Feature Article (Pub: April 07) The Benefits of Multi-lingual Search Engine Optimisation by Paul Rudman

We are definitely not alone in the search universe - people from across the globe type in an array of different search queries to find products and services, using their own favourite engine, and most importantly (at least in the case of this article) in their own native language.

The world is a small place now thanks to the internet, and yet the majority of businesses still write all their website content solely in English, despite the fact that once they add the right amount of shipping cost they could ship products from Taiwan to Timbuktu.

Ok, yes there is an argument that English is the international language of business, but this doesn't take into account the fact that search engines have a variety of filters, so by not having any foreign language content on your website, you are potentially missing out on a sale because your site is not being listed in all the places it could be...

Local Search Engine Listings

When people search using the localised Google or Yahoo engines, they are given the option of searching across content that is in their native language. A few examples are shown below:

Precise figures are not currently available on the breakdown of how many people search for products in a language other than English, but you can be sure that if there is no foreign language content on your website then your listing will never appear when people search in German, French, or Italian for example.

How much foreign language content is needed?

Let's say you've bought into the idea that some foreign language content on your site is a good idea - how much is enough to be recognised as such in order to appear in the foreign language search engines?

Realistically it's more about the percentage of content on a single page that is a distinct language than it is about having a certain number of pages in a certain language on your site. So for example, if your page has 80% Italian words and 20% English words then it would rank in Google.it as being an Italian content page. However, I'd always recommend approx 3 pages of content in each language as a minimum, as this allows you to provide some internal hyperlinks to further pages in the same language. I'd also recommend a minimum of 90% content in the foreign language, which works well as the other 10% is most likely to be your navigation.

Conclusions

The benefits of multi-lingual search engine optimisation are pretty obvious; your website will appear in different search engines, to a different audience, typing in different search terms to find products and services that you offer. The hardest part of focusing on multi-lingual SEO is finding the correct resources for translations, copywriting, and optimisation in order to put bring your multi-language website to life!


Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.

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