Choices in How to SEO a Multilingual Site

While growing businesses by expanding to additional countries or languages is a great way to increase your income, it is more complicated than you may realize – especially when it comes to SEO.

This site for a southern California criminal defense attorney has content written in English using Google Translate to create pages translated into Spanish. Notice the choice in the top right corner for English – Espanol. Click on the buttons and you’ll see that the pages change between English and Spanish.

In this example, a separate site is not needed because both languages are targeted at ranking in the U.S. If this attorney had a second location in Spain, then ideally he would have a separate domain registered with a country code TLD and hosted in Spain. With locations in two countries, the easiest way to rank is on separate domains.

How much effort is the company willing to invest in ranking in separate countries? Will you register a country specific domain for each language or use languages in directories?

More expense and work is involved with separate domains:
  • Building additional sites
  • Paying to host multiple sites
  • Renewing multiple domains
Even international sites as large as Wikipedia do not necessarily use separate domains. If you look at Wikipedia.org you will see that when you click on a country you are taken to a subdomain that uses the country code as the name of the subdomain. For example:
  • es.wikipedia.org for Spanish
  • de.wikipedia.org for German
  • it.wikipedia.org for Italian
These subdomains use the same letters as country-code domains for Spain (es), Germany (de) and Italy (it), but they use en for English rather than us for U.S. or uk for the U.K.

Read How to do Multilingual SEO for WordPress Sites to get a better idea of your choices. The WordPress multilingual plugin available on that site makes translating and doing SEO for multiple languages much simpler.

How Search Engines Recognize Languages

While search engines can detect languages, it is best to use the <html lang=”xx”> tag to indicate the language a page is in. For more details, read Multilingual Sites and Search Engines: Part 1.

According to that post, “global corporations as a rule have separate sites (and most often separate domains) for the countries they operate in.” While that is the most effective method, it does require more work to create and maintain.

SEOChat Supermod GabrielG suggests you can even “get sophisticated and detect a user’s language, geolocation, or other characteristics and serve the appropriate language site, in case Gooogle doesn’t do that automatically.”

Duplicate Content on Multinational Websites

If the languages involved are totally different (English and German, for example), there is no duplicate content issue. Having the same content on pages written in languages that are closely related – such as UK English versus US English – would definitely create a duplicate content issue.

Use Plagiarism Check to verify that all your site content is unique and original:

Plagiarism check

See the Brick Marketing post Duplicate Content on Multinational Websites for more details about duplicate content. Nick Stamoulis wrote:

“If your site takes a massive hit in visitors and rankings for at least three months (enough time to call it a trend), your site might have been flagged for duplicate content.”

Why Machine Translation is NOT Good Enough

While using Google translation or some other machine translator is the least expensive way to go, these translations are very inaccurate and sometimes impossible to even understand. While there are translation plugins, do not use them unless you just cannot afford a human translator.

Do not sully your brand’s reputation by skimping on content in additional languages. Using human translators is a must. If you do not have someone within your company capable of accurately writing in the language, contract with a company that specializes in language translations for business.

Keep in mind that being able to speak a language does not guarantee a person can write well in it anymore than assuming that everyone who speaks English can become a paid writer or editor.

If you use machine translation, you will end up with major brand reputation issues. See this infographic from Understanding and Avoiding Communication Blunders.

Poor translation communication blunders

Hopefully you now understand why machine translation can never take the place of using the best human translators who are excellent at both translation and content development.

The goal is to SEO a multilingual site so that it will rank in each location. For that, separate sites are best, but even with one site your goal should still be to rank each page if at all possible.

DIY SEO for Time-Poor Business Owners

No business owner has the time to do a lot of SEO, but you can delegate the SEO basics to an employee or freelancer. Even doing basic SEO tasks can make a difference to what page of Google’s results you appear on.  Take control and prioritize.

Your Top Priorities

  • SEO Basics
  • Content
  • UX
  • Links
  • Promotion

DIY SEO comes down to proper site management, fresh content and making your site attractive to users.

SEO Basics

SEO is too important to leave to chance. Neil Patel puts it very clearly in his SEO guide,

“If you ever need to hide a dead body, you should place it on the second page of Google search results.”

You MUST do everything in your power to improve your search engine results pages (SERPS) ranking, or no-one is going to find you.

Good site management is a part of SEO that can be outsourced, or delegated to a trusted employee. This SEO Chat article runs you through the basics of SEO and can form the basis of your employees’ training.

The most time-consuming aspect is keyword research using the free Google Adwords tool, but even this is not a task you need to do yourself. With basic training and the right tools, your content team can identify keyword phrases to target.

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Installing the free Yoast SEO plugin on your blog will ensure writers’ awareness of the importance of correct keyword density.

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Yoast also checks for paragraph length, sentence length and other readability factors that will affect your user time-on-page and bounce rate statistics.

Content

Yeah, yeah. We all know content is king, but it takes time!

There is no way to avoid it. Regular fresh and insightful content is part of what will rank your site higher in search engine results pages (SERPS). There will be nobody else who understands your business as well as you, but you need to change that. If you don’t educate writers into how your business works, you will be stuck writing everything yourself, other important tasks will crop up, and the writing won’t happen.

Even the best writer works better with input from you regarding your services and clients.

Take the time to explain your business and how it works to your content production team. Educate your writers about your customer persona, his needs and how your company solves them. Make your business values clear, have a content production plan and feed your writers plenty of ideas for articles.

User Experience (UX)

The most important person in your organization is imaginary. Your customer persona should be writ large in every office, and room in your premises. Use an image of this imaginary persona as a screensaver on all your computers, put posters featuring his image on the backs of all the doors ion the washrooms and in the staff canteen.

