In the digital marketing landscape, everyone is always talking about content. Global companies are seeking out new markets and looking for more customers in other countries and regions. Website content is the most important avenue for marketing to global audiences. So naturally, this brings up several questions:
- Do you have a multilingual website?
- Is your online content fully globalized?
- Is your multilingual content optimized for local search engines?
- Do you have a multilingual content strategy?
Many companies still fall short when it comes to applying best practices for multilingual content strategies. Over the years, we see the same problem with many multilingual websites that only focus on their English or native language content and leave their multilingual content as a translation of the main website with no additional optimization.
Some multilingual websites have a very good user interface that is fully functional for global and local audiences, but ultimately fails to drive more traffic and engage customers. This failure is most likely related to the multilingual content, or lack of multilingual content, across your localized versions.
So what should you keep in mind if you want to implement a successful content strategy for multilingual websites? Below are five important multilingual content considerations.
1. Local Research
Your research must include basic questions about the local market, including:
- What language(s) does your target audience speak?
- What is the culture(s) of your target audience?
- What do your customers need and expect?
- What are the local market trends?
- What are the online behaviors of your target audience?
Answering these questions and others will help you decide which types of content to create, what language it should be in and where it should be available online.
2. Content Creation and Distribution
To create relevant content for local markets, keep in mind the following:
- Web Content Management System (WCMS): It is very important to use a web content management system that supports multilingual websites and exporting/importing content for translation.
- Valuable, Relevant Content: You need to think like your online visitors and understand their needs, which will vary greatly from country to country. Identify which types of content drive the highest traffic, conversions and engagements in each region. You will also need to adjust things like tone of voice, images, design, colors, etc. to create content that is optimized for each audience segment.
- Search Engines: Not all regions use Google as their primary search engine. For example, Baidu is the main search engine in China and Google is practically non-existent there. How you optimize your content will vary depending on which search engine your audiences use for queries.
- Social Media Strategy: Having a social media strategy it important so that you can share and reuse your content to attract new customers. Multilingual social media content should always include localized information that your global users will be excited to share on social media. Research which social media platforms your audiences are most active on and always remember to include social media share buttons on all the content you develop.
3. Content Localization
Mere translation from a source language to a target language will not always achieve your goals. You will need to review the content for language and cultural considerations such as text layout and spacing, images, navigation, currency and colloquialisms. The message of the content needs to be maintained in all language versions.
Content localization requires a translation agency with native speaking copywriters, proofreaders and professional localization teams in order to create content and brand messaging for the target languages.
4. Content Optimization for Search Engines (SEO)
SEO has changed the way online content is written. Optimizing content for search engines is an essential step for every content strategist. Some companies only consider SEO for the English version of their website and they don’t apply the same attention and SEO best practices to the localized content.
Multilingual SEO should include:
- Multilingual keyword research, refinement and localization.
- Copy writing of main site content.
- Localized Meta tags, titles, alt tags, HTML, etc.
- Submissions to major locale (in-country) and international search engines.
- Website traffic and keyword ranking reporting.
5. Measure Results (ROI on Content)
You will always need to measure the results of the content on each language version of your website. Tools like Google Analytics have helpful features to show geographic and language results for your website visitors. Through analytics tools, you can get detailed information about your content, which will help you make decisions about what’s working well and where you can improve.