With corporations increasingly focused on markets abroad for new revenue streams, one must ask whether such enterprises have adequately tapped opportunities at home. As businesses embrace the principles of international search engine optimization, they should apply those ideas not only to foreign prospects, but also to non-English speaking audiences in the United States. Specifically, companies should tailor their marketing and brand messages to effectively reach Spanish-speaking consumers via the Web and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. As they do so, they should keep several issues in mind:
1. When you have to be succinct, precision counts more. As social networking sites like Twitter become more influential in more markets, we’re seeing organizations of all kinds eager to localize their messages and reach constituents directly and in their preferred languages. Twitter’s strict length parameters make every word choice a critical one. Translating for this kind of platform requires not only time-saving software solutions, but seasoned human translators, as well. Make sure your approach to Twitter addresses its possibilities as well as its limitations.
2. Machine translation is risky. Authenticity is paramount in social media, where consumers can easily share your mistakes and give you the kind of negative, grassroots exposure no company wants. Such an error not only sinks profits on the specific product involved, but also stains the company as one not serious about meeting the needs of its target market. Multilingual brand messaging can be tricky, and companies should not leave this work to machine translation. This is also true for accompanying imagery, which can convey unintended messages if not properly vetted.
3. ISEO must be part of social media strategy from the beginning of a project. International search marketing — regardless of whether it occurs abroad or at home — demands meaningful and fresh content that is keyword-specific. It requires descriptive tagging, rich media, social media distribution, and internal and external links. There is little value in going live with a website or social media campaign that is not optimized with these needs in mind. Only when ISEO and design are done in conjunction can a company be certain that customers will find it online. This kind of integrated approach creates consistent, relevant messages in ads, landing pages, tweets, Facebook postings and search engine marketing.
4. Empower targets with choice. Just as companies should not presume to serve Swiss customers German content over French or English copy, businesses should not select language preferences for its U.S. visitors. The lingual realities of the marketplace are too complex for enterprises to presume preferred language. Don’t guess which language might be best. Instead, offer a language menu to reduce visitor frustration and increase your effectiveness.
ISEO, critical to brand messaging abroad, is no less important domestically, where a burgeoning Hispanic community offers Spanish SEO marketers additional revenue opportunities. For businesses who embrace smart ISEO and localization strategies, the returns can be great.