Content internationalization is now a common strategy in all enterprises. In this digital era it is totally normal to find companies working with content, writing for blogs and creating websites in several languages, in order to talk with different countries.
Today, we are no longer speaking about the importance of dominating the common language, which means, that unique language to communicate with people from different parts of the world. We can say that, nowadays, the common language means to speak several languages; or even more than that, it means to speak the language of the market with whom we are doing business.
This is something that Google understands pretty well. Not dominating languages itself, but the part of speaking the language of the target market.
We’ve been studying Google in many different ways, and today in this post we can share with you three tips about how to perform well on Google in different countries while speaking the market’s language.
These insights come from the Global Marketing Playbook 2023, a new collab between HubSpot, Rock Content and Lokalise. You can download the full ebook here!
Tip 1: Generate valuable content according to market needs
According to our experience by working with blogs, SEO and contents for different countries and languages, we can say that there are lots of good professionals capable of creating content and applying a clear SEO strategy, but when they face the internationalization word in their strategies, they seem to just forget how to do content marketing.
What does it mean?
In a domestic strategy, we normally begin by understanding the market, running some research, building buyer personas, understanding well the products and services we offer to the market, getting to know the vocabulary that the readers use in front of a concept, etc. Am I right?
When developing an international strategy to perform well on Google, we need to do exactly the same thing. Which is: run complete marketing research to understand behaviors, problems, desires and needs of a market, and produce contents according to it!
When crossing borders, even online, it is important to deeply understand what the other countries and cultures perceive as valuable.
There is no way a strategy that works for one country, performs perfectly in another. Not even between cities or states does it work without previous research!
So the first tip to perform well on Google in other countries is to invest time understanding the needs of the new market, and create contents that will bring real answers to the market needs.
Tip 2: Google doesn’t work by languages, but by countries
It is pretty common to see SEO experts and content creators going directly to Google to read about a topic and understand how the information is displayed on SERPs, before writing a post to make it competitive for a position.
It is also pretty normal to go onto Google and do some searches using terms in different languages and receiving back results in that same language. Right?
Well, here’s where the problems begin to start.
During years working with three different languages to rank in three different markets, we learned that Google definitely doesn’t work by languages. But it does by countries.
Google has been working hard for decades to give users the best experience while using the search engine. And, with my experience, this means Google has been expanding efforts to understand human behaviors according to cultures and to what is relevant for a market to know about a topic.
If English is your native language, you are able to communicate with an American or with a British person. So it happens if your native language is Spanish, you are able to communicate with both Mexicans and Colombians. But, of course, you can say you can understand and communicate, but at the end, both speak differently, because of slang, history, behaviors, accents, etc.
This is exactly what Google understood by working with all those different countries at the same time: no matter if the word is written in the same language, what matters is what a person in that specific market or country expects to find when searching for that concept.
And this depends, once again, on cultural behavior, which also means: a country, and not only a language.
Extra tip: The user’s search intention is fundamental in digital internationalization and SEO. And for understanding it correctly, we need tools like:
- Configure Google according to the desired region and language;
- Implement a more complete SEMrush plan to identify latent opportunities by region and to better interpret the search intention.
Google.es or google.pt do not correspond to Español (Spanish) or Português (Portuguese) but to countries such as España (Spain) and Portugal.
This is why there are the domains google.com.co (Colombia), google.com.mx (Mexico), google.com.br (Brazil), etc. The same for English countries: google.com (US), google.co.uk (UK), google.ca (Canada), etc.
Google knows very well that in order to deliver relevant information that satisfies the user’s search intention, it must divide its domain into each corresponding country, to allow for localized searches.
Extra tip 2: Translation and localization are two separate things.
Here comes a question we often hear: is it worth translating content from one language to another?
The summarized answer is: no, it isn’t.
Of course, there will be some cases where we need to translate, then localize, which means to change parts of the text according to research on that culture: change words, expressions, the currency, etc. But in general, countries don’t necessarily coincide with the user intention set on Google.
So, before making the decision to translate content, run a quick research on Google’s target country and analyze if the SERP coincides with your original content, so you can translate it and localize it, or if it’s better to create an original content according to the user intent.
Tip 3: Invest in the Right Technology
The work with SEO and content production never stops, especially when it’s mixed with internationalization issues.
We have seen that regional linguistics are quite present throughout Google and this can represent a barrier for some users. Google never mentioned this important detail which could impair our SEO strategy.
The truth is the following: from Mexico to Brazil it took us 13-hours of direct flight (13 hours because I will not count the layover time at airports). From Brazil to Argentina, we would take perhaps a 3-hour flight.
It is obvious that on the internet we will never take 3 or 13 hours to reach these destinations, but what is true is that charging a website from Brazil to Argentina, could take us a certain number of milliseconds, and for Mexico, a few more.
This is very abstract, but it is as true as it is important not to ignore it.
I also hope that we are very clear about what an extra millisecond means for Google. The search giant doesn’t wait for anyone, not even a user.
But what does this mean?
Google will always prioritize blogs and websites from a specific country, because it naturally means it understands the user, more than a foreign blog. From another perspective, Google could prioritize the domestic website or blog more than the foreign one, because normally the foreign blog will take longer to load information for the user.
Google cares about the technology you implement on your website or blog, this means: pagespeed, domain authority, hosting, and technical SEO factors. So, although we satisfy the market with correct content localization, we must also satisfy Google with optimized digital channels that allow the page to be loaded quickly and allow the bots to analyze the entire digital structure in an agile way.
But let’s be honest, Google’s recent algorithm update tells us about the Core Web Vitals, but this is not new.
Technical issues versus UX, good technical SEO practices, the speed of a website both to load and to be found by search engines, are nothing new. For us to take our technology seriously, the algorithm had to make them more visible.
According to Sam Underwood, from seotoolbelt.com, “SEO skills increase as we develop design, critical thinking, UX and communication skills.”
Invest in more specialized teams and experts in SEO and programming techniques. With this you can:
- Improve the visual style of the website and blogs;
- Improve loading time and release unnecessarily heavy domains;
- Better invest in CDI mirrors that would allow us to perform better in different countries;
- International SEO techniques to make better technology decisions on a global scale.
SEO and digital internationalization are based on people, of course, but also on technology.
Market research is the fundamental pillar of all digital internationalization. Research is what allows us to understand market dynamics, linguistic, social, economic and political contexts, and what allows us to make appropriate decisions regarding technology and even commercial investment.
In digital internationalization, it’s critical for an enterprise to invest in resources and, specifically, on analytical intelligence.
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