THE CASE FOR INTERNATIONAL SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

Every second of every day, someone somewhere is searching the internet. According to Forrester Research, 93% of all internet traffic is generated from internet search engines. Global consumers use search engines to find information and websites, with 87% of all web visits coming directly from search engine results.

In today’s search-driven world, the global search audience continues to grow at a faster pace (10%) than the total global internet audience (8%). Search is most popular in Europe, with countries like the UK, France, and Spain leading the pack. Over 80% of internet use in these countries is driven by search engines. By comparison, the figure is 77% in the US.

Globally, nearly 10% of the world’s internet users, almost 300 million people, used a search engine in 2009. Forrester also reports that the average search engine user views roughly 100 search pages a month.

Taking a deeper look at search, most people, regardless of their language or culture, only click on the top 10 results of a search. 99% of internet searchers never look beyond the top 30 results. Forrester likewise reveals that the top three search engine results account for an impressive 65% of online revenue generated from websites.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are integral parts of a successful online marketing campaign. SEO refers to the process of organically improving a website’s ranking in selected keyword searches, thereby increasing the volume of traffic to the site. SEM is a similar though distinct approach that involves purchasing pay-per-click (PPC) ads that appear alongside search results for selected keywords.

For multilingual search engine campaigns to be effective across multiple countries and languages, linguistic, cultural and technical considerations must be taken into account. A range of factors including the target market’s profile, demographics, and the subject matter of the content all work together to influence the keywords internet users employ in their searches. A word-for-word translation of keywords and pay-per-click ads is therefore insufficient. To cite one small example, imagine you wanted to localize for the term ’email’ in France. Your translator tells you the proper term in French is ‘courrier électronique’. But if you don’t understand French internet culture, you will miss out. Many French use the Anglicism ’email’, for example. A third possibility is ‘courriel’. One even hears ‘mail’ on occasion, so if you simply used a literal translation from English to French, you’re already in trouble.

Defining and understanding the intended target market is an important first step in optimizing localized web content. This goes far beyond a knowledge of the market’s preferred language. As illustrated above, one must ask whether customers and prospects are likely to use slang or even misspelled words in their searches. What is the target market’s level of linguistic sophistication? There are also technical considerations: in many cases, strategic changes to a site’s structure, source code, URLs, and domain names may be necessary to improve search rankings.

Beyond a general demographic knowledge, it is also important to understand which search engines your target markets are most likely to use. Not all markets use the same search engines, and not all search engines use the same algorithms to generate results. While Google accounts for nearly 60% of global internet searches today, its global dominance has dropped from 71.6% less than five years ago. Since fewer and fewer consumers are using Google, purchasing non-English PPC ads and non-English keywords on Google may not necessarily drive any significant traffic to a website. Additionally, search engines have varying restrictions on the length of meta tags and paid keywords, which must also be considered.

Most importantly, one must understand that iSEO is not a one-time activity. A variety of factors outside a company’s control can bring down a website’s ranking after the site has been optimized, including changes in search engine algorithms or the iSEO efforts of a competitor. While a company may not be able to directly prevent such changes, it can mitigate the risk of a drop in rankings by executing regular benchmarking and revisiting the optimized site’s content as required.

Metrics should be evaluated on an ongoing basis as part of a professionally managed iSEO/M service. This process allows the results of iSEO/M efforts to be tracked and helps determine the necessary actions to keep a site’s ranking where it should be.

While all of this may sound intimidating, it leads one to ask why a company would invest in creating a multilingual website without investing in ISEO/M initiatives to increase traffic to it. With a global network of specialized language experts worldwide, EC Innovations has the resources and experience to design and execute effective iSEO and iSEM campaigns. While results vary, it is not unusual for clients to see an increase in traffic as high as 50%. So if you’re ready to take the plunge and reap the great rewards that a smart iSEO/iSEM strategy can bring, contact EC Innovations today.


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