Growing your business globally means growing your website traffic and bringing international customers to you. You probably spend a lot of time creating and translating your content in order to do just that. That is an important step that should help you in your global conquest but optimizing international SEO is involves much more than merely adding keywords to your translated web pages. There is a whole list of various factors to consider when you want to increase your business’s visibility within the global market, and the best thing to do is to start with the technical aspects.
If you are one of those people that have just started their global adventure and are trying to get a fuller picture of how to start, this article might help you to draft the first plan. If you already handle a multilingual website and feel that there is something missing, you can go through each point and find out what did you omit before. The Technicalities of SEO Optimization may sound discouraging, but we are here to tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of. We wrote this article to explain the importance of these technicalities and we tried to make it as easy and as understandable as possible. To start your SEO Technicalities For Dummies adventure, just keep on reading!
You don’t have to be particularly tech-savvy to understand that metadata is simply a data about data 😉 The <meta> tag provides metadata about the HTML document and informs search engine crawlers, called robots, whether to index a web page or not. Before you proceed to content optimization, always check if your page contains noindex tags. Of course, metadata will not be displayed on the page, but it will be machine parsable, which means that it will definitely be used by search engines or other web services. These tags are typically used to specify the page description, keywords, author of the document and other metadata.
When you translate your website, two types of meta tags for translation are extracted:
The title tag from the <head> section of your website is extracted as translatable content as well. Think carefully about the possible outcome of translation and optimize your content. You will see the effects sooner than you think.
#2. Hreflang Tags
Hreflang tags are encoded within the HTML code and they inform search engines as to pages are more optimized for potential users, taking into consideration their language preference, browser’s language and location. If you have multiple language versions of a URL, each language page should identify different language versions, including its own. For example, if your site provides content in French, English, and Spanish, the Spanish version must include a
link for itself in addition to links to the French and English versions. Similarly, the English and French versions must each include the same references to the French, English, and Spanish versions.
Without an hreflang tag specifying different pages for your DE-DE (German for Germany) and DE-CH (Swiss German) markets, you could be sending DE-DE pages to Swiss customers. The products and information on your e-commerce site may vary for different markets, even if it’s the same language. Remember that going global isn’t merely about translation. You need to take currency differences, shipping costs, and date and time differences into consideration, too.
#3. URL Structure
We couldn’t omit this aspect in an international SEO Optimization blog post. Remember that a URL is an indicator of its content. Every translated page of your website should have a single unique URL, which search engines will index and display inside the search results. If your website is translated into three different languages (with a fourth being the source language), you should have exactly three alternative unique URLs identifying every page inside the website, plus the fourth URL being the default one identifying the source language of the page. Only in this way can you truly index your localized content for search engines.
There are a couple of ways of setting up the URL structure of your website to achieve this and Subdirectories and Subdomains approaches are usually the winners. Here you can read a guide that analyses every single approach so you can choose the one that is best for you and your website.
URLs that contain long combinations of numbers and letters are not optimized from an SEO perspective. If it’s possible, you should use real words that indicate the content of your page. Using a structured website will simply boost your website’s visibility with search elements.
All of this information may sound a bit too tricky and technical, but believe us – it isn’t so bad. If handled with a bit of care and cautiousness, your efforts for international SEO optimization will open your business to new markets, your content will become better with every step of the way, and you will give your company a chance to grow.
Let The International SEO Optimization Be Your Friend!