SEO Guide for Multilingual Sites

You can find numerous SEO guides on the internet. Only a few of them can be applied to multilingual sites. Because multilingual sites require different approaches.

Achieving target globally is not as easy as it is for small and medium-sized businesses today. Many businesses can create an international site and then receive orders from other countries. This is true even if the target markets are local or national.

The fact that the price of international communication and transportation is reduced even if it is a small amount makes it logical to make a multilingual site in the next step. If you want to build a multi-lingual site successfully, of course you have to have crossed many obstacles. You will not be able to get rankings on Google unless you break these hurdles.

  • How can you be sure that you are targeting the right country?
  • Which content management system is the best?
  • Is it good to use domain names, subdomains, or subfolders in terms of SEO?
  • Do you have an international hosting service?
  • How do you complete SEO translations?
  • How will you run a multilingual marketing campaign?

If you have been listening to people who have been dealing with these things for years, you will be able to find the right answers to all these questions. You will also find answers to all these questions in this guide. Later on you can create an international business with a very good chance of success.

If you look at the data in the 2017 report by We Are Social and Hootsuhite, you can see that 17% of the internet users in the world belong to Europe.

Consider that you have a successful operation as a manufacturer of coats in the UK. However, you may be undecided about going to countries that are much warmer, such as France or Spain. However, even if you are capable of making recipes, you may not know what kind of place it will have in Germany.

Instead of going through the speculations, you can learn the international intensity and level of difficulty of a key glove using the Keyword Explorer tool that Ahrefs offers. You can brainstorm the results for all of them by brainstorming on the basic key words in your hand and see what the situation is in your target country.

You can use the French word “manteau” to search the mantle. When you do this search, you can see what the search volume is for the keyword in question.

You can, however, enter multiple keywords and examine the results. The consequences here will be the participation of different countries in the account. If you want to serve more than one country, you can do an analysis like this. The only thing to note here is that the term you will enter in English will include not only the United Kingdom but also the United States, Canada or other countries.

Note: If you are doing a multilingual keyword search, you should do two different searches so that the key is used correctly and the accent is not counted. For example, the French word “référencement” replaces the phrase “SEO”. You need to search for this word both in its original form and as a “referencement”. You will then have to put together the search volume that you will obtain and do so.

If you want to see what the right keyword usage is, you can try doing a search on Ahrefs right away. If you search for “last minute holidays” in the search volume you will get for the UK, you will be confident that you will encounter completely different values. In French you have to make a call by making “Vacances dernière minute” and “Vacances derniere minute” and putting together the data.

If you use the keyword in the first place on both sides, you will get about 14 times more in the UK than in France. You should remember to do a thorough keyword research before you do a French content marketing work. Thus, you can find alternative keyword words with higher search volume.

Another important tool that can show the power of a target market is the Google Trends tool. With this tool, you can keep an eye on people’s messages to specific keywords. You should remember that you can take advantage of this tool to separate the results according to the countries. Remember that Google will provide very little data in places like China, Russia, and South Korea where Google is not the primary search engine.

Note: You can create an “Organic Keywords” report using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. With this report, you can reach key words about traffic to your competitors’ site. This is one of the best ways to start keyword research and analysis. For example, at, you will see that this site has a key word in Italy of approximately 200,000 calipers.

Which content management system is the best?

All open source content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal and Magento support multilingual SEO architecture and offer you a functional shared database. Shared database is a very functional solution in the long run. These content management systems can be configured as you wish, including domain, subdomain, or subfolders, and they all use the same database. Thus, when you make any updates on your site, you can ensure that the update is active in all areas of the site.

This convenience will save you a lot of time in the long run. When you remove a product from the sale, you can delete it from all points at once instead of deleting it at all points. The shared database will also allow you to link to the appropriate page at any time. Link building is one of the most important methods of choice among all SEO methods.

