Optimize for Global Search Engines

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 14, 2008

Did you know Google () now covers about 170 languages and the list is expanding every day through volunteer translation efforts? This means more and more of your target consumers are searching for your products and services in a language other than English. Will they find you?

Given the explosion of local-language content in recent years, consumers are now more likely to search in their native language first. In order to be presented in these results, you need to ensure that each language variant of your site is indexed by the search engine. Here are some thoughts on how to accomplish this:

• Ideally, you should create a Country Code Top-Level-Domain (ccTLD) for each target market. For instance, use www.yourcompany.de for Germany and www.yourcompany.fr for France. If replicating your site is not possible, then purchase the various URLs and redirect them back to the appropriate language version of your site.

• When translating your site, go beyond the words to consider the meaning and local usage. A formal translation of site content and key words is good but may miss local market phrases and idioms that might have higher search frequency in your category. Do some research in the target market and then apply those words in the translated copy.

• Finally, plan for scalability. Your first step may be Spanish but your next leap will likely include five or more languages. The wave after that will take you to 15 and so on. The ramp accelerates exponentially as global demand grows, so be sure your strategy can scale in response.

Kevin R. Bolen
Chief Marketing Officer
Lionbridge
Waltham, Mass.

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