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Archive for the ‘multilingual SEO’ Category

Pros and cons of country-specific domains

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Many times I have seen questions posted at forums similar to…”I want to sell to these three countries.  Should I set up a domain in each country, or should I just have a different section of my website for each language?”

I know this might seem obvious, but often it is not: language and country are not the same thing.  Spanish is spoken in many countries.  English is, too.  Canada has two official languages.  There are two languages in the USA, too, even if the second one is not official.  The point being, you cannot segregate nationality on your website by language; you can segregate it only by country.

How you approach a multi-national, multilingual market will depend on a number of factors:

  • Languages you can serve them in
  • Countries you can ship to
  • Countries you wish to target
  • Currencies you can accept
  • Whether you can appear local enough that a country-specific website will appear credible
  • Whether you want to manage multiple websites.
  • Which countries you are marketing to (read on to see what a difference this can make)

This post addresses strictly the aspects related to country domains, such as .ca for Canada or .es for Spain.

How search engines view country-specific domains

I recently wrote a guest post on whether to adopt a .ca domain for a Canadian website.  I provided examples of the advantage a .ca domain has with Google.ca rankings beyond where it would rank at Google.com.  A country-specific doain is likely the clearest signal you can send the search engines that your website relates to a specific country. There is no question that for many searches, a country-specific domain helps reach searchers in a local market.

How people view country-specific domains

Does that mean you should set up a domains with .fr, .de, .ca, .co.uk, etc. for every country you serve?  That could be an effective strategy, but there are obviously drawbacks, too.  From an SEO perspective, it is probably worth your while to have a country-specific domain for any major market. But SEO isn’t everything.  You really need to know your market and how you plan to promote your domain.  In Canada, for instance, word-of-mouth traffic, including people who hear a domain on the radio, will tend to type .com even if they hear .ca .  This even happens sometimes when they see a URL in print.  Canadians are so accustomed to websites beginning with “www” and ending with “.com”.

Not so in Europe, where people expect to see their own country domain.  In fact, in many countries the domain tells them whether they are likely to be able to read the website – whether it is even worth visiting.  For instance, wander a little around Budapest and observe how many website URLs are advertised – every one a .hu domain.

Beyond language, consider the alternative to a country-specific domain, that being every country and/or every language on a single .com site.  (Here is where it is wise to consider which markets you are addressing.)

In Latin America, .com means “international”.  There is a certain trust level that comes from dealing with a big international company that in many countries would be seen as above the local corruption.  .com is not the way to go if you wish to appear local.

In Europe, .com is very often seen as “American”.  And in Europe, that generally isn’t good.  A site likely will have a lower trust level, given the American image of being out for a fast buck.

And as I said earlier, in Canada .com is simply seen as the default for a website, just as it is in the USA.

There is no simple answer whether to choose .com or a series of country-specific domains.  Like so many things in running a business, there are many factors to consider and the final decision can be no more than a guess.  But with the information above, at least it will be an educated guess.

 


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Map of Our Visitors

Friday, January 30th, 2009

One of the most amazing things about the Internet is that it brings the world together.  For instance, this website brings visitors from all over the world (which is a great thing for someone like me, who enjoys multilingual SEO).  However, I do not often see a website demonstrating how broad its reach is. 

Many websites feature language and currency options, and a few show testimonials from a variety of locations.  And occasionally I have seen a map widget that shows red dots where visitors come from.  But surprisingly, I have never seen a blogger share with his readers where the other readers come from.  Given that blogging is a conversational format, I would think this would be a natural.

Below is a map of where our visitors come from.  This was cut and pasted directly from Google Analytics, so it’s easy to do.  Just for the record, this does not include blog traffic.  A couple days ago I realized that I do not have Google Analytics tracking on the blog, just on the main website.  I have corrected that, but for now this is where our website visitors come from.  It’s pretty impressive when you think that people from almost everywhere outside of the Sahara have been on the website in the past month.

 

By the way, if we go back a year, most of the yellow spaces turn green, with a handful each from Bolivia, Mongolia and Paraguay and even a couple from Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.

