A Definitive Guide for Multilingual SEO

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So, you want to catch massive organic traffic for your international business.


An easy way to do this is to optimize your SEO for multiple languages and countries. The global market for your content is vast. And remember, many countries don’t speak English.

If you target only English speakers based in your country, you are missing out on a huge audience.

To reap benefits from a huge international and multilingual market, hiring an SEO services firm for multilingual SEO will serve your purpose.

What is multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO is the practice of optimizing your content in a variety of languages. So, you become searchable in new markets and people from different countries can find your website through organic search.

In short, multilingual SEO will enable your site to rank high in searches in native languages and found by native users.

Who should choose multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO is suitable for businesses with an international presence. If your business is doing well in your country and you want to expand it to the international market, you’ll need to invest in multilingual SEO services.

For example, a website in a French brand could have pages to serve people in the part of Russia, Ukraine, or any European/Asian country.

That means despite you are based in France, you serve people in other parts of the world. So, your page should have content in the language of that particular region.

Therefore, multilingual SEO explicitly is worth to the target audience and users where the content in the native language really matters.

Why multilingual SEO is important?

Multilingual improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts and ranks your website in local languages to local audiences. It lets people find your website on the search engines and keeps you ready for the overseas market.

What to do, then?

  • Structure your multilingual site correctly
  • Ensure that the site has the right tool for creating multilingual content
  • Enable the respective search engines to pair up with your targeted SEO keywords

Here are the best practices for multilingual SEO Services

Best CMS for a Multilingual Website

WordPress, Drupal and Magento are some of the most popular open-source CMS’s. They provide several options to develop websites with the best SEO structure and a shared database (the shared database is beneficial for the long run).

These different CMS’s (WordPress, Drupal, and Magento) empower you to configure websites with separate domains, sub-domains, and sub-folders, using the same database.

This means that if you update the design, add or remove a product or upgrade the pricing, it will automatically get updated on all versions of your site.

Thus, it will save your time in the long run and the chances of failing to update a new product or service (that you have started selling lately) on one of your sites will be very less.

What else? A shared database lets you link pages to the equivalent page in each language, which is good for the best international SEO service practice.

Top-Level Domains

Whether you’re a CEO of a large enterprise, digital marketing head, or SEO service firm, it’s important to learn that some domains are generic whereas others are location-specific.

According to Google,

  • Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) do not specify a country
  • Regional Top-Level Domains (rTLDs) are associated with a region, but they are considered top-level as well.

Google considers the below Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and they can be Geo targeted in Webmaster Tools.

Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)

.aero .biz .cat .com .coop
.edu .gov .info .int .jobs
.net .mil .mobi .museum .name
.net .org .pro .tel .travel

Regional Top-Level Domains (rTLDs)

.eu .asia

Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

Google is always changing this ccTLDs list. Also, this list is not for other search engines but is specific to the Google search engine only.

.as .bz .cc .cd .co
.dj .fm .la .me .ms
.nu .sc .sr .tv .tk

Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) and Webmaster Tools Geo targeting

According to Google’s Official Webmaster Central blog,

Determining geo targeting on a page-by-page basis is challenging. It is, therefore, important to use a URL structure that can easily segment parts of the website for geo targeting.

The use of ccTLD is a powerful signal for both users and search engines. If a particular region is your target, then going with ccTLD is the right approach.

But in the case of using multiple ccTLDs, you should be ready to take care of the issue that can arise with tracking, SEO, and branding. This is why multilingual SEOs favor directories or subdomains.

However, using a ccTLD for geo targeting a particular country is not necessary. Google Webmaster Tools can be helpful for manual geo targeting of gTLDs (.net &.com) with the Set Geographic Target tool.

Below are step by step guides to set up geo targeting in Webmaster Tools:

Step #1: Click the website you want on the home page of Webmaster Tools

Step #2: Click ‘Settings’ under site configuration

Step #3: Choose the option you want in the Geographic target section

Please select ‘ÚNLISTED’ if you want to ensure that your website has nothing to do with any specific country or region.

Separate Domains, Sub-Folders, or Sub-Domains?

Don’t get confused between separate domains, sub-folders, or sub-domains. Though each comes with its values, top websites use different structures.

Separate Domains

  • google.co.uk
  • google.fr
  • google.de


  • www.example.com/ca/
  • www.example.com/fr/
  • www.example.com/de/

Separate sub-domains

  • en-gb.example.com
  • fr-fr.example.com
  • de-de.example.com

Separate Pages / URL Extensions

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

Is your domain name keyword-rich in English? If so, better translate it and buy the equivalent local domain name in each language. This is helpful for branding.

However, in case of a strong brand with an international domain like .com or .net, except for a country-specific domain, any of the above options can work.

