They say time flies when you’re having fun, so maybe 2017 isn’t all that bad? In the blink of an eye we’re already approaching the half way mark, with a General Election on the horizon and the ever-present Brexit negotiations continuing to dominate the business headlines.
For many, the resulting high levels of uncertainty have caused panic. For others, they’ve been a timely prompt to firm up on overseas business outside of the EU. Marketing departments are in full swing, reaching out and reviewing the best ways to connect with target audiences, introducing new campaigns and products and driving awareness.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a crucial part of international expansion; if you’re to trade with your customers then they have to be able to find you online. And if they can find you for the search terms you want to be associated with – rather than leaving things to chance – you’ll have given your brand image a head start too.
If international marketing is part of your agenda then you may already be working your way through a 2017 SEO checklist. However, if you’ve fallen behind or you’re just starting your international SEO journey, we’re here to get you on track to taking your brand global before the year is out.
A Quick International SEO Recap
In our previous article we covered a number of key points that you should keep in mind when assessing and reviewing your international SEO plans. These include:
Research and budget: Research and budget planning are fundamental to the success of international expansion, and by now it’s likely that you’ve already gained an insight into your target markets. However, if you’re yet to outline the difficulty and costs associated with your keywords in your new target market, there’s no time like the present to start analysing your strategy … and that of your competition.
Mobile first: As part of our 2017 SEO Checklist we suggested that you should be optimising your website for mobile. This hasn’t changed and it’s now more important than ever that you ensure this mobile optimisation is applied to all versions of your website, including foreign translations, if you’re to ensure overseas success.
Cultured content: Don’t forget how important cultural relevance is when it comes to international SEO. Your content strategy for one country can’t simply be replicated word for word in another. Regional culture as well as national interests need to be taken in to account when creating and translating content for your new target markets.
Targeted social media: Effective translation and the targeting of specific demographics are two strategies that can help transform your social media from a “nice-to-have” to a key factor in driving your overseas success.
Get the Most Out of Your Onsite SEO with Expert Translation Services
As technology infiltrates even the farthest reaches of the planet, an online presence is perhaps the most effective method of targeting a new market. This is helped in no small part by the ease with which marketing teams can create and adapt a website and its content to suit their goals as campaigns evolve.
But your website needs to reach people and attract traffic if it’s to be of any use. Here’s where hard work on international SEO campaigns pays off.
In our SEO checklist we covered the importance of mobile optimisation and cultural content across all versions of your website. It’s time to check if these points have been actioned and maintained as expected and perhaps consider if an update is required.
This process begins with keyword research to assess the search volume and competition across different countries. If you’ve already assessed possible keywords for your overseas content and social media, then you should have an idea of which terms are driving high levels of converting traffic via Adwords to your site. This needs to be assessed in each target market at an affordable rate; but it’s worth checking if what was true six months ago is still true today.
Remember, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. You’re not simply finding the most effective keywords in your native language and doing a simple direct translation to each and every new market.
There are differences even in the English language. For example, while US consumers use the term ‘vacation’ to describe a trip away, British people are more likely to use the term ‘holiday’. So imagine the nuances and subtle changes in meaning that exist between entirely different languages; it takes a translation expert to spot these adaptations and understand the terms people are most likely to use when searching in their own language.
While optimised keywords will help with your overseas SEO, it’s vital to ensure all of your website content is also accurately translated, taking into account variations in culture, religion and values across each target market. You’d be well advised to consider retaining a professional translation agency to work collaboratively at this stage.
International Search Engines
So with your website content fresh and optimised and your keywords in place, what’s next? Well don’t forget that you won’t necessarily be dealing with Google in each and every market.
While Google is the undisputed leader in the world of search engines, there are a handful of other search engines that compete with the internet giant in some of the world’s most valuable markets. For example, in Russia, the leading search engine is actually Yandex, while China is dominated by Baidu.
In general, the use of different search engines by your consumers should only have a minor impact on your SEO practices. However, in larger markets such as those listed above (where alternative search engines are large enough to have their own best practices) your SEO strategy will benefit from a review of their rules and preferences.
Yandex, for instance, doesn’t tend to index pages as regularly as other search engines. This means fresh content on blogs or frequent changes to static pages are required to ensure your site is re-crawled on a regular basis and the most recent changes to your SEO are taken into account.
Yandex also focuses on local and regional marketing, so the success of British businesses in Russian markets requires culturally-relevant content and the use of the search engine’s webmaster tools to ensure regional preferences are selected for the overseas version of your website.
Promoting Your Brand Overseas
Social media and SEO are one thing, but don’t underestimate the importance of cementing your great work online by occasionally moving away from the digital world and being physically present at local events in your target countries, such as trade shows. As well as providing an opportunity to meet your customers, these events can provide a chance for you to interact with industry influencers and gain invaluable feedback, all of which could help you overcome country-specific obstacles and build your name up in a new area.
Physical promotion like this isn’t going to have a direct impact on the success of your SEO strategy unless the shows and businesses involved offer back linking and guest blogging opportunities. There is however, one thing will affect your success in every area, and that thing is language.
So if you’re reviewing your SEO strategy, make sure you check in with your translation agency in the process. Are they carrying out careful, accurate translations? Are they aware of the subtle differences in search terms? What are they doing to make your website content and keyword translations relevant to local culture and demographic interests in each new market and keep everything linguistically accurate?
Here at Bubbles Translation, we’ve carried out professional translations for a huge number of marketing campaigns. Our experts each have native language understanding, translation experience of the specific task and your vertical market, making us an ideal addition to your overseas success team.