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Website Translation: How to Do Multilingual SEO

Zsófia Lelner
Zsófia Lelner - 08/02/2024

8 minute read

When it comes to communicating with your clients who are native speakers of other languages, there is undoubtedly the need for a communication strategy that involves a website as well as multiple channels in different languages, each tailored to specific locations. 

In this blog post, we would like to shed some light on multilingual SEO and how to make sure your website is equipped with the essentials needed to reach your audience. 

Multilingual SEO: The Basics 

Search Engine Optimization is the set of practices that render your content more visible in search engines. It involves customizing and improving your website (both from a technical and a content point of view), so that it is easier to find, especially for those users to whom your website is most relevant. 

Multilingual SEO involves translating your website into multiple languages and applying the necessary practices to improve your ranking and reach the audience who searches for your content in the given language. 

The practice of international SEO allows you to make your content global. It has already been established that customers are more likely to buy your product or use your services if your content is available in their primary language. 

This is the reason why it is not enough to translate your website into the necessary languages, you also need to optimize the website for search engines. 

How to Do Multilingual SEO: A Guide 

When you localize website content and you want to optimize your website for keywords in a different language, it is not enough to just apply the major SEO principles. There is more to it than that. Let us give you a few tips on how to master multilingual SEO when it comes to website translation. 

Find the right market 

When you are planning your globalization strategy, you need to start with the basics. This ensures that you always see the big picture and that you can tailor any further actions to the strategy you came up with. 

The first step of multilingual SEO is to identify the markets and the locations to target. Once you know what countries and regions you want to tackle, look up the languages used in the area. 

Make sure that you not only find out about the language of the region itself but also make sure that you learn about the dialects and the terminology specific to your target market’s native speakers. 

Conduct keyword research in the target language 

Although there are many overlaps in keywords in different languages, when you do multilingual SEO for your website, you must conduct keyword research in your target language to identify words and terms popular in the target location that you might not think of when it comes to the source language. 

Be aware that terms that might work in the original language might have a different phrasing in your target language. You may need to slightly change how you express the concept you are trying to improve. 

This implies that you not only need to tailor the keywords to your target audience but also modify the original content to match the specific keyword you've chosen for the particular content you are writing. Simply translating your existing content is not enough. 

Localization, not translation 

When doing multilingual SEO, never forget about the small nuances of how your target audience expresses different aspects of life: they might use different measurement units, they might express time differently, and there can even be differences in writing style, tone, and voice. Some prefer more personal texts with emojis, while others might express themselves more formally. 

When writing content for search engine optimization, keep the search engine aspect in mind—however, do not make it the focus of your writing. Always remember that at the end of the day, you are writing to people, and not just a search engine. 

In addition to these aspects, also consider that different search engines might be used in different locations. Make sure you also find out which search engine is the most popular for your target location, and look up and apply those rules of SEO tailored to the specific engine. 

Consider the technical aspect of multilingual SEO 

Besides the major writing principles, there is also the technical aspect to consider when it comes to search engine optimization—and this also applies to multilingual SEO. 

Have a language selector on your website 

Allow your users to easily find and identify the UI element where they can select the language of your content. If you choose to write out the available languages instead of using a flag icon, make sure you use the native character set specific to the languages. Another option is to set up your website in a way that identifies the user’s location and sets the matching language automatically for the user’s convenience. 

Use the hreflang attribute 

According to Ahrefs’ definition, hreflang is "an HTML attribute used to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage. If you have multiple versions of the same page in different languages, you can use the hreflang tag to tell search engines like Google about these variations.”  

This attribute helps Google and other search engines identify the website versions, and it ensures that it shows the correct version to the users in each location. To learn more about hreflang attributes and how to implement them, read this guide from Ahrefs. 

Make sure your URLs are tailored to local users 

One of the easier aspects of technical SEO for multilingual websites is localizing URLs. A well-written and structured URL arrangement in your target language can guide the user and help them identify the content of the page they are looking for. 

memoQ TMS: The Right Software for Website Localization and Multilingual SEO 

Do you want to elevate your website translation and international SEO? Make sure you use the correct terminology, take advantage of already translated content, and rank better in all your target markets with memoQ TMS! 


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Zsófia Lelner

Zsófia Lelner

Linguist turned content marketer, telling the story of memoQ.

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