1. Create content in the target language
  2. Use hreflang tags to discover content that your target audience will discover
  3. Localize the language for the target audience
  4. Conclusion

The ability to target niche or smaller audiences in certain countries is critical to your success in international search engine optimization. It can determine whether a company succeeds or fails.

But too often the only option website owners believe is possible is unified, broad-based geotargeting by IP or a single language spoken by the majority of the population.

What about your options for addressing niche languages ​​- those outside the dominant national language?

Create content in the target language

First, create content in the dialect of the language that the target audience you want to address will use online.

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Just like with Standard International SEO, the first step to success is to have content in the right language.

If your target audience is likely to search in Spanish online, even if Spanish is not the primary language in that country, having the content in Spanish will definitely help them connect with them.

If you already have a Spanish language website for your countries as the primary language, you can use that to target the countries where Spanish is less popular.

For example, if you already have a Spanish website for Spain, you can use it to connect Spanish speakers or expats in Germany instead of creating a brand new Spanish website for people in Germany.

It may seem like a lot of work and not as effective, but this practice of offering information in their language is effective and many organizations are already doing it (especially with offline materials).

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If you travel to cities where many languages ​​are spoken, such as New York and San Francisco, you will find newspapers including city news and restaurant guides in a variety of languages.

Expats can read in English, but these local businesses understand that by providing the information in their native language, they can connect more directly with these valuable customers.

Use hreflang tags to discover content that your target audience will discover

I’ve already written about using hreflang tags here and it’s a must have for international SEO in terms of targeting.

You either have a language website for multiple countries or one for each country. You need to be careful with the hreflang tag settings when targeting a minority language group.

Example 1: The target group are English speakers in Japan

You have an English language website aimed at people in the United States and now you want to target English speakers in Japan. You can use the same site by adding another hreflang tag.

Your current hreflang tag should be “en-us”.

You can either change it to “en” to target English speakers everywhere, or add another tag with “en-jp” for the same url to indicate that the same applies to English spoken in Japan.

If you are creating a separate English site specifically for English speakers in Japan, use “en-jp” for pages on this site and “en-us” for the US site.

Example 2: The target group are Japanese speakers in the USA

Japanese is considered a single national language. This means that Japanese are the only group of people who speak the language, and the majority of Japanese live in Japan.

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Because of this, you can usually create a Japanese site and use “yes” as the hreflang tag. If you want to target the nearly 450,000 Japanese residents in the US as well as Japan, you can use “ja-us” and “ja-jp”.

Example 3: Except for Japanese speakers outside the US and Japan

This is not possible with the hreflang tags as they do not offer an exclusion option.

You can manage this by using IP detection to lock out anyone trying to access the site outside of the US and Japan.

((Don’t block the search engine bots!)

The localization of the content also helps through the use of locally specific information, including currencies, metrics and addresses.

Localize the language for the target audience

Not only is English localized to Japanese, but the correct content format is used for the target audience.

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Japanese people in the United States may use different keywords and search with katakana or kanji characters.

The first two points are probably obvious to many smart SEO professionals, but even they often overlook this last point.

It is important to understand that searches are heavily influenced by the country in which they live.

It is very likely that they will use different words and phrases to search for the same or similar information as someone in the primary language market.

For example, Japanese engineers living in Japan use “ア ッ テ ネ ー タ” for “attenuator” while Japanese engineers living in the United States use “ア テ ニ ュ エ ー use”, which sounds more like attenuator.

Similarly, you can find the difference in popularity as a search query using “instrumentation amplifier” vs. “instrumentation amplifier” for “instrumentation amplifier” and “gyro sensor” vs. “gyroscope” for “gyroscope”.

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This applies not only to the Japanese, but also to many people living abroad.

If you have multiple websites in the same language targeting different countries, you may want to do a quick research to understand the words your target audience is using in each country. This goes beyond the spelling differences.

Incidentally, your paid search colleagues can also estimate the data.

Conclusion

Addressing target groups for international SEO is not always as easy as assigning the language to the country.

In general, using one website per language makes it easier to manage. However, you can miss great opportunities if you do not target nuances in a particular country.

Also, to maximize business opportunities, I recommend that you search for inquiries in each country, even if the audience speaks the same language, and never leave them as copied versions.

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