A bloggers view on search in Europe: Mark Farragher
(Editor)Since Searchcowboys is just 'starting up' you might not know all our bloggers and what they stand for. We've asked our bloggers to write a post about their view on the European Search Market. What are their thoughts, how do they see the future of Search in Europe and what is the difference between US and Europe.
In this post it's Mark Farragher's turn. Mark is the CTO of FirstFocus, a search engine marketing agency in the Netherlands that provides consultancy, search related services and CMS software (OnTarget).
How good is your multilingual and multicultural awareness?
A couple of months ago I attended SES San Jose and Google was kind enough to throw us all a party. In the bus on our way to the Googleplex I sat next to a german SEO and we talked about how difficult it is to unlock the European SEO market, and how European agencies should deal with this challenge. We agreed that it all boils down to how you handle cultural and linguistic differences; your SEO strategy needs to cover them right from the start.
The European Union contains around 490 milion people from 27 countries speaking at least 23 languages. We have three different alphabets in use (Latin, Greek and Cyrillic). Many countries have regions with distinct cultures and different customs. All of these people are visiting your website and you want to entice as many as possible to buy your product. So what do you do?
Let's start with the obvious. Select a content management system that supports more than one language. Make sure language and country are handled separately (think of Belgium: one country with two languages, many systems can't deal with this). Get a good content writer and optimize your landing page texts for each language and culture. Throw in a good call to action for each language, set up an international payment provider and you're in business.
But we are not done yet. Are you grouping your organic keywords by Google TLD, user language and country of origin? Can you break down your CTR, CPC and ROI per country? Do you have separate AdWord campaigns for each country? Can your multivariate testing platform optimize individual country-specific landing pages? Are you using the correct business etiquette on your conversion pages for each country? Do you have a strategy for each country? Are you going to treat your german customers any different from your spanish ones?
Treating all of Europe as a monoculture and adopting a one size fits all policy for your SEO and SEM will cost you revenue. At present this might not be a big problem, but eventually we will see the day when all the low hanging fruit has been picked and our customers will demand from us to take this next step to optimize their ROI even further.
The bottom line is that you will probably be all right if all the tools in your SEO/SEM toolkit are language- and culture-aware. But keep in mind that language awareness cannot be added to a tool as an afterthought; it has to be designed into the software right from the start.