As a prominent SEO services provider in USA, we would recommend you take care of the following:

  • Avoid putting all the same languages on the same page because Google may index a page only one time and each page only has one Meta Title and Meta Description.
  • Avoid keeping identical URLs in each language if you are using cookies to control the language. Google doesn’t follow cookies. If your URL is xyz.com/page1 for each language, it will index only one language of your site, and ignore others.
  • Avoid using anything after a hashtag (#) for language control. The hashtag (#) in a web address is used to generally direct visitors to a particular part of the same page, called an anchor.

Subdomains or Directories

Subdomains and subdirectories (or subfolders) organize websites and their pages into a directory of folders, similar to files on your desktop.

In short, a subdomain is a domain that is part of another primary domain.

Subdirectories may need additional setup work to identify different folders at different servers.

In so far as a large website is concerned, the best option is to be either a directory or subdomain structure. From an SEO and analytics tracking point, having multiple top-level domains can make things very messy.

Google points:

In case of limited time and resources, choosing one non-country-specific domain that can host all the different versions of your site is a smart decision.

In such a case, you’ll have either of these two choices:

  • Putting content of each language in a separate subdomain. For instance, you would have de.xyz.com, en.xyz.com, and es.xyz.com.

  • Putting content of each language in a separate subdirectory. This will be easy to manage when it comes to maintaining or updating your site. For example, you would have xyz.com/en/, xyz.com/de/, and xyz.com/es/.

In most cases, a directory structure can be optimum. It’s uncluttered and directories can contribute to the overall site authority.

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Is an International Host Required for Multilingual SEO?

A multitude of factors is evaluated by a search engine like Google to determine the geographical location of your business. A few of them are:

  • The domain extension
  • The language the domain extension is written in
  • Addresses or cities that are mentioned in your content
  • Hreflang meta tags (to tell the search engine about localized versions of your page)
  • Whois information, and more

Remember, if you get your website hosted in the same country as your target customers, it will not fulfill the requirements of Local SEO.

One small fact that you must know is that having a host close to your target audience leads to improved site speed for a large number of visitors.

If your target audience is in Germany, you can find a domain host in Europe. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean to be in Germany because there are many other factors that affect site speed.

SEO Translation Is Essential for Multilingual SEO

Say ‘SEO Translation’ and ‘Google Translate’ catches our mind. Similar to Google’s free translation service, other automatic translation software is available in the market.

Needless to say, Google considers ‘automatically translated content’ using such software spam.

To hold the top position on search engines and optimize your English website, SEO translation is essential. Therefore, manual translation from a professional translator can be handy.

You can go with either of these two possible approaches:


Translate your site with no thought of SEO in mind, and then proceed with the content optimization while targeting the right keywords. Be assured of rewriting Metatags of the correct length.


When doing SEO translation, focus on finding out targeted keywords and inserting them as you translate.

Follow these steps for SEO translation:

  • Step #1: Map 1 or 2 English keywords to each landing page. If one topic is the only focus on your whole website, target multiple relevant keywords.
  • Step #2: Translate these keywords into the new language you want to target. For example, if you’re translating in French, then put your heads together and identify other French keywords as well as French synonyms.
  • Step #3: Check search volume with the help of SEO professionals. An SEO expert is familiar with the best Keywords Explorer Tool. So, they can help identify French keywords with high search volumes and low keyword difficulty.
  • Step #4: After completing the French translation, make sure you add the main keyword once in the Meta Title, Meta Description, URL, and h1 title a few times. Avoid using keywords excessively elsewhere on the page.
  • Step #6: if it is appropriate, then use the keywords in the content that sound natural. Remember, keyword stuffing is an old-fashioned SEO method and it works no longer.

When it comes to translating URLs, it helps SEO. But prioritize using clean URLs without any accents. Hire a reputed SEO services firm like ResultFirst to convert translated URLs into clean URLs. Our SEO professionals are competent in Search Engine Optimization and can remove accents from letters.

Cultural Importance for Multilingual SEO

The importance of culture in Multilingual SEO should not be undervalued. After all, people across the globe search differently, depending on their culture and where they live. And this carries a huge impact when it comes to a brand’s marketing and SEO efforts.

So, you need to appeal to the local culture.

To get things done in your favor, use a color scheme that depicts your product as well as your audience. Make references that will be understood and appreciated. Focus on which market you are working in. and know what may be trending in that particular region.

In addition, evolve Google’s algorithms and user behavior factors. Factors can be like how long visitors stay on your site, and how many pages they visit.

Doing this enhances the user experience and delivers an increased conversion rate. The best part is that culture in multilingual SEO will have a direct impact on your rankings in Google.


Multilingual SEO is always transforming. This can be an expanding subject matter as we advance in the crazy Internet realm. The top mantras for succeeding with a multilingual website are to target keywords with sufficient search volume, use a CMS and website structure, optimize and localize content when translating, and give importance to local culture.

On top of the list is paying attention to new strategies for search to improve your online business.

Trust, this guide is helpful. If anything is missing, kindly write it in the comment box.

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