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.example.com/de/) or as a subdomain (www.fr.example.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.