In my previous blog, 5 SEO Trends to Keep Up With, I highlighted some trends to follow to help you achieve your desired SEO goals. In this blog, I will discuss some specific ways to optimize your website for your global audiences.
Your optimization strategy will depend on which languages your audience speaks and where they live. For example, if you are translating your website into Spanish for a Latin American audience, you need to create content using the dialects, colors, images, navigation, etc. preferred by people in Latin America, not for Spanish speakers in Europe or the U.S. Some of the differences between the locales may be subtle, but other times the differences will be much more impactful.
You will also need to decide what the URL structure will be for your translated website. You can use country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains or subdirectories. ccTLDs are best when you are targeting based on country, not a specific language. But there are some hurdles you may face, like needing a physical location in the country you want to register the domain in. Subdirectories, also known as subfolders, are used to create separate pages for each of your targeted languages and they exist within your main domain so there is no need for separate hosting. Subdomains are affiliated with your primary domain, but are separate sites. They can be used to target either language or country.
Even if you don’t use ccTLDs, you can still use geotargeting tools to set the location of your website, ensuring you’ll reach the users who will find the content relevant.
It is important to recognize the differences in culture and dialects between countries. Just like there are differences between UK and US English, the same exists for other languages such as Spanish, Arabic and French.
Global Search Engines
Although Google is the primary search engine in many places, that is not the case everywhere. Baidu controls 70% of the search market in China and Yandex has a 54% market share in Russia, due to its ability to handle the complexities of the Russian language.
There are some key things to keep in mind if you are optimizing your website for a search engine other than Google. Baidu places a higher emphasis on Meta descriptions and keywords than Google does. It also takes longer for your content to get indexed by Baidu, due largely to the strict control of website content in China. Yandex does not handle Meta descriptions the same way Google does. It selects a random passage from a piece of content, which changes regularly and can be unpredictable. The best way to optimize for this is to create all content with appropriate keyword densities and make sure your content’s primary message is clear throughout.
Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms are a great way to reach and interact with your global audiences, especially if they are on the opposite side of the planet from you. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter dominate the social media website landscape, but depending on your targeted locale, these aren’t always the favorite and are even banned in some countries. In China, WeChat, Weibo, QQ and Youku are popular social media and messaging platforms. Russia has VKontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki (OK.ru).
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (both owned by Facebook) are the most popular social networking applications, followed by WeChat, QQ and Instagram (also owned by Facebook).