Part of the emerging global economy is the digital economy, boosted by advances in technology and strategic partnerships across the world. One of the key opportunities for growth are emerging markets speaking foreign languages.
Statistics show that just over 55 percent of the most visited websites had an English-language homepage in 2015. From 2001 to 2011, English language websites grew 281 percent. That may sound impressive but consider the fact that Spanish websites grew by 743 percent, Chinese by 1,277 percent, Russian by 1,826 percent, and Arabic by 2,501 percent in the same time period.
There are about 7.5 billion people in the world and about 1.5 billion of them speak English. In total, about 20 percent of the world’s population speaks or has some understanding of English. But the world is constantly changing. Some people speculate that this number will drop to 5 percent by 2050.
What does this mean for your business website? The internet is becoming more multilingual. If you intend to grow internationally or even have the slightest inkling that you may want to one day, multilingual SEO is one of the strategies you need to get there.
What Is Multilingual SEO?
To put it simply, multilingual SEO is a way of maximizing the content of your website so that users searching in other languages can find it.
According to Igor Avidon, founder of a leading Los Angeles SEO agency, translating your content can multiply your traffic in a matter of weeks. “We’ve had a lot of success with increasing relevant traffic by working with our clients to translate their original content into other languages,” says Avidon. “The same information translated into another language typically leads to anywhere between 50% to 300% growth in traffic. It’s an easy way to scale content and get additional value out of existing assets.”
There are a lot of factors involved with successfully expanding a business internationally and multilingual SEO is one way to pay attention to. As previously mentioned, websites in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic expanded at a rate three to eight times faster than English language websites. There’s a huge market you’re ignoring if you don’t tailor your SEO to attract international business.
Do You Need It?
Anyone who hopes to have an international audience one day should use multilingual SEO. But there are few business types that won’t benefit from it such as small businesses serving a local market. A local contractor isn’t going to bid on job offers outside of their county, and a small-town pediatrician won’t see patients located on the other side of the city, much less a different country.
Brands that sell trendy handmade jewelry or funny tee-shirts, however, would be far more interested in global exposure. International exposure would also benefit a digital company that provides products or services worldwide.
Any business that can realistically serve an international audience (or is located in a highly diversified area with customers speaking multiple languages) should invest in multilingual SEO, regardless of whether or not there is current international interest. Considering that only one-fifth of web traffic comes from the US, not optimizing your web content to reach searchers using other languages means you’re missing out.
Why Is Multilingual SEO Beneficial for Your Business?
Multilingual SEO helps in a few very specific ways. Without it, you’re giving competitors a chance to get ahead. There are two key areas of missed opportunities without multilingual SEO.
You’re Losing Potential Traffic
The best way to get more traffic is to rank as high as possible in the search results. It’s not always easy to figure out how to do this since search engine algorithms are always changing but there are some things that stay constant.
For one thing, search engines read all translated pages as part of the same website. Driving visitors from another country adds more visitors, which influences your overall ranking.
The more people that visit your site, the more opportunities you have for engagement. This is an important determining factor in search rankings because it tells the search engine that visitors to your website like it enough or are engaged by it enough to stick around which also raises your ranking. Google considers user behavior data such as dwell time (how long people spend on a website) and bounce rate (how often people leave your site after visiting just one page)
This is just one factor, but to acquire more engaged readers you need to make sure they can digest your content in their language.
You’re Missing an Opportunity to Build Trust
One of the key ways to build trust with your audience is by showing them you care enough to speak directly to them. Translating content into a language your visitor understands is a critical component of building that trust.
This is especially important for B2B brands who take their prospects and sales funnels seriously. Offering your services & products across the world is one thing, but taking the time to share your knowledge is an extra step foreign speakers will appreciate.
Whether English remains a prevalent language on the web or not, in the long run, does not change the fact that taking the time to show your prospective buyers a concerted effort to speak their language is a tremendous first step towards building trust.
You’re Missing Out on Conversions
All of this adds up to what you’re really looking for with any website: more conversions.
When international visitors come to your website, they’re more likely to make a purchase or sign up for an email list if they understand the language. The better the user experience, the longer they stick around, and the more likely they are to take action.
Most people would probably agree that they’re more likely to make a purchase or sign up for an email list when they’re able to understand store policies, product descriptions, and customer reviews. In this respect, translation is key.
From Search Engine to Conversions
Multilingual SEO will be a key part of growing any business internationally. Not only does it make your website more visible in search results, but it also helps attract, engage, and build relationships with new customers. The best way to reach new customers in foreign markets is to speak their language.
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