Quick Fix: Multilingual SEO
By Colin Ryan
Depending on where you live and work, many of your potential customers may be foreign language speakers. Now more than ever, it’s important to consider how you can adjust your real estate marketing strategy to appeal to your customers culturally and linguistically. Tweaking your SEO for foreign language speakers can give you an edge in an entirely new search arena where there’s less competition, but it’s not a task to be taken lightly.
Nevertheless, whether you’re in Honolulu, where Japanese buyers account for about 2 percent of all residential real estate purchases, or Dearborn, Michigan, where over 40 percent of current residents are of Arab ancestry, catering to a customer segment that speaks a second language doesn’t have to mean creating an entirely new website just for them. Here are a few simple on-site steps you can take to make sure you’re reaching them.
Create a landing page aimed at speakers of your target language. You don’t have to bend over backwards to appeal to foreign language speakers—after all, most of them speak at least some English. Chances are you already have landing pages for customers who reach you through your online ads. All you have to do is add one more. You don’t have to create all new copy for the page, nor does it have to be written entirely in your target language. All you have to do is acknowledge your audience and show them that you’re sensitive to their particular needs. A small gesture can deliver huge results.
Get a good translator. Even if you’re not creating tons of new content or copy for your new landing page, you still need to put some time and money into finding someone who can present your business with the right tone and phrasing. Consider how much energy you’ve devoted to the messaging on your existing site, and invest accordingly in a page that both reads naturally and appeals to the cultural norms of your target audience. Don’t assume, either, that any translator will suffice for any group of speakers. After all, Cuban Spanish is much different from Mexican Spanish, and so on.
Research foreign language keywords. The Internet was born in America and grew up speaking English. Because of this, there’s a good chance your customers will be searching for you on good ol’ Google.com. If, however, they’re using .es or .hk, be sure to do your research on which keywords rank highest. Keep in mind that these may not be literal translations of English keywords or phrases. In fact, they may actually be a mix of English and the target language. The equivalent Spanish search term for “online classifieds real estate,” for instance, is not “clasificados en línea bienes raices,” but “clasificados online bienes raices.”
Don’t forget the behind-the-scenes stuff. Just as you would when doing SEO for all of your English-language content, be sure to create meta descriptions, title tags, and image alt text that will give your listings on the search engine results page a fighting chance with your target audience. You might also consider tailoring your landing page’s URL so that searchers know what they’re in for before they click.
People who search for you in another language aren’t searching for just any real estate broker or agent. Rather, they’re searching for the company that will address their particular needs throughout the homebuying process. Spend a little time making them comfortable through SEO, and you’ll reap long-term rewards.
Published on June 13, 2011