Content Optimization for multi language scenarios has just one big, simple rule: content localization. That’s a cheap advice to give, though bit expensive to implement properly.
As with any other discipline involved with SEO, content localization must be faced under a more general marketing plan and, at lower levels, under wide strategic content planning.
We know now how to manage the international SEO Domains, Subdomains and Directories issue so we’ll focus on some techniques and tools helping with the localization.
Persona vs. machine
No, content cannot be literally translated. Tools like Google translate are great and getting better day by day but it is still a horrible idea to move content from one language to another.
Anybody can spot these translations, and this damages the perception visitors have of the company (and can often result in tons of jokes due to hilarious coincidence or double meanings).
Localization, more than simple translation, is not a cheap task and it is tempting to outsource translations to cheaper countries, but if you are really serious in your marketing efforts, get native speaker professionals to work on it. It is not just the language but the culture, regional context, social and local factors that you have to understand in order to truly localize text.
Examples of language localization
For every search for “football” in Italy there are 68 for “calcio”, do I need to say more?
Even keeping the work “sports” all along the domains is not a good idea but sometimes you can’t get everything due to business rules, domains not available, etc.
Same concept, different words by country
Languages don’t know anything about political borders. Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and Portuguese is spoken on five continents. Do not expect uniformity. Examples ahead.
Castillian: venta al por mayor
Argentinian: venta mayorista
Sometimes it is just a character that makes all the difference.