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The Daily Stream

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How To Create Effective Digital Marketing Campaigns For Your Non-English Speaking Customers

November 26, 2013 // By: Stream Companies

Is Your Business Speaking Your Customer’s Language?

Depending on who your target audience is, if you’re not speaking their language, you’re missing out on a huge portion of potential business.

With the continued growth of the internet and the demand for products in and outside of the United States, there is a huge opportunity in the digital space to target different non-English speaking audiences.

A big factor in this trend, and developing opportunity, is the use of smart phones and tablets to purchase and browse the web at lightening speeds.

Is your business prepared within the digital space to successfully target a customer base that speaks a different language?

Here, we’ve provided the necessary steps to take to effectively target your content to the right audience within the digital space, no matter what language they speak.

Identify The Opportunity

The easiest way to see which languages your organic traffic is using to search your website, is to take a look in Google Analytics, and review the "Audience > GEO > Language" report (along the appropriate organic search segment) and identifying which languages your visitors speak. You can also pinpoint their location, with the "Audience > Demographics > Location" report.

Reading the codes for different languages in Google Analytics can almost be as hard as understanding the language itself! Luckily, there are plenty resources on how to read ISO Language Codes.

Once you understand the different codes, you will then be able to pick out which language your typical visitor speaking. Below is an example of one of my own clients, whose Google Analytics report is showing 70 Spanish speaking visitors viewed their website in October.


Taking Steps To Prepare Your Website

These steps are for businesses that are looking to start fresh with a new site to target their audience. There are three domain strategies that you can choose from when targeting an audience with a different first language. This

  1. The first option is using a County Code Top-Level Domain (CC TLD). This type of domain structure consists of language-native characters when displayed in an end-user application.
  2. Another example of a domain structure is a using a subdomain. This type of domain structure is done by creating a subdomain of the root domain to target a specific language. An example of this type of structure is espanol.yahoo.com.
  3. The third, and best practiced domain strategy, is using a subfolder.  A subfolder allows you house specific content off the hierarchy of the website. The best practice would be to create a subfolder for each specific language you plan on targeting. Here is an example of a subfolder: ikea.com/es/es/preindex.html.

Preparing Your Site for a Translation Strategy

This step is if your business wants to translate text that already exists on your site. This could be the hardest part of your language targeting campaign.

That said, we highly recommend avoiding the use of Machine Translations! Using this type of translation is very risky, as you cannot be absolutely certain your content was translated properly. You could miss making a meaningful connection with your audience, or worse, accidently offending them. To translate any content on your website, we suggest hiring a translator that is native to the specific language.

Once you get your content translated it’s time to mark up the content so that Google doesn’t confuse this additional copy as duplicate content. We suggest using Hreflang for countries and languages.

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-US” href=”http://yoursite.com/es/” />

Using “Hreflang” will prevent your website from being penalized, as it lets Google know that this content is translated from content that already exists on your website.

This code is also an indicator for where this page should show up within search. For example, buy using “es-US,” Google will know to target this content to Spanish speaking searchers in the United States.

Now that you have created your content targeting a foreign language speaking audience, be sure to make an annotation in Google Analytics marking the date made this change and keep an eye on your language sources. Also, don’t be afraid to share your content on Google Plus or Facebook to get the word out to your audience.

All the best,

Bob Barilla

Bob is an SEO Strategist here at Stream Companies, a Philadelphia area full service advertising agency.

To learn more about creating powerful content that makes a meaningful connection with your audience, click here to download our free ebook, Content Marketing Secrets.


Topics: Digital Marketing, Advertising (general), global marketing, google, Google Analytics, international marketing, marketing, Marketing tips, non-english speaking