Going global can be daunting. Of course it can. You’re opening up your business to a diverse range of challenges, regulations and cultural differences that can make your business vulnerable. However, with burgeoning markets in South America, South East Asia and India, it’s clear to see why going global is a risk so many businesses are willing to take.
In the US, one in every two people purchases goods and services online. In the UK, this figure drops to one in three. In Latin America, it’s one in six; while in South East Asia, just one in eight people buy goods and services online.
In the saturated US and UK markets, the cost of search engine optimisation (SEO) is escalating beyond the reach of many smaller operators. The top rankings for the most competitive search terms are the preserve of large corporations with bumper budgets. But there are plenty of opportunities for smaller operators overseas, as long as you avoid these 5 common multilingual SEO mistakes.
1. Choosing the wrong keywords
This is a big mistake that can spell disaster for your efforts overseas. Too many businesses rush the keyword research stage of the process, failing to recognise its role in underpinning their entire SEO strategy.
The mishap so many businesses make is to perform a literal translation of keywords from their domestic market. Instead, an entirely new set of keyword research should be completed in the native language of the new market. This will reveal the search volume and competition for the terms the native population are searching for.
2. Pinning all your hopes on Google
Google might call the shots on our fair isle, dominating internet search with an 89 percent share of the market, but this is not replicated across the rest of the world. Yahoo and Bing share a number of bolt holes, while native search engines such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea rule the roost.
To succeed overseas, you need to dance to the beat of the dominant search engine’s drum. Each will have its own algorithms and indexing policy to attribute rankings to your website. And if you’re unsure how to appease the native search engines, consult a local expert.
3. Failing to make Multilingual mark-ups
Excuse us for a second while we get technical, but this is a really important point. You need to tell Google that certain parts of your website content have been created specifically for other locations. It can be a pretty complicated process, but here’s everything you need to know.
4. A lack of local domains
Your website domain can play an important part in the success of your website overseas. Many larger companies choose to use a .com as their top level domain, with subdirectories for websites designed for international markets. If you have ‘.co.uk’ website, you should certainly consider a country specific domain such as .fr (France) or .es (Spain) etc. This creates reassurance and familiarity amongst local customers.
5. Ignoring local market trends
Despite the reduced level of competition, you’ll still need to build links to your local domain to rank in the organic search listings for your most competitive key terms. Understanding local market trends and the variations in internet usage between markets should form the basis of your SEO strategy. In Korea, a good blog is essential. If you want to rank in China, having servers located in China will certainly help you along.
Have you learnt any of these lessons the hard way? Are there any other mistakes you’ve made that have halted your progress? Please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below.