If you’re offering more than one language on your website there are a number of rules you’ll need to follow to ensure your website is ranking well for your new target audience. Whilst there are numerous SEO guides around, they don’t always take into account the specifics of multilingual SEO.
We’ll take you through 4 key steps you need to put into practice when it comes to multilingual SEO:
- Use dedicated URLs.
- Apply hreflang tags.
- Stick to one language per page.
- Translate your metadata
Let’s dive down and explain each one.
1. Dedicated URLs
When you create a multilingual website one the main concerns people have is duplicate content. As most people know, duplicate content is considered bad for SEO.
This is especially true for duplicate content that appears under the same URL which can lead to lower rankings and even worse – deindexing.
Google best practices recommend using dedicated URLs that include a language indicator. By doing this, search engines can recognize the language of the page from the URL. E.g. www.yoursite.com would be the original language of your website and www.yoursite.com/es/ would be the Spanish site.
Where the language indicator is situated is dependent on the domain structure you select. The three options are as follows:
- Top-level domain – e.g. www.yoursite.es
- Subdomain – e.g. www.es.yoursite.com
- Subdirectory – e.g. www.yoursite.com/es/
The different domain structures all have their good and bad points – however, subdirectories are more favorable in terms of setup and maintenance. Multilingual WordPress translation plugins, like Weglot, offer a quick and simple approach to making a multilingual website.
They use automatically generated subdirectories as part of their translation solution – so you’ll have a unique URL for each language and won’t be penalized for duplicate content.
2. Adding hreflang tags
Step two when it comes to multilingual SEO is adding hreflang tags to your translated site. The purpose of hreflang tags is to help determine both the language of the page and which region it’s intended for.
Hreflang tags can be inserted into the <head> section of your HTML page, HTTP headers or in your sitemap. You need to be consistent with where you add them though and choose only one place as they can be easily misinterpreted by search engines.
Overall, this process can be time-consuming and tricky, especially for beginners. Luckily, for those using Weglot as their website translation solution, this step is already taken care of – so you don’t need to be concerned with adding your own code.
3. One language per page
Sometimes when creating a multilingual website, it can be tempting to translate some parts of a page and keep other parts of the site’s original language. This can often be down to budget constraints or lack of time. For example, you might translate the content of a page, but leave the navigation in the original language.
For a situation like this, you can add hreflang tags which we discussed above. However, you do need to take into consideration that having multiple languages on one page can be messy for the user experience. The reader might understand the content of the page, but then have difficulty navigating to other pages.
When you use Weglot as your translation solution, all the content of your website is automatically detected and translated – no matter where the content is coming from (e.g. any content from a plugin). So you don’t need to choose what you want to translate.
It’s not just the content of your website you need to think about translating. There’s also content that doesn’t technically appear on your site, such as your metadata, but which is an integral piece of text that will help you rank better.
When it comes to translating this part of your website it can often be time-consuming especially if you have thousands of pages that each needs unique metadata.
You’ll then need to conduct new keyword research for your new languages as what might be a keyword within the original language of your site, won’t necessarily be the same for your translated site.
This can easily be carried out either through Ahrefs or Ubersuggest. Use their keyword explorers and enter a translated keyword, select the country you want to target and review the results to give you a better idea of what your potential customers might be searching for.
When it comes to translating your metadata, Weglot already takes care of this step – you can then access your translations through your intuitive Weglot dashboard and update the keywords depending on your research.
Multilingual SEO Practices Conclusion
There are a number of important steps to multilingual SEO that need to be taken into consideration to maximize the reach of your multilingual website.
Addressing the issues above will boost your rankings and improve your user experience.
And, if you’re using Weglot as your translation solution, all the steps above are carried out for you – so you don’t need to worry about your WordPress website and its multilingual SEO performance!