Presenter Jon Ritzdorf is Moravia’s Solutions Architect and a global SEO expert. He also teaches translation technologies and localization fundamentals at New York University, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and the University of Chicago. In his webinar, “Steps to Effective Global SEO: Off-Page Factors,” Jon discussed the challenges of multilingual content management for brands working in global markets with an eye to best practices that improve site ranking.
You just cannot afford to ignore social media in the US today and it’s no different when it comes to the international landscape. An international launch of your web site or app without using social media to get the word out in market is like launching a boat into a vast ocean without any kind of radio beacon to broadcast your location. Nobody is going to know you’re out there. Simply put, you are going to be isolated internationally without some kind of social media strategy prior to global launch.
As discussed in a previous post, you definitely want to optimize keywords and page contents on your site for international markets. That said, on-page optimizations are no guarantee that you are going to immediately start ranking on the first page of your target country’s favorite search engine in a natural search. Even purchasing pay-per-click ads is not a guarantee that traffic to your site is going to increase significantly in new markets. Social media on a global scale is key to getting the word out locally in each market about the products and services you’re selling.
This 2011 infograph from comScore shows the penetration of social media for the global online population. Every major market internationally is in the 90% and high 80% range. Social media has exponentially grown worldwide since those statistics were gathered over two years ago — a critical thing to keep in mind during globalization planning and budgeting. So ask yourself, do you have a worldwide Facebook presence or are your “likes” only limited to English speaking, North American fans of your company?
Facebook and the World Map of Social Networks
When I first started exploring the impact of social networks on website localization and international SEO back in 2008 there was a lot of fragmentation. Orkut, Mixi, Hyves and a number of other social networks you likely never heard of ruled in countries like Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands. However, this is no longer true. Facebook is a juggernaut and has been unstoppable in overtaking the social media landscape in only five years’ time. Facebook has pretty much taken over the world with the exception of two major holdouts, China (where Facebook is banned) and Russia.
Taking Facebook Global
Facebook’s worldwide dominance is good news for most companies. Rather than having to manage a huge number of unfamiliar social networking platforms you can cover most countries entirely with Facebook these days. The only thing left over is you need to figure out how to execute your international Facebook strategy. Here are the most common approaches I’ve seen:
The “For Your Eyes Only” Approach
One option is to take advantage of Facebook’s targeting features on your existing Facebook page, the one that you have already established in English. The targeting features can only be accessed by enabling your privacy settings, however once enabled, you will be able to control who views a post based on their location and language preferences. In other words, you can create a post for Germany and it will only be seen by German readers in that country.
The Mirror Approach
Another option is to create multiple Facebook pages, one for each target language market and mirror your English content. If I am promoting a sale on tennis shoes in the U.S., I’m going to go ahead and mirror that exact same promotion for my French pages in Canada or France (or both.) Obviously you would want to translate the promotion before posting to the French site, but outside of that, all your worldwide Facebook pages will be in perfect synch with your English posts.
The Multiplier Approach
The last option, and the one that I’ve seen most often utilized by companies who are serious about social on a global scale, is where multiple Facebook pages are created for each market, but with content tailored specifically to the market audience. The ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s, are a master of this. They have huge dominance over their competitors in social media with a myriad of different Facebook pages, one for each country where a brick-and-mortar store is present. Each and every one of their Facebook pages offers totally unique content for local customers. They promote completely different ice cream flavors in each country. They have different promotions. You can even see pictures of local stores and their employees. Really, everything is fully customized to the audience in that particular country.
So, that was my take on social networking for multilingual, off-page SEO. I’ll come back next week to talk about off-page SEO via pay-per-click ads, YouTube, microblogging and the special case of the Chinese market.