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5 reasons why humans (and not apps) should choose your multilingual SEO keywords

If you want to optimise your content to rank highly in searches in a new language or market, it’s crucial to find the right SEO keywords. There are plenty of online tools that offer to do just that. But, at Alpha Lifestyle, that’s something we would never advise our clients to do. 

Don’t get us wrong: we think SEO keyword apps can be extremely useful. They can provide detailed analytics and data that inform your keyword choices.

But they are only part of a truly effective multilingual SEO keyword strategy. When you are working in new languages and new markets, there is simply no substitute for human linguistic, cultural and strategic insight. 

The results speak for themselves. Content created or adapted by multilingual SEO keyword specialists consistently outperforms automated keyword content in search rankings, and (perhaps more crucially), conversions.

So, talking to our team of in-house multilingual SEO keyword specialists, we brought together five reasons why cross-cultural keyword research should never just be left to the machines. 

  1. Regional insight: the pastry dilemma of “pain au chocolat” vs. “chocolatine”

In the unlikely event that you’ve ever wondered what the difference was between a “pain au chocolat” and a “chocolatine”, we have the answer. Nothing at all. Both are terms for a popular French pastry filled with a line of chocolate that goes down rather well with your morning coffee. 

Nonetheless in France, the terms are not simply interchangeable, but used according to regional preferences. In Bordeaux, in the Southwest of France, people ask for a “chocolatine”. In Marseille, 650km to the East, it’s a “pain au chocolat” that goes well with your café au lait.  

Automated keyword translation tools won’t provide the detailed regional insight into what terms are used in what areas within a country. Without the human cultural perspective, using the wrong keyword could be more damaging to your brand than just missing out on breakfast.

2. In-country terminology: why you shouldn’t gamble on using “tragaperras online” vs. “tragamonedas online”

Some people enjoy a gamble. But, at least when it comes to your multilingual SEO keyword research, we’d advise against it. 

Take, for example, the term “tragaperras online” that people in Spain use to search for online slot machines. It outranks searches for an equivalent term, “tragamonedas online”, by nearly four to one. 

However, in Latin America, this preference is reversed. In Mexico, Chile and particularly in Argentina, users are much more likely to search for “tragamonedas online”. It’s clear that a language-based keyword strategy is not enough. Keywords need to be analysed and assessed by in-country linguistic experts for their relevance and usage in a particular market. Anything else is a bet not worth taking.

3. International perspective: why it’s always good to Czech

Of course, most of the time users will search the internet in their native language. That’s why we’re talking about multilingual SEO keywords in the first place. But English is such a dominant global language that it creeps into the everyday vocabulary of people all around the world. 

In terms of building a list of keyword terms, you need to know when and where an English word or phrase is searched for more widely than the local equivalent. For example, in Holland, where 90% of people speak English, a study noted that people researching a trip to the Czech capital were far more likely to search for the English “Prague” than the Dutch term “Praag”.

Backed up by search analytics, human SEO linguists identify and understand the terms that local users actually use, rather than those supplied by machine translation. As they say in Sweden: “mission completed”.

4. Making the most of misspellings: understanding human error

We don’t always spell things rihgt, right? Especially if we’re in a hurry, if our keyboards don’t have the right accents or characters, or if we’re simply used to using non-conventional spellings shared online. 

An automated keyword generator doesn’t have the linguistic insight to know what the most common misspellings are likely to be for keywords in a particular language. A human linguistic expert, on the other hand, is aware of common spelling pitfalls in the target language. They are your multicultural SEO friend (“freind” or even “frend”, if you prefer). 

While we would never suggest misspelling the content on your website or app, it can be extremely useful to incorporate common keyword spellings into your hidden metadata. 

5. Context is everything: making keywords flow

Clearly, completing a list of relevant SEO keyword terms in the target language is hugely important. As it requires detailed cultural and linguistic insight, it’s a task that should only be done by a human if you’re serious about ranking highly in another territory. 

By using their industry experience, SEO keyword specialists will also be able to advise on how to use these keywords. Whether they should be in title and links, for example. How to get the right keyword density – too many keywords on one page, for example, is often penalised by search engines as an attempt to “overload” content. 

It’s also important to know which keywords to keep separate. If you include too many of the same keywords on different pages, you may suffer from “keyword cannibalization”, where your own pages compete against each other in search rankings.

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The human factor

When it comes to crunching numbers or lifting heavy rocks, machines have got it every time. But in terms of multilingual SEO keyword generation, we hope we’ve provided a little insight into why humans (working with computer-based analytic tools) do it best. 

Linguistic insight. Cultural context. Strategic implementation. It’s all a part of the package that a program can never provide. If you’d like to talk to us more about multilingual SEO, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at lifestyle@thisisalpha.com.