For the past few years, we’ve all been focusing on SEO to ensure we come up on the first page of Google search results. Well now it’s time to start focusing on MSEO: Multilingual Search Engine Optimization.
I recently read an article on Multichannel Merchant called “Looking for Love (and Other Search Terms) in All the Wrong Languages” that discusses this new approach on how to begin optimizing your site for multilingual search engines.
For sites in English, the goal is to not only capture the international market but also to attract non-native English speakers in your home country. The article states that:
80% of all online transactions begin on the Web and that 99% of foreigners use search engines built around their languages to look for, not surprisingly, words in their own language. SEO around English will leave a lot of these people on the outside, never finding your Website or what you offer.
To compete in the international space, you don’t have to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of translating and localizing your entire site (though that, of course, would help). The article suggests a different approach called “transcreation”, where you focus on translating keywords and other metadata into appropriate languages to gain new paths into your site.
Here is an excerpt:
That’s where the translation issue comes up. Do people who don’t speak English think about products in the same way? There are certainly direct translations for physical objects like an Eames chair, a sports car, and a rotary sander.
But some things may not be sold or used in a given country–think Lufthansa running a promotion for flights from Boston to Frankfurt to passengers in a regional airport in northern Germany or, to take an extreme case, Weight Watchers pitching its wares to a country chronically cursed with famine.
Translating every keyword obviously doesn’t make sense. This reality brings up the third option: what I classify as “transcreation” rather than translation. For their MSEO projects, companies first translate keywords for objects and concepts that easily cross borders; for example, look at words that are specific to your industry. For everything else, you’ll have to get into someone else’s skin.
Read the full article on MSEO.