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Admin Jul 20, 2020 7:59:49 AM 3 min read

Avoid These 7 Common Multilingual SEO Mistakes

As you build an international and multilingual presence online, you’ll learn soon enough that it isn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, there are many obstacles that you’ll have to go through when catering to international audiences. 

With that said, here are seven common mistakes made in multilingual SEO.

Not Using The Right Keywords

Sometimes, people will search for a specific product in a domestic market. However, the keywords that are used by users in America may not be a literal translation of those used by users in other countries.

The first thing to do with keywords is to not try to translate them, because again, it may not translate the way you want to, when doing so for a different country. Also, research target markets in regards to what keywords are being used, the subsequent search volumes, and what the competition looks like for that term.

Not Having Different URLs For Multilingual Web Versions

So that search engines like Google can effectively crawl, index, and rank your sites, each created language or country page must be shown through its own specific and accessible URL (web address). Therefore, you should set up an individual web structure for each international version of your website, especially if you’re targeting multilingual clients/customers. This means using country specific domain names, sub-directories, or sub-domains.

Not Localizing Language Nor Practicing Cultural Sensitivity

Localized content doesn’t always accommodate to languages that local customers use. Plus, keep in mind that some people’s culture may be different than yours. Although translation tools can translate some content and keywords, they can’t translate everything, or even capture the right phrasing needed to get a message across.

First, consider the subtle differences between territories. Sometimes, countries will speak languages in the same language family – in other words, languages in the same family will have subtle differences to each other. For example, Germany and Dutch may be in the same language family, but their terminology can be different. Plus, interpretations of images and symbols can differ in countries.

Plus, ask a native speaker to go over your draft, and spot out any problematic terms and phrases.

Not Recognizing Other Search Engines

In truth, there are other search engines besides Google. And, there are countries that don’t even use Google, or aren’t aware of it. Consider other search engines such as the following:

  • Baidu (China)
  • Yandex (Russia)
  • Naver/Daum (South Korea)

And, be sure to read up on the policies that each search engine has, when it comes to uploading content, providing links, and social sharing. 

Relying Heavily On Automated Translation

As mentioned above, automated translation can do more harm than good when translating content for targeted audiences. Although it’s quick, easy, and cheap to cut corners in translating, machine translation is just a straight word-for-word translation, making it problematic, as you try to translate your company’s slogan. For example, if you try to translate KFC’s slogan “Finger-Lickin’ Good” in Chinese with an automated translation tool, you’ll make the mistake of having it to “Eat Your Fingers Off” in that language. 

Instead, hire a professional translator that can help you write the right terms and phrases in another language, so that your website is fully comprehensible to an international audience, and there’s no misinterpretation. 

Written by Molly Crockett  writer ar and  She also edits for

Ignoring Product Availability In Foreign Markets

As you set up a company in international markets, you’ll have to deal with product shipping. So, when planning your SEO strategy, learn how to reflect your new warehouse situation on each international version of your website as some products, due to varying regulations or other concerns, may not be available in all countries. If needed, you’ll have to do one of two things:

    • Redirect customers to a different product based on their IP settings, OR 
  • Bring up a “Not available in your area” message

Using Cookie-Based Language Selectors

Since search engines like Google don’t use cookies, that may be problematic, if you have a multilingual website that has an URL controlled with cookies only. Thus, it would be hard for search engines to index the foreign versions of your website. So, consider using language selectors that don’t heavily rely on cookies.


As you read about these seven common mistakes, and learn to avoid them, the important thing is to take your time with multilingual SEO, as it’s the hardest SEO to accomplish in any business that establishes a presence online. However, if you do it correctly, you and your business will start earning revenue in your international-catering venture.