Our team is reg­u­larly immersed in opti­miza­tion, aim­ing to improve the per­for­mance of our web­site. One of the chal­lenges that many enter­prises face is deploy­ing SEO local­iza­tion tac­tics that work. Where I think some enter­prises fall short is not devel­op­ing a strong local­iza­tion strat­egy in their global SEO practices.

Local­iza­tion isn’t sim­ply trans­la­tion. Your offers have to be attrac­tive to both search engines and human beings. Search man­agers must develop cohe­sive strate­gies that local­ize sites and SEO cam­paigns to meet mar­ket expec­ta­tions and local search algo­rithms more effec­tively. Pro­duc­tiv­ity tools such as Adobe’s improve local­iza­tion prac­tices, but to opti­mally local­ize your dig­i­tal pres­ence, your SEO team has sev­eral areas to focus on.

Key­word selec­tion is the secret to suc­cess. It may sound easy to local­ize by sim­ply trans­lat­ing what has worked in one lan­guage. How­ever, trans­la­tion is not local­iza­tion. That approach elim­i­nates the appar­ent and sub­tle dif­fer­ences between inter­na­tional mar­kets. Nuances among global, regional, and even local lan­guages may dif­fer. More­over, as one global sur­vey revealed “(if they) can’t read, (they) won’t buy.” At Adobe, our local­iza­tion team takes part in a five-step process that leads to effec­tive local search term selection:

  1. Search term def­i­n­i­tion: The SEO team (includ­ing Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing, Web Strat­egy, Paid Search, and Global Local­iza­tion) pro­vides key­words and link names to inter­na­tional pro­gram man­agers (IPMs).
  2. Key­word local­iza­tion: The IPM ini­ti­ates local­iza­tion through approved vendors.
  3. Key­word val­i­da­tion: Ven­dors val­i­date in-country search demand.
  4. Key­word selec­tion: Ven­dors and GEOs review val­i­dated key­words and approve based upon search demand and/or pro­vide alter­na­tives with low competition.
  5. Key­word approval: The IPM reviews and approves keywords.

Key­word map­ping is the next log­i­cal step. Once approved, key­words must be mapped effec­tively to dig­i­tal assets to gain trac­tion in local mar­kets. Map­ping key­words to dig­i­tal assets may increase SE vis­i­bil­ity, but true value is in how dig­i­tal media is used to sell a solu­tion. Check­ing out trend­ing local search vol­ume can help to map assets effec­tively. If you’re map­ping to an exist­ing page, use on-page con­tent as a guide for key­word selec­tion. What terms best rep­re­sent local view­points about the con­tent? Deploy key­words to mimic those view­points on your assets.

URL struc­ture is impor­tant. Country-specific top-level domains (TLDs) pro­vide ade­quate carve out by region, but it’s also a good idea to dis­tin­guish language-centric con­tent at the domain level. For exam­ple, Ger­man mar­ket assets can be opti­mized as a sub­di­rec­tory (www​.exam​ple​.com/​de/) or as a sub­do­main (www​.fr​.exam​ple​.com). Local­iz­ing your URL struc­ture allows your mar­kets to get an idea of the con­tent on the site. Also it enables a con­sis­tent domain nam­ing con­ven­tion that’s ben­e­fi­cial for IT and Web pro­duc­tion teams.

Con­tent is still king and the lifeblood of any mar­ket­ing cam­paign. Dig­i­tal con­tent should be local­ized to pro­vide seam­less tran­si­tion from search to splash page to site archi­tec­ture. Paid or organic, search engine results page (SERP) local­iza­tion — includ­ing key­words, ad copy, title, and meta descrip­tion — should be con­sis­tent with other dig­i­tal assets. Site searches should be local­ized as well. In addi­tion, don’t for­get to update each local­ized sitemap appropriately.

Canon­i­cal­iza­tion is a key focus­ing tech­nique. In SEO, a canon­i­cal page is the pre­ferred ver­sion of a set of pages with nearly iden­ti­cal con­tent. It’s impor­tant to your local­iza­tion efforts. Why? Well, here’s how it works:

If Google rec­og­nizes iden­ti­cal con­tent, such as sorted prod­uct pages, it will select a sin­gle canon­i­cal page to index and return that result in the SERP. The intent, from Google’s stand­point, is to “select the page that best answers the user’s query.” You want to ensure that your local mar­kets are exposed to the pri­mary ver­sion of their local­ized pages.

Your SEO team can select which page to index as canon­i­cal by adding a <link> ele­ment to the <head> sec­tion. The key is to select as canon­i­cal the page that best rep­re­sents how local mar­kets purchase.

Our Adobe Local­iza­tion team sup­ports 135 prod­uct and func­tional teams. We rec­og­nize the impor­tance of main­tain­ing strong local iden­tity across our busi­ness units. Local­iza­tion tools such as those in Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud can help your enter­prise cre­ate and main­tain your local pres­ence in ways that improve your search mar­ket­ing key per­for­mance indi­ca­tors (KPIs). One of the chal­lenges that many enter­prises face is deploy­ing SEO local­iza­tion tac­tics that work – Bright­Edge men­tioned our prac­tices in a recent Search Engine Land arti­cle.

Look for my next post on max­i­miz­ing your global search mar­ket­ing strate­gies. We’ll look at ways to max­i­mize avail­able search tools.