I have recently been partnering with a lots of international site managers in Microsoft on various global SEO initiatives. I had interesting discussion with one of our Spanish site managers this week, which reminded me how critical it is to work with someone who understands the local language AND the local culture when tackling SEO internationally.
We were discussing optimisation for various pages on Microsoft.com, many of which were targeting search strings containing ‘computer’. We have a lot of content on our websites which is shared across regions with common languages, so websites in Spain often share content with Latin America Spanish speaking countries (e.g. Mexico). My assumption before my meeting was that we could have a single piece of Spanish content which would capture any Spanish searches from Spain, Mexico and any other Spanish speaking country. I was quickly convinced otherwise.
We were trying to optimise a bunch of pages for ‘computer’ related search terms (e.g. ‘computer not working’, ‘pc sound not working’, ‘computer problems’, etc…). My assumption was that one of most popular words for computer in Spain (ordenador), would also be one of the most popular in Mexico, however my Spanish contacts corrected me. A quick search in Google Adwords illustrates this fact. . .
Whilst ‘ordenador’ is one of the most popular related words in Spain (after ‘PC’), in Mexico ‘computadoras’ is the second most popular related keyword and is in fact used nearly twice as much as Spain’s number 2. So if we are trying to target the number 2 terms for each region (which we were) we need to think about creating 2 separate pages (or at least 2 separate linking strategies), one targeting ‘ordenador’ and the other targeting ‘computadoras’.
A golden rule of international SEO is that you cannot just translate keywords, the content must be regionalised for the local market. Hopefully this post makes it clear that this also applies even if you are working across multiple regions in the same language.