Optimizing your blog’s SEO for a global audience needs more than just being technologically savvy. Everything from your content, to URL structures, and even link building needs to be optimized. It needs to cater to your region’s needs and language differences.
Fortunately, you’ve found this article as we’ll show you how a search engine ranks international websites. We’ll also be exploring how to optimize a site’s technical structure.
For now, we will discuss the most integral factor in the growth of your site’s international SEO efforts:
What is hreflang?
Hreflang dictates your site’s geographic and language restrictions. It’s interpreted by search engines and used by webmasters to understand a website’s target geographical location.
Unfortunately, most SEO analysts have a problem with implementing proper alternate hreflang tags. They’re hard to fix because one error can bring you back to step one.
It can even cause content and keyword cannibalization as search engines consider these as duplicates. Thus, it’s important to know the right SEO practices when targeting a global audience.
Now that you know everything you need about hreflang, it’s time to discuss how you can manage it to the advantage of your site’s SEO.
1. Organize site structure
Global companies that focus on a market with a specific language usually use ccTLDs. Unfortunately, country-coded top-level domains (ccTLDs) are complicated and expensive.
Good thing there are hreflang attributes that can clear up the regional and language differences of search engines. However, users still need to use subdirectories to avoid having duplicate content.
Google Search Console is one of the best ways to start doing this. Just make sure that you’re showing the right content for different regions. Double check this as this is where people usually go wrong.
2. Localize content
Localize your content by language and region. You can do this without risking cannibalization because you implement hreflang. This then displays the NAP information on your site.
However, don’t rely too much on automatic translational content for languages because it isn’t very reliable. Instead, it’s better to hire a translation service such as 24 Hour Translation. This helps you communicate your message to the right people in a language they understand.
Different cultures and regions also have varying preferences. Know the aesthetics that people in a specific region want. Most likely, this will vary region from region. Thus, personalizing content by region is important.
3. Place hreflang attributes correctly
Implement hreflang in HTTP, head, and XML sitemap. Your HTML’s <head> is the easiest place to implement hreflang. However, it can increase the amount of downloadable data. Meanwhile, XML is a great substitute but needs lots of markup than your regular HTML.
Nonetheless, they have similar principles and implementation no matter where you place your hreflang tags.
4. Use canonicals
Using canonicals properly improves alternative attributes’ consistency. Don’t pick one language if you’re canonicalizing different languages into your URL. However, you need to canonicalize the landing page if you’re focusing on individual languages.
5. Have bidirectional links
Alternates should be referenced back by their pages to ensure consistency. Expect this to appear as a “Return Tag” error. An example would be listing Page A as alternate to Page B if Page B listed Page A as an alternate.
Specify Page A as canonical while listing all cited alternatives. Do the same to Page B. You want one page to be a reflection of the other page without making it a duplicate. Specify your variations and focus on implementing them on their respective page.
6. Insert default pages
Use an x-default variant if you haven’t set up any region-specific alternate. An example would be an English-speaking Indian who finds your site that doesn’t have a region-specific alternative. If this is the case, then they’d be shown a standard English “en” version from the x-default.
Effectively using the x-default formula does a lot of good to your personalizing capability.
7. Use tools
There are many tools that help improve your hreflang implementation. One of the best ones is Python. This tool is widely used by SEO professionals because of its user-friendly and feature-rich nature.
You can also hire SEO consultants and specialists who are well-versed in the language that multilingual SEO speaks. You need an outside perspective from external parties to know if your strategy is working or not.
This lets you make the most out of the advantages of multilingual SEO.
Growing your global audience by implementing SEO might sound technical and overwhelming. But it’s very achievable. All you need is the dedication to improve your blog’s reach. Be passionate and don’t feel lost if you stumble on an error or two.
Rise up and learn from your experiences. Use these to your advantage. And always remember to learn new things every day. SEO is complicated but vital to your blog’s success. When you do, then your blog will surely soar higher than ever before.