engine optimization efforts and attract a larger audience to their blog content.

Streamlined Content Creation and Collaboration

In addition to its SEO-friendly features, Feather simplifies the process of content creation and collaboration. Users can write blog articles directly in Notion and seamlessly publish them to their Feather blog with just a few clicks.
This streamlined workflow enables teams to work together efficiently and produce high-quality content that resonates with their target audience. Feather offers advanced capabilities such as custom CSS customization, email collection, and more, giving users the flexibility to enhance their blog and engage with their readers in new and innovative ways.

Revolutionizing Content Marketing with Feather

By leveraging Feather's powerful features, companies can revolutionize their content marketing efforts and enjoy the benefits of a fully integrated blog management system. With Feather, users can transform their Notion workspace into a comprehensive content creation platform that seamlessly integrates with their website. By harnessing the power of Feather, companies can boost their SEO performance, increase website traffic, and engage with their audience more effectively.
Try Feather's notion to blog software for free today and experience the transformational impact of this cutting-edge SEO-friendly platform.
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