By Tracy Mu Sung – Director at MooMu Media
If you are managing a site for audiences who use different languages, and/or who are in different countries, it is important to ensure your geo-targeting is as clear as possible to Google. Why? Because if Google knows who your target audience is, it is more likely to increase your rankings and visibility for that particular audience.
For example – if your site, or part of your site, is targeting French speakers in France, correct geo-targeting will give the relevant section of your site a boost in the search results of people in France.
So how do you signal to Google where and for whom your content is most relevant? One obvious way is the language you are using in your content, but seeing as keyword selection and content optimisation is so important, we will have them as the subject of a whole other post.
This post will focus on some non-content ways to optimise your site for Google, more from a coding and administrative perspective. These are things you can do right now, or as soon as you start developing your language pages.
- The first is the most simple and obvious – make sure that Google can crawl all your language pages. Don’t use them in isolation, and don’t confuse Google with cookies or redirects (if possible)
- Make sure the language of a page is obvious. You should use only one language on a page (if possible) so as not to confuse search engines and/or users.
- Sometimes menu structures or user generated content can be different to other content on a page. Try to minimise this.
- If you have multiple languages in a rich media file like Flash (which are usually indexed as single pages), it would be helpful to separate the content into separate language files.
- Do not use WMT Geo-targeting if you are targeting multiple countries
Notice that nowhere in this list did I mention rel hreflang markup, why is that? That’s because the hreflang element is used as a connection between URLs, allowing Google to ‘swap’ the page currently shown in the search results with ones which are more relevant to the user. It doesn’t affect ranking, but it is important, so we have covered it in our second article on SEO for Multilingual Websites Part 2.