4 Tactics You Can Use To Ensure Your Site Connects With A Global Audience.
The broader the appeal of your site, the more successful it can become. These tactics can help you connect with a truly global audience.
Targetting Global Traffic
Creating a website that resonates with anyone is hard enough. For every page you encounter through a Google search or a direct referral, there are scores of pages that toil in perpetual obscurity, never attracting any visits that aren’t from crawlers or spambots. If you can earn a steady stream of interested visitors, you must be doing something right — but why stop there?
It’s in human nature to always want more: to build on the successes we’ve achieved and take things to the next level. And one of the most beautiful elements of running a website is that the growth potential is almost boundless. There may be various technical differences between visits from nearby and those from afar (the greater the distance, the more nodes must be navigated). Still, the end experiences for site owners and visitors alike are essentially the same.
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Head to the website for a company headquartered in your area, then head to a comparable website for a company based halfway across the world. The core experience will be identical. You won’t feel that distance in anything but a minor delay — if you notice one at all. Aside from the occasional restriction at the national or ISP level (China’s firewall being notably pernicious), any standard website will be accessible from any connection point.
Given this, are you delighted with your website having a limited audience? Or are you hungry to expand your sphere of influence? Since you clicked on this post, we can safely infer the latter. No one can hand you a perfect plan for conquering the online world (that’s something you’ll need to figure out), but we can set out some critical tactics for updating your website to ensure that it’s best positioned to connect globally. Here they are:
Tweak cultural references
When writing copy for a website, it’s essential to include hooks that can draw people in. Despite having relevant information to offer, there are plenty of sites that fail because they’re so incredibly dry that no one sees any value in them. And when you’re trying to hook people, it’s often valuable to include cultural references. After all, they serve two purposes: they show some personality elements and lure in those interested in the referenced cultures.
The issue here lies in the tendency of cultural references to be confusing. Filling content with local authorities is particularly risky. If someone visits your website and becomes confused while reading the very first paragraph, what do you think is more likely? That they’ll look up the parts they don’t understand and discern the intended meaning, or that they’ll leave? It’s the latter, of course, and by a wide margin. Internet users are impatient at the best of times.
Be mindful, though, that this doesn’t mean you can’t include any cultural references. As noted, they often add intrigue, and this is particularly true when culture is indelibly linked to your website. Think of a company selling ye olde Britishe snacks, for instance: corny cultural references and slang terms would be expected and preferred even if occasionally unclear.
Instead, it means that you need to tweak your cultural references to ensure that they alienate as few people as possible. You want your content to apply to everyone. If a term doesn’t add enough to the tone of your website to justify its polarizing presence, take it out. Global visitors will appreciate the accessibility.
Offer decent page translations.
Assuming your website is in English, you may well believe that other languages aren’t worth considering. After all, so many people speak at least conversational English: isn’t it a safe bet? But if you’re going to have your site connect with a global audience, you mustn’t settle for the most convenient option. And even when people who don’t speak English natively can understand it very well, they’ll still typically prefer to read in their native tongues.
The prospect of providing site translations can be somewhat intimidating. You need to ensure that the quality level is high enough to surpass what Google Translate can automatically produce, and that’s a real challenge. If you get your approach right, though, you can manage it. It primarily comes down to combining excellent automation with manual proofreading and editing.
If you run a mainstream CMS with multi-language support, you should have access to a wide variety of translation apps. The owner of a Shopify store, for instance, can use the Weglot app to customize and manage translations across various site versions. Once those versions are produced, you can refine those translations, whether through additional services provided through the apps or freelance translators you recruit elsewhere.
Don’t worry about your pages being perfect. If they’re better than Google Translate versions (which they assuredly will be if you get your approach right), they’ll be much appreciated by visitors who’ll understand that you weren’t obliged to cater to them at all.
Work on multilingual SEO
Having various international versions of your website is only the first step in reaching people who speak different languages. There’s no use in having a Spanish translation of your site if no Spanish natives ever find it, of course. Just as you’ll indeed have invested in SEO for the original version of your site, you’ll need to invest in multilingual global SEO to start ranking overseas.
Multilingual SEO builds on the content actions we’ve already mentioned with adjustments of the technical factors that determine how page versions are presented and interpreted. You may be familiar with cannibalization in SEO: in other words, the frustrating event of two or more pages belonging to the same brand unintentionally competing for traffic. With foreign-language versions of a site, cannibalization becomes a more significant threat.
So what do you need to do here? Well, in addition to ensuring that each version of each page has a unique URL (the domain extension is vital here, as with extensions like .com, .es, and .de), you should employ the hreflang tag to add clarity and confirm that all critical elements of your pages are translated, not just the copy. Pay particular attention to navigational features and metadata. Everything needs to fit, and that extends to the design.
Remember that user experience is also an aspect of SEO. Changing the text of a website can cause severe issues with ill-fitting design elements if there isn’t sufficient scope for expansion and contraction. Run a complete check on all the site versions and make whatever changes are necessary to deliver intense experiences.
Partner with varied influencers
Influencer marketing has become a massive part of modern marketing, and it isn’t going anywhere soon. Brands that want to reach unfamiliar audiences can do so through partnering with the influencers they keenly follow: a recommendation (or even just a mention) from a familiar face can make a huge difference. So when you’re trying to expand globally, why not look for opportunities to partner with locally-followed influencers?
For instance, if you’re trying to crack the French market, you could look for French influencers in your niche who hold a lot of sway. Get them to back your expansion effort, ideally with genuine interest motivating them: while you can pay someone to promote you disingenuously, it’s infinitely preferable to work with an influencer who genuinely rates what you bring to the table.
In doing this, though, remember to allow the influencers a good amount of creative freedom while sticking to your guidelines (it’s all about getting the balance right). You may feel that you know what you’re doing, but SEO marketing to a new audience is always complicated, and the type of cultural confusion we touched upon earlier can be so much worse here. Imagine insisting that an influencer shares a promotional message they know won’t work in their area due to a significant cultural disparity. What’s the point?
Connecting with a global audience requires your brand to be strong, but brand strength alone isn’t enough. You also need to get your strategy right, which is where these tips come in. Follow the four tactics set out here, and you’ll have a solid chance.
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