If you run a blog, why not write a post like this, sharing with your readers where their fellow readers come from.  Help bring the world just a little closer together.

 


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Multilingual SEO and link-building

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

This question came up on forum recently (I can’t recall which forum, sorry) and it interests me because multilingual SEO is something I quite enjoy.

 The question as I recall it is whether on-topic links in various languages or from various language websites is helpful for SEO purposes.  The answer is not clear-cut.

First, any link is a good link…almost.  That is, unless the linking website is truly despicable (Did I spell that right, Sylvester?), the link carries some value.

Second, in many niches Anglicisms creap intot he lingo.  For example, SEO is a word used in Spanish and therefore a link on a Spanish page about SEO would be keyword relevant for this blog.

Third, you can always include a bilingual link, so a link on a French page to an English page about restaurant jobs could read “Emplois Restaurant Jobs”.

Fourth, it is possible that the search engines can relate some cross language themes.  There are plenty of carpet websites with sections in several languages.  There are plenty of car accessory websites with sections in several languages.  There are plenty of hotel websites with sections in several languages.  The major search engines are smart enough to recognize patterns, such as that very often English sections of a website themed around “carpets” and “rugs” also have French sections themed around “tapis” and Spanish sections themed around “alfombras” and “tapetes”.  I am not saying that Google and Yahoo actually do this, just that they can.  They can probably also tell which sites of various languages might be similarly themed by their link profiles, for instance if the websites were both linked from a lot of directories or blogs in the same niche.

Fifth, keep in mind that there are a lot of multilingual people out there.  There are many people in my neck of the woods who would click on a link whether it is in French or in English. 

Your best bet – the most sure thing – is to seek links from websites in the same language.  But if you see a good opportunity to get a relevant link from another website in another language, don’t feel you have to pass it by.

 


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Official Google Blog: Making search better in Catalonia, Estonia, and everywhere else

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I was reading the official Google blog about how they are making searching more user friendly in Catalonia and Estonia…but really, these were just examples, and what they are doing is just us applicable to New York or Melbourne.  Using an Estonian example, they show how someone looking for a barber would be also considered to be looking for a barbershop.  In other words, Google is working more and more on understanding the meaning of what we search for, not just the words.

For those of us who are searching, this reduces the guesswork of which words the website owners have chosen to use.  For those of us who want Google to recognize the meaning of our wbe pages, it means we have to be more holistic in our explanations.  The text welcoming visitors to the barber’s website should also include words like barbershop, shave, cut, hair, stylist, etc.  It means to worry a little less about keywords and a little more about all-the-possible-keywords your visitors might be using when they think about your products, servicess or topics.

Those of us in the business have known this was coming, and some of us have suspected for a while that Google has been slowly getting better at understanding meaning, alternate spellings and alternative searches (Try searching for metal bending to see what I mean.)  But this talk from Google sends a pretty clear message that they are serious about it and moving forward at a good clip.  And can Yahoo and the rest be far behind? 

Read more about Google’s meaning-based search results

More on multilingual SEO services

 


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Spanish Social Bookmarking

Friday, May 4th, 2007

 

 

  

Announcing El Marcadorado – Spanish language social bookmarking script.   

This is a first in the world, a Spanish language social bookmarking aggregator script for webmasters.  Just like TheBookmarketer- English language social bookmarking script, Spanish webmasters can place the small El Marcadorado code snippet on their webpages  to encourage visitors to social bookmark their pages. 

In addition to the major English language social bookmarking sites, El Marcadorado supports the major Spanish language social bookmarking websites, such as Meneame, Blogmemes and Fresqui.

I posted earlier what the script can do and how webmasters can make use of it.  All that applies to the Spanish version, too.

If you know anyone with a Spanish website…let them know!

 


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Multilingual Social Bookmarking

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I just stumbled upon Digg-Like Sites, a great little directory of social bookmarking websites in various languages.  I plan to do a Spanish and French version of my own social bookmarking script, TheBookmarketer, so this will be very helpful.  If you plan to do any multilingual online marketing, these can come in handy!

 


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