At the end of September a web expert from Google, Maile Ohye, posted a video on YouTube which touched upon the subject of web searches and different languages. One of the factors that Google uses for providing search results is based upon the language of the site. This is to reduce the chances of search users getting a slew of results that are in a language they don’t actually understand. An easy way for Google to help filter out sites comes from the domain name, as there are many sites that will use a specific region based domain name. Even Google uses different variations, with anyone searching in the UK for example using Google.co.uk to give a higher priority to other sites that have the .uk domain name.

International Sites

Many businesses will want to appeal to a large customer base, which ultimately means having to expand the number of languages available to the site. Even some of the “local” businesses will have an option for some of the more common spoken language, such as American based sites having a Spanish option. Businesses need to realize that their ranking isn’t always going to be the same in all regions though. For example, a site might rank high in America, but rank a little lower on Spanish search engines because there just happen to be more Spanish specific sites that are more relevant.

Becoming Search Friendly

There are some things that businesses can do to help with how they rank on search engines in other regions. A simple step that webmasters can take is to use the rel=”alternate” hreflang on their website, which simply tells Google that the site uses multiple languages based upon what goes after the hreflang. Spanish websites that have English translates would want to put =”en” after the hreflang line to signal to Google that their website should also appear in English searches. The command can go in several places, either appearing on the pages HTTP header, or appearing somewhere on the on-page markup, but there is also an option to simply put it on the sitemap, as long as the website has been verified.

Video: Expanding your site to more languages

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