The Western assumption is that the Internet is largely dominated by English users and thus search marketing strategies often target English websites exclusively, whilst ignoring multilingual SEO opportunities. However this line of thinking is fast becoming a costly mistake. As online marketers and search engine optimisers are all too aware, the English web is becoming more saturated as competition for visibility increases, resulting in lower ROI for businesses. However, figures released on Internet World Stats reveal that online marketers should be looking at the bigger picture when it comes to search marketing. The Internet is globalising, why not our search marketing strategies too?
Internet World Stats provides some interesting insights into the multilingual web as well as the motivation for re-thinking SEO strategies. According to figures, between 2000 and 2011:
• Arabic users increased by 2,501.2%
• Russian users increased by 1,825.8%
• Chinese users increased by 1,478.7%
• Chinese users make up 24.2% of total users
• Germany has a 79.5% penetration rate
In comparison, English users have grown by a mere 301.4% and have a penetration rate of 43.4%. Furthermore, English users make up 26.8% of total users, only a fraction ahead of China.This multilingual shift is largely due to three reasons. Firstly, China’s middle class is rising and with that comes increased Internet access. Secondly, whilst English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand received Internet infrastructure and technical know-how first, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia are fast catching up. It’s also interesting to note that only 25 % of the global population speak English; of these only 6% speak it as a first language.
When considering these figures it becomes obvious that the potential for multilingual SEO strategies is massive. Foreign language internet marketing must target internet users in their native language in order to drive traffic and make sales conversions. If further convincing is required, a study from Common Sense Advisory reports that users are four times more likely to make an online purchase if the service or product information is in their mother tongue. Seeing the bigger picture yet?
In order to take advantage of this changing web environment, multilingual SEO services and strategies need to be considered now. Companies like Skyscanner already receive 70% of their revenue from their twenty three foreign language sites; there is no reason why other business and brands can’t capitalise on multilingual SEO strategies too.