10 Things to Know about SEO Optimization of Multilingual Websites

Translating your website or online store to another language is a great business move. With a low investment, you get to unlock a whole new market with expanded potential and opportunities.

As you have probably witnessed with your original site, organic traffic is important. Search engine visitors tend to stick around for a longer time, have a lower bounce rate, and are generally more likely to find your content relevant to their interests. So, how does this translate to multilingual websites? Do you use the same SEO tactics that worked in your native website or online store? Is there anything that you should do differently, and if so, what are those elements?

1. You may need a new strategy

The safest way to make sure your new multilingual website is SEO-friendly is to create a solid strategy. It might resemble your original one, but you need to adapt certain aspects to make sure they match the target culture. Here are some of the things to pay attention to:

  • social media strategy: look at how your SEO connects to social media pages you run; not all platforms are equally popular in different countries
  • domain name: consider changing your domain name if it doesn’t work well with the target culture
  • re-develop your content strategy: decide how much you want to invest in content in a foreign language
  • choose a language indicator: you have to choose one consistent way how your multilingual options will show on your website

2. Research keywords

Like in the original, you can start by developing a network of your primary keywords. These will be the search queries that are closely connected to your business (products or services).

It’s not enough to just translate the keywords to another language and hope that it works. Rather, do another keyword research for that geographical region to check whether it’s equally popular. If it’s under-searched compared to your original primary keywords, look for similar keywords in the target language that have a higher search volume.

3. Reconsider your target audience

Just like with keywords, your target audience (or your ideal buyer persona) might differ in another country. To correctly predict this, you have to dig deep into the cultural research of marketing experts. If you don’t have that kind of time, you can start by speculating which audience will react best and set up A/B or multivariate testing.

Set up different audience examples based on their age, gender, interests, or other elements. Then, run tests to see what kind of performance your new multilingual website triggers among different audiences. You can do this with the Google Optimize tool and have accurate results quickly.

4. Work with SEO and translation agencies

When you’re launching your website to global markets, it’s wise to ask for the help of professionals if you haven’t already. Translation agencies can help you perfectly localize your website, while SEO experts can help wrap that all up in a structure that’s suitable for search engines. It’s a smart decision to work together with agencies from the countries where you’re launching. They will be most familiar with the market and user behavior.

Work with SEO and translation agencies

5. Translate your blog posts

If you have one of those websites with a rich blog post archive that consistently attracts search engine traffic, you should take advantage of that in your new, multilingual websites. You don’t have to translate all of the content you have, because that can turn out quite costly.

Luckily, you already have detailed insights on which posts performed best in your local audience. Hire translators at a professional translation agency to localize the top 5 or 10 blog posts to start with. As the traffic picks up, you can start translating some of your other cornerstone content or add snippets of old posts to your new multilingual posts (which we will talk about in a second).

6. Create and publish new multilingual blog posts

If you find it too time-consuming or expensive to translate your older content, just start posting in multilingual settings from the moment you launch. After you publish, you can use geo-targeting to make sure that content is served to the right audience. Content will likely be the biggest search engine magnet on your website, and blogging is the best way to increase your chances of getting discovered.

multilingual blog posts

7. Designate team members for each website

Managing multiple websites in different languages can be quite messy. If you go with the DIY approach, you would constantly be switching from one editor to another; back and forth from one website to the next. This can be exhausting, annoying, and can demotivate you from the start. Not to mention, SEO is a marathon and you have to be prepared to put in hours of work to get those websites off the ground.

Therefore, you should designate separate team members for search engine optimization of individual websites. Let one person handle one site (language), at least in the beginning. This will give them enough clarity to be able to actually focus on organically growing that website, but you’ll still be able to expand without too much investment.

8. Compare analytical findings

Just like in the original, your multilingual websites will give you the biggest chunks of information only after some time has passed and you can take a peek at detailed analytics. Is your website performance in a foreign language different from your original one? Of course, a site that has long-standing success will have better metrics than the one you have just launched, but you can start noticing patterns even in the very beginning.

9. Expand the keyword list and include long-tail keywords

After your multilingual websites take off using the SEO power of your primary keywords, it’s time to expand on that and try competing for some other keywords, too. In most online tools for keyword research and planning, you can look at keyword suggestions for any region or language.

10. Set up local connections

Just like you had to build a community and a loyal audience when you first started with your website, you will have to go through the same process with your multilingual sites. Try getting backlinks to high-authority websites in your niche that are in the target language.


Setting up a successful SEO strategy for multilingual websites is similar to the original, but has its own challenges. If you’re not sure about the target market or you’d like to find out more, take enough time to do proper research or hire a local agency to give you the ins and outs.

Once it’s all set up correctly, you will start attracting traffic from search engines that will grow for years to come! Just like in other scenarios, SEO is the most lucrative long-term marketing strategy for multilingual websites. Make sure you don’t miss out on its potential.

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