International content marketing guide for 2020
Don't miss out on customers by only focusing on English speakers
When it comes to content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) the majority of us only focus on ranking our English language websites on the front page of Google.
But what if you’re missing out on traffic by not creating content in other languages?
It might surprise you that there is significantly less competition in the international content marketing scene, but nobody is really taking advantage of it!
To prevent you from missing out, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to formulating an effective international marketing strategy in 2019.
Importance of international marketing
Should you even bother with international marketing?
This is a good question to start with.
International marketing requires a significant amount of effort, so if you decide to pursue it, you better make sure it is worth your while.
Let’s start by examining some interesting statistics.
Did you know that the continent with the leading number of internet users is Asia?
They account for half of all internet users globally!
Figure 1: Global Internet users - internetworldstats.com
The use of e-commerce platforms is expanding rapidly.
China, has even surpassed the United States in e-commerce revenue!
Figure 2: E-commerce revenue by country - shopify.com
Now if you own an ecommerce store you may already be reaching out to these countries via social media ads.
But, if you’re showing an ad in the English language, you decrease the potential of these customers buying from you.
Research has shown that customers trust vendors that speak their language more than those that don’t.
Figure 3 - shopify.com
So if you want to increase the ROI of your marketing efforts, you need to start pursuing international content marketing.
Even though there is an international hunger for personalised marketing, when it comes to buying potential some countries are more potent than others.
Figure 4 - shopify.com
However that does not mean that you should only focus on marketing to top-tier markets.
Subsequent tiers are on the rise, so if you start preemptively leveraging your marketing efforts towards them, you will benefit from these traffic sources when the ecommerce sea levels rise...and they WILL rise
Let’s get some further insight into global internet trends by taking a look at some of the popular industries in the global ecommerce space:
Figure 5: Online purchases by category in the USA, 2017 - Source: Statista
Figure 6: European Online Shopping Categories, 2017 - Source: ecommerse News Europe
Figure 7: Australian Online Shopping Category Projections - Source: Statista
Figure 8: Latin America Online Shopping Category Projections - Source: Statista
What can we conclude from this data?
If you are in the fashion, electronic or book industry you should definitely create sales copy in other languages and invest in international content marketing!
Types of International Content Marketing
International content marketing is no different to marketing in English speaking countries, you are simply creating the same type content in different languages.
As a result, your international marketing campaigns will be almost identical to your English marketing efforts:
Here is a list of the different types of international marketing:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Search Engine Marketing (SEM or paid search engine ads).
Email Marketing campaigns.
Curating content for all of the above channels is a straightforward process IF you have a fantastic translator (more on that later).
Lets focus a little bit on international SEO, there are some super powerful tricks to help make the process easier for you.
An international SEO strategy is comprised of 4 steps:
Step 1 - Translate your current blog content.
Step 2 - “hreflang” attribute all your foreign language blogs.
Step 3 - Interlink all your foreign language blogs.
Step 4 - Correct keyword research for new foriegn language blogs.
Let’s go over each step in detail.
Step 1: Translate current blog content
If you already have high quality blog content on your website, there is no need to waste money creating fresh new blog content in other languages, simply translate what you already have.
But in order to avoid embarrassing brand defamation, you must ensure that your blog content is translated perfectly.
So definitely do NOT use any translator web plugins or the Google translate tool to translate the blogs yourself.
The best way to translate your blog content is by hiring a professional to do it for you.
To help you hire the best possible content translator they must meet the following criteria:
Your content translator must be bilingual.
If your translator is proficient in your desired language but has very poor comprehension of the english language, they will not translate your content correctly.
Language is very complex, in order to be proficient, one must understand inferences, culturally relevant phrases etc.
Testing a prospective translator’s proficiency in english is not difficult. If you are speaking to them you will be able to gauge their proficiency by their responses to your questions.
LIkewise, if you are hiring a freelance translator online, their english proficiency will be reflected in their written responses to your queries.
But how could you test a translator’s proficiency in your preferred language?
With some clever manipulation of the Freelancer platform!
For illustrative purposes, let’s say you need a blog translated into Italian.
You will need to post two projects on Freelancer:
Project 1: Blog translator (English to Italian).
For best results you would need multiple entries to choose form. You can achieve this by posting a contest.
When posting your contest provide a few english paragraphs for contestants to translate into Italian.
Project 2: Recruiter (blog translator)
For your second project, you would hire a ‘recruiter’ that is proficient in Italian (you can check their proficiency level by looking at the details on their profile).
Once you have hired a recruiter, it will then be a matter of funneling all of the contest entries through to your recruiter.
The recruiter’s job will be to shortlist candidates, set up interviews via Skype and then to get all candidates to submit a written entry in iItalian to test both their verbal and written skills.
You could skip the recruiter step and just hire a translator based on the skills outlined on their profile; but if you want to be absolutely certain that your blog content will be of the highest quality, its best to go above and beyond.
After all, blog has an incredibly high ROI so it’s well worth investing in only the highest quality.
Figure 9 - Value of Blogging - neilpatel.com
Step 2 - hreflang attribute foreign language blogs
When you your translated content is ready to be published, you need to let Google know which pages on your website are in a foreign language.
If you do not notify Google, those pages will not be visible to people searching in that particular language.
To notify Google, you need to add a special code to each of your translated web pages; if you are not confident in adjusting the coding of your website, it’s best to hire a programmer to do it for you.
This code is known as a Hreflang Tag.
Here is an example of a hreflang tag you add to a webpage written in Spanish:
If your a page contains multiple languages, you could include multiple hreflang tags on that webpage for each relevant country.
There are also tools you can use to help you generate and implement these tags in line with SEO best practices, Erudite made one such tool:
Figure 10: Hreflang sitemap tool - erudite.agency
Step 3 - Interlink all foreign language blogs
It’s important for you to link all of the content in the same language together via internal links.
This gives a strong signal to Google that your website is providing users with a great user experience by making navigation as intuitive as possible.
By providing a great user experience, Google will reward you by boosting your Google rank.
Step 4 - Correct keyword research for new foriegn language blogs
You may choose to have new blogs written in a particular language but not in English.
In order to do this well, you will need to choose the correct keywords for the region you are hoping to ranking for.
Google search queries differ by country. What ranks well in the United States, may not rank as well in Japan.
There are tools you can use that will make finding these keywords a breeze.
With SEMrush you can find the search statistics of a particular keywords simply by typing in the keyword in the keyword overview search engine and selecting your country.
Ahrefs has an in built keyword explorer that populates search statistics for multiple keyword entries.
To populate stats by region simply click on the drop down menu and select your ideal locations.
Best practices for International Marketing
When curating content for a particular region it is important to understand the culture.
Each country has its own cultural nuance. When you are drafting your content strategy, you need to be certain that your content will be relevant and not offensive.
Luckily, there is an online tool you can use that can break down the cultural identity of each region for you.
This tool was created by Hofstede Insights.
Here’s an overview of how to use this tool.
Let’s say you were writing a blog for an audience in Spain and you wanted to learn about the Spanich culture.
The first thing you will need to do is access the online tool here.
Next, input the country of interest in the search bar and hit “enter”.
A bar graph will populate breaking down the culture into 6 different categorial dimensions.
If you scroll down the results page, you will see detailed descriptions of each of the dimensions to help you understand the country’s rating.
There is significantly less competition in the international content market.
If you are not expanding your content marketing to the global stage you’re missing out on a traffic goldmine!
Follow our content marketing guide to leverage as much potent traffic to your website as possible.