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Targeting SEO : By Language or By Country ?

Written by: Sandeep Challa

Updated: April, 10, 2011

This is a Guest Post by Christian Arno, who is the founder of professional translation agency – Lingo24, experts in the foreign language internet. If you also wish to write for us, then refer the ‘Become A DailyBlogger‘ page & Submit your Guest Post.
To truly take full advantage of the international marketing opportunities the world wide web has to offer, you may be thinking of launching or expanding your websites to an international audience.
With only around a quarter of internet users being native English speakers and with studies showing that most multilingual web users put more trust in websites written in their own native language, the benefits of going multilingual are clear.
There are, however, additional things to consider when it comes to multilingual search engine optimization (SEO), and the first decision to be made is whether to target new markets by language or by country. So it’s important for you to decide, how you go about in Targeting SEO.
Before we move forward, read some of the SEO Tips and implement them on your blogs/sites.

SEO Tips :-

Targeting SEO
Target SEO

Targeting by Language

Some languages are commonly used across more than one country, and it might be enough to have a single site covering all these different territories. A single French site, for example, could cover France, the French-speaking populations of Switzerland, Belgium and Canada, and the African nations where French is spoken as either a first or second language. Spanish, meanwhile, is spoken in Spain and much of the vast emerging online market in Latin America.
You should, however, be aware that linguistic usage, including vocabulary and especially colloquialisms, can vary between countries that share a common language. A computer, for example, is an “ordenador” in Spain but a “computadora” in Spanish-speaking Latin America. You should ensure that all vocabulary used in your copy is relevant to each of your target markets. Keywords are absolutely crucial, and thorough research is essential to ensure you get the most effective and commonly-used search terms in each place.
The algorithms of the major search engines like Google also take location into account when it comes to ranking a site. If targeting by language, you won’t be able to boost your rankings by setting up localized sites on separate country code Top Level Domains, but you should at least ensure that you make use of Google’s Geographic Targeting tool. By organizing your localized content into separate subdomains and subdirectories, you can use the tool to specify particular geographic targets for your pages.

Targeting by Country OR Geo Targeting

Targeting by country allows you to set up separate localized sites on country code Top Level Domains such as .es for Spain or .mx for Mexico. This in turn will give your rankings a boost in local searches, and having the site hosted on a server physically located within that country will boost your rankings still further.
Targeting individual countries also simplifies the process of keyword research and copy-writing. Your content can be tailored towards specific countries, allowing you to use colloquialisms and cultural references that you would otherwise be better off avoiding. This can give your site a more friendly, human approach – web users also commonly place more trust in sites they consider to be ‘in-country’.
In pure SEO terms, targeting by country yields the greatest benefits. It is, in a way, the ‘real’ localization option but, as with most business decisions, a cost-benefit analysis may show that it’s not the right way for you. Setting-up and maintaining localized sites on separate country code Top Level Domains can be both expensive and time-consuming, and in the end it is likely to come down to a judgment call based on the potential business you envisage from various markets.

One safe option would be to establish micro-site sub-domains off your main website for each language market. You can use these micro-sites of four to five pages to ‘test the waters’ in each language market, and for those that show a solid growth and return on investment, invest in comprehensive websites hosted in-country, thereby minimizing your risk.
So which one do you prefer, Targeting SEO by Country or by language ?


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