Top 5 Multilingual SEO Best Practices for Businesses to Consider

Top 5 Multilingual SEO Best Practices for Businesses to Consider
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: November 20, 2023

Creating a multilingual online presence is necessary but takes work. Many activities need to be executed, from translating websites to localizing social media and advertising. Things get more complicated when it comes to multilingual website SEO.

You must consider a few essential SEO factors while setting up a multilingual website to ensure that people find the right pages for their location and language.

This article will take a deeper look into localization SEO and discuss multilingual SEO best practices in depth.

What is Multilingual SEO?

A multilingual website offers content in multiple languages. Accordingly, multilingual SEO is optimizing a multilingual website for different languages. This encompasses translating website content, targeted keywords, meta tags, meta titles, and descriptions.

Localization SEO or multilingual SEO is not restricted to just translating content. It is also about paying attention to how people search for content and the search terms they use in the targeted locale. Using location-based keywords in the content ensures a higher organic reach in particular regions.

So, to sum up, multilingual SEO includes:

  • Website building in each target language with a logical structure
  • Creating localized multilingual content
  • Fulfilling the different website development requirements to prevent the search engines from penalizing the multi-regional websites
  • Using an appropriate scheme to place the different website language versions
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5 Multilingual SEO Best Practices

  1. Perform Localized SEO Keyword Research
  2. Implement Geo-Targeted Hreflang Attributes
  3. Use Dedicated URLs
  4. Translate All Website Metadata
  5. Monitor Multilingual SEO Analytics

Let us now look at the top 5 multilingual SEO best practices in detail:

1. Perform Localized SEO Keyword Research

No keywords are universal. It is better to do a specific keyword search for each region and language the website targets instead of simply translating the keywords.

Also, location-specific keywords and language-specific keywords are different. Various English-speaking countries use other words for particular things. What is ‘cookies’ in the US is ‘biscuit’ in the UK. The competition and search volume of the keywords in different languages and regions also vary accordingly.

As keywords are the foundations of a multilingual website SEO strategy, it is worth performing a localized SEO keyword search and finding the best terms for each location and language targeted.

2. Implement Geo-Targeted Hreflang Attributes

Using the hreflang annotations is necessary to enable Google to determine both the page language and the intended region. If the page is designed for multiple regions, multiple hreflang tags can be added. The tags are incorporated in the original page’s header section or submitted through a sitemap.

The hreflang attributes should also be added for multi-regional websites in the same language but slightly different from the different regions. For instance, if you have localized English UK vs. US websites, it is essential to add hreflang markups and attributes to the sitemap to let Google understand which website is aligned with which country and language.

3. Use Dedicated URLs

A URL is the first part of the website that users see and is also the starting point for conducting local SEO. Every country and language page must have its URL so that Google can efficiently crawl, index, and rank the sites.

You must also include a language indicator in the URLs to allow the search engines to identify the website language. Three URL structures to choose from determine the language indicator placement. These are the top-level domain, sub-domain, and subdirectory.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages, with subdirectories being the quickest to set up and maintain.

Get connected with the right SEO agency for your project.

4. Translate All Website Metadata

There are two types of content, one that the users see and the other that they don’t, but both are equally important and need SEO.

It is common for website owners to forget about the ‘hidden’ parts of their multilingual websites. This refers to the text in the background and the pages that users see only when they perform specific actions.

These include the meta tag and titles, meta descriptions, Alt text for images, URLs, contact pages, checkout pages, newsletter sign-up forms, and error messages.

Translating all of these, especially the metadata, is crucial for SEO because they appear in Google’s search results.

5. Monitor Multilingual SEO Analytics

Keeping track of multilingual SEO analytics is critical to ensuring that a website performs equally well in every language.

So, once the content is translated and optimized for search with the appropriate URLs, metadata, and hreflang tags for your multilingual site, it is necessary to analyze what is working and what is not.

Multilingual SEO analytics involves collecting and analyzing search data to gain insights into the website’s performance in different languages.

When you have several website translations, the SEO needs to match the language the target visitors use. For instance, your French-translated website might attract fewer visitors than your English website. This is where SEO analytics help, and it includes the following components:

  • Keyword research: Keyword research is tricky when the additional languages are non-native. Tools like Google Translate go up to a particular stage but have dialect issues that can lead to an incorrectly translated keyword. With SEO analytics, this can be resolved.
  • SEO optimization: SEO analytics help find out whether the entire website data, including the metadata, image alt tags, and external links, are translated apart from the main text. It is worth analyzing if all these points on the page are in the correct language.
  • Content planning: Relevant and exciting topics may intersect between languages, but not always. The priority of specific issues varies based on region and country, and SEO analytics help businesses make informed decisions.

Above all, tracking SEO metrics enables identifying issues that might hinder a site’s ability to rank in other languages. With multilingual SEO analytics, there is no shooting in the dark; instead, putting data-driven marketing efforts.

Wrapping-Up Multilingual SEO Best Practices

Perfecting SEO for a multilingual website is challenging. Businesses should seek professional guidance because localized SEO is crucial in attracting the right audience and promising a robust user experience.

Multilingual SEO Best Practices FAQs

How do I optimize a multilingual website?

To optimize a multilingual website, start by:

  • Implementing hreflang tags for language and regional targeting
  • Using clean, SEO-friendly URLs
  • Providing high-quality, localized content.
  • Optimizing images and media for fast-loading
  • Ensuring responsive design for mobile users
  • Creating a clear site structure with language-specific sitemaps
  • Focusing on local SEO and backlinks for each language
  • Monitoring and analyzing performance with analytics tools
  • Guaranteeing a smooth user experience for language switching
  • Updating and maintaining the site for accuracy and relevance

What are the challenges of multilingual websites?

Challenges of multilingual websites include ensuring accurate translations, maintaining consistent branding and user experience across languages, managing SEO for each language, and handling technical issues like hreflang tags and content synchronization. Additionally, cultural differences and content appropriateness can pose challenges.

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