What is Multilingual SEO?

Before we get into the benefits and how to write for multilingual SEO, we must first realise exactly what multilingual SEO is. Multilingual SEO is simply having optimised content available for multiple languages or multiple locations, usually countries. Normally only larger businesses with global markets will dabble in multilingual SEO as it benefits them the most.

Now that we know what multilingual SEO is, how do we optimise our content for it?

Character Encoding

Ensure your website is coded to use the UTF-8 Character Encoding. Character encoding is simply a code representing different characters, numbers and symbols. For multilingual SEO, UTF-8 is the best encoding as it essentially supports all the characters and symbols used across the world.

If characters become corrupted due to the wrong encoding/character support, your website’s SEO can be impacted as websites may not be crawled properly. Fortunately, UTF-8 is the default encoding for HTML, though you should still declare this is the encoding to be used with a quick meta tag.

Keyword Research

Just as with normal SEO, keyword research is a very important factor in your SEO performance. Remember not to use direct translations for your keywords, as these direct translations can simply be wrong or mean something entirely different to the original meaning. This is even noticeable in British English to American English translations: if we were optimising a football site for American visitors, we would have to use “soccer” as football is an entirely different sport in America.

URL Structure

An easy way to tell search engines which language the webpage is optimised for is to use ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains) You can see a ccTLD in use right now on our website: www.bluewhalemedia.co.uk the “co.uk” is the ccTLD which notifies search engines, and users, that this website is optimised for British visitors. If you are unable to purchase the ccTLD you require, you can use subdirectories with the country and language information in the URL instead. An example of this could be www.Example.com/de-de/ This URL structure shows that the webpage is optimised for German visitors. You can enhance this further and use translated keywords in your website URL. For example, www.Example.com/products/ would have a German equivalent of www.Example.com/de-de/produkte. Having your keyword in the URL is a standard point of SEO, this is simply bringing it over into multilingual SEO.

Hreflang Attribute

Another easy way to tell search engines which language your webpage is optimised for is to use the hreflang attribute. This is used to directly tell the crawlers which language the webpage content is written for and is used by search engines to show your website/webpage to users with the targeted language selected on their browser.

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