When you turn an existing site instead of building a site from scratch, you can take advantage of the multi-language content management system. With the content management system, you can easily translate your site into multiple languages. If your site does not have a content management system that supports multiple languages, you have three options:

  • Re-create your site with content management systems that offer multi-language support and change your English site.
  • Transfer the current code to the new site as it is and translate everything.
  • Create a site on a foreign site in a different content management system and continue to use your existing English language site.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Whichever content management system you choose, the most important thing you need to be aware of is the possibilities that you have to offer while developing your site.

Is it good to use domain names, subdomains, or subfolders in terms of SEO?

Each option has specific aspects. Almost all major sites use such configurations.

Separate domain names:

  • fr
  • de



Separate subdomains:


Separate pages and URL extensions:

  • com
  • com/?hl=fr&gl=FR
  • com/?gl=DE&hl=de

If you have a rich domain name in terms of keywords, then it would be much more accurate to have a separate domain name for each translation work. If you want to build strong brand awareness and use an international domain name, then any of the above methods will work. If there are those who are curious about my idea, I would suggest structuring the process as “separate subdomains”. However, there are three different options that you need to be aware of when performing all these exercises:

  • To include all languages on the same page. Google only indexes a page once, and each page has only one meta title and metadata description. Putting all the languages on a page is a bad thing in terms of SEO and will harm your site in terms of user experience.
  • Use cookies to check languages but use the same URL addresses for each language. Google cookies will not follow. If you have an page for each language, Google only indexes one and ignores the others.
  • Use everything after # to check the language. Hashtag directs a site’s hover through an anchor to a specific point on the same page. This will cause a similarity to the problem in the second item.

Many small businesses use one of the above structures besides the private content management system. If you are going to create a multilingual website, you should be sure that you will not live any of the above problems.

Do you have an international hosting service?

Google takes advantage of different factors to determine the location of an enterprise. The extension of the domain name can make use of various information such as the language, address or city information of the contents, meta tags, whois information.

Hosting your site in the country where the target is located will give you a contribution in terms of local SEO. The situation that is effective here is that your site is closer to the target and therefore opens faster. If your destination is in France, then it would be much more accurate to have a hosting service in Europe. In terms of site speed, it is not enough to have your site only in France because there are many different factors in the business.

How do you complete SEO translations?

Although Google Translate and other automatic translation software continue to evolve, there are still many ways to go in terms of professional marketing efforts. If Google considers automatic conversion to be unwanted content, a quality translation will be the best guarantee solution.

The important thing in a SEO translation is that you have as high a ranking as possible on Google and other search engines. First of all, it is more important to try to improve your English language. It will be much more helpful for you to start the translation after you have finished your improvement work, but there are two different ways to be preferred in this regard:

1. Translate and then optimize

You can try to translate your site as if it had never been SEO, then try to optimize it with new content that targets the right keywords and change the meta tags.

2. Identify target keywords and include them when translating

This is exactly what you need to do if you are going to do SEO translations.

  • You can specify 1 or 2 English keywords for each landing page in your site. If your site is focused on a specific topic, you should also identify all keywords related to that topic.
  • You must translate these keywords into the new target language. Then you should try to find other keywords that are relevant to your on-the-line keywords.
  • By using the Keywords Explorer in Ahrefs, you should check search volumes and determine keywords with high search volume and low recency.
  • You should try to match these keywords with proper English pages by creating a worksheet. When your other dial-up is finished, you should make sure that the basic keywords pass in the meta title, meta description, URL and H1 header tags, and also several times within the page.
  • If possible, you should try to use keywords in a natural way within the contents of the site-wide.

One of the most important things to note here is the Google Panda and RankBrain algorithms. You should be careful with these algorithms, which are the greatest helpers in reading Google’s content. You should pay attention to typing mistakes while placing the correct key words in the content and take care to use these key words in a natural way. Keyword stuffing is an old SEO technique and nobody in mind is thinking about using this technique anymore.

Translating URL addresses will also help you with SEO. Your URL addresses should be as clear as possible. Many content management systems have plug-ins that convert complex URL addresses into simple URL addresses. By taking advantage of these tools, you can remove unnecessary words from the URL address.

While translating the content, you should also pay attention to the local culture. It is one of the ideal examples to pay attention to the standards of measurements. If you are using inches in your target country, writing the measurements in centimeters will not be accurate. At the same time you should be careful about currencies. By doing this, you can achieve the best possible translation.

