Successful Inbound Marketing in Other Languages
This post was written by Christian Arno, founder of professional translation services provider, Lingo24.
The internet is not only growing fast, but it’s becoming more multilingual. The idea that English is the universal online language is no longer true. The latest figures from Internet World Stats show that the number of Arabic users has grown by 2501 per cent since 2000, compared with just 301 per cent for English users. And Chinese is predicted to become the dominant language of the web in just a few years.
This means a wealth of opportunities for companies with a global outlook. Translating your website and online marketing means you can reach a much wider pool of customers. SEO usually means an uphill struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace. But since there is still relatively little content in languages other than English, it’s much easier to climb those elusive SERP rankings in Russian, Spanish, or Japanese.
Of course, setting up a website isn’t enough on its own. Inbound marketing is the key to driving more traffic to your site – and therefore customers. The idea of creating great content, optimizing it and promoting it in foreign languages might seem daunting at first. But these tips should help you get started.
Identify your target markets
You might already have an idea where there could be demand for your products and services. Keeping up with global trends and researching the competition will give you an idea of where there’s untapped potential. And of course, your website might already be picking up customers from around the world. There are a number of useful free tools, such as Google Analytics, that can analyze where your traffic is coming from.
Once you have a shortlist of countries, you can test the water by creating a few micro-sites. To keep costs low, simply translate the main pages and information about your key products. If there’s enough interest, you can translate the entire site.
One advantage of the relative lack of competition in other languages is you have a better chance of securing a great domain name. The ideal option is an in-country top-level domain name, featuring your main keywords, e.g. www.kameras.de for a German photographic site. Failing that, a combination of your company name and keywords is a good alternative.
Choose your keywords
This is the starting point for any SEO campaign. It’s worth investing time in researching your keywords for each country and language. These won’t necessarily be direct translations of your English keywords. For example, French car owners are more likely to search for “auto assurance” than the correct translation, “l’assurance automobile”.
Use tools such as Google Adwords to identify possible keywords and the levels of competition. It’s best to check your final list with a native speaker to avoid any mistakes or confusion. Of course, inbound marketing and paid-for advertising can often complement each other. Paying for a short PPC campaign will help you measure the effectiveness of your keywords in an international market.
Create great content
Inbound marketing relies on earning people’s interest, rather than buying it. As in English, the recipe for success is creating high-quality, valuable content, and ensuring people can find it.
While Google penalizes duplicate content in the same language, this doesn’t apply in translation. This means you can directly translate the information on your existing site, with a few changes to suit your target market. Don’t be tempted to cut costs by using Google Translate or other automatic translation tools. They usually result in too-literal or at worst, garbled results. Hiring native-speaking translators will ensure your copy reads fluently.
Once you’ve launched your website, make sure it’s submitted to relevant directories. In a competitive market, you’ll also want to build high-quality backlinks to the site. If you’re not fluent in the language, hire native-speaking copywriters or content marketers to identify leading industry websites and submit articles or press releases.
Know your search engines
Google has the lion’s share of the search engine market in most countries. But if you’re targeting some of the world’s fastest growing markets, such as China and Russia, this isn’t the case. Learning the quirks of different search engines will have an impact on your SEO strategy.
Like Google, Baidu values inbound links, but pays more attention to quantity than quality. It assigns less value to a link from an authoritative or popular site. It also shows an overwhelming preference for local sites, meaning a Chinese domain name is a must.
The Russians’ favourite search engine is Yandex, which has a definite preference for high-quality links. There’s little point chasing links from poorly-ranked sites in Russia, or posting links in un-moderated forums. Its “Thematic Citation Index” differs from Google’s PageRank in some significant ways. One of these is it also counts outbound links to authoritative sites, giving an additional way to boost rankings.
Yahoo! Japan is powered by Google, but its algorithms aren’t exactly the same. It prefers a greater keyword density of 7 to 8 per cent compared to 2 or 3 per cent. It’s also important to submit your site to directories to ensure it ranks highly.
Finally, there are plenty of other local favourites, such as Naver and Soso in South Korea, and Seznam in the Czech Republic. Adapting your strategy to fit them will give you a headstart.
Don’t neglect social media
Social media is an increasingly important part of B2B marketing. This is true almost everywhere in the world, with EMarketer estimating that 1.43 billion people will use social networks by the end of 2012.
Setting up separate Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote your foreign-language websites and share your content should be a no-brainer. But, as with search engines, these aren’t the big two everywhere. In fact, they’re both still banned in China, meaning you should make friends with Qzone to spread the word there.
In Japan, Mixi is a close rival of Twitter and Facebook for the number one spot. South Koreans love Cyworld, while the main players in Russia are Vkontakte and Odnoklasski. Don’t forget LinkedIn, which is expanding fast in North America and Europe as the first choice for business networking. It even has an estimated 2 million users in China, despite no official presence there.
Analyze your results
It’s surprising how few companies measure and analyze their social media, despite regarding it as an important marketing strategy. Monitoring campaigns and tracking performance should be a vital part of all your digital marketing channels.
Measure the performance of your foreign language keywords and consider which ones have a higher conversion rate. It can sometimes take as little as changing a word to cause a big boost in performance. Google Analytics is a relatively basic tool to get started. For more detailed results, consider investing in more sophisticated tools, such as Optify’s International SEO Support, which can track performance across numerous worldwide search engines.
As with all inbound marketing, it takes time to build up traffic and you won’t see results overnight. You’ll probably need to modify your strategy, and adapt your content as you get to know your target audience. But with a little effort and local knowledge, it can be a effective way of tapping into huge, growing markets.
About the Author
Christian Arno is the founder of professional translation services provider, Lingo24. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 160 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated more than 40million words for businesses in every industry sector, including MTV and World Bank