International linkbuilding

The growing availability of multilingual web content has transformed user behaviour online. Compelling research evidence shows that web users prefer to conduct searches in their own language. This can be now seen in evidence in the rapidly increasing numbers of non-English search queries.

This trend has led to growing demand for international SEO services especially by global brands operating multilingual websites for markets around the world. The 30 best global websites list, which is dominated by global brands such as Google, Microsoft, Coca Cola, Samsung etc. shows that the average number of languages supported by these websites is now 23 (up from 11 in 2005).

This post will discuss link building for multilingual websites and provide an overview of the strategies that should be employed to create backlinks for foreign language websites.

Localized SEO Strategy

For multilingual SEO, the central component of a strategy is the website and its content. It is essential to have a website localized for the audience or market being targeted in order to stand a chance of being successful. Localizing a website is not restricted to translating the content on the page; it extends to site design, imagery, colours, user experience and navigation in order to conform to local expectations.

For foreign language websites, search engines use on-page factors to determine the relevancy of websites. A website using a ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain - .fr, .uk etc.) address, with content in a locally-spoken language and hosting within that country will score highly in relevancy. Crawling instructions for search engine spiders and use of local modifiers in the content will also help increase relevancy of a website.

An international SEO strategy builds upon an existing SEO strategy by employing similar tactics albeit in the language of the targeted audience. From on-page optimization, where the use of targeted keywords has to be emphasised within on-page elements to off-page optimization centred on specific keywords to increase search rankings. However, a link building campaign does not need to be localized in order to rank well. Local links do not have any impact on search rankings yet as proved by a recent study.

How to build links for a multilingual website?

Currently, local links do not impact search rankings. Link builders can therefore employ existing techniques on the English language web for localized sites. However, ever-evolving search ranking metrics will place more importance on location and language factors to determine website relevance. For this reason, an international link building campaign should have a measured mix of local and global links.

To obtain local links use in-country link building teams with knowledge of what is attainable for a particular market. Although, the web isn't as expansive for most foreign languages, certain link building opportunities are still available and can be created in-house.

  • Local web directories are a simple way of creating local links and, in some markets, directory listings are adequate to attain high search rankings.
  • Guest blogging to local websites is a very effective way for building links and increasing online profile to local users. It's advisable to hire local experts who can write relevant articles for the audience.
  • Links from customers' websites are a very effective way of obtaining links. An incentive can be offered to customers to create an anchor text link(s) and increase page rank.
  • Link exchange with local websites is another method of getting local links. Approaching local businesses for link exchange will not only help with link building efforts but also expand local online presence.
  • Local PR is a very useful technique to create links and drive interest in a business. By publishing locally relevant information, a business can attract interest from local news sites to broaden its reach. Similarly, using infographics, research papers or related content can help in developing interest amongst the locally-based online community.

Growing Opportunities

There will be an increase in demand for international SEO in the coming years. Although there are a few companies who offer such a service, well-established processes for multilingual SEO and its many components have yet to be formulated and will, to a certain extent, always be dynamic in nature.

Companies operating on an international level can benefit greatly by initiating link building campaigns for their regional sites. The foreign language web is still in infancy for most markets around the world, companies that extend their online presence internationally can benefit greatly at minimal cost.