Go Global Using Your Hotel's Website

Posted on Aug 24th 2010

To date, there are about 1.8 billion internet users all over the world. They could all be your potential customers.

How do you reach them? You must make sure that your website appears where they are searching and that they can understand what you are offering.  Website globalisation can be achieved through market research, translation, localisation and optimisation.

It should begin by understanding the answers to the following questions: What geographic markets are you targeting? Who is your target customer? What languages do they speak? What market opportunities exist for which your resort has a product or solution?  By identifying and understanding the characteristics and needs of your market segments, it will be easier for you to define the keywords and content you will use to connect, engage and interact with  them.

After that, start finding the right keywords.  You can build a list of relevant keywords using these Google’s keyword research tools:

    * Google Adwords Keyword Tool: use the advanced options to research keywords by country and language. Enter a seed keyword term and Google will provide many more suggestions as well as monthly search volumes.
    * Google Insights for Search: use this tool to research trends in keyword search demand over time in each of your target countries.
    * Google Translator: if you don’t speak the languages, and don’t have the budget for translation services, you could start by translating your English language keywords using Google Translator. Be very careful though as automated translation services are far from accurate.

Next, you should select the site structure.  Commonly, there are three ways to structure a multilingual site: 1) purchase country-specific domains and set up separate websites, 2) use subdomains for each country, or 3) use subdirectories for each country.

If your international marketing is country-specific, then your site should be structured first by location and then by language. If you plan to market to all speakers of a particular language irrespective of location, then you may only need to incorporate language translations into your site architecture. Google’s Webmaster Tools team provides some great advice in this article: How to Start a Multilingual Site.

Now, you can start fleshing out the content of your website.  The content you publish for your international audience should take into consideration the market and keyword research that you’ve done.  Much of the content will be similar to the content you provide for your English-language visitors. However, a few new content pages will most likely be required based upon specific market needs.

And since you’re now marketing your services to consumers in different parts of the globe, it is good to have your page translated.  Now, professional translation services are expensive but if you are serious about marketing to an international audience, they are a necessity. If you don’t have the budget for a professional service, you can save money by using translation software. But if you do, have a native speaker edit the results to ensure the right message is being communicated.

At this point, you’re ready to launch your multilingual content. Now it needs to be optimised for country-specific search engine results. The process of optimising sites for international search results isn’t a great deal different from optimising sites in English. Most major search engines use similar criteria for ranking results.

Make sure that you use Google’s Webmaster Tools so you can select settings that tell Google that certain content is meant for users in particular countries. This is fairly straightforward if you have set up multiple country-specific sites. For more information on using the geographic targeting tool, see this video from Google analyst Susan Moskwa: Where in the World is Your Site.

Lastly, inform Google and other international search engines that your content is targeted at a particular country in order to acquire links from sites from that country. The more links you acquire from sites in a given country, the more likely it will be to rank highly in that country’s search engine results.

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