Since the Internet has global reach, many of our customers are thinking about the pros and cons of moving their brand into other countries. Earlier we posted about the different meanings of colors in other cultures. But colors are just the tip of the iceberg when you start talking about internationalizing a company’s brand. For instance, what good does an elaborate global branding campaign do your business if people in your target area can’t find your website?
According to recent data, Google is far and away the most popular search engine across much of the world, at least until you look to Asia. In that part of the world, nationalized search engines are the norm: Baidu and 360 Search in China, Yandex in Russia, and Naver in South Korea. Companies attempting to break into these markets will need to pay extra attention to these search engines’ requirements and make sure their site content doesn’t violate national laws about speech.
Everywhere else that statistics are counted, Google has anywhere from a healthy to a commanding lead. The second-place engines are usually Yahoo or Bing in varying quantities. (Note that Japan’s most popular search engine is Yahoo Japan, but they actually use Google’s search algorithm anyway, so SEO is similar there.)
However, companies can’t be complacent just by following best Google SEO practice and expect that the international audience will come flowing in. Though English has become the de facto language for international business, it’s always a good idea to consider localizing your site’s content. Be aware that automated services like Google Translate are not a good idea other than a stopgap to cover a small percentage of non-English-speaking customers, since automated translations are often humorously inaccurate at best and embarrassing at worst. If you intend to build an effective international audience, it’s always better to spring for a translator.
Once the translation is in hand, it will need to be hosted. There are three strategies for this, in descending order of effectiveness:
- Get a ccTLD for your target country. “ccTLD” stands for “Country Code Top-Level Domain.” For instance, for the domain “yourcompany.com,” purchasing the domain “yourcompany.co.uk” for the United Kingdom, “yourcompany.es” for Spain, or “yourcompany.ca” for Canada. A ccTLD goes a long way toward making a web presence seem local. The company would then host all of its translated content under that domain and present it as a unique, standalone site to search engines. For the very best SEO, consider hosting the site with an Internet service provider within your target country with a traceable local IP address.
- Host the translated content on your main site in subdirectories. For instance, for the domain “yourcompany.com,” a Spanish translation would be hosted at “yourcompany.com/es/” (where “es” stands for “Español”). This is the most common and economical option, though it does mark your site as an international one and doesn’t squeeze every last possible drop out of your SEO.
- Create a subdomain for your translated content within your main site. For instance, placing Spanish content within “es.yourcompany.com” instead of the root directory. Though this may seem cleaner than hosting content in a subdirectory, it’s counterintuitive for customers, most of whom are already used to typing “www” at the beginning of every URL.
If you’re considering expanding your business, we at Matcha Design are well versed in the ins and outs of preparing your corporate identity and web presence for the jump into international business. Give us a call today and see how we can get your company connected to the global community.