Why is culture important for multilingual SEO?

Adaptation to local culture varies from good translations to the use of the correct color scheme. You should promote your products in a way that can target the target audience and present the references clearly. The more you pay attention to the user experience, the higher the conversion rates. Will all these efforts help you upgrade your Google ranking? You should consider the answer to this question.

If your answer is yes, you should be prepared for Google’s evolving algorithms and ever-changing user behavior. You should try to make people spend more time on your site. Google takes this into account when determining the quality of a site.

Google measures all these factors in a fairly accurate way. She is evaluating the best way to address these factors with help from Google Analytics or Google Chrome browser. Adapting to local culture does not only help visitors to your site, it also gives you the chance to get more traffic.

Note: “hreflang” is not included in this guide. Even if this quality is easily understood by experienced SEO experts and site managers, there are many details to be explained to newcomers. Using “hreflang” correctly on your pages allows search engines to get the correct page based on the user’s location or language settings.

You should use this if you are looking for “hreflang” in your multilingual site as follows:

  • Redirect visitors to a content page that is tailored to your language preferences.
  • To bring content into a single place with possession of regional options. For example, people from the site of the US currency, the USD, as per show to people from Turkey is one of the best examples of this practice. In this case you can remove the copy content problem.

When you want to add “hreflang” to your multilingual site, you should follow these recommendations:

  1. You should choose a single option to place “hreflang” in page codes. The HTML page must contain “<head>” code, must contain HTTP headers, or be included in the sitemap.
  2. You must include the correct hreflang notes for each language and location. On this page you will have the chance to use the verification links between the pages.
  3. You should always include the note “hreflang =” x-default “. You will be able to open the correct page for the language and location options you have not specified in the redirects you have made on this page.
  4. You should make sure that you use the correct ISO 639-1 code for languages and the correct ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 codes for locations.

When the “hreflang” code is misconfigured, search engines may misjudge this attribute or bypass this attribute altogether. You should know that this is not a directive to search engines that this is a signal.

Conducting a multilingual marketing campaign

If you have set up your site using the right content management system, if you’ve searched for and selected keywords to the very finest detail, and you have properly translated your content, you can post your site. Once you have started your site, you expect millions of visitors to come and visit it. But this is not something that can happen quickly. Completing the translation of your site is the first part of your work and the second part is implementing a multi-lingual link creation campaign.

Google uses three main factors to determine site ranking:

  • Intra-site content
  • Inbound links
  • User experience

An SEO translation includes the first and third of these items, but having quality inbound links is another qualification that will ensure that the process progresses in a healthy way. All of the links you take to appear natural to Google and stay away from penalties must be on the same level.

If the links come from your target country, then you have an extra advantage in terms of SEO. In addition to the language, you need to observe the following qualities in the links:

  • Relevance
  • Linkin natural position
  • Taking place in a high authority and respected site

Low-quality links will harm you instead of helping you with SEO. Link creation process is similar to the language you follow. If you want to work with an SEO company in creating multilingual links, you should choose to work with a company that uses natural spokespersons. You should check the postings that they were written and published as part of the review process.

If you want to do your own link building exercises, you should focus on the content in terms of marketing efforts and place the links so that they can answer the question “would this link be valuable without search engines?” As Google becomes more and more intelligent day by day, if you answer “yes” to this question, you will have much better results for SEO.

However, you should keep your site’s eye on SEO progress in all the different countries. For this you can use the Rank Tracker tool provided by Ahrefs to look over your keywords and positions and examine their results.

As a result, if you want to be successful in a multilingual site, you should follow these steps:

  • You should target keyword phrases with sufficient search volume to record progress.
  • You should use a content management system and site structure that will allow Google to easily index your site and its content.
  • You have to localize the content by translating it and make the improvement work accordingly.
  • You should support your site with an international link creation campaign and especially aim at high-quality links.

If you want to put forth a good multilingual SEO work, the most important steps that can help you will be from these. If you follow these steps correctly, you can reach bigger target groups.



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