Keyword research is tough. As anyone versed in search engine optimization knows, you could have the prettiest website in the world, but unless you get your keywords right, nobody’s going to find it. And when your website is multilingual, it throws up some harsh new challenges.
The savviest digital marketers have realized that people want to be spoken to in their own language. And for ecommerce sites, it’s more important than ever. Indeed, Common Sense Advisory’s " Can’t Read, Won’t Buy " report found that people were four times more likely to buy something online if they had information in their own language. Makes sense, but how do you get people to your multilingual website in the first place?
Luckily keyword research for multilingual sites isn’t as difficult as you might think. For starters, there’s much less competition for keywords on the foreign language internet, meaning you can take advantage of a relatively untapped market.
With just a few changes to your initial research, you can reap huge rewards in terms of rankings and hits by using a three-pronged approach.
If you already have an English-language website, then a logical place to start is with the keywords that are already working for you. But be warned -- it’s not always as simple as translating your English keywords into your target language. After all, just as people over the globe don’t act in the same way, they also don’t speak, surf, or search in the same way. Consider how an American might hunt online for a new "trash can," while across the pond in the UK, his or her counterpart will be looking for a new "bin." Now add in a foreign language or two, and suddenly you’re floundering in deep SEO waters.
To help overcome both cultural and linguistic differences, consider drafting keywords with the help of native speakers from your target country. Not only will they help you pick up on subtle nuances and language oddities, but they can also give you their valuable insight on what people in their country might be searching for, and how they will be searching for it.
While it may be tempting to turn to an online dictionary or software such as Google Translate to do the bulk of your keyword translating, be aware that errors do happen. Whether it’s a slight mistranslation or a completely garbled bit of ‘Spanglish’ text, if these errors make it through to your site, the net result is the same: people won’t find you, whatever language they’re searching in.
Once you have a list of potential keywords translated and ready to go, it’s time to put them to the test. Google AdWords can tell you how many people are searching for your suggested terms and help you choose the keywords and long tail phrases that are likely to drive traffic to your website.
Don’t forget, though, that Google isn’t quite the search engine powerhouse overseas that it is in the U.S. Visit Russia, and you’ll find everyone is using Yandex . In China, Baidu is the search engine of choice. Many popular foreign search engines have their own free keyword tools, so play around with your keywords (or ask a native speaker to help out) and take advantage of them!
Here comes the exciting bit: now it’s time to release your painstakingly researched multilingual keywords onto the foreign language internet and see how they do.
As with your English SEO campaign, you can use analytics to see how well your foreign keywords are performing. Track which ones drive the most traffic to your site and yield the best conversions, and ditch the ones that aren’t doing quite so well. Don’t forget that you’ll have to monitor them across a number of different search engines too!
Even if you’ve got some killer keywords in a wide range of different languages, the hard work doesn’t stop there. You’ll need to keep monitoring their success and constantly refine your keyword campaign to keep on top of searching trends.
Above all, researching keywords is a tricky business, especially when you’ve got other languages and cultures to take into account. But with a few tweaks to your research, you can easily find yourself ranking at the top of search engines worldwide. That’s what you really call being a global marketer.
Image Credit: Kenneth Lu