If your users dislike your website, you are doomed.

Your site has to look good, use colors users like and that will elicit the emotions related to your business objectives. Minimize clutter, maximize contrast and ensure everything shown on a page is the optimum size, color, and shape. Negative space is every bit as valuable as page components, so avoid trying to do too much on any one web page.

Each page should have one purpose and one purpose only. The rationale behind a web page’s existence should be obvious. Navigation through your site should be simple and easy to use, regardless of the screen size someone is using.

Links

Building links to your website is essential, but if you build them in the wrong way, Google will bury you on page 200 of its SERPS.

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Safe link-building activities:

  • Learn what links point to you by installing the free Incoming Links plugin
  • Provide high-quality and insightful resources people in your niche value and will link to without any prompting
  • Build your reputation by sharing everything you know without asking for payment
  • Design infographics that link back to you when others install them on their sites

Promotion

It is well-nigh impossible to do even basic promotion without a large team.

Be selective.

If you only focus on one promotion channel, let it be YouTube.

Forget videos about your business; they won’t show in Google and no-one is interested. But, videos that show how to solve problems are another matter.

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Ryan Stuart from Webris says Youtube video promotion is vital as part of your top-of-funnel marketing and engaging customers.

Your Takeaways

Much SEO can be done in-house using basic training and free WordPress plugins to help inform decisions. You must delegate content production, but feed writers with ideas and company information frequently. Concentrate your social media presence on producing How-To videos on YouTube.

5 Best Alternatives to Older Competitor Analysis Tools

Are you tired of paying a lot for WebCEO and some other older tools? Looking for the best alternatives? This post is right for you. WebCEO is a great tool deserves the right to be at the top of the SEO tools list.

The only drawback of the tool is a high price. However, the market is fast-evolving, and there are lots of useful alternatives to WebCEO and other older tools to conduct a detailed competitor analysis.

Having said that, we’re going to review 5 good alternatives for getting insights into your competitors’ data. All these products offer a good set of standard SEO tools such as keyword research, backlink checker, rank tracker, keyword grouping, and much more. Let’s dive into these alternatives in order to increase your sales and website traffic.

1. SE Ranking

Hands down, SE Ranking is one of the best WebCEO alternatives. It is a good competitor research tool for digging into organic and paid search. The tool is versatile and gives one of the most accurate insights about your competitors.

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When it comes to competitors’ monitoring, the tool allows you detect top organic and paid rivals, get a list of competitors and advertisers for certain query and find a similar keyword in order to increase your search visibility.

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Here are some amazing benefits of using SE Ranking:

  1. To track website positions at any location in the world
  2. To perform a comprehensive website audit
  3. To check and analyze backlinks
  4. To find profitable keywords for your projects
  5. To group keywords with search volume
  6. To manage social media campaigns

Using SE Ranking, you can easily analyze your competitors, increase the site’s rank, revenue and visitors. You can test the tool out for free within 14 days and figure out all major features.

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is considered a good alternative to WebEO and widely known among thousands of SEO experts. The tool has a pretty large link database that includes over 15 trillion live links. It is a very important factor as you can perform a very detailed competitor analysis and build up new marketing strategies.

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Here are a few great features of Ahrefs:

  1. To find new content ideas with Content explorer
  2. To monitor competitors’ link profiles
  3. To conduct a detailed crawl report of websites
  4. Get alerts for competitors’ new links
  5. To get notice of broken links

If you want to learn more about Ahrefs, you can use a free trial within 14 days.

3. Alexa

Alexa is a good digital marketing tool that helps you compare different sites traffic and control general traffic trends. The tool allows you compare up to 5 websites at a time what is really useful, especially if you run a large number of marketing projects.

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The tool offers more about websites, particularly all about traffic. It shows a total number of pageviews per user, bounce rate percentage, time on a website and the average percentage of visits from search engines. One of the drawbacks is accuracy, as some reports are not helpful for predicting traffic on their own.

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To find out more about Alexa possibilities, you can try a 7-day trial.

4. SimilarWeb

Similar Web is good competitive analysis tool that helps you compare the traffic statistics from three competitors in the dashboard. In comparison with Alexa, the tool provides more accurate insight sets about your rivals and gives a well-detailed analysis of their traffic sources. You can key more on SEO and stand out from the crowd.

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Once you enter a website or a list of websites, you will get data on:

  1. What are the basic traffic sources (Search, PPC,  Email, etc.)?
  2. What are the main competition’s online strategies?
  3. How much traffic are they receiving?
  4. How the traffic strategies vary among your rivals and countries?
  5. Do the rivals use the same traffic sources?

If you want to get more about this tool, you can test SimilarWeb for free, but with a pretty limited features.

5. Siteliner

Siteliner is a free and useful tool to quickly evaluate competitors’ content on a site including page sizes, duplicate content, internal linking, broken links, a number of words and links on a page.

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When it comes to link building, it works in a very effective way: content-focused and Google-friendly. It helps you reveal dead or broken links on your website or other resources to avoid penalties from Google. The richer your piece of content is on a site, the more successful your link building tactic works. For SEO purposes, it is worth using SiteLiner.

Conclusion

To increase your sales and get much traffic, you need to use right SEO tools. The problem with many SEO tools is that SEO beginner or small agencies can’t afford expensive tools like WebCEO, Moz, etc. These 5 best alternatives are a lot cheaper and provide a good suite of tools to do a comprehensive competitor analysis.

Did I miss any of SEO tools? Which of these tools have you used? Your comments help me produce useful content on a consistent basis.