When companies think about extending their market reach, often their first thought is to produce translated content. However, they often overlook the importance of making sure that their translated online content can be found by local search engines.

No matter how robust your domestic SEO strategy may be, it’s a mistake to assume that simply translating your US-optimized content will meet in-country SEO goals. Here are five SEO considerations to keep in mind when localizing your web content.

1. CONSIDER THE COMPETITION

It’s already hard enough to rank well on Google in the US because the competition is so high and, depending on your target markets, the situation is unlikely to be any different internationally. However, you can gain a competitive edge by strategically engaging with international target audiences based on insight into local business trends, search behaviors and preferences.

While it will require time and effort to effectively localize your content and strategy for different regions, it’s an important investment in growing organic traffic and customers worldwide. The following should factor into your localization and SEO strategy for each market:

  • Competitive landscape
  • Level of familiarity with your brand and products
  • In-market English proficiency
  • Local sensitivity around translation quality
  • Extent of local economic development

2. DO KEYWORD RESEARCH TO GET RESULTS

Keep in mind that search behaviors are different in each language and country you might be targeting. To set your localized website up for success, you’ll want to start with in-language keyword research in each of these target markets. Put this critical first step in the hands of trusted in-country experts who can provide insight into the most strategic and targeted search terms in their market based on local competition and search volume data.

These local search insights will not only inform your market-specific content strategies, but will also give you business-critical insight into what matters most to your international customers.

3. THINK TAILORED, RELEVANT CONTENT

As you think about your global SEO strategy and where you’re investing your localization budget, make sure you’re strategically localizing and optimizing only the content that’s relevant to each of your global target audiences. It’s much more effective – and budget-friendly – to produce a smaller amount of content that’s highly targeted and optimized than to translate a high volume of content that’s less likely to be found by (and to convert) in-country consumers.

Once you’ve identified key pages on your site that have the highest relevance to each market, you can map relevant primary and secondary keywords to each page based on your in-country keyword research effort. Carried out concurrently with translation, this allows you to naturally integrate local keywords without compromising the quality of your content or breaking your localization budget.

Also keep in mind that, depending on your target markets, it may not be enough to simply translate existing content and plug in localized keywords. If you’re looking to maximize the international opportunity, it may be worth investing in the creation of new content that is specific to each region’s local preferences and competitive landscape. Locally relevant content will help you connect with your customers and align with them as they progress in their unique customer journey.

4. BE SMART ABOUT INTERNATIONAL SITE STRUCTURE

Before you start creating localized versions of your website, you’ll need to consider what type of international site structure to put in place. There are pros and cons from both a practical and SEO perspective to the choices you make around this, and it’s a good idea to consider the options up front.

Whether you decide to choose Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) or subdirectories with Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), from an SEO perspective it’s important that you have a consistent site structure in place.

If Google is the primary search engine in your target markets and you’re targeting different regions with internationalized versions of the same language, it’s also important that hreflang tags are properly implemented. This will ensure a seamless user experience in each locale.

5. CONNECT THE DOTS ACROSS TACTICS: SEO + PPC

Localizing your SEO strategy is a great way to connect your brand with potential international customers, driving intent, consideration and conversions at the local level. However, getting results from SEO can take time to achieve.

Connecting SEO with your in-country PPC efforts (and leveraging insights across tactics) can maximize search opportunity and quickly increase conversions while also informing your ongoing SEO and content needs. When choosing a partner, consider how they can support you not just at the tactical level, but holistically across your digital marketing efforts.

FINAL THOUGHT

While producing translated content online seems obvious for connecting and engaging with your international audiences, it’s important to think strategically about what you’re trying to achieve with your content. The way you research, the content you translate and how you localize your SEO strategy can make all the difference in setting you apart from your competitors.

By localizing your website, are you looking simply to have an in-country presence, or do you want a high-performing tool for in-market conversion and international growth? Your marketing localization partner can help you make the right choices up front to maximize your budget and quickly deliver results.