International SEO campaigns in multiple languages. How does it work?
Remember the term ‘globalisation’? It was a buzz word before the term buzzword was even invented. Basically, about 10 years ago the term globalisation was used to describe the development of closer international ties. Promoted primarily by internet technology, it was the increasing exchange of products, ideas and culture.
Today, we simply know it as the world we live in.
Hong Kong is a global city and one of the capitals of this exchange. What does this mean for local businesses? Industry commentator Stanley – SEO Manager at First Page – says “more than ever website structure and the correct use of multiple languages and locations is vital to online success”.
Why is website structure important for SEO?
Stanley explains that a website’s structure refers to how the website is set up, for example, how the individual subpages are linked to one another. This is particularly important for crawlers – a program search engines use to gather data from the internet. Crawlers like a simple structure so they can find all subpages quickly and easily when websites have a large number of subpages.
In addition, good structure also provides a great user experience. Customers can navigate around the website with ease and find the information they are after with ease, promoting leads, sales or bookings.
What advantages does having multiple languages provide?
“Hong Kong is a multi-lingual hub of commerce. It is very common for clients to have their website featured in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.”
However, as the saying goes “the world is your oyster” – If that is the case you would simply need to translate your website in shellfish.
Humour aside, if your business is targeting multiple locations across the globe, then multi-language websites means access to a larger audience.
Options for website structure?
When handling multi language website, we have 3 options for the website structure:
– ccTLDs, e.g. .hk for hong kong version, .cn for China version
– subdirectories, e.g. aaa.com/zh for traditional Chinese version, aaa.com/en for English version
– subdomains, e.g. zh.aaa.com for traditional Chinese version, en.aaa.com for English version
How can we explain this better – what are the difference a common user would see?
The sub directories are the most popular however with search engines are based search we often suggest the ccTLDs are the best approach. This allows you to target your content and design of each domain to the particular region which results in relatively better search results and higher conversion rates. There is a long and technical debate over the advantage and disadvantages of subdirectories vs. subdomains; however we would always recommend subdirectories over subdomains to our clients. The principal reason being that search engines classify the subdirectories as the one domain making it much more efficient to build authority compared to the subdomains which are classified as separate domains; meaning the authority that we build would be shared across multiple domains
Both options can work for SEO but remember to add hreflangs tag tells Google which language you are using on a specific page.
Example code is below:
http://www.website.com” hreflang=”x-default” />
http://www.website.com/en/” hreflang=”en-hk” />
http://www.website.com/zh/” hreflang=”zh-hk” />