Optimizing a website for search engines in different countries can be tricky. First, it should be noted that, to be globalized, the site structure should be optimized on an international level.
Assuming that the website is search engine friendly, and the basics of multilingual online marketing are already covered, the next step is to localize the site content in foreign languages. It is absolutely key that every page is not only translated, but also localised using search terms that people are likely to seek in this country. The keywords you choose in your website to describe the categories and products have a huge impact on your ranking in international markets. To find these keywords, Google AdWords and Google Trends can provide a useful guidance.
1. Understand and identify target audiences
The market share of Google and other search engines depends on the country you are targeting. Sometimes, other search engines (Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia) should be taken into account, during the multilingual optimization of the web.
2. Know the culture and languages of target markets
When localizing the translation (which means adapting the site to local culture), we will have to select relevant keywords for the target market. Do not forget that Spanish in Spain, Mexico or Argentina are as different as English in the UK, the United States or New Zealand.
3. Use Google Trends and Google AdWords to determine the best keywords
For many, Google AdWords and Google Trends will provide information that is not always realistic, and should not be used to search keywords. However, we believe they are useful, but we should bear in mind that they indicate trends. They can help to:
– get keyword ideas
Google AdWords is primarily a suggestion tool. We can use it to get ideas for keywords.
– analyze the variations in keyword usage
According to various sources, the statistics provided by Google AdWords are not realistic. However, this tool is still useful to evaluate variations of similar terms (for example, should we choose between singular / plural.)
Thus, the number of monthly searches for “hotel in Marseille” in Google may not reach14,800 units. However, this number shows that the term “hotel in Marseille” is prefered to the term ” hotels in Marseille “(6200 monthly searches). We will therefore focus on the expression “hotel in Marseille” in the website.
– analyze seasonal trends:
This is another interesting feature of the Google keyword tool. For some sectors, it can be really helpful to know what is the largest number of searches over a certain period. Thus we see that the term “Hostels Marseille” was more sought during the month of July than in January or February, and we can act accordingly ( for example, launching an Adwords campaign at the right time ).
– choose keywords in a multilingual context:
Results from Google AdWords and Google Trends are perhaps not perfect, but it is in fact the only tool available for searching keywords in many languages. Whether in Hungarian or in German, we can get the trends.
Let’s see an example: the term “USB” or “Memory Stick”. According to Google Trends, the term “USB” is more popular in the United States and Canada, and “Memory Stick” is more popular in the United Kingdom.
Ideally, meta-data for your site will be optimized using these keywords to reflect searches in each country. The synonyms will also be included in these meta-data to attract your potential clients, in case they use them in their searches on the web.
We would recommend to use these keywords in the navigation menus of the website, because users tend to scan the website, searching one keyword. This keyword research will also be usefull for e-marketing campaigns, wether they are pay-per-click campaigns or e-mailing.
Finally, Keyword Competitor Analysis Tools should be used to complete this analysis, but that will be the subject of another article.