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Fuschia Hutton

Four benefits of a multilingual SEO strategy you hadn’t thought of  

One of the benefits of a multilingual SEO strategy is helping international users find you and buy from you.

If you’re an Italian company, there are obvious benefits to creating an English version of your website. An website gives international visitors more chances to find you, spend time on your site and ultimately buy from you.

But did you know that a multilingual SEO strategy could also help improve your Italian website’s SEO performance?

Check out my previous blogpost, which explains what SEO translation is, and how it differs from traditional translation.

1. A multilingual SEO strategy can boost your website rankings by decreasing bounce rate

Creating multiple versions of your website in different languages creates more opportunities for potential customers to find your website online. If you embed the different language versions within one site, then this creates a compound effect, boosting your website ranking as a whole.

But it doesn’t stop there. Even before translating your website into English, your website may receive international visitors who do not speak Italian. Sounds great. But when those international visitors enter your site and realise it’s only in Italian, what are they going to do? They’re likely to quickly exit your website, translating into a high bounce rate. This harms your ranking because search engines interpret it as a page which is not very useful. This means they’re less likely to serve it to website users.

But when you offer a website in English, a language they understand, they’re more likely to stay and engage in your content. This in turn translates into lower bounce rates, and Google will recognise it as more a valuable resource for those international users.    

2. Multilingual keyword research can help you discover new opportunities in different markets

We know that an English version of your website can help you sell your products and services to new markets. But have you thought about how different markets might interact with your products and services? New markets might use your products for different occasions or purposes than in Italy. Or they might associate very different feelings and emotions with your offering.

Large e-commerce companies might commission market research to help them understand how to position themselves in different markets. But this isn’t always possible for SMEs.

If you don’t have market research at your fingertips, then you could potentially use keyword research to identify new opportunities. Are English-speaking users pairing keywords with other words? Perhaps they’re looking for your type of product as a gift for a baby shower or as a push present, occasions which are less common in Italy? If you know about this, then you could easily create your content and SEO strategy around these concepts.

A company could also make a new occasion, product use or emotion the focus on an English PPC or social media campaign.

A multilingual SEO strategy can help you boost your ROI

3. Multilingual SEO can help you save money

Having a multilingual SEO strategy can help you boost ROI by directing resources away from products and services which are less of a priority for English-speaking customers. Keyword research data can help us identify products or services which are less relevant in English-speaking or international markets. We can also do this once the website is live, by monitoring our website data in Search Console.

Some clients think that if they’re going to translate their website then it’s ‘all-or-nothing’. (Sidenote: yes, I’ve been approached by a potential client who wanted to translate all 1,000 pages of his website. Needless to say, he didn’t have the budget for that particular project.)

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. If the data tells us that a particular product category doesn’t resonate in English-speaking markets, we could decide to not translate content about that product. And it can work both ways. If there’s a product category which IS a better fit, then it might make more sense to create original content. A higher upfront cost, yes, but arguably better for ROI.

4. Getting to know your website data can help you understand if English and Italian customers act differently on your website

By getting comfortable with the numbers, you can monitor how different language users interact with your website over time. Sure, it’s a long game. But this kind of information is priceless. Making simple tweaks based on what you see could make you a lot of money.

You could tweak the position of a button, A/B test call to actions or try different types of content. Different audiences interact with websites differently. So, it’s a good strategy to analyse and keep monitoring the data once you’ve translated your website into English and it goes live. If you make changes which are likely to make users stick around for longer, this’ll improve your search engine ranking.

Is it better to translate an existing website or create different language versions at the same time? 

Often, I work with SMEs who have started small, grown within Italy, and now want to explore new markets. Usually, when a client asks me to create an English version of their website, the Italian version is already well-established.

But if it’s possible, creating different language versions of your website at the same time could be useful. Conducting keyword research for each language might identify different trends or suggest different site structures. Although this is possible when translating a website, often we’re constrained by the structure of the original website.

The benefits of a multilingual SEO strategy

Can a multilingual SEO strategy hinder your website?

Finally, one thing to consider is whether working on your multilingual SEO can hinder your website. My answer is: only if not done properly. The cornerstone of SEO is a way that is helpful and pleasant for its users. Generally speaking, a properly researched keyword list and content plan shouldn’t hinder your website’s SEO ranking.

However, there are some mistakes that I often see on English versions of Italian websites. These errors could potentially hinder the SEO of their entire website:

  • Including fragments of untranslated Italian within the English version. I’m always surprised at how often I see English websites full of paragraphs and buttons still in Italian. Not only does it look messy and unprofessional, it’s confusing for users who don’t speak Italian.
  • Not testing the English version of the website. It’s also quite common to find websites with buttons  that don’t work or link to an Italian page instead of an English one.
  • Using a plug-in which partially translates some of the website. Again, not very useful for anyone.
  • A poorly translated website which sticks close to the original Italian. English is less abstract than Italian, so when companies translate their website literally or word-for-word it’s difficult to understand and rarely resonates with English-speaking consumers.

All these issues can increase the bounce rate and damage the ranking of your Italian website. So in these cases, it might be better to stick to a monolingual website, or only translate the most important pages for your international audience. At least until you have the budget for a full professional translation.

Key takeaways

If you’re an Italian company that wants to reach an international audience, then creating an English version of your website is the natural next step. Not only does it connect you with English-speaking audiences, but if done right, it can boost the SEO ranking of your website.

Ready to take the next step? Then let’s chat! I’m an English SEO copywriter who helps Italian and international companies connect with English-speaking customers.