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Although doing International SEO gives you an opportunity to find new global markets and engage with people all across the world, it can be a complicated process with plenty of pitfalls that can hurt your progress. These are some things to watch out for, and while doing it the right way might take more time and resources upfront, it will be worth the effort in the long run. First, you're going to want to steer clear of auto translated content. While auto translation technology has improved a lot over the years, it's still not nearly as good as a competent human translator that can truly interpret and craft a message that gets the point across in a way that's appropriate to a region and a culture.
Auto translated content can come off as very unnatural and awkward, and while some may appreciate the effort, many will view it as a negative, or a clear sign that you're not serious about serving them. Another thing to watch out for is how words and phrases are translated and used in other countries or languages. In the US, an English-speaking American might search the term "car insurance" to get some car insurance quotes. If you were to translate this keyword phrase directly into French, you might end up with this. And although it's a valid translation of the phrase.
In French-speaking Canada, people will be more likely to use this. And what if you're renting cars? If the English version of your site is talking about car rentals, and you decide to expand to the UK, you better know that in London you can hire a car just as easily as rent one. These are the nuances that you'll start to find as you do regionalized keyword research, and having someone that understands your target region and language will be invaluable to you as you go through this process. Next, don't fall into the trap of just translating whatever you can, whenever you have time, and slapping it up on your pages.
While mixing languages on a single page is really confusing to a search engine, even separate pages within an unclear structure can hinder the search engine's ability to find and understand your content. Take the time to plan out your regionalized versions of your website, and develop clear navigation that will help search engines correctly group your content by language and region. You can further help the search engines by using metadata to define language and location targeting, and spending the time and resources to go through these steps will ultimately help your international search engine visibility.
Last, make sure that you really internationalize your site for the audience you're targeting. You may take the time to figure out what they call car rentals in the UK, but if it turns out that taxis, trains, and the tube are the way that your customers get around in London, you've really missed your audience. Just as with any business, make sure that you've done the market research to truly understand the international opportunity, as well as how to speak to the specific audience around the needs that your products and services are fulfilling. Your number one priority is to provide your users with the best experience possible, and if you make an effort to create a quality user experience for your differentiated, translated, and regionalized content, it will result in improvements in your global search engine visibility.
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