Multilingual SEO

5 Common Multilingual SEO Mistakes You Should Avoid

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 ‘’ 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.

DYI short text translation does not always end well

The problems posed by short text translation

At one time or another we’ve all been exposed to a hapless example of short text translation. As you can see from the picture above, poor use of language and clumsy translation often stands in the way of the very best attentions to inform, intrigue, or merely keep us away from harm.

The problems posed by short text translation are well known by industry experts and all those of you have come across amusing translation mistakes of your own. The trouble is, with such short pieces of text, some businesses find it just too tempting to save a couple of quid by attempting some translations of their own, often with the help of Google translate. Our experience in the industry has taught us that, however easy a spot of short text translation might seem, it’s one area which is always best left to the professionals.

Common short text translation mistakes

The Rush Job

Many of the companies that turn to us for professional translation assistance are working to tight budgets and deadlines. That’s fine by us, because we can turn projects around nice and quickly to meet even the most demanding deadlines. But what happens when there’s a last minute change to a document we’ve already translated, or a few words are added to a brochure, document or website page? That’s when mistakes can occur.

Rather than sending the extra text back to the professionals, sometimes marketing managers and web developers opt to take a short cut. So, off they go to Google translate; and therein lies their mistake.

Google translate is an incredibly clever tool for producing very general translations, but when you need a piece of text to be precise, as all good short text communications should be, automated translation tools are of next to no use.

The Contextual Cock-Up

Context is essential in accurate language translation. With so many homonyms at play, creating an accurate translation is only possible when a word is considered in context. At the last count, there were an estimated 6,139 documented homonyms in the English language, so there’s plenty of room for error.

For example, the word ‘bear’ can mean:

• To hold up; support: To bear the weight of a roof
• To give birth to: To bear a child
• To produce by natural growth: A tree that bears fruit
• The big, cuddly (sometimes aggressive) animal you find in the woods

Put the word ‘bear’ into Google translate and you never know which meaning your translation will assume. Get it wrong, and you’ll be left with a short text translation that makes a laughing stock of your best laid plans.

So, the moral of this story is: Whether it’s a big chunk of text or just a handful of words, the only way to be assured of a word perfect translation is to work with mother tongue linguists who understand the nuances and context of their language.

Have you seen any short translation blunders you’d like to share? Please leave your examples in the comments section below.

Image credits: Chris Radley


Cross-cultural communication is not always easy!

The importance of effective cross-cultural communication

In today’s globalised business environment, effective cross-cultural communication and competence is more important than ever before. With the economic downturn and opportunities created by the web, many businesses that previously lacked the infrastructure to expand are now venturing into new markets overseas.

A business’ ability to communicate across cultural divides is key to the level of success it can expect to achieve in foreign markets. While expansion into Western Europe or North America may provide linguistic divides, the cultural diversity at play is relatively minimal. However, cast your eyes further afield, to Asia, Eastern Europe or South America, and there’s a cultural chasm that can lead to misunderstandings and damaging blunders that can cost you prospective customers and clients.

The barriers to cross-cultural communication

Cultural generalisations and stereotypes can present a huge challenge for businesses with international aspirations. A simple choice such as a translation service rather than a full transcreation of your website can alienate prospective customers and limit the success of your expansion overseas.

In many cases there are cross-cultural communication ‘rules’ a business will not know exist. Then there are the nuances of language that a simple translation will not account for. The recreation of your website by a mother-tongue linguist who lives in the target country will ensure your marketing communications take account of the relevant linguistic and cultural conventions.

The evolution of language

Companies that successfully make their mark on overseas markets pay attention to the trends and evolution present in language. The introduction of social media presents both a challenge and an opportunity for overseas companies. While this platform levels the playing field by allowing new entrants with minimal budgets to compete with established, domestic based businesses, the colloquial language on social media can make if difficult for non-domestic businesses to build a following.

Improving your cross-cultural communication skills

Your level of domestic communication and people skills count for nothing when you set foot in new markets. Of course, an organisation’s ability to communicate effectively overseas will improve with international experience and increased exposure to different cultures. However, if you want to hit the ground running, here are a few methods of improving your cross-cultural communication.

• A simple telephone interpretation service can help you communicate with foreign clients and customers from the off. Fast, effective communication allows you to bypass language barriers and cross cultural divides without having to invest heavily in a foreign language customer service team.

Foreign language copywriting allows you to market to overseas customers in an authentic and believable way. Creating native marketing materials can convince overseas customers they are dealing with a domestic supplier.

• Businesses based in the UK can pay a small fee for a native business address and phone number to win the trust of overseas customers. An overseas business address and phone number is a thinly veiled façade if your website is written in English, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of transcreating your website under a foreign URL, a native address and phone number are the perfect finishing touch.

