So you’ve optimized your website from a technical perspective and completed your local on-page optimization. It’s now time to establish the third pillar of global search engine optimization: off-page SEO.
Before exploring these tactics, though, Aoife McIlraith, Lionbridge’s Director of Global Search and Marketing Services, offers a word of caution:
“You can’t do this on your own. These activities should be coordinated with your HQ and local marketing teams, content writers, social teams, local brand owners, and your PR department. Across-the-board engagement is critical to success.”
There are a number of off-page SEO tactics you can employ for multilingual, multimarket success. But McIlraith says these are of most fundamental importance:
- Audits and tracking
- Link building
- Optimization of off-site-owned content
- Social posts
- Influencer marketing
Audits and tracking
First, says McIlraith, audit your off-page activities and learn where your backlinks are coming from.
“If you have your website linked to search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu, you can usually get most of your backlink data from them and use their tools to remove bad links, but it’ll be a limited view for a 360’ off-page strategy,” she says.
There are many third-party platforms that can assist with off-page strategies like backlink audits, and that offer recommendations and actions. Among the best for global and multilingual search platforms, she says, are Linkdex and SEMRush. She also uses Screaming Frog for quick checks.
McIlraith says that, with the help of your tech team and analytics tools, you need to find and remove all broken links—backlinks and internal links—on your website. This may including outreach to other sites to request removal of links. Once you have tidied up the links, you should then review where live backlinks are coming from.
- Can I categorize them?
- Can I rank them by quality?
- Can I leverage them for additional links?
- Are there any surprises? New opportunities?
- Can other teams use these insights?
“Link building is the process of getting external pages to link to a page on your website,” McIlraith explains. If search engines like Google determine a link is pointing to content that people will likely find valuable, your search equity will be strengthened, supporting efforts to increase search engine ranking page placement.
A per-market link building strategy is critical to achieve optimal rankings in local markets.
Explore ways to build optimized backlinks to your localized site through PR activities, local news sites, local influencers, and social channels. When localizing content for multimarket sites, source content links (usually English) will have little or no value in other languages.
Google and other search engines will review these links, and the two pieces of content—the original text and the text you’re linking to—must be aligned with the topic and the language.
“Ensure that you’re establishing quality links,” McIlraith says. “Search engines want quality, not quantity, and the links should be links to local-language sites. Generating links for links’ sake is an SEO black hat technique that was banned years ago (Google Penguin 2012), and it can result in severe penalties.”
Optimization of off-site-owned content
It’s important to have branded content sitting outside your own websites to capture customers through search queries on sites like YouTube, Snap, or Pinterest.
“Make certain that you’ve optimized this content exactly as you did your on-page content,” McIlraith says. Research local keyword variants and trends. Optimize all site metadata, images, content, and anchor links that point back to your own site.
For multilingual videos, she says to make certain you’ve at least subtitled the video for local audience consumption. You should also place the transcript in the metadata for crawling and linking.
“This will also build trust, both with users and search engines, for your branded content,” she asserts.
“Make certain that your social teams are creating optimized branded social-channel content,” McIlraith advises. “Ensure that at least some of that content includes links back to your site.
This is a critical step for driving search results and content discoverability. “Social links carry a lot of weight with search engines, and the actual social posts appear in search engine results.”
Identifying local influencers in each market helps drive local-market and local-language backlinks to your site. Dive into the data from your own analytics tools, McIlraith advises, and ask local social and marketing teams such questions as:
- Where are the current links coming from?
- Do we have recurring links from one site?
- How important are they and what benefit did we gain from them?
- Can we gain additional links from these influencers?
- Can we find micro-influencers that nobody else is using?
- How can we gain trust with new influencers?
- How and where do these influencers distribute their content?
“The answers to these questions will help shape a great backlink strategy in each market,” McIlraith says. “Keep in mind, though, that you just can’t do this on your own. Work with your marketing, social, brand, and PR teams to gain a truly comprehensive view.”
McIlraith offers one final recommendation: Conduct some competitor research on a per-market basis. Investigate answers to questions like these:
- How are my competitors ranking in market?
- Where are their links coming from?
- Can I leverage these types of links to advance my own link profile?
- Are my competitors active in the market, or is there an opportunity to carry out some off-page optimization activities to gain organic placements?
“But remember,” McIlraith urges, “this is about the local digital landscape. Your own tracking tools don’t allow you to gather competitor insights; you need a global third-party search platform to do so. Both Linkdex and SEMRush can handle this for you.”
> International SEO is an important part of a global customer experience strategy. Learn how to execute your strategy by downloading the eBook, A Marketer’s Guide to Global Customer Experience Management.