Multilingual SEO best practices: how to optimise your website for global visibility

multilingual SEO best practices

Multilingual SEO best practices: how to optimise your website for global visibility

In the globalised contemporary digital landscape, as we’re facing new logistic and communication solutions, many a company thinks of increasing its presence in international markets, which merely a decade or two ago seemed virtually unattainable. As a result, multilingual search engine optimisation (multilingual SEO) has become the cornerstone of marketing strategies for those who wish to maximise their visibility and draw traffic from various language environments and new markets.

What does multilingual website and content SEO entail and how can it benefit your business? That’s what this article will be about.

How does multilingual SEO impact my business?

Running a SEO campaign in foreign markets – if done according to the industry’s best practices – can bring an array of benefits to any company interested in international expansion:

Global reach: international SEO enables you to enter new markets by targeting ads at users searching for products and services in different languages. It also opens up possibilities of reaching wider audiences and generating organic traffic from around the world.

Improved user experience: by supplying users with content in their preferred languages, multilingual SEO improves user experience (UX). Internet users can then effortlessly navigate websites, comprehend product descriptions and access relevant information, all of which helps boost customer trust and engagement.

Competitive edge: implementing multilingual SEO strategies gives companies competitive edge in international markets. By optimising their online presence with several languages in mind, businesses may outrun their competition and achieve an expert status in different language communities.

What are some of the best SEO practices for multilingual websites?

A well-run multilingual SEO campaign requires a number of actions on two different levels: On-Site SEO (website language versions’ content and structure optimisation) and Off-Site SEO (linking to website’s language versions on other websites).

Keyword research (identification)

Identifying keyphrases is a crucial ingredient of search engine optimisation (SEO), which additionally helps find users’ most frequent queries. Site owners who understand users’ behaviour and preferences can optimise content, so that it answers the most common questions typed in by users. If the user finds an in-depth explanation of an issue they look up online, they aren’t going to close the website immediately, which will significantly decrease the bounce rate and, consequently, boost the site’s search engine ranking.

Language-specific tools: For the purpose of multilingual website content optimisation, it is recommended to use keyword research tools that have access to market-specific data – so that you can discover which words or phrases are most commonly searched, as well as what your competition in the target market is.

Cultural nuance and context: Multilingual keyword research must take into consideration cultural differences and linguistic nuances. Particular terms, idioms or preferences regarding the product may differ depending on the language and region.

Search engine preferences: Before any optimisation-related activities are done, you must identify the area that you wish to acquire users from. It’s therefore essential to analyse main search engines of a given region or locale, such as Baidu in China, Naver in South Korea or Yandex.

Website structure

One of the easiest and most widespread methods is using primary domain directories. In this case, particular language versions are given subdirectories, such as,, and This simple solution allows for easy website management and makes use of the power of links pointing to the primary domain; additionally, it does not require buying new domains. Popular CMS (content management system) solutions offer a variety of straightforward methods for creating a new language version.

Another useful method is to use subdomains. One top-level domain (TLD) stores several subdomains, such as and This effective solution helps partition the website while still leveraging the power of linking to the primary domain.

Alternatively, several top-level domains can be used. Different language versions then have separate websites, such as, or However, this solution is rather complex and requires you to own several website domains. Moreover, link acquisition must be done for each single version in that scenario.

For global websites, it is best to avoid country-specific domains (such as .pl or .de), and use global ones instead, such as .com, .eu or .info.

Hreflang tags

Hreflang tags are HTML attributes that inform search engines about the website’s language and geographic targeting. When used correctly, hreflang tags help search engines understand which language version should be displayed to users in a given country or region. Ultimately, it improves the visibility and ranking of multilingual websites.

How to implement hreflang tags correctly?

Hreflang tags should be put in the HTML head section of a website that has alternative language versions. It’s important to use correct language and country/region codes.

Should we opt for hreflang tags, it’s vital to implement them consistently across all language versions. Each website version should have hreflang tags pointing to all other available versions. Search engines can then more easily understand the relationship between respective language versions.

How not to use a hreflang tag?

When using hreflang tags, avoid adding tags that point to the current language version. For example, if you’re on the English version website, there is no need to use a hreflang tag for English, as it could mislead crawler bots by suggesting there’s another, “alternative” English version of the content.

In general, most common mistakes involving hreflang tags cover missing returning links as well as invalid language codes and missing canonical tags. Remember, also, that using “noindex” tags for hreflang tags is a bad idea.

Quality translation and localisation

For a new language version of a website to attract new customers, it must be, first and foremost, reliable. Clumsy machine translation and unnatural wording will only discourage target language users. Collaborating with professional translators ensures accurate and context-aware translation of the content. Localisation is crucial for conversion, which is why it’s beneficial to adjust your content by taking into account cultural preferences, idioms or local conventions. What’s more, localisation aids trust-building and helps increase user engagement.

Is machine translation always bad?

What should you do if you have, for example, a huge e-commerce portal and too small a budget to translate it with a human translator? While it’s recommended to work with professional translators, machine translation may prove to be the optimum solution in large-scale projects – provided that the machine-created content is reviewed and proofread.

The more expensive a product or service, the less space there is for linguistic mistakes – particularly due to the risk of losing customer trust. Another reason is multilingual SEO. The vast majority of search engines mostly try to accurately match user queries to indexed sites; wrong machine translations will thus impede search engines’ understanding of content.

So, even if you opt for machine translation, we suggest that human linguists work on it, too. Our company features a team of SEO and linguistic experts who perform machine translation post-editing and keyword optimisation.

We also offer keyword-enriched machine translation – this semi-automatic method ensures satisfactory results as regards the website’s positioning.

If you wish to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Our team will help you find a solution tailored to your needs

Link building for multilingual SEO

Link building is a key element of multilingual website SEO strategies, especially in highly competitive industries. When creating your link acquisition strategy, keep some important things in mind:

Using appropriate backlinks: get links from high-quality content websites in relevant languages. These can be local portals, blogs, forums and international industry websites.

Concentrate on backlinks from websites in a given language: acquire links from websites in the same language as the given version of your site. Such links will be worth more to search engines and aid positioning in the market.

Another common method of backlink acquisition is by approaching other webmasters: contacting other website owners from the industry helps maintain relationships that can lead to linking exchange. This may also involve guest blogging, joint event participation or content exchange.

Regularly check which websites link to yours and keep an eye on their quality – this will help avoid unwanted bot traffic or loss of credibility due to association with mediocre sites.

Acquiring valuable and organic links is key to effective multilingual SEO. Equally important is the language of domains which you have backlinks from. SEO-wise, the most trustworthy links come from domains in the same language; thus, it’s important to acquire as many quality links of that type as possible.

Multilingual SEO is crucial for marketing strategies of businesses that wish to expand to foreign markets. Thanks to suitable website content and structure optimisation, you can attain global reach, improve user experience, gain competitive edge and increase search engine visibility.

Although machine translation isn’t always perfect, it may prove indispensable in large-scale projects – provided that it is verified and edited by linguistic experts. locatheart offers not only keyword-enriched machine translation, but also professional post-editing and content optimisation services.

Contact us to learn more!

Find the best-suited solution for your business

Your investment in quality multilingual SEO will contribute to building an impactful global presence. Remember, too,  about link building which aids in developing strong relationships with other sites and improves the visibility of yours.

Bear in mind that multilingual SEO is a long-term process that requires constant monitoring and strategy adjustment. Trust the professionals who know how to help you achieve success in the global digital landscape.

Szymon Neubauer-Vasquez

If you have any queries or need further information, don’t hesitate!

We are always ready to help.


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