Today’s guest post gives small business CEOs wonderful tips on how to connect with a worldwide audience by providing their marketing message in multiple languages.
Businesses across the globe can expand internationally thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web.
Why limit yourself to your domestic market when there is literally billions of people out there who could be spending their dollars, pounds or yen with you?
If the plan is executed correctly, your business may have less competition abroad and your profits could grow from doing nothing more than adapting your website for a country that’s crying out for your wares.
There are a number of key steps you can take to expand overseas. And with multilingual online marketing, becoming a successful international company is just around the corner.
First thing you need to do to expand overseas is to establish which countries you should target. Not every market will have a need for your services, and identifying the right countries to bring you more clients is vital. Check out the competition and see what companies are operating in your industry already, are there any gaps in their services?
But be wary of too much competition it can be difficult trying to infiltrate an already saturated marketplace.
Keywords are what people use to search for things on the Internetnothing new there then. And if you’re on top of your domestic SEO, you’ll know all about how to incorporate keywords into your carefully crafted English website copy
For international SEO, as a general rule of thumb, you should never translate your keywords directly, even if the translation is a correct dictionary translation.
Local e-consumers might use synonyms, colloquialism or abbreviations instead of a direct translation of the English search terms. It pays to have a native speaker draw up a list of keywords which you can refine by using Google AdWords keyword tool. With this you can see what words people use to search for and decide which keywords are best suited for your company.
Localize Your Content
Over half of the online population speaks a language other than English as their native tongue. Research by Common Sense Advisory indicates that people are six times less likely to buy a product online if the website they access is not in their native language?even if they can speak English.
To tap into international revenue streams, the content of your website needs to be translated at the very least. The best option is to hire a professional translator. Having incomprehensible text can send clients running a mile, so if something?s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right. Don’t be tempted by free? tools such as Google Translate if you can help it.
A professional translator can localize any complex, technical terminology on your website, the slang, abbreviations and metaphors. This is a step beyond mere translation a good linguist will capture the nuance of the original text in the language of your target market.
As a last resort, if you don’t have the necessary funds to hire a professional translator, you can use machine translation such as Google Translate. This will never be 100% accurate, and you might want to invest any early profits in having the website proofread and edited. This will be cheaper than a full translation and will help iron out any potentially embarrassing ?faux pas?.
Local Domain Names
For your website to be successful on local search engines, it’s best that your register in-country domain names (such as.FR for France, .CN for China) and host them on servers in the target country. Do not underestimate the benefits of having locally hosted top level domain names (TLDs) for your international SEO.
If your budget doesn’t allow for individual TLDs for each target country, don’t despair – there’s a plan B. You can set up subdomains or subdirectories on your main website for each country (e.g. www.mybusiness.com/fr; or http://fr.mybusiness.com).
It’s not always enough just to translate your content in the language of the target country. You must make sure clients from that country can find your website in the correct language at the first time of asking.
You can install a geolocation tool on your website that automatically redirect users to their language based on the IP address.
Google Webmaster Tools also allows you to set up the location of your pages on the website. For example, you can set up your .CN website with the location China, so people there can easily find your website in local search engines.
Link-building, SEO and Social Media
One of the most important SEO techniques out there is link-building. Remember: if you target a foreign country, the back-links your website benefits most from are those from websites within that country. So if you have a .FR domain and you get links from other .FR websites, your local search engine rankings will improve more.
To get back-links, you must offer something of value to other websites. Guest articles, reviews, comments (properly translated by a professional translator).
Links from social media platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, Digg and Reddit are becoming more important in Google rankings too. Set up an account on those websites and let everyone know when something new is happening in your company.
Google isn’t the be-all and end-all
Although Google is the biggest search engine in the world, it doesn’t dominate in every country. In China, for example, Baidu is what people use to search the Web. Tailor your online marketing strategy for the search engines your target market uses.
Successfully expanding your business into foreign markets isn’t child?s play, but it isn’t as hard as it first seems. You just have to be bold and dedicated to the cause. Now go global and prosper!
About the author
Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24, an online translation agency that specializes in website localization. With 150 full-time employees working across three continents, and clients in over sixty countries, Lingo24 in on course for a turnover of over $8m in 2010.