Has your business borne the brunt of any cross-cultural communication blunders? Perhaps you’re currently expanding into new markets overseas? Either way, we’d love to hear from you, so please share your experiences in the comments section below.


International marketing

Expanding overseas? Here are three tips to help market your business online

Irrespective of your size or your particular offering, any business with aspirations of trading overseas must effectively increase awareness of their brand, products and services in this new market. In many cases, the success of such a venture is often reliant on the company’s ability to market their website effectively in multiple locations. However, this is often overlooked, resulting in underwhelming search engine visibility in each location.

Before making the decision to expand overseas, it is essential you have a good grasp of international online marketing best practice to give your business a firm footing in foreign search. So, without further ado, here are our three top online marketing tips for businesses expanding abroad.

Structuring your website

One of the quickest and most common methods of targeting a website at an international audience is to add country or language specific pages to your existing website. This, of course, is dependent on both the size and the primary purpose of your website. The most cost effective strategy is to produce a small number of localised pages and add them to your existing website. Alternatively, you could create an entire website for each market that features only localised content.

There are problems associated with localised content on a predominantly English website. You might create a great French landing page that initially attracts plenty of French visitors, but if the rest of the site is in English, this targeted offering will struggle to convert.

On the other hand, transcreating your entire website with localised content will be expensive and time consuming. However, when those leads do come, they’re much more likely to convert.

Improve your cross-cultural competency

With the overseas expansion opportunities provided by the web, the need for strong cross-cultural competency in today’s businesses is more important than ever before. Having a keen grasp of the cultural assumptions and biases you operate within and how they change as you expand overseas can help you identify differences that may jeopardise your success overseas.

To create a brand localised customers can relate to and do business with, consider the cultural norms in that country and how they might differ between different age groups, genders and geographical areas. The more you understand and respect a country’s culture, the easier it is to localise your business’ message.

Customise your search engine marketing tactics

Search engine visibility is reliant on the right mixture of keywords, localised content and targeting the most appropriate search engine for that particular market.

Targeting the right search engine – While Google rules the roost for the majority of English speaking customers, international use of search engines can vary considerably. Local markets are often best served by more niche search engines which do not serve up English-language content, so do your research and adhere to the best practice as prescribed by your target search engine.

Localising content – Don’t serve up second-rate content to your international customers and expect to be successful in your online marketing efforts overseas. A simple translation of English content is never enough. Whenever possible, you should localise your content, services and products to meet the needs of each market you serve. However, this approach can be costly, so weigh-up all your options before you commit.

Choosing your native keywords – The keywords that identify your products and services in English might not translate when operating abroad. Use the skill of a native search engine marketer to research the most commonly used keywords in your target language. Keywords are often influenced by culture and the idiosyncrasies of language, so a little research now can save you time and money further down the line.

What are your tips for marketing your online business internationally? Have you enjoyed success overseas? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


All aboard the Linguistica blog

All aboard the Linguistica blog

Hello there, and welcome to the very first instalment of the Linguistica blog. In this, the blogging equivalent of a champagne bottle across the bow of a ship, we will tell you a little bit about who we are, what we do and why you’d be mad not to tune into our blog every other week. If it’s prescient news from the translation industry you’re looking for, along with the latest hints, tips, advice and critiques to steer your business to global success, this is the only resource you’ll need online. But first, some niceties…

Introducing our bloggers

Here at Linguistica, we have some of the industry’s most experienced translation and linguistics professionals at the helm. You’ve probably all experienced the frustration of working for a company that doesn’t do things as well at it could. Well, sometimes you just have to show them how it’s done.

So we joined forces to create a translation company that produces the highest quality translation, transcreation, copywriting, proofreading and interpreting services for discerning clients. We never cut corners, we only work with professionally qualified mother tongue linguists with a minimum of five years’ industry specific experience, and perhaps most importantly, we are committed to exceptional customer care.

Our bloggers’ raison d’être

We want to be your first and only port of call for translation tips and advice. Our sage-like in-house experts will dig deep into the recesses of their experience working with global brands like Manchester United and Santander to produce insightful and actionable blog posts that help you achieve your global business goals.

From digital marketing tips in multicultural societies to the intricacies of financial and legal translations, we will serve up the juicy titbits that help your business flourish overseas, both online and off.

We’d love you to get in touch!

We want this blog to become your go-to resource for all the localisation and translation advice you need. This blog is written purely for you, our readers, so the more we hear from you the better. Do you have a topic you’d like us to cover? Would you like further clarification about a subject we’ve touched upon? Perhaps you’d just like to share your translation experiences or successes? Whatever your reason for getting in touch, please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

Alternatively, if you’d like to discuss any of our services